Invoicing with oDesk is quite easy. When it comes to hourly work, oDesk has software that will track the amount of time you work for the jobs that are hourly. Then at the end of the week they remind you to check your time, which you should be doing anyways. This will show you the amount of time it shows you have worked. Then the client is asked to check this time to agree or disagree with what they see. Then they invoice the client who will then pay the amount. You will receive the amount 1 1/2 weeks after the end of the week.
This is a great way to keep the number of steps you have to do limited. You just have to make sure you pick the right client to bill when you go to work. You want to make sure you are careful as when you open the software it will have you ready to log in to the last client you billed hours to.
If you are working on a fixed price project, they will pay you once they feel they want to. Just because a job is due on a certain day doesn’t mean they will pay you on that day, if they pay you at all. So, it is best you look at their feedback from other contractors and payment history to see if this is the option you should consider, especially as you are beginning.
If you are freelancing and not using any type of company, but doing it on your own, you need to find a way to invoice that works for you. Each of your clients will have their own way and/or timetable they work best with. I know one person who wants an invoice weekly while I have others who say it doesn’t matter, as long as they know when I will be doing it. So, those clients I usually invoice once a month, unless it is a really big project.
If you invoice on your own you need to have something set up that you use to help you know who has paid, when and for what. I now use a spreadsheet that tracks my customers I invoice on my own. I have set it up to include a number I give each client and then started with 1 and the invoice numbers will go up. Then on another worksheet I keep track of when the invoice was sent, when it was paid and if it was paid by PayPal, what the amount of the fees I will be paying as well. I highlight the invoices that haven’t been paid, then I un-highlight them when they are paid. Since this is done in Excel it is easy to do. This helps me know who I need to follow-up with on unpaid invoices. The amount of time they have to pay will vary if the contract we have stipulates the amount of time they will take to pay or not. If it doesn’t, then I put in my date for it.
If you want a sample of what I use let me know and I will be happy to send it to you.