Having a professional and concise invoice is extremely important in today's acting world. You want to show that you know what you are doing and prove to the employer that you are a professional, thus minimising the chances of employers delaying payment or trying to alter fees etc. I am NOT saying that all employers are like this, 9 times out of 10 they are above board and I am also not saying that a perfect invoice can prevent any payment issues, but a well put together invoice alongside diligence can be a really help.
So what are the main components of your invoice?
Starting at the top, put your name in a decent size, easy to read font (I suggest Arial, size 18) on the left and the word 'INVOICE' in the same font and size on the right hand side. This seems obvious but you want to make sure that everything is absolutely clear, that way there is no excuse if an employer comes back to you and says something wasn't clear. It can sometimes take months to receive payment for a job, so you don't want any extra delays.
Below your name put your full address as you would see it on the front of a letter, e.g:
123 Actors Street
Followed by your phone number. Just to be sure, put the word 'phone' or 'Tel.' in capitals and then a colon before you put your number. Once again, it sounds silly to be so specific but this attention to detail will pay off in the end.
This is all on the left-hand side. On the right-hand side underneath the word INVOICE should be the following:
The date, written out in full, e.g:
12th December 2012
Once again this is for clarity as it is possible to miss-read a date when just in number form. Note that this is the date you are invoicing them, NOT the date of the job.
And underneath that should be the invoice number. This is simply '1' if it the first time you have invoiced them, '2' if it's the second etc. This may only be a one off contract but you never know what will happen in the future, and if you are working freelance and do a good job, they may call you again. So by having the number system on the invoice it makes it easier to re-use it again and again.
Next, underneath your address and telephone number on the left you need to put the address of the company you are billing. N.B It is very important to get this information from your employer if you know you are going to be invoicing them. This is a legal requirement that you state the business address of the company so make sure you get it.
So now we come to the bulk of the invoice, the actual numbers and amount you are going to be paid. I put this in a table so it is easy to read, and I put four headings though you can adapt this to suit you. The headings I put are:
DESCRIPTION - The details of what the job entailed, and usually the date on which it occurred (remember the date you put at the top of your invoice is the date you are invoicing them, NOT the date you did the work.)
AMOUNT - This is the amount of hours / days you worked. Depending on your contract you may be paid hourly so make sure you include that, or you may be on a 'Day-Rate' contract where you are paid a set amount. In this case I would put the amount as however many days you worked e.g '6' if you worked 6 days.
RATE - This is how much your employer has agreed to pay you. So, again, this could be an hourly rate so you could be on £10 an hour having worked 12 hours. In this case you would put AMOUNT - 12hrs. RATE - 10. If you are on a 'Day-Rate' contract of £150 a day and worked for 2 days you could write: AMOUNT - 2. RATE - 150.
TOTAL - Simply, this is the total for each section of your invoice. So for my 2 previous examples, the total for the hourly rate would be 12hrs X 10 = £120. And the day rate over the 2 days would be 2 X 150 = £300. You may have more than one line in your table because you will most likely need to include expenses so once you have totalled up everything, you will need to put a FINAL TOTAL at the bottom right of your table.
Those are my four headings. When adding any expenses to your table, disregard the AMOUNT and RATE headings; just put a description of what the expenses were (e.g Travel, petrol, food etc.) and the date they occurred under the DESCRIPTION heading and then the total in the final heading. Then add these to the other numbers for your final total which is what you are asking to be paid. N.B Put each expense separately to avoid confusion.
Finally, underneath your table will be the most important information of all... Your bank details. Without these, your employer won't be paying you at all, no matter how professional your invoice is.
So on the left hand side include the following information:
BANK: (name of your bank)
BANK ACCOUNT NAME: (appears on your bank account, remember, this may be different to your stage name)
SORT CODE: (6 digits in groups of two)
ACCOUNT NUMBER: (8 digit number)
And then, underneath that you add the word:
'REMITTANCE' followed by your email address. This is just an official way of saying this is where to send confirmation or queries if not by telephone as most companies will prefer to deal via email.
One piece of advice when sending your invoices to employers is always save your invoice as a PDF file. This means that no-one can alter or interfere with your invoice once it's been sent. I'm not saying it happens a lot, but an employer could change the amount on your invoice and pay you that, then if you dispute it, they could show you an invoice for the amount they paid you. Again it's just better to be safe than sorry.
So that is it. Hopefully this will help you to write an invoice you can be sure looks professional and will encourage employers to pay on time. I can't say that for sure, but I know it definitely helps.