Invoicing can be both a really enjoyable or really frustrating experience for freelancers, contractors, and small businesses.

There’s nothing quite like the sense of catharsis that comes from sending off a nice, big invoice once a tricky project’s in the bag. However, sometimes clients aren’t as reliable at upholding their end of the bargain.

Did you know that research in March 2014 by Hilton Baird Collection services showed that 88% of small businesses are affected by late payments? This is especially worrying considering that another survey by The Association of Business Recovery Professionals revealed that 47% had experienced a business going under where late payment was the primary factor.

So why do clients pay late?

Unfortunately, it’s not always clear, but frequent excuses include:

  • “We didn’t receive an invoice”

  • “The invoice wasn’t for the correct amount”

  • “The invoice didn’t have an invoice number”

  • “The invoice wasn’t dated”

Many of our clients have told us that they’d love to be able to customise their invoices so they stand out more to their clients – so we’ve been busy working on a new addition to our service designed to help you send timely, accurate and professional invoices that will demand your clients’ attention.

Today we’re excited to launch Invoice Tuner, a new tool which gives you more control over how invoices are sent and their appearance. It’s part of Crunch Labs – our testing area for new add-ons and experiments.

So what does it do?

With Invoice Tuner you can customise your invoices by editing input fields and choosing from a variety of templates. The add-on allows you to:

  • Choose from a range of professional themes or design your own in CSS

  • Change the name and email address that invoices are sent from

  • Choose whether to automatically email new invoices to clients

  • Change email text

Best of all, these options are customisable for each of your individual clients.

Our design team have already created a bunch of great looking themes, but we want even more to be available to turn Crunch into the most versatile invoicing machine out there. So, to celebrate the release of Invoice Tuner, we’re offering up some fantastic prizes for the people that can design the best invoice templates.

How do I enter?

  1. Download this zip file, which contains the templates you need to get started.

  2. Use your CSS skills to edit the template, creating your own personalised theme.

  3. When you’re finished email our Community Manager Mel, who will help you upload your design to our public gallery.

The invoice templates added to our gallery from this competition will be offered to all Crunch clients under a Creative Commons License – you will be referenced as the creator in our gallery, but attribution won’t be included when the invoice is issued to avoid confusion.

Please note that you will need to have an intermediate knowledge of CSS in order to use Invoice Tuner’s theme generator, and the competition is only open to Crunch clients.

What can I win?

We have a tasty £250 worth of Amazon vouchers up for grabs for the winner, and £100 for the runner-up.

Our design team will look through all the templates submitted up until Friday 29th August and decide the winners.

Get started!

To help you out, here are some top tips for what we’re looking for from our designer, the flamboyant Jose F. Lillo:

Clarity and transparency

  • Keep your and your clients’ details clear.

  • Make it easy for them to contact you in case of confusion

  • Be explicitly clear about when and how they can pay you

Design and coding

  • Reinforce professionalism by making good use of colours and layout

  • Make sure you use a clear and legible typography

  • Be innovative and push your design and coding skills to the limit

You can check out some invoices we made earlier here for inspiration – and if you have any questions feel free to leave a comment below.

Best of luck!