Most of you may know already that I recently moved from full-time to freelance as a product manager. It's been somewhat of an uncharted territory with companies still getting used to the idea of contract hiring in product.
On the last day of every month after wrapping up my work - like all freelancers - I conduct the ritual of sending an invoice (and cross my fingers hoping it gets paid in time). As a product manager, I'm extremely particular about design and most of the templates I found online are super boring! Even the invoices I've received from agencies in the past that I've worked with have been super monotonous. These kind of invoices may work (or even preferred) in most companies where the invoice normally goes to the accounts/finance department.
However, my expertise is working with early-stage startups where things are not that set in stone and even if the accounts team gets it, why not make it a little different for them once in a while?
Over the last few months, I've picked up Figma as my super app for all things non-document related. And so, I ended up designing an invoice myself in a format that's easy to edit and scalable.
Key aspects of what I was planning to achieve with it -
- Should be clean yet fun
- Should be personalised in some way visually & easily adaptable for new clients
- Should have all the info required to approve / make the payment to avoid back and forth.
- And add "Something different"
Clean Design :
(I'm not a designer! Just dabbling.) My definition of clean design usually means adequate spacing, font-weights, character spacing and enough white space to bring focus to the most important bit.
For visually personalising an invoice, I wanted to go beyond the logo and addressing by name etc. Before I talk about how I did it - WHY was it important to personalise? To create a sense of being on the same team. As a freelancer, you're often perceived as hired help or resource where you're only spoken to when needed. I would HATE to work like this. This bit is just a part of showing how deeply I care about their product to have put in this effort.
Coming back to how - nothing different - just the brand colours! In the template as well you'll find a colour swatch - if you simply change the colours here, the 1st template will reflect the changes automatically. If your client doesn't have a secondary colour or one that complements it - stick to the primary!
This setup helps me customise it for all my clients or any new clients easily by simply switching the colours, adding the details and export as a PDF!
I haven't customised the font as per the company - I chose a classic - Open Sans.
Information and Details :
Most often asked questions on an invoice are the mode of payment and if you work on pro-rated basis then maybe a work log. I didn't want to turn the invoice into an ugly excel sheet with 500 rows - so I simply added a link to my work log. (I'll maybe do a separate article on work logs but there are multiple tools for this, however I still prefer the good 'ol excel sheet)
"Something different" :
I absolutely love the concept of Easter eggs in products and wanted to do something unexpected but not too hidden here - so I thought of adding an interesting fact relevant to the product or the company's business strategy here. As a PM I often get absorbed in design & tech & stakeholders and don't always get the time to do extensive research. I use this as an opportunity to devote time to market research and learn from other companies or find interesting strategies or latest data on the domain.
Here's one example :
For a client in the P2P Payments space : I google-discovered that NPCI puts out legit stats on UPI transactions every month! We had been contemplating internally whether P2P was the right choice over P2M with not much data to rely on. So I got the numbers and crunched them into a single line "In November’20, out of all UPI transactions, 60% of the volume & 84% of the value was P2P, rest being P2M." As soon as I sent the invoice, the CEO pinged me on Slack immediately : (aha moment!)
Anyway, getting right to it now - here's the template on Figma : Link
Feel free to create a copy and use it! :D
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