Learn How to Create Invoices with PayPal

Still accepting commission work via Venmo?

Or maybe you’re requesting payment via PayPal or worse – in person? It’s time that you discover the importance of paper trails and begin to use invoices to collect payment.

What’s a Paper Trail?

A paper trial is a recollection of an action being taken which can be referenced via an email or document. It’s easy to fall into the mindset that everyone has good intentions in doing business. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s natural for some to catch amnesia and not recall a conversation being held regarding commissioned work.

So what should you do when that happens? Well, you use a paper trail.


When I first started to accept custom work, I accepted payments via Venmo. This was great for my first assignment, but I knew that this method wouldn’t hold up. As requests started to become more complex, I transitioned to invoicing.

I almost created my own invoice from scratch, however, I knew that would get old pretty fast. Also, being the tech lover that I am, I knew that there had to be an easier solution to invoicing.

And then there was PayPal Invoice Templates.

PayPal provides such an easy invoicing solution for small businesses! You’re able to create templates for consistent use OR create a new one from scratch for each order.

I personally create a new invoice for each client as the requests that I receive vary.

Invoice Essentials

So what should you include on an invoice? Below are the basic elements that I personally include:

Description of Work

Whether you’re designing a website or creating an illustration, you need to create a line item for whatever it is that you’re creating. You can keep this concise and generalize what is being created. There’s no need to write a dissertation on the work that will be complete. You can save this for your Scope of Work.


How much are you charging your client? Regardless of the cost, be sure to list it! Even if it’s free, you’ll still want to indicate this!

Terms of Agreement

There’s no universal language for this section, however, it’s imperative that you outline anything that needs to be addressed in this section. For my illustrations, I state the following:

·       Turnaround time

·       Number of revisions included

·       When payment will be due

I personally tell clients that I have a 2-3 day turnaround for work after I have received the first half of payment for their work. In addition, I will do up to 5 revision rounds per client. And lastly, I inform clients that I will not provide any final deliverables until their invoice balance is paid in full.

Take a look at how you operate (or how you would like to operate) as a freelancer and consider what your terms should be for your business.


Often times, conversations with new clients start via email or somewhere online such as a Twitter direct message. When this occurs, you’ll want to save the conversation as a .PDF and attach the conversation to the invoice. Why? More often than enough, you will have discussed cost with your client before heading into the invoice stage. Everything up until that point has been discussed in your online conversation. It only makes sense to attach what the client agreed to within the invoice. Fortunately, PayPal invoice has a feature where you can add attachments to an invoice.

Collecting Payment

Before you send an invoice to a client, you can choose whether or not a client is expected to pay the full amount upon receipt OR just a partial payment. I personally require 50% of the invoice to be paid before I start to do any client work. You can set your own specified minimum payment due prior to sending an invoice to a client.

So what happens if your client is late making a payment? Well, you can send a passive aggressive reminder via PayPal to the client! Rather than attempt to curate the perfect ‘Hey, you still haven’t made your payment’ email, PayPal has a feature that enables you to send a reminder with the click of a button.

Save yourself some stress and start using invoices to keep track of your payments. Aside from the obvious time saving benefits I listed above, you’ll be equipped with documentation in the event that you ever need to take legal action in the future.

FreelanceApril Speight