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How to invoice as a contractor

Mastering Invoicing: A Contractor's Guide to Efficient Billing

How to invoice as a contractor

As an independent contractor, mastering the art of invoicing is not just about tallying up hours worked or services rendered; it's a fundamental aspect of maintaining financial stability and professionalism in your business. 

With 20 years of experience as a print broker and graphic designer, I've designed and printed countless invoices, proposals, and other essential forms specifically tailored for contractors. I know what makes a contractor invoice effective and how to get you paid faster.

Efficient and effective invoicing ensures:

  • You get paid for your hard work promptly and accurately
  • Increased trust and clarity in your client relationships
  • You maintain a healthy cash flow
  • Your business runs smoothly

In this comprehensive guide, we'll delve into the intricacies of invoicing as a contractor, offering actionable insights and best practices to help you streamline your billing process and optimize your cash flow.

Whether you're a seasoned freelancer or just starting out on your entrepreneurial journey, understanding how to invoice effectively is crucial for maximizing your earnings and establishing yourself as a reliable and reputable professional in your field.

From setting up your invoicing system and communicating payment terms to managing tax obligations and improving efficiency over time, this guide will equip you with the knowledge and tools you need to take control of your finances and propel your contracting business to new heights.

Let's dive in and uncover the secrets to mastering the art of invoicing as a contractor.



How to write a contractor invoice the right way

How to write a contractor invoice


The 9 Essential Elements for Successful Contractor Invoicing


1. Your Business Information: Name, address, contact information, logo (if you have one)

2. Client's Information: Business name, contact person, address, email

3. Invoice Number: A unique identifier for tracking

4. Invoice Date: The date the invoice was issued

5. Description of Services: Clear, itemized list of work completed

6. Rates: Hourly rate or project-based fee

7. Payment Due Date Clearly stated deadline for payment

8. Payment Methods: Specify how you accept payment (check, bank transfer, PayPal, etc.)

9. Late Payment Policy Mention any applicable late fees


Your Business Information: Name, address, contact information, logo (if you have one)

Clarity: Make sure your business name is prominently displayed. Avoid using nicknames or abbreviations unless that's your official branding.

Contact Details: Include your business address, phone number, and a professional email address.

Branding (Optional): A logo reinforces brand recognition and adds a touch of professionalism.


Client's Contact Details: Business name, contact person, address, email

Accuracy: Verify that you have the correct company name and spelling. If contacting a specific person, ensure their name and title are correct.


Primary Contact: If sending to accounting or a general email, specify a primary contact person in your records for follow-up purposes.


Invoice Number: A unique identifier for tracking

System: Develop a consistent numbering system (e.g., INV-2024-001). This might include a year prefix, sequential numbers, or client codes.


Organization: Unique invoice numbers make payment reconciliation clear for both you and the client.


Invoice Date: The date the invoice was issued

Establishes Timeline: This date starts the clock on your payment terms and becomes important for tracking late payments.


Description of Services: Clear, itemized list of work completed

Contractor Description of Services

Detailed Breakdown: List each task or service provided. If you have a standard list of services, include a short description of each.


Hours or Deliverables: If billing hourly, include hours worked. If project-based, list specific deliverables.


Rates: Hourly rate or project-based fee

contractor rates

Hourly Billing: Clearly communicate your hourly rate and the total hours worked for each service or task itemized in your "Description of Services" section.


Project-Based Fees: State the agreed-upon fixed fee for the project completed. You may choose to break this down further based on milestones reached if applicable.


Expenses (If Applicable): If you are passing on any expenses to the client (e.g., materials, travel), create a separate line item with detailed descriptions and costs.


Payment Due Date: Clearly stated deadline for payment

Payment Due Date

Define Your Terms: Be specific. Do you offer "Net 15" (due within 15 days), "Net 30", or another period?


Prominent Placement: Place the due date in a noticeable location on the invoice.


Payment Methods: Specify how you accept payment (check, bank transfer, PayPal, etc.)

Convenience for Your Clients: Offer preferred payment methods of your target clients. Consider the standard methods in your industry.


Include Details: Provide clear instructions (e.g., bank account number, routing number for bank transfers, PayPal address).


