Managing Your Finances as a Blogger
Dealing with your accounts might sound intimidating, but that doesn't make it any less important if you're earning as much as a penny from your blog. Simply put, if you're earning from your blog, you should be keeping track of your accounts. To keep you on top of your finances, we're going to be covering the basics of accounting with the help of Julia from Easy as VAT.
Easy as VAT is a brilliant resource for bloggers and small business owners alike, packed with brilliant articles and tools to help to keep on top of your finances with little hassle. Whenever I have a money question, I end up heading to Easy as VAT and pretty much always find what I'm looking for there. Julia's expense tracking spreadsheet is my saviour, and she has so many other great resources to check out.
What mistake do a lot of people make when trying to deal with their books?
Putting it off until the last minute! It’s so much easier to sort things out if you’re updating your books on a regular basis, and means you aren’t hunting for receipts and bank statements from months ago when you’re filing your tax return.
I recommend deciding how often you want to do your books (e.g. monthly or weekly) and put it in your calendar/diary as a recurring appointment.
Do you have any tips for managing income from a side-hustle when you’re working full time?
As soon as you start earning money that you haven’t paid tax on yet, make sure you register as self-employed with HMRC. You can do this online and it’s quite a quick and easy process.
Track your income and also any purchases you make to be able to do your side-hustle (e.g. if you’re a blogger things like photo props, website hosting and domain name) as you’ll need this information for your tax return, and you’ll be able to reclaim some expenses against your tax bill, meaning you pay less tax. If you can, use a separate bank account for transactions related to your side-hustle.
How do you make sure that clients pay their invoices on time?
Ooh, this is such a good question. Sadly, there is no way to make them pay on time! But there are definitely some steps you can take to minimise the chances of late payments happening.
When you’re working with a client, make sure you look professional and experienced from the start, as they’ll be more likely to take you seriously. So make sure there’s a contract in place to confirm the work you’ll be carrying out and your payment terms, and send your invoice as soon as it’s appropriate.
If your invoice hasn’t been paid by the due date, email the client to let them know, and ask when you can expect to receive payment. Usually, it’s just an oversight. If they still haven’t paid you and your invoice is now overdue, don’t be afraid to be persistent and keep contacting them - this is money you’ve earned and are owed!
Businesses can also charge interest of the Bank of England base rate plus 8% on late payments if they choose to.
What’s the best way to organise your books when running a small business or operating as a sole trader?
My personal preference, and in my opinion, the easiest way to organise your books, is to record income and expenses in a spreadsheet on my computer and have a folder for each month containing all my invoices, receipts and bank statements.
This way means that it’s easy to find things if you need them and you don’t take up any room in your house storing files. It’s also free!
However you organise your books, make sure you back them up somewhere on a hard drive or cloud storage, just in case.
If someone's looking to start earning from their blog or side hustle, what should they do first?
If you’re serious about earning, make sure you’re registered for tax and are recording all your income and expenses as I said above.
Depending on the type of business you run, it’s a good idea to have draft contracts and invoices ready to send to clients, rather than giving yourself more work when the time comes.
I also think making a business plan is a really good idea, to brainstorm what it is you want to do, how you’ll make money from it (and your prices!) and who you want to work with. It might not seem necessary for a side-hustle, but it’s so helpful to get clear on what you’re doing and serves as a bit of motivation, too.
Are there any resources or apps (apart from the amazing Easy as VAT blog) that you’d recommend checking out?
Aww, you’re too kind! In terms of apps, 1tap Receipts is great for scanning your expenses receipts and if you drive for business, MileIQ tracks all your mileage. There’s also an app called SignNow that allows you to sign contracts from your phone, which is handy.
If you need business insurance, Simply Business is a great comparison website to check out - you can completely tailor the type of insurance to your needs. For general financial/business advice, I love The Balance (www.thebalance.com) and the Girlboss website (www.girlboss.com) has some fantastic articles, too (I’m on their email list and I always end up clicking every link). Even though they’re both US-based, there’s a lot of helpful info that is relevant to business owners in any part of the world.
Do you think bloggers need to invest in an accountant?
It depends on how busy you are, how complicated your accounts are and whether you can afford it.
If you earn your full-time income from blogging and you don’t have time to do your tax return, it’s probably a good idea to invest in an accountant. However, it’s still important to know your stuff when it comes to finances for a few reasons.
Firstly, even if you have an accountant, you’ll probably still need to do some bookkeeping. Secondly, being educated about the financial things means that you’ll be able to notice when something is potentially going wrong in your business and you’ll feel comfortable questioning your accountant about anything they’ve done that you aren’t sure about, for example, why a certain expense can’t be reclaimed on your tax return.
A lot of the bloggers I work with do choose to do their accounts themselves. There’s something very empowering about being able to manage your money - knowledge is power!
Is a business bank account a necessary upgrade for bloggers, freelancers or other small business owners?
If you’re a sole trader, you don’t legally have to open a business bank account. However, it’s a sensible idea to use a separate bank account for business transactions, as this will make it a lot easier to do your bookkeeping and tax return. You can use a personal account for your business transactions - but check with the bank first, as some of them don’t allow this.