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Invoicing Guide: How, What & When
To Professionally Bill Your Voice Over Clients


Note: On Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012, Edge Studio and VoiceOverXtra present an intensive full-day workshop in New York City for new voice actors: For details, please click here.

By Edge Studio Team
Voice Over Training & Production

Few things are as immediately satisfying as concluding a voice over job well done. But there is one thing at least as rewarding: Getting paid for it.

Too many voice actors hurt their chances of being paid quickly and getting more work from the client, by failing to send a professional-looking voice over invoice promptly.

There’s a saying among freelancers:
"Clients don’t treat you like a professional unless you treat yourself like one.”
Prompt, proper invoicing is an essential part of professional behavior. You should send it out that evening, or the next day at the latest.

If you’re well prepared, it’ll take less than 10 minutes to do.

HOW SHOULD IT LOOK?
  • A "professional” voice over invoice doesn’t have to be fancy or clever, like a website, stationery or your business card might be.
  • It doesn’t have to be designed well, as your resume should be.
  • You don’t need invoice paper or a special letterhead.
In fact, most professional voice actors email their invoices. That’s fine with most clients these days.

HOW TO SEND IT?

Ask each of your clients what invoicing method they prefer. For instance,
  • Do they accept it as an attachment, or should it be in the body of the email?
  • If attached, do they want a PDF, Word file, text file or other?
  • If in the email body, can they view a formatted HTML email, or should it be plain-text? (And note that "Rich Text” may not be supported by all email software.)
If you prepare a PDF or a paper invoice, and if you have a logo and/or have adopted a certain typeface in your marketing materials, using it would be nice (if suitable). But it’s absolutely not necessary.

If sending as an ordinary HTML email, a small logo is okay, but (again) graphics are not necessary, and you should use your standard email typeface.

IF THEY NEED IT ASAP ...

Avoid handwriting an invoice - It’s under the threshold of acceptability, and might not be sufficiently readable.

But sometimes a client asks for an invoice immediately (e.g., their payment period ends today), so it doesn’t hurt to have a blank invoice or two as part of your session kit, and a crib sheet to remind you what to include. In this rare situation, be sure to keep yourself a copy.

Your invoice just has to be readable and presentable, and contain all the information necessary for the client to understand what, who, how and how much they pay, and to apply the payment properly in their own records.

We regularly get invoices that don’t meet that standard, and it often causes enough confusion that we think about hiring someone else next time.

WHAT SHOULD IT INCLUDE?

  • The word "Invoice”
  • Name of your client - Company and contact name, at least. Address optional
  • If sending by email, the email address you are sending it to.
  • Job description, including:
    • job date
    • client’s job number or "PO Number” if any - always ask about this when you get the script
    • script title
    • any other identifying references to the job
  • Your name
  • Your telephone number
  • Your email address
  • Your full mailing address - the address you want payment sent to
  • Your Social Security Number or business Tax ID. If you have confirmed that your client already has this conveniently on file, you might want to leave it off for security’s sake.
  • Amount Due. Itemize if distinct services and/or materials were provided to the client - that is, if it was not a package price.
  • Any significant extra or unusual services or materials you provided for which you did not charge. But don’t "pad” it with small standard business services such as routine correspondence or electronic delivery. Use the words "No charge.”
  • State whom the check should be payable to, even if it is the same as your name at top. If you accept other means of payment, such as credit card or PayPal, state how to submit their payment information.
  • If you sell your services with any "fine print,” include it on your invoice. For example: "Payment made after 30 days will incur 1.5% interest added per month.” That's yet another reason to get the invoice out fast, to start the clock. However, some clients will not pay the additional unless you have discussed it first. Avoid using "bookkeeper shorthand” such as "Net 30” - some clients, especially international ones, might not understand it.
  • A short, relevant promotional reminder might be appropriate. For example: "If you have any questions, please ask. Need revisions? I offer special low rates.”
AN INVOICE EXAMPLE
John Doe Voiceovers
JDoe@whatever.com
555-555-1234

INVOICE for voice over work
TO: Acme Fireworks, 123 Cactus St., Nowhere, AZ 00000.
Attn: Wile E. Coyote (via email to Wile.E@whatever.com)
JOB: Voice over for Acme Training Video, "Surprise Me!” (Client Job #123-456)
JOB DATE: November 14, 2012
AMOUNT DUE: $350
Please make check payable to: John Doe
Please mail check to: John Doe
Street Address City, State, Zip
SSN: On file
Thank you for your business. If you have questions, please ask. Need revisions? I offer special low rates!
 AGREE ON TERMS EARLIER

This all assumes that the details of your remuneration were agreed on before the session, which should ALWAYS be the case.

