Design

How to Generate Reports Your Clients Will Actually Read

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Being a freelance worker isn’t easy. Not only do you have to make time to complete all of your client work, you also have to do all the things that come along with running your own company: emails, accounting, benefits. You know; all of the fun things that take away from enjoying the work itself.

Piktochart can help with that! We’ve got the tools to help you solve some of the biggest problems facing freelancers. In addition to being the best option for creating amazing infographics, Piktochart has templates for the types of reports you want to create and your clients want to read.

If you’re looking for ways to use Piktochart to help take your freelance communications to the next level, you’ve come to the right place. This post will take a look at some of the common problems facing freelancers and how Piktochart can help you solve them. We’ll even give you a headstart on creating the reports and invoices that your clients will read as soon as they hit their inboxes.

Common Freelance Struggles

There are some hurdles that get in the way for every freelancer and self-employed small business owner. No one has ever woken up and said, “I want to work for myself because if there’s one thing I love, it’s tons of administrative work and the headaches that come along with it.”

The good news is that because you’re not the first person to hit these speed bumps, there are folks out there that want to help you get through the paperwork and back into the work you want to be doing.

Communication is Key

If you’ve ever worked with a client who hates to return emails or pick up the phone, you know exactly how important communication is for freelancers. More often than not, your client isn’t sitting in an office right down the hall, ready to answer any questions you have.

Maybe it’s not the client’s fault. It’s possible that he or she would love to answer your email, but it’s buried in their inbox alongside everything else. Or maybe they saw your invoice during the haze of early morning, pre-coffee email checking and day preparations. They want to pay you; they just… forgot.

people-office-group-team

(Source: http://startupstockphotos.com/post/100833062651/sprint-accelerator-kansas-city-mo-check-out)

Piktochart can help put these problems out of your mind. Using our report templates and tools for importing data, you can create eye-catching, memorable invoices in no time. Instead of a greyscale spreadsheet where all of the line items and figures blur together, you can build a custom invoice with graphs, glyphs, and colors that are specific to your business. You’ll never be mistaken for a run-of-the-mill spreadsheet again!

Clear communication is important, too. If you have to explain what each item means or how Part A works with Piece B every time you talk with a client, it’s possible that you’re confusing them. That’s not a situation most people walk into willingly.

Piktochart can help with that, too. Studies have shown that visuals increase comprehension and transmit messages faster. Visuals also have a habit of sticking in people’s long-term memory. A report that uses visuals instead of only using text might help your client understand your message more clearly.

The client will appreciate how much easier it is to understand what you’re working on. You spend less time explaining and more time working. Both of these things makes clients happy and more likely to hire you again in the future.

Time is Money

Speaking of the time you spend explaining, those are probably not “billable” hours. When I was doing freelance work, I viewed working hours that I wasn’t doing billable work as time (and money) lost.

It’s likely that the time you spend generating reports and invoices is also not billed time. That means you’re working for free at best. Even worse, you could be losing out on the opportunity to be doing billable work and therefore losing money, too.

laptop-paper-pencil

(Source: https://unsplash.com/photos/aOC7TSLb1o8)

If you spend less time explaining what you’ve done or how it’s billed, that means you can spend more time working for both you and your client. It also means less time waiting to get paid.

Oh, yes. Getting paid was one of my key stressors as a freelancer. Freelance work can be feast or famine, and the cable company doesn’t care if you’re waiting for an invoice to be paid.

Freelance work can be feast or famine; the cable company doesn’t care if you’re waiting for an invoice to be paid. Click To Tweet

Making your invoices memorable and easy to understand can play a huge role in helping you get paid faster. Remember: visuals stick in people’s long-term memory. An impressive invoice might make be the difference between a client clicking the “Pay Me” link right away or moving your email to the “To Do” folder to catch up on “later”.

Be Memorable (for the right reasons)

Regular, repeat clients make freelance life easier. Most of the time you have that’s not dedicated to doing work is spent finding work. If you don’t have to go looking, you have more time for work that pays.

But what if you’re not the only person who does what you do? Chances are there are other editors/writers/designers out there who have the same skills and might be willing to showcase them for less money. Loyal clients aren’t as likely to stray, but how do you keep them coming back?

The best way to ensure repeat business is to be respectful of your clients’ time and to have clear and concise methods of communication. That’s why we covered those points first.

To ensure repeat business, be respectful of your clients’ time & have clear methods of communication. Click To Tweet

Another great way to be at the top of your client’s list for repeat business (or better yet, referrals) is to be unique. It helps if you’re memorable for the right reasons. Anyone can throw together a spreadsheet with a table of expenses and time spent. It takes someone who really cares about their work (and their clients) to put together a report that makes your results crystal clear.

Who do you think is more likely to be recommended: the freelance writer who does what’s required and bills on time every month, or the writer who goes the extra mile to answer all of the client’s questions before they ask them (in a colorful, eye-catching report)?

How to Get Started

Jumping into something new, particularly when you’ve been doing it in a completely different way, can be intimidating. But I’m not just going to throw out these suggestions and let you sink or swim on your own. I promise.

I worked with Maxi, one of our in-house designers, to put together a couple of visuals to serve as inspiration for your new adventure. You can use them as guides to using Piktochart to take your freelance game to the next level.

Invoicing

The first visual we put together is an invoice. Getting paid is a priority, right?
invoice-report

I started with our Hourglass 2 Report template and made a couple of tweaks. First, I changed my color scheme to match our brand colors here at Piktochart. Having your communications branded is an easy way to ensure that your clients remember you and your invoices.

For fun, I added some glyphs and icons to visually represent the work I did. I also broke down the costs and time spent into their respective pie charts using the Dynamic Data import tool.

gdrive-data-import-piktochart

It makes importing data from my time spreadsheet remarkably easy. Maxi added some coordinating colors to help each section stand out a little more clearly.

At the bottom, we added the total amount due in its own box so that it’s easily found. We also added a place to put a link to your payment processor of choice (PayPal, Square, etc.). Now all the client needs to do is visually scan the report, notice the amount due, and click the link. BOOM. It’s easy to make, and it’s much more memorable and unique than simply sending over a spreadsheet.

Price Sheet

As Maxi and I were putting together the invoice visual, we kept going back and forth to make a small tweak here or there. It got our minds turning about how we dealt with changes to projects when we were freelancers, and out of that came our next visual.

If you’ve ever had to negotiate with a client about making changes to a project or task that you’ve already “finished”, you’ll know how much easier those conversations are when you have a clear list of your services and their accompanying costs. Again, you could have a spreadsheet that lists and categorizes everything, or you could use Piktochart to make a price sheet that’s far less likely to get lost in the shuffle of papers on your client’s desk.

price-sheet-template

Maxi chose to use the same color scheme as the invoice because we want our communications to be branded in a way that’s easily associated with our company. Then, Maxi and I took some of the types of information we remembered having to send over and over again during our freelance days and laid it out in a easy-to-understand arrangement.

Having a short blurb about your business at the top of your sheet can help remind potential clients about what makes you unique. Having short summaries and prices for your common services or packages in one place will cut down on the amount of time you spend sending the same responses to similar inquires. Plus, this arrangement makes it easy to distinguish between packages, so the client will know exactly what they are getting for their money.

Using the Right Tools

Maximizing time and money is the top priority of most freelance workers. Using a tool like Piktochart to help with tasks like generating invoices and reports can help you save time, get paid faster, and feel like the one-of-a-kind freelancer that you are.

What challenges do you face as a freelance worker? Are there any that we might be able to help you with? Please drop us a line in the comments below if there’s any way we can help!

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