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Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Month of Templates: The Simple Invoice

In some cases, when you submit an article to an editor, she'll simply "put payment through." Most of the time, however, you'll need to submit an invoice to get paid.

I've used Quickbooks in the past but all you need is a simple template that includes a date, invoice number (which makes it easier for Accounts Payable departments to track it), amount, statement of what rights are being purchased/what you're invoicing for, and your social security or tax ID number.

Easy, right? Here's one you can use as a template, with my brief comments in green:



Re: INVOICE #387 [Always include an invoice number! If you're a new freelancer, you don't have start with invoice number 1; start with 601 or 801 or whatever you like.]

Dear Sue:

Please let this letter serve as my invoice for $90 for one-time reprint rights to “Banish the Workout Blues” per your email of today. My social security number is xxx-xx-xxxx. [If you have a written contract, you can also use language like "per our written contract of January 13, 2001," for example. When selling reprint rights, however, I always specify that I'm selling one-time reprint rights (as opposed to unlimited reprint rights) to a piece.]

Thank you very much!

Kelly James-Enger
[mailing address]

When you send an invoice (or when a story is accepted and your editor puts payment through), make a note of it on your calendar. Then if you haven't been paid in four to six weeks, follow up on the outstanding invoice. Staying on top of your accounts receivable is an essential part of running your freelance business.


  1. Nice! I'm hoping I have to use this template a lot in the coming year.

    Thanks for sharing and for this whole series.

  2. Thanks! Glad you're finding it helpful! :)

  3. If a magazine editor requested an invoice in an email, would you: (1) mail them an invoice, (2) email them an invoice as an attached PDF or Word doc, or (3) reply to their email with your invoice as inline text in the body of your email?

  4. Hi, Steve--

    Hi, Steve--

    I'd email an invoice as it's quicker than snail mail. And normally I'd include the invoice in the body of the email itself unless the editor specifically asked for a PDF, which has happened in the past. So, I pick answer 3 unless an editor specifically asks for answer 2. :)

    Hope this is what you need!