Freelance work requires a deft knowledge of financial management and administration.
Unlike the employees of a larger organization, professional freelancers need to take payment matters into their own hands rather than have their affairs handled by a dedicated employee who fulfils the role. Dealing with your own financial affairs can be a difficult aspect of freelancing that not everyone is naturally suited to. But the process becomes a lot easier when you have an understanding of which document templates to use.
Tools like invoices and income statements are used interchangeably by both freelancers and whole companies, but the specifics change when you’re working on your own.
Freelancers often work project by project, which means they need different documents for different clients. If you’re a freelancer going admin-insane, here’s a practical guide to six of the most popular templates used in today’s freelance market.
1. CV Template
All freelancers need to have a solid, reputable CV template on hand to offer clients when the moment arises. Some freelancer platforms require you to upload these as a baseline prerequisite. However, even if the platform you use doesn’t, this is a document you should always have prepared and ready to send.
A great CV template should showcase all of your skills, credentials, educational achievements, and relative areas of experience to impress potential clients.
You can customize a template to suit your personal style and aesthetic, especially if you work in a creative field, but ultimately it should be used to demonstrate an accurate level of career proficiency as well as create a space to confidently advocate your abilities.
2. Standard Invoice Template
We can’t go through a list of the most popularly used freelancer templates without looking at the most common one of all: the standard invoice.
A standard invoice template embodies all the basic elements of a traditional invoice document. This is the one most freelancers use for once-off gigs or those that don’t require any special information or layouts. It typically includes the following information:
- Current date
- Invoice number (relevant to that specific client)
- Contact details of sender and recipient
- List of provided services
- Corresponding amounts owed
- Total amount owed
- VAT or tax information
- Payment terms and options
- Date by which payment is due
These elements are what comprise a standard invoice for both freelancers and regular companies. You can find standard invoice templates easily online, many of which are available for customization of layout, font, and overall aesthetic.
3. Pro Forma Invoice Template
The pro forma invoice template is very similar to the prior mentioned standard version, but its differences are important to acknowledge.
A Latin term which means “for the sake of a form”, a pro forma invoice is not a real invoice. Rather, it’s a preliminary one that outlines proposed estimates for the client to consider. You might send this invoice to an interested client to show them what they can expect should they hire you for a particular job.
Pro forma invoices are an important invoice type for freelancers to be aware of because they often find themselves negotiating with clients around a job’s terms and deliverables. This invoice template allows freelancers to clearly state their grounds before any official agreement gets made.
4. Interim Invoice Template
If you’re a freelancer that works on bigger, long-term projects, you may be familiar with the interim invoice template. Even if you’re not, this is still a great one to have in your freelancer arsenal.
An interim invoice is used in the event of a big project that requires multiple payment infusions throughout the project process until completion. For example, if you were a web design freelancer hired to design someone’s website, you might send an interim invoice every month for 6 months (or as many months as it takes to finish the job) assuming your client has agreed to this set-up, of course.
This type of invoice helps freelancers maintain access to a fair cash flow throughout the duration of the project, even if it takes longer than expected.
5. Income Statement Template
An income statement template is essential for every freelancer. These clever templates include a layout that details all the money that comes in and out of your account throughout the month, allowing you a bird’s-eye view of your financial affairs.
As a freelancer, you probably don’t have the luxury of an accountant to handle your finances, but that’s not an excuse to let things slide into disarray. With the right template, you can keep track of every dime and dollar you earn, as well as what you spend it on over time. You can also track your profits and work out financial projections, and having a running account of your income versus expenses is incredibly useful when tax time rolls around, too.
6. Contract Template
Depending on the nature of your work, you may not think you need a contract template on hand. However, having one will ensure that you are protected from being exploited by clients and prevent miscommunications from happening during paid projects.
A good contract template should include the following elements:
- Yours and your client’s contact details
- Proposed starting and completion dates
- Project scope and outline
- Rates and payment terms
- Ownership and copyright information
- Legal terms
By drawing up a contract prior to making any promises, you pave the way for a more streamlined, transparent, and stable project commitment with clients. If you outline your expectations clearly your clients can immediately see what you’re offering, and by signing your contract, they’re agreeing to your terms.
Without a solid contract, you leave yourself vulnerable to manipulative clients and potential scams. These document templates are a crucial element of any freelancer’s administrative cache and they can even cover you legally should a client cannot fulfill their obligations.
Make Freelancing Easier With Templates
Freelancers deserve credit for the amount of labor that goes into their work behind the scenes. Being primarily responsible for all payments, legalities, contracts and more for your work can be exhausting. However, when you know which templates to use, it becomes much easier.