You just wrapped everything up with your latest brand partnership (congrats!). The content is approved and it’s in Tailwind’s Instagram scheduling tool, ready to go live soon.
Now you just need to send an invoice to the brand to get paid… But important questions can slow down this process: Who do you need to send the invoice to? Was there a PO number? What were the payment terms again? My payment is late, how should I communicate this?
If invoicing and getting paid sometimes feels like a chore, don’t worry – you’re not alone.
Unless you have an agent taking care of invoicing and payments for you, it can take time & energy and get awkward. This guide is written to provide tips and tricks making invoicing easy in order to minimize payment issues.
Always send an invoice
Sending your invoice should be the first step to getting paid. Always. Even when a brand, agency or influencer platform says you do not need to, it’s important to send your own invoices. But why?
As a creator, you are running your own small business. It’s important to have a record of all your earnings for tax purposes and what’s owed to you so you can get paid. Marketers work with dozens or even hundreds of influencers. It’s not uncommon that payments are sometimes late or forgotten!
Tracking your invoice is equally as important as sending it. If you’re only sending a few invoices you can manage tracking in excel or Google sheets. A perfect creator-built option for invoicing brands is a tool called Lumanu. It also tracks your invoices for you. Freshbooks and QuickBooks are great if you want more advanced accounting functionality like the ability to run receivable aging reports.
No matter the choice, it’s important to capture the basics when tracking – invoice number, due date, amount, and of course the brand and contact info of who’s paying. Keeping track of these basics will ensure a smooth invoicing process for you and your brand partner.
Agree on payment terms before the collab
Payment terms should always include:
- When you are going to be paid. A standard term is “30 days after content is posted” (i.e. net 30 after content goes live). Although most freelancers would love to be paid immediately, it is standard for AP departments at most large companies to put in place a net X days process (typically 30, 45 or even 60 days).
- How you are going to be paid. Make sure you are getting paid on your terms. Add a simple clause in your agreement that reads something like –> “creator will be paid per remittance instructions on invoice.” Common issues creators face include a) A required sign-up process with a payment software that isn’t brought up until it’s time to pay you (adding days until you get paid) and b) When a brand insists on paying via PayPal and does not cover the fees.
- When (and who) you should invoice. Make sure you are sending the invoice to the right person and at the right time. It’s common for brands to lose track of influencer payments and for them to get lost in the email inbox.
Brands are more and more flexible when it comes to paying freelancers, especially social media influencers. Top brands realize that collaboration is about partnerships and flexibility can go a long way. It is a good idea to propose the payment terms and methods you prefer when engaging with a brand. Ultimately when running your business, you are going to want to choose how to manage your accounting. This starts with invoicing brands through your chosen solution.
What to include in your influencer invoice
There are some basics to get right when creating a professional invoice. You can setup an invoice template, download a free invoice template, or use a software solution to create and send professional invoices (e.g. Lumanu, Freshbooks, Quickbooks). The nice part about software is it will help with tracking invoice status as well as providing fast payment processing options.
If you’re using a software solution, they will handle these for you. Here are standard fields you should include in all your invoices:
- Invoice number and date: Include the date your invoice is sent along with a unique invoice number at the top of your invoice. A unique number will ensure you can track payments and be helpful for tax purposes.
- Your full name and contact information: Include your full legal name or your business name. Also include your mailing address, phone number and email address. These are typically needed by your partner to set you up for payment in their system.
- Your client’s contact information: The company name and payor contact information (name and email address).
- Description – campaign name or post title: These fit well as line items in your invoice. Make sure to follow any instructions sent from your partner or ask how they would like this presented in the invoice. Line items can state the campaign name, deliverables and additional information referencing your sponsored posts. Some line item subtotals you can include – monthly cost, hourly rate, or per-post cost. If you have time tracking to include to be paid hourly then include the hourly rate and the subtotal.
- Amount: Near the bottom of your influencer invoice, add the total amount in bold.
- Payment terms/ due date: Make sure you invoice per the agreed upon payment terms. Incorrect payment terms are the biggest reason invoices are not paid. Terms are usually Net X Days or a specified due date. ALWAYS include the actual due date to eliminate confusion.
- Payment methods: Automated software will provide a variety of ways to pay (ACH, PayPal, credit card, etc.) If you are using your own invoice template then spell out remittance instructions at the bottom of your invoice. Offering brands several payment options helps ensure payment with less hassle.
When to send your influencer invoice
As a general rule you can send invoices when you complete campaign deliverables or upfront (when you sign the agreement). What you actually do will depend on your negotiations with your partner. Understand your partner’s AP process as you may need to adjust timing to fit into their process or they may adjust their process to fit your timing.
Some typical terms for influencer marketing collabs are:
- Net 30 days after campaign deliverable complete
- Net 30/ 45/ 60/ 90 days from the invoice date – can sometimes work with your contact to invoice prior to campaign completion with the due date falling after expected deliverable date
- 50% upfront and 50% net X days (per above)
Keep your invoice email concise and to the point. In the subject line, be sure to include the word “INVOICE”, your name and a brief description. This will help the recipient identify your email and know to prioritize it. In the email include the amount and due date.
How and when to follow up
Chasing down payment can be frustrating and awkward, another reason to use a platform like Lumanu which will automatically follow up on invoices for you and give you visibility into the payment status of outstanding requests.
Before your invoice is due – Make sure your contact received the invoice. Ask for confirmation of receipt when the invoice is sent.
When your invoice is due – Send a gentle reminder leading up to the due date, a reminder that payment is due in 3 days helps ensure on-time payment.
When your invoice is overdue – Late payments happen for a variety of reasons. Accounts payable departments manage cash flow and often have a payments system in place. It’s important to follow up with details including when the payment was due and payment options.
What to do with “add ons” and changes in scope
Awesome, your brand partner wants to pay you more money! Or they want to ask for more stuff that’s outside of your agreement for free – it doesn’t hurt to ask.
When this happens you have a couple options – create and send another invoice or cancel the original invoice and update and resend with the expanded scope and new dollar amount. You’ll want to make sure you create a new invoice number and send a cancellation for the old invoice so that you are paid the correct amount.
Recommended influencer invoicing solutions
Purpose built for creators: Lumanu was built from the ground up to meet influencers invoicing needs. It’s iPhone friendly and they’ve made invoicing as simple as Venmo. Plus, we love their year-to-date earnings, tracking and clean dashboard to easily track payment status. It’s free to create and send invoices and they charge a processing fee that’s lower than PayPal, with payments sent directly to your bank account. Lumanu Payments is “invite only”, Tailwind is happy to offer special access to Lumanu Payments.
Advanced features for the small empire: Freshbooks is worth a look if you need full fledged accounting software and bookkeeping. We’re talking accounts receivable aging reports, general ledger entries and full P&L reporting. The extra bells and whistles will cost you a low monthly fee along with higher payment processing costs on the invoices.
For the do-it-yourself freelancer: Most online “free” templates you find through a website will then charge for payment processing (have to make money somehow). If you want to create and send your own templates, we recommend grabbing an invoice template from Microsoft Office in either word or excel. You can always open in Google docs as well if you are not an Office user.
Example Microsoft template:
Invoicing made easy
Managing your small business as a creative freelancer just got easier – we hope! By running a consistent process to make sure payment terms are agreed to upfront and accurate invoices are sent, you’ll spend less time worrying about chasing payment and more time creating. There are plenty of resources available to help you grow your business and ultimately your brand.