25.10.17

Understanding The Financial & Logistical Side Of Being A Blogger (And Some Free Docs For You To Use)

Being self employed was never going to be easy, but the positives definitely outweigh the negatives. Having the freedom and flexibility to do what you want when you want, prioritising what's important to you as an individual and working towards your own bespoke goals (that you actually benefit from achieving) makes the late nights and frantic hair-pulling-out sessions all worth it. Although more and more of us are turning our backs on the traditional nine-to-fives and seeking out our own paths, one of the most misunderstood areas of running your own business (in any capacity) is the finances. As creatives we revel in the ability to craft imagery and tell stories with our words, but the money side of things can feel like a bit of a chore - and can easily get out of control if you're not careful. I've been self employed for over four years and have learned the hard way that you're not always paid, let alone paid on time, and it's easy to be taken advantage of if you don't know what you're doing. So here are some of my tips and learnings if you're looking at running your own business, want to start making money from your platforms or are simply getting in a bit of a muddle!


HAVE A BOOKING FORM & AGREE A SCOPE OF WORK
In order to cover your own back, it's always advisable to have a booking form of some description which you can send to any brand that wants to secure activity with you. This provides a way for them to outline all the information you need to include, their specific objectives and an overview of the agreed scope of work; it's a document for you to refer back to, but it also provides a safety net for the future if there is any discrepancy in expectation or deliverables. It can also work as a contract too, so that from a legal point of view there is something in writing to confirm that you've been commissioned for a set piece of activity. If you'd like an example or something to work from, I've uploaded a document I use and works well for me here.

SPREADSHEETS ARE YOUR FRIENDS
I have to admit I run pretty much everything via a spreadsheet, as it's the easiest way to display information and track what's going on, but when it comes to finances in particular - spreadsheets are your friends. You need to track everything you do (both incomings and outgoings) in order to calculate your expenses and how much money you're actually making.  Not only is this vitally important for when it comes to paying your tax bill, but important for when you need any kind of credit or contract; one of the first things they'll ask is how much money you earn, which is impossible to tell if you don't track it. I've created this example spreadsheet if you need a helping hand or more info, which outlines in a simple way how you can keep track and use that info later down the line; I hope it helps!

YOU DON'T *NEED* AN ACCOUNTANT 
Unless you're utterly useless with finances and numbers, you really don't need an accountant. Sure, they'll take a lot of the stress out of your financial situation and will probably help to save a bit of money in the long-term, but they can also be a big commitment and investment. As long as you track everything and use all the spreadsheets you need, it just means you have to work out what to fill in at the end of the financial year. I hear a lot of mega bloggers talking about their accountant, but unless you really need one or are in a financially fortunate position to be able to afford one, don't worry about scrimping some money together to pay for someone else to do the hard work. (I also personally think it's important to stay on top of your own finances so you can manage your business effectively.)

USE A PROFESSIONAL INVOICING TOOL 
I can't tell you how much easier it makes my life having a professional and easy to use invoicing tool. My personal choice is Invoicely (it's free, but there are plenty of other free tools out there too!) as it helps me to easily create a template with all my details on, including header and logo, and raise a new invoice every time I'm commissioned to do a new piece of work. It even generates invoice numbers so you can track who's paid you (a very important lesson I learned early on - having invoice numbers helps to identify payments as they're often not from an easily identifiable source) and collates all the info in easy to understand graphs too. Downloading invoices as a PDF and always having online access to old invoices makes life so much easier, especially as you don't have to clog up your computer with a tonne of slightly dodgy looking word docs.

PAYMENT TERMS AREN'T SET IN STONE
One of my biggest frustrations is seeing so many bloggers complain they haven't been paid for a campaign within a matter of days of it being live. Unfortunately this isn't how the world of business works and very few companies are set up to pay any supplier before their standard 30 or 60 day period. I would always recommend clarifying payment terms and processes with any new brand before you start work, so you can iron out any issues and manage your own expectations effectively. Most brands will ask you to send an invoice after the work has been completed, and it then it gets processed by a different department; depending when it enters the system you more often than not have to wait for the next payment run on top of their standard payment terms, meaning it's very common for payments to be overdue. Just because you put a 7, 14 or 28 day payment term on your invoice, it doesn't mean that's when you'll get paid; unfortunately the power lays with the brand and they'll pay you when it suits them, rather than the other way around. I've been working for myself for over four years and I can probably count on my hands the number of times I've been paid on time - and I don't even bother chasing until it's a month overdue. 

PREPARING FOR YOUR TAX BILL IS VITAL 
Don't fall into the trap of seeing the money start coming in and spending it on frivolities! A chunk of that belongs to the tax man, so it's always wise to put away about 30% of everything you earn in preparation of your tax bill (as well as your National Insurance and student loan contributions.) I have a savings account set up where I transfer all my money into, only transferring back into my current account what I need to cover my bills (and bad spending habits.) Your tax bill will need to be paid by the end of every January, so make sure you always have a buffer and a clear understanding of what you'll likely have to pay out; you can even arrange to pay this off monthly if you know you're not that great with money, so don't panic about having to pay out thousands of pounds in one chunk. 

