One of the many challenges that freelancers and agencies face is how much to invoice for hours worked. Especially at a business’s onset, you need to make sure you charge fairly for your efforts. At the same time, you must remain competitive to attract more clients.
If you are a freelancer or start-up business still struggling to break even or generate profits, you might want to take a second look at your pricing policy.
We are here to help you get through this by providing you with information on the most important questions. We have previously discussed the different ways you can bill clients according to your business model. This article is about distinguishing between what you actually bill and what you should be billing which is the trickiest part of the invoicing process.
Many service-based companies bill by the hour, especially freelancers, consultants, graphic designers, etc. When it comes to invoicing and billing, they have to invoice the hours worked carefully and offer clear charges to their customers to avoid disputes down the road.
So, the one question that naturally pops up is, “How do I write an invoice for my freelance work?”. Let’s break down all the necessary steps!
What an invoice for hours worked should include
To convert your hourly rates into an invoice for work done, you need to start tracking those hours with a reliable tool. There’s always the option of writing down everything or using an excel spreadsheet. But why do that when there are so many smart applications that can do that for you?
How do you calculate billable hours and round up your time?
First, we need to define what a billable hour is: It is the time worked on a project, which will be charged to the client. Of course, it is always based on the contractual agreement between you.
There is no legislation outlining explicitly what your billable hour should be according to your niche, but there are commonly followed practices.
Usually, professionals like accountants, lawyers, and consultants sign contracts with their clients in which the billing method is clearly outlined. In this case, the billable hour may not refer to an hour per se, but the sum of tracked hours rounded up to the nearest time increment.
Some freelancers choose to round up to 15-minute increments, whereas others to the half-hour. For instance, if you have worked on a project for 3.10 hours, with the 15-minute increment you will charge 3.15. On the half-hour round-up, your billable hours are 3.5.
You can also check our complete guide on how to calculate your billable hours.
What to do to invoice for hours worked more easily
One of the obstacles you might run into when writing an invoice for hours worked is separating the time spent on the client’s project from other tasks that are also pertinent to it, but not directly derive from it. For example, progress meeting requests that are out of the project’s scope, or even training in new technologies required to complete a project.
To combat this ambiguity, you need to use a billable hours tracker like Elorus and split your tasks into billable or non-billable.
Also, you need to decide how much you actually charge:
- Per hour or project: This is the right time to look for those common practices we mentioned above. You can google them or simply ask your accountant’s advice on the matter. Find out how much other professionals in your field typically charge, then tailor the rate to your needs and goals.
- Per customer: Some projects are more demanding than others. This means you need to adjust your rates to continue being profitable. Additionally, different clients need different account management in order for their business to be worth your while and compensate you for your non-billable activities.
What should you do with non-billable hours?
We firmly believe that you should factor some non-billable work into your billable hour so you can sustain your company and grow it further.
Most freelancers use non-billable hours trying to learn new skills and expand their teams so they can offer top-quality services. Your rates need to reflect those efforts as well. However, this remains a business decision that depends on your company’s goals and pricing strategy.
Moreover, this might be necessary when a client prevents you from making meaningful progress or keeps demanding that you work additional hours for which you cannot bill them. Extra working hours, rush fees and research fees, and other extra freelance charges should also be taken into account.
Charging by the hour enables you to get paid for your actual work. Make sure not to take advantage of it in a negative way, though. Do not charge for time spent on Facebook, unless you are the social media manager.
What does the billable hours’ invoice template look like
So how do you write an invoice for freelance work? Your freelance invoice template should include the sum of billable hours organized per project or task. This way, the client is fully aware of what they are paying for. So, instead of using a “Products” column, adjust the wording to “Services/Project name/Task name”.
Respectively, instead of using a quantity column, you need a measurement unit that refers to time. For example, man-hours/minutes/working days, etc.
Time billing applications like Elorus, offer a variety of options to choose from so that invoicing your projects becomes easier and fast.
All other factors on your invoice template remain the same – it’s quite simple!
For example, a consultant invoice sample should be something like this:
|Services||Measurement Unit||Hours||Net amount||VAT 20%||Total|
|Employee evaluation consulting||Man-hours||25||$ 2,500||$ 500||$3,000|
Tracking your billable and non-billable hours is also going to help you invoice for hours worked and draft accurate quotes for potential customers. Once you’ve sorted out how much you should be charging for your services, it is easier to include all the necessary project components in your estimates and sign better contracts! Don’t forget to take a look at the invoice format when you invoice for your freelance work.
Automate the invoicing and time tracking process
How? Time tracking apps usually provide ready templates along with automated calculations of quantities & taxes, automated invoicing, and more. This will help you avoid common mistakes that leave you exposed to your customers and save time. Remember: Time is money – billing your actual time will inevitably increase your revenue.
Taking it one step further, Elorus offers time tracking, online billing, and a client portal feature that allows full transparency between you and your customers. Just make sure to track your billable time, manage your projects to a tee, and take full advantage of the features we have to offer!