How to Send a Contract & Invoice as a Freelancer (+ 6 Free Tools)

Freelancer at work

Okay so you’ve just landed a freelance client and now you need to send a contract or invoice ASAP – first of all, congratulations to you!

Sending contracts and invoices will soon become one of your favorite parts of freelancing because it means that a) you have a client and b) you’re going to get paid.

Below we will cover how to send contracts + invoices, and what you have to include in each, plus we’ll walk through 3 free tools to help you with drafting your first contract or invoice.

📋 Your Contract Checklist

You may find yourself in a place in the early days of your freelance career where sending contracts is a bit of an after-thought – this can be risky business.

Contracts are important because they ensure you get paid and protect you from potential issues with your clients down the line.

If a client were to say “Well, I assumed that the blog post was going to be 3000 words, not 2000 words.” Or a client is dragging their feet about paying, even though you’ve already done your agreed-upon task as a freelance digital business manager…

You will be able to go straight to the original contract and confirm that you were both in agreement on what your roles and responsibilities were.

Word to the wise: Do not begin work until your contract has been signed and if you’re billing upfront, then don’t start work either until the invoice has been paid.

✅ Freelance Contract Checklist: 

Here are the things you absolutely need to have in your freelance digital business manager contract –

  1. Details of you + your client’s names and billing addresses.
  2. Start date + when the contract begins.
  3. Scope of the project in detail + deliverables – this can include changes + revision rounds included if applicable.
  4. Payment amount + payment terms (schedule of payments) – Be specific here on what type of payment type this is – retainer, hourly, commission, etc. Here’s a detailed video that discusses the different types of payment options for freelancers if you’re curious.
  5. Your invoicing terms should be spelled out in your contract – we recommend 50-100% upfront depending on the level of trust you have with your client. Don’t forget to include information about late fees and if there’s a deposit then mention that.
  6. Notice period if it’s an ongoing contract, or if it is a one-time project then include cancellation fees.
  7. Ownership rights of your work.
  8. Signatures + dates agreement was made.

This is our list of the key essentials to a freelance contract but there may be more sections depending on the specific type of work you are doing; you may have non-disclosure clauses, non-compete clauses, and indemnity clauses, too.

Start with the checklist above when you’re checking over a contract but keep in mind you may have to adjust depending on what your client may also like to include.

📲 2 Free Ways to Create and Send Freelance Contracts

Hey arnold meme
  1. Free Templates + HelloSign – Grab a free freelancer contract template that you find online.

    I’ll link a few here that have free templates – (This does not constitute legal advice – obviously if you want something perfect for you and completely legally sound for your situation, you should hire a lawyer) and send it via HelloSign

  2. Fiverr Workspace – has ready-to-use contracts that are free to use for 1 client.

📩 Your Freelance Invoice Checklist

Alright – there are some absolute essentials that need to go on your invoices – this may vary slightly depending on your country but generally, you need these things:

Invoice Checklist:

  1. Your full name + business address + contact info
  2. Full name of recipient/client – business address + contact info
  3. Invoice number
  4. Issue date
  5. Due date
  6. Description of what was purchased + amount and total, currency
  7. Footer – payment details – bank info, Wise email, etc

And if applicable, also any tax info, if you have to charge tax of some kind, should be included too – VAT for example in the EU.

You can watch a video walkthrough on how to send contracts and invoices as a freelancer below:

YouTube video

📬 4 Free Ways to Send Invoices

Okay – let’s put everything together and look at the tools that help you send your contracts and invoices.

  1. Stripe + Paypal – You can send invoices via Stripe or Paypal directly and not fuss with any other tool or software.

    Sign up for a free Paypal or free Stripe account, create your invoice and input the client’s details and email.
  2. Manual + Google Docs
    Create an invoice template with google docs and embed a Paypal or Stripe invoice pay link.

    You can also use Wise. We like Wise as it is the cheapest way to send and receive money abroad.

    Here is a Wise invoice template using Google Docs.

  3. Dubsado
    This is free for up to 3 clients so you can get started with Dubsado and see if you like it. Dubsado allows you to send both contracts and invoices and it integrates with Stripe, Paypal or Square.

  4. Wave
    Wave allows you to invoice in any currency and accepts credit cards and bank payments. You can also personalize your invoices or use their templates.

🍽 3 Tips for Proper Contracts + Invoicing Etiquette

Proper Etiquette

1. Protect Yourself

Firstly, if a potential client is triggering some red flags and doesn’t want to sign the contract… do your due diligence.

Look them up online; look up their social media and their website to see if they’re more or less legit. If anything smells weird, don’t sign them.

Secondly, you’ll also want to protect yourself by building a late fee into the contract – send clients reminders about the late fee to incentivize them to pay on time.

You can also protect yourself by agreeing on a deposit, OR do a more fair payment term like 50/50 so 50% upfront and 50% after the project is completed.

Finally, make sure your scope and deliverables are CLEAR – make sure revision rounds are specified and make sure you’ve defined what ‘completed’ looks like so that your project doesn’t drag on forever.

2. Make it clear & easy to pay you

You never want a client to struggle to pay you. Give them clear instructions on how to sign up for the payment platform you choose.

Make the link clear and take them straight to the invoice. Test the link in incognito to make sure it shows up properly.

4. Follow up!!!

I normally follow up in 2-3 day intervals depending on how busy they are until it gets done.

If they said they want the project to start ASAP then I follow up more regularly and get the client on a call if they’re dragging their feet, this way you can figure out what the issues are.

5. What to do if a client doesn’t pay an invoice?

Follow up – don’t be shy about it and don’t feel bad about “bugging them” – you’ve done your work.

It’s really on them to be embarrassed – not paying you money for work completed – that’s unprofessional.

overdue invoices meme

Stop work completely if the payment is late more than 3 days.

However, this kind of depends on your tolerance and trust with the client – if you’re POSITIVE they’ll eventually pay you, you can wait a bit longer before stopping work. But if you’re worried they won’t pay you, then stop work within days of the invoice due date.

The threat of legal action is kind of the last step before taking someone to small claims court. Sometimes even just having a lawyer send a formal email on your behalf can be enough of a warning to get someone to pay because they don’t want to deal with the hassle of what would happen if they don’t.

If you’re a freelancer or virtual assistant and would like to discover what steps you should take next to grow your business sustainably, check out our free ‘choose your own adventure interactive class’ below 👇

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Want ALL the juicy details on how to work online as a digital business manager?

Check out my FREE intro class which goes over what exactly a digital business manager does day-to-day, how much I make as a DBM, my 5-step plan to get you started and more!