Late Payment Policy: Mention any applicable late fees

Set Expectations: Clearly outline late fees or interest charges that accrue after the due date. Let clients know from the get-go that you expect timely payment.


State and Local Regulations ensure any fees you intend to charge comply with your local and state regulations regarding late payment penalties.

Important to Note:  Even with these items clearly stated on your invoice, it's valuable to include all of this information in your initial contracts to establish agreement on fees, payment terms, and policies upfront.

Common Contractor Invoicing Mistakes

Even seasoned contractors can fall prey to invoicing errors that delay payments and disrupt cash flow.  One seemingly minor mistake, like unclear payment information, can create confusion and slow down the payment process.  That's why it's crucial to pay close attention to your invoices, ensuring every element is accurate and easy to understand.

Many small business owners rely on manual invoicing methods, which can increase the risk of typos, missing details, or inconsistent formatting.  Consider using invoicing software to automate  tasks and reduce  errors. Our free contractor invoice templates provide a great starting point, and their structure can easily be adapted for use within your chosen software.

Remember, a well-crafted invoice is not only about detailing the work performed, but also about making it as simple as possible for your clients to understand the total amount due and how to submit their payment.  Taking time to craft a clear and accurate invoice translates to a smoother payment process and ensures you receive payment for your hard work.


Pro-Tips for Creating Professional Contractor Invoices

Pro-Tips for Creating Professional Contractor Invoices


Clarity is Key: Make Your Invoice Easy to Understand

Use Plain Language: Avoid industry jargon or overly technical terms that clients might not understand.


Clear Formatting: Utilize headings, spacing, and a well-structured layout for easy readability.


Proofread Carefully: Double-check for typos and grammatical errors that can undermine professionalism.


Invoice Promptly: Don't Delay Getting Paid

Timeliness: Send invoices as soon as a project or project phase is complete.


Establish a Billing Schedule (If Applicable): For recurring clients, specify invoicing dates (e.g., weekly, bi-weekly, monthly).


Avoid Delays: Procrastination can lead to late payments and cash flow problems.


Leverage Invoice Templates: Save Time and Maintain Consistency

Pre-Designed Structures: Customize a template with your information, saving you from formatting each invoice from scratch.


Consistent Branding: Reinforce your brand identity with your colors, logo, and standard layout.


Essential Elements: Ensure your template includes all your standard invoice items.


Consider Invoice Tracking Software Streamline Your Workflow

Payment Tracking: Get real-time notifications when invoices are sent, viewed, and paid.


Automated Reminders: Set up reminders for past-due invoices, reducing awkward follow-ups.


Reporting: Gain valuable financial insights about your invoicing and client payment patterns.


Following Up: Polite Persistence is Key

Don't be Shy: Remind clients about past-due invoices in a timely, professional manner.


Flexible Communication: Be prepared to offer alternative payment methods or negotiate a payment plan if the client is experiencing temporary difficulties.


Document Your Attempts: Keep records of follow-up emails and calls for your own reference.


Beyond the Basics: Considerations for Special Cases

Local Taxes: Understanding Your Sales Tax Obligations

Sales tax regulations vary based on location. It's essential to research where you do business and determine if you're responsible for collecting sales tax on your services. If applicable, include sales tax as a separate line item on your invoices. Maintain detailed records regarding sales tax to ensure smooth reporting and compliance.


Working Internationally: Currency Conversion and Regulations

If you collaborate with clients located in other countries, be aware of currency conversion rates when determining your fees. Utilize clear currency indicators on your invoices to avoid confusion.  Also, familiarize yourself with any banking regulations or tax implications when receiving international payments – you may need to consult a financial advisor specializing in these matters.



Invoicing might not be the most exciting part of being a contractor, but it's vital for financial success. This blog post provides a detailed guide on how to create effective invoices that get you paid on time. We begin by outlining core invoice elements such as your business details, client information, service descriptions, and payment terms.

Next, we explore pro-tips for optimizing your workflow, such as leveraging templates, invoicing promptly, using tracking software, and following up diligently. Finally, the blog addresses special considerations like local taxes and international work. With clear and professional invoices, contractors can build stronger client relationships, maintain a healthy cash flow, and focus on growing their business.


Written By:

MIchael Reid
Graphic Designer/Print Broker

Posted on March 16, 2024