How to Make an Invoice (5 Easy Steps)

This post contains affiliate links, and we will be compensated if you buy after clicking on our links.

Read our review guidelines.

Creating an invoice might seem daunting, especially if you’re new to the world of freelancing, running a small business, or just looking to get paid for your services more officially.

However, the process doesn’t have to be complicated. We’ll walk you through the essentials of making a professional invoice in just five easy steps.

From gathering the necessary information to choosing the right format, we break down everything you need to know into digestible pieces.

By the end of the guide, you’ll know how to create an invoice and make it stand out to ensure timely payments.

Now, let’s dive in!

Key Takeaways

  • Simplicity is key: Keeping your invoice simple and straightforward makes it easier for clients to understand what they’re being charged for, leading to quicker payments.
  • Detail is crucial: Providing a detailed breakdown of services or products, including descriptions and prices, ensures transparency and builds trust with your clients.
  • Personalization matters: Customizing your invoice with your brand logo, colors, and a personal message can enhance professionalism and brand recognition.
  • Timeliness boosts efficiency: Sending invoices promptly after completing a service or delivering a product encourages timely payments and maintains a healthy cash flow.
  • Follow-up is essential: Understanding the importance of following up on overdue invoices and knowing how to do so politely can significantly improve payment rates.
Zoho Invoice

Zoho Invoice is an online invoicing software built to help small businesses.

Sign up for free
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

5 Steps to Creating an Invoice (with no experience)

1. Personalize your invoice

Begin by adding your personal or business logo at the top of the invoice to make it immediately recognizable.

Follow this with your contact information (or your business’s) and that of your client.

personalizing an invoice

This not only adds a professional touch, but also ensures your invoice stands out and reinforces your brand identity.

2. Include invoice details

Every invoice should have a unique invoice number for easy tracking and reference.

Accompany this with the date of the invoice, and, if applicable, a purchase order number provided by the client.

This organization aids in keeping financial records orderly and simplifies the accounting process for both parties.

3. Select the dates

Clearly state the date services were provided or the goods were delivered, along with the due date for the payment.

This is vital for setting clear expectations for payment timing. If you offer early payment incentives or impose late fees, this section should outline those policies as well.

4. List all goods/services delivered

Provide a detailed list of the goods or services you’re charging for, including descriptions, quantities, rates per unit, and the total cost for each of them.

Clarity here prevents misunderstandings and queries from clients about what they’re being billed for, facilitating smoother transactions.

5. Specify payment terms

Conclude your invoice with specific payment terms. This includes accepted payment methods (such as bank transfers, checks, and online payments), the currency you wish to be paid in if you’re working across borders, and any other instructions relevant to the payment process.

invoice payment terms

If you have a late payment policy, it should be clearly stated here to encourage prompt payment and manage expectations.

What to include on an invoice

  • Business Logo: Enhances brand recognition and adds a professional touch. 
  • Contact Information: Both your (or your business’s) contact details and your client’s for easy communication.
  • Invoice Number: A unique identifier for each invoice to simplify tracking and organization.
  • Date of Invoice: The date when the invoice is issued.
  • Due Date: The agreed-upon date by which payment should be made.
  • Goods or Services Provided: A detailed list including descriptions, quantities, rates per unit, and a total cost for each item.
  • Subtotal: The total amount before taxes or discounts.
  • Taxes and Discounts: Clearly outline any applicable taxes or discounts that affect the final amount.
  • Total Amount Due: The final amount the client needs to pay.
  • Payment Terms: Specific instructions on how the payment should be made, including accepted payment methods, any late payment policies, and other relevant details. 
  • Notes Section: Optional for any additional information such as thank you notes, payment instructions, or privacy policies.

5 keys to making the perfect invoice

  1. Clarity and Simplicity: Ensure your invoice is easy to read and understand. Use clear headings and straightforward language, and avoid unnecessary jargon. This minimizes confusion and questions from your clients, so you should get paid faster.
  2. Automation and Software Use: Take advantage of invoicing software or apps. These tools can automate many aspects of the invoicing process, such as generating invoice numbers, tracking payments, and sending reminders for overdue invoices. This saves time and reduces the risk of human error.
  3. Promptness: Send your invoices as soon as the work is completed or the product is delivered. Prompt billing shows professionalism and increases the likelihood of timely payments. Delaying your invoices can signal that you’re not in a hurry to get paid, which may lead clients to prioritize other payments over yours.
  4. Personalization and Branding: Personalize your invoices with your logo, color scheme, and other brand identifiers. This reinforces brand awareness and trust with your clients and distinguishes them from others they may receive.
  5. Clear Communication of Payment Terms: Be explicit about your payment terms, including accepted payment methods, due dates, and any late fees or discounts and early payments. Clear communication of these terms upfront can prevent misunderstandings and encourage on-time payments.

Next Steps

Now that you’ve mastered the art of creating the perfect invoice, complete with all the necessary details and personalized touches, you might be wondering what comes next.

The answer is simple but crucial: stay organized and consistent in your invoice process.

Here are a few steps to ensure you stay on top of your game. 

  1. Implement a tracking system: Use invoicing software or a spreadsheet to keep track of all invoices sent, paid, and outstanding. this will help you follow up on unpaid invoices promptly and manage your cash flow effectively.
  2. Regularly review your invoicing process: Periodically review your invoicing process to identify any areas for improvement. this could be updating your invoice template, exploring new invoicing software, or adjusting your payment terms based on past experiences.
  3. Maintain communication with clients: Good communication is key to maintaining positive client relationships. Don’t hesitate to reach out if an invoice is overdue, but always keep the tone professional and polite.
  4. Educate yourself on legal and tax obligations: Stay informed about legal requirements or tax implications related to invoicing in your jurisdiction. This ensures compliance and saves you potential headaches.

By now, you should have a solid understanding of how to create a perfect invoice that looks professional and facilitates a smoother payment process.

You’ve armed yourself with the essential skills and best practices needed to excel in managing your invoicing and payment processes.

Zoho Invoice

Zoho Invoice is an online invoicing software built to help small businesses.

Sign up for free
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Lucinda has spent the last 15 years working from home as a freelance writer and WordPress designer, and throughout her career, she has worked directly with several digital marketing agencies with clients in the SaaS space, ranging from e-commerce platforms to procurement software.