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How to manage invoicing: 5 invoice management tips for freelancers

Invoicing can be a time suck in businesses of all sizes—especially for freelancers who have to manage this themselves. If this sounds like you, discover our top tips for managing invoices so you can save time and focus your energy on doing your best work.

Manage your files
Two professionals look over an invoice.

Freelancing is a dream for many people, but let's face it, managing invoices can be a nightmare. It's like a never-ending game of financial Tetris, trying to fit all those numbers and due dates together. And let's not forget about the joys of chasing down clients for late payments.

However, with the right tools and strategies, you can streamline the process and get paid faster. In this article, we'll share five invoice management tips to help you stay organized and get back to what you do best—impressing clients and growing your business.

Why's invoice management important?

An effective invoice management process helps you—and your client—prevent costly mistakes in the processing and payment of your invoices. This can help you avoid delays in getting paid for your products or services caused by human error in data entry. As a result, a smooth, stress-free invoice experience can build positive relationships with your clients.

Equipped with the appropriate tools, invoice management can also help you manage your cash flow and inventory, and forecast your financials and growth.

A professional types on a laptop while another professional looks on.

How to manage invoices effectively

Here are five tips to help you manage your invoices effectively:

1. Choose the best software for you

The first step to effective invoice management is choosing the best software. Some clients may prefer invoices to be sent to them as Word, Google Doc, or PDF documents so they can upload them straight to their own invoice management system for processing.

However, to make the process simpler for everyone, look to software that allows you to create, manage, and send your invoices from one place.

Dropbox provides a centralized location for storing all invoices, making it easier to access, manage, and share them from any device, anywhere. This eliminates the need for physical storage, such as paper files or local computer storage, which can be prone to loss or damage.

And if you're looking for a way to connect your files to your invoicing or project management software, Dropbox integrates with a range of tools such as ActiveCollab and Xero Tax.

2. Make it easy for your clients to pay you

There's nothing worse than a client being surprised by an invoice. It's important to discuss the payment terms with your client as soon as possible—ideally before you even begin any work. That way, you can make it clear how you prefer to be paid so it's as easy as possible for the client when the time comes.

A simple payment process is beneficial for everyone—clients can relieve some of the time-consuming tasks involved with processing invoices, and you can improve your cash flow by receiving payments quicker.

Electronic payment methods like Stripe and PayPal are more secure than traditional cash payments. They’re also much faster than submitting bank transfers through online banking.

A screenshot of a user inserting an eSignature into a document.

3. Automate the process

A digital invoice management tool can help you avoid many of the potential errors that are common with paper invoices. Your invoices can be sent straight from your invoicing tool to your client, without getting lost in the mail.

If you need to gather signatures for your invoices, a tool like Dropbox Sign can help you speed this up by automating much of the process. You can create reusable templates and pre-populated forms that you can customize and send to clients for an eSignature. You’ll receive email notifications when your client views, opens, or signs your invoice.

4. Save time with custom templates

If you need to invoice recurring payments or regular project work for clients, then a template will save you a ton of time and effort.

That way, the same information you would have manually input over and over again is pre-populated. Adding your brand logo and customizing the style of your templates also ensures your invoices are more recognizable to clients.

If you don’t need signatures on your invoices, Dropbox allows you to easily edit PDF documents, so you can create new invoices from a template in a few clicks. Version control allows you to track changes to invoices—which may prove useful for auditing. You can then share these files with a simple link, and clients, suppliers, or other stakeholders can access these files even if they don't have a Dropbox account.

5. Have a plan for unpaid invoices

Many freelancers will tell you that overdue and unpaid invoices are unfortunately commonplace. There are a multitude of factors that can cause this, from invoices not being delivered to the appropriate people or departments, to clients simply being too busy to process them.

Because of this, it's important to have a process in place for nonpayment. This could include:

  • Stipulating any late fees or interest charges in your contract with the client
  • Requesting payment upon receipt, meaning the client should pay you as soon as they receive the invoice
  • Setting a reasonable payment period so that the client isn't rushed
  • Scheduling reminders to be sent to the client via email—such as seven days before the payment due date, on the due date itself, and seven days after the due date—in case your invoice was innocently lost in your client's emails
An image of the Dropbox user interface, demostrating the send and track feature for files stored in your Dropbox account.

How to manage invoices with Dropbox

If you're not using invoicing software, but rather creating them manually as documents, Dropbox can be a helpful way to store, organize, and share your invoices.

Upload invoices to your Dropbox account and have them instantly sync to your devices. Share documents directly from your cloud storage in a few clicks. Or, for advanced file sending features like engagement tracking, send your invoices with Send and track.

Invoice management made easy

Speed up the process of creating, customizing, and sending invoices with Dropbox.

Dropbox serves as a centralized hub to store, edit, and share your invoices so you can stay organized and on top of your finances.