I'd been blogging a good couple of years before I was asked for an invoice and, I'll be honest, it freaked me out! I didn't have the first clue about invoicing. Normally brands and PRs would either just pay by PayPal, or would forward me their own template invoice to fill in. Suddenly I needed to create one from scratch and had nowhere to turn. Thankfully, I managed to scramble something together that was acceptable and I've tweaked it here and there to create my own template, which I'll be sharing with you today. If I save one person from the panic I felt that day, I've done my job!
Invoices are essentially a receipt for your services. When you're self-employed and/or run a business, it's a legal requirement to keep accurate records of your income and expenditure. Brands need invoices to log their spending and you'll need them as evidence of money received. A lot of the time, as I mentioned above, brands will have their own in-house invoicing system and may ask you to fill in their own proforma, but every now and then you'll come across a brand that wants you to send your own. Don't panic- It's really easy!
WHAT DOES MY INVOICE NEED?
I've created a fictional invoice below as an example, and you can see it needs your contact details, description of the services and a total fee.
Personal Details: Blog/ business name, your full name, blog URL and email. It's best to use your PayPal email as many brands will pay this way. List your bank details below your personal details but I'd recommend checking this with the PR first. Business with UK bank accounts will need different details to those based abroad (IBAN and BIC are for foreign banking and are easy to find out by contacting your bank. UK banks will usually just need your account number and sort code). If they're paying by PayPal, they probably won't need this section at all. It will change on a case-by-case business so make it easier for them and yourself by asking what information they need. The final section, UTR, is your Unique Taxpayer Reference, which you will get when you register as self-employed. (I've only been asked for this once, so it's not a requirement for invoices but do make sure you declare any income with HMRC!)
Business Details: Company name. They may also give you an address to include.
Blog Logo: In the top right corner. This makes it easily identifiable as an invoice coming from you.
Invoice Details: Below your logo, create a little table for the invoice details. The invoice number is important as it will make it easier to find if you or the PR needs to refer to it again in the future. I've had brands contact me weeks later asking me to amend the invoice and it's much easier if you have a number to refer to. To create my invoice number, I put the first three letters of the brand followed by the date. Example: I write a post for MAC and send the invoice on 20th June 2015. My invoice number would be MAC-20062015. Include the date and the agreed price below the invoice number.
Service Details: Briefly name the service (blog post, Instagram post, sponsored tweet) followed by a description, such as 300 word post with two links to brand website. Unit cost is the fee for one of these. Usually the unit cost and total will be the same but may change if the brand wants more than one service. Example: You charge £60 per sponsored post and the brand asks for two. Unit cost is £60, quantity is 2, total is £120. Balance due is the final fee that the brand will pay you, and will in all likelihood be the same as the total (the exception here would be if you gave them a discount or some sort of deal).
HOW SHOULD I STORE MY INVOICES?
I recommend storing them electronically and printing off paper copies, just in case! On my computer, I have a dedicated folder for invoices. When I send them to companies, I name them something like Becky Bedbug- Brand Name Sponsored Post Invoice. They're free to rename it to their own procedures but it's a lot easier to identify if you start it with your blog name. Once it's sent, I rename it in my own folders as the invoice number. That way I know that whatever invoice I'm looking for, it will start with the first three letters of the brand.
NOW TRY YOUR OWN!
Have a go at creating your own invoice! I've created a template which you can download here and tweak to suit your own needs.
From now on, if a PR asks for an invoice, you'll know exactly what to do! As always, feel free to ask any questions in the comments and I'll do my best to answer.