Invoice deliverables, not processes; Advice for design students/new designers

invoice design clients

How to invoice clients is a common question among graphic design students and new designers. At the end of the day people want results, not processes, and as such it’s usually good practice for your invoices to reflect this.

Some argue that invoices should be broken down and itemized in detail so clients know exactly what they’re paying for. This is fine in theory, but in reality it’s usually unnecessary.

As a simple example, when arranging business card printing for clients (some fictional quantities and costs demonstrated here…) I invoice them for something along these lines:

Business cards – $1,000
– 90mmx55mm, 310gsm stock, full colour + matte varnish both sides, 1,000 units

That’s it. Just the essentials and the cost, nothing more. I don’t break down it down into:

Prepare artwork $540
Provide paper samples $30
Travel time $60
Press check $90
Client correspondence $60
Paper stock $70
Printers labour $120
Business cards postage $30

Because really, clients aren’t interested… In the majority of cases including this additional level of detail is completely unnecessary, if not distracting. Ultimately the client wants a box of business cards on their desk, not the story of how they got there.

I read a comment in a Linkedin discussion earlier which basically said: If you want your invoice to look worth the amount, itemize everything. The more words you put on the invoice the bigger the amount can be.

To me, that doesn’t sound like you’re itemizing work so the client can see everything they paid for. It sounds like they’re paying you to spend time fluffing up an invoice.

While larger/complex design projects may require some itemisation, the simplest methods are generally the best.

Stick to the essentials, there’s certainly no need to spend your time or the clients money on writing a novel of an invoice.