Working for yourself is great, but you have to be prepared to get organised and financially stable. I hope that some of my own experiences and tidbits of advice will help you on your own journey to being a kick ass business owner that's in total control of your own financial future.



SIGN UP TO MY MONTHLY NEWSLETTER HERE
EXCLUSIVE NEWS, GIVEAWAYS & INFO ON WHAT YOU'VE MISSED!


Features PR samples unless otherwise stated. To read my full disclaimer, click here.  

SHARE:

26 comments

  1. This is fantastic advice Hayley, and thanks for sharing tips that aren't often shared. Not to mention the super handy example documents. I've toyed with the idea of getting an accountant, but am glad I haven't up to now. It's good to hear you're doing just fine without one!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Honestly, until you get huge or your accounts complex it's an added expense you don't need!

      Delete
  2. This is so helpful for me! Chasing invoices has got to be one of the most annoying things ever, so setting some terms will be very helpful for me!

    Anika | anikamay.co.uk

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hate chasing invoices - and so many remain unpaid. It's just part of being freelance, no matter how unfair and annoying.

      Delete
  3. great blog post, I used to be self employed it's never easy but has it's upsides, Lovely pictures too https://www.jessicaspencerblog.co.uk/

    ReplyDelete
  4. This was so helpful and insightful

    ReplyDelete
  5. Great advice. Definitely using the booking form idea. Such a good way of getting a concrete brief from the client.

    www.upyourvlog.com

    ReplyDelete
  6. So many great tips here Hayley. I feel so lucky that my Mum has a background in finance and accountancy so she gives both me and my husband so much help! x

    Jenny | LuxeStyle

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wish we all had mums with such useful skills! ;)

      Delete
  7. Such good practical advice. Spreadsheets are your best friend and calling HMRC in my experience, always helps when you're stuck with something tax related.

    www.majeang.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I honestly don't know how people cope without a great spreadsheet!

      Delete
  8. Thank you so much for writing this. Very helpful.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thank you. I played around with the thought of starting with self-employement and always held back because I was scared of the financial and legal obligations. Your article was so helpful!!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Super interesting article and great tips! Although I agree with your point on accountants, I've found that a good accountant saves the money that they charge or more; making it cost neutral or beneficial to the business. As you've identified, that takes time - both in finding and setting up then making sure that your records are in check for when they are needed. I didn't use an accountant this year but might next year so that I can focus on bringing in work, rather than slogging through my return. Maybe I'll get slicker as the years go on!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think if you're growing and have a significant income it's worth looking into an accountant for sure, but for most small to mid bloggers it's not necessary if their accounts are quite simple. But always a good option to have help!

      Delete
  11. These are such brilliant tips! I really need to start up a spreedsheet.

    http://ohduckydarling.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad they were helpful Rosa!

      Delete
  12. Anonymous1.11.17

    This was so helpful, not only for bloggers but for anyone looking to be self employed! I'm not at that stage yet but I'm bookmarking this for the day I am :) Thank you!!

    Jamie-Leigh x
    http://www.officiallyjamieleigh.com

    ReplyDelete
  13. Great advice, definitely opened my eyes to few things I wasn't aware of!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Such a helpful post. I'm not yet at the stage where I'm making money but it's what I'm aiming for one day, so saved this post for future reference. :)

    ReplyDelete
  15. Man this is so helpful - thank you so much!

    I only really blog part-time, as I have a full time 9-5 so I've never understood the taxing system tbh. I find it rather difficult to get my head around!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Anonymous4.11.17

    This was incredibly helpful. Not many mention important things like taxes. Just one question: You have to register yourself as self-employed right?

    ReplyDelete
  17. Such a great article for anyone self employed. Can I just add you should never tolerate getting paid late or not at all! Asking for monies owed is definitely one of the hardest things in the world! (We are a brand and still struggle with it!) But you did the work, you absolutely should get paid.
    Some great advice we received includes always use 7 day terms (never 30/60 days which is a throwback to when banking/payments were made by post/cheque. Now everything is instant and by transfer there is no reason to have to wait that long) Understandably large brands will have numerous departments but it's still only an instant forwarded email over to the right department to get your invoice seen.
    As soon as you send an invoice mark the due date on your calendar. Set up a standard looking template email saying very matter of factly that the invoice number ### is now overdue (no I'm sorry to ask, was the work ok?! etc) and send it over the day after the due date for the attention of the accounts department. Just send it, don't worry about it. I'm sure their are plenty of departments that only pay after a 'reminder' email has been sent!
    Also consider adding a fee for late payment. This is harder to implement but it shows you are running a business, you are serious about the work you are doing and the value you are offering.
    Having said all that we rarely get paid within the 7 days! But (generally) never have to wait a month. Cash flow can be a killer to any business so never be afraid to ask for what is owed. X

    ReplyDelete
  18. Absolutely great tips! It is very helpful. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete

Blogger Template Created by pipdig