A Freelance Writer’s Invoice and Payment Spreadsheet – Example

This example of a freelance writer’s invoice and payment spreadsheet is simple and easy. Working writers don’t need expensive software to track invoices and payment — this Excel spreadsheet has worked for me for years. 

But, before the tips, a quip…

“Almost anyone can become an author; the business is to collect money and fame from this state of being.” – A.A. Milne.

If you’re dedicated and lucky enough to be earning money from your writing jobs, then you need to find an organized way to keep track of your invoices and payments. Running a successful freelancing business isn’t just about creativity, writing well, and breaking into new magazines – it’s about knowing how a small business operates. To learn more about the business of writing, read Secrets of a Freelance Writer: How to Make $100,000 a Year or More by Bob Bly — he’s one of the most successful freelance writers ever.

And, here is my spreadsheet for invoices and payments…

A Freelance Writer’s Invoice and Payment Spreadsheet – Example

This is a very basic, simple spreadsheet for tracking my writing assignments, due dates, word counts, and payments. It works like a charm!

First Column: Magazine & Article. My latest (just assigned yesterday) is “Best Health – Foods That Fight PMS.”

Second Column: Date Assigned. Insert the date the editor emailed you the contract or article details — the actual assignment, not the “hmmm…we think we like it but need more information” email.

Third Column: Amount Due. My favorite amount to insert for writing an article is $2,000. O happy day!

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Fourth Column: Article Length. This is a new addition to my spreadsheet for invoices and payments. I like seeing at a glance which editor pays what, for how many words.

Fifth Column: Invoice Date. This is often the same day as when I submit my article. That is, I usually attach my invoice and article to the same email.

Sixth Column: Date & Amount Received. The payment amount is usually the same as “Amount Due” – but sometimes kill fees mess things up! I keep track of how long it takes a magazine to pay me, for future reference.

Seventh Column: Invoice Number. Every invoice submitted must have an invoice number – both for your records and for the magazine’s accounting department. Read A Freelance Writer’s Invoice, Plus Invoicing Tips for info on creating invoices without buying expensive software! My invoice numbers start with the year and end with the order an assignment was received (eg, my latest Best Health invoice number is 2009-xx).

Eighth Column: Notes. For instance, Reader’s Digest assigns “annex numbers” to the articles, which must be included on the writer’s invoice. I put my annex number in my Notes column, as well as any special I need to remember.

One thing I don’t include is “Article Due Date” simply because it hasn’t been necessary (though it might be good for future reference). I put my article due dates in my daytimer so they’re in front of me all the time, and I give myself “warning notes.” For example, one notation in my daytimer for this Friday is “Best Health – Foods/Mood – due one week.”

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This spreadsheet for invoices and payments keeps me organized and successful as a freelance writer – and it keeps me on top of who hasn’t paid me! Believe me, it’s much easier to ask where a check is when you have your invoice date, invoice number, word count, and amount due at your fingertips.

To learn more about making money writing, read Business Writing Jobs and Rates – How Much Do Writers Make?

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9 thoughts on “A Freelance Writer’s Invoice and Payment Spreadsheet – Example

  • Irene

    EXACTLY what I was looking for! I don’t need all the bells and whistles of QuikBooks or other software- just wanted something simple and I found your ideas! Perfect! Thanks for sharing- it’s most appreciated!

  • Tumblemoose

    OK Laurie,

    This is me heading over to open office to set it up. I just got through doing my invoicing for July so it’s perfect timing!

    .-= Tumblemoose´s last blog post ..A recession is good for a library =-.

  • Lori

    WOW, you’re organized, Laurie! I stick to 3 columns:
    1) Magazine Name and Article
    2) Description/Notes (travel expenses, $ per word, etc.)
    3) Amount

    I then have a folder of my outstanding invoices and a folder marked “PAID.” I just move the paid invoices into the PAID folder (by using the word “paid” three times in a row, it reveals how much I like getting… paid) and then can see the outstanding invoices in the regular folder. If that makes sense.

    But I like the way you do it, too. I think I might incorporate some of the things you do and update my invoice template. Thanks for the very good tips!
    .-= Lori´s last blog post ..Dawson City Music Festival in the Yukon, Canada =-.

  • Jennifer Escalona

    Great advice! As I mentioned yesterday on Twitter, I really need a central go to place for my billing. Right now I have each client in a separate spreadsheet, and I end up with 5 or more spreadsheets open at the end of the month when it comes invoice time.
    .-= Jennifer Escalona´s last blog post ..[SpecialtyBuzz] Grant Writer Zipporah Daniels-Browne =-.