 If any question remains, ask your client in private, or wait till after.

But do NOT mention payment or invoicing during your session. The clients of your client might be there, and if your client is marking up your rate, that would be very embarrassing to all.

In other words, if a studio producer pays you $350 to record a commercial for a restaurant, they might charge the restaurant (or the ad agency) $400. Often their client is aware of this markup, but sometimes not, or they may not know the exact amount. Always assume they are not aware of it, and in any case, don’t remind them.

ARE YOU ON TIME?


Why don’t people send voice over invoices on time?
  • For some, it’s just a bit of drudgery that uses a different part of the brain than performing.
  • For others, they don’t have a system for doing it, and they have to remember the process all over each time.
  • And for others, they don’t have all the data, or have it disorganized, so invoicing takes far more time than it should.
What’s your excuse?

TIPS FOR SENDING QUICKLY ...


Here are some tips for getting invoices out the next day.

1. Create an invoice template.
It can be a Word document where you replace the words "Job Description here” with the actual description, etc. Or it can be a simple list like the one above, printed and taped up next to your computer. Whatever it takes to open your software and print it up within 5-10 minutes.

2. Keep consistent, complete records.

This, too, can be on your computer, but sometimes you’ll acquire information when you’re not seated at your desk, or your computer isn’t on. So you may just want to have a binder with pre-printed pages, a form, ready to accept all the information you’ll need. And if you answer the phone in the kitchen, there’s nothing wrong with saying, "Let me get out my book so I can take your information” if your binder (etc.) is close at hand.

3. For word processors ...
If you use a word processor to prepare invoices, create the invoice document for that job as soon as you get it. Fill in the details as soon as the job is finished. Just be sure to keep track of which invoices you’ve sent and which are still in preparation.

4. For multiple services ...
If you include copywriting services, or bill many jobs on one invoice (for instance, billed per week or month), you may need to keep a separate time sheet. These can also be kept in a binder, but there are various Time Management programs you might consider.

5. Create direct tech link.

On your operating system menu or desktop, put a direct link to your invoicing program, template document and/or timesheet. So you can open it with a single click.


BE CONSISTENT - BE IMMEDIATE

Whatever you do, the important thing is to do it consistently and IMMEDIATELY.

Done with the job? Ready to rush the recording into an email? STOP! Don’t even email it until you’ve filled out your time sheet, or maybe even prepared the invoice. Few jobs can’t wait for you do that.

If you’re behind in your invoicing, do nothing else until you’re caught up.

If there’s a question, get it answered. If data is missing, sort it out, fess up to your client, do some "forensics,” or meanwhile invoice the rest.

If you’ve been habitually late, do NOT tell your client something like, "From now on, if I don’t invoice you within XX days, you don’t pay.” You’re addicted to lateness, and this kind of pressure is not the cure - having to live up to such a promise would be tragic. In any case, it’s totally unprofessional.

Just get it done. Because, remember - clients don’t treat you like a professional unless you do.
-------------------------------------------------------
ABOUT EDGE STUDIO
Edge Studio is a premier voice over production and training company headquartered near Times Square in New York City, with additional facilities in Fairfield, CT and the Washington, D.C. area. Founded in 1988 by producer David Goldberg, it offers a growing staff of voice over training professionals and online and in-person training opportunities. VoiceOverXtra readers receive a 10% discount by mentioning the code VOXTRA when ordering new Edge Studio training and services.


Email: training@EdgeStudio.com
Web: www.EdgeStudio.com
New Voice Actor's V.O. Expansion Event, Nov. 18: http://bit.ly/NewVoiceActorEventNov18

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