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Finance Tips for Freelance Translators Part II

finance freelance translators

By Maeva Cifuentes

Welcome back to my series on Finance Tips for Freelance Translators!

Today I’d like to address a commonplace part of our profession: invoices. As a business owner, invoices are indispensable documents to keep track of your jobs and, most importantly, of who owes you how much money, and when do they have to pay? Except for any client-side force majeure, correctly filling and filing invoices will ensure timely payment and a smoother tax season.

The key to getting paid after delivering your translation is filing a proper invoice and making sure it gets to the right person at the right time. Check with your client whether they have an accounting department the invoice should be sent to or whether you should send it directly to your project manager with the delivery of your translation. Your invoice should include the following information:

  • Your details:
    • Full name,
    • Company logo/name,
    • Contact details,
    • Payment info (PayPal e-mail, bank account transfer info, etc.),
    • If you’re V.A.T. registered, you would include your V.A.T. number here.
  • Job information:
    • Date of the invoice,
    • Invoice number (you assign that number yourself – my formula is [Company name Initials] [Year] [Corresponding number]),
    • Net payment terms (how many days after you file the invoice should you receive the payment? The standard is net 30 days, but some consider that to be too long to wait),
    • Any penalties for late payments, service provided (translating, editing, proofreading, etc.),
    • Job description (translation, proofreading, etc.)
    • Number of words or hours,
    • Your rate per word or hour,
    • The total (bolded) and any tax you might include.
  • The client’s details:
    • Full name/company name,
    • Registered address,
    • Project manager’s name,
    • Job number,
    • PO number,
    • Any other information you might have on your client.

There are plenty of invoice templates online, so you do not have to waste your time creating your own invoice unless you’re into that kind of stuff. You can find invoice templates in the links provided at the bottom of this post. There are however several platforms and software on which you can create, send, file and save your invoices.

  • ProZ offers invoicing services to its paying members, which is what I used when I started translating. It already has a template, so you just need to fill out the form and it easily creates an invoice for you, which you can then download as a PDF and send to your client. It’s straightforward, simple, and keeps tracks of due dates for you.
  • If you followed my advice in my last column and decided to start using PayPal as a business account, it makes sense to use PayPal’s invoicing system. Through PayPal, you can create invoices (found under the ‘Request Money’ tab), and your clients can pay you either directly through PayPal or using a credit card.
  • I’m currently experimenting with Waveapps, a bookkeeping website that keeps tracks of my profits and losses (I’ve linked it to my PayPal business account) and lets me create and send invoices directly from the website. I can use their phone app to upload business-related receipts as well, which is far more convenient than the antiquated shoebox method. A disadvantage is that you are not able to add or rename expenses categories, and many of my expenses are falling under ‘Uncategorized expense.’ This will be inconvenient for me later, but I’m currently working on finding a solution.

Is there anything I missed? Join me next time for Finance Tips for Freelance Translators and let me know if you have any topics you’d like me to cover!


More tips:


Invoice templates:

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