Calling All Bloggers, We Got You...
We get it. If you have a career in a creative industry, it often looks like to an outsider that what you do isn't work and all you do is take pretty pictures. Wow, what a common, yet hugely wrong assumption.
In fact, if you are a creative such as a blogger, Youtuber, or Instagram influencer you often have to take on much more than the typical business owner. The fact that the term 'Youtuber' is getting underlined as a spelling mistake right now says it all really.
As a creative, you have to take on so many more roles. And although sometimes things can be outsourced at some point most of you have taken on most of these roles...
A social media strategist.
The list could go on. And what is more frustrating than anything is when you have to justify to your accountant that your recent makeup or clothes purchase was for a review or for a shoot and therefore is a justified business expense.
So today, I sat down with the CEO of Cone Accounting, Ben Nacca and asked him some of the most common questions our bloggers and influencers come to us with.
So, Ben I am going to start with the most talked about question; as an influencer what can you claim for?
Ben: So, there is actually quite a lot that a blogger can claim for. For example many bloggers who travel can claim their trips for events, shoots and promotions. In addition to this there is the tech that is required such as laptops, cameras, memory cards, that sort of thing. As most bloggers work from home there is also use of home as office. This is where you can claim a proportion of your costs for your home, from utilities to rent/mortgage interest and use of broadband. We can send you a free spreadsheet to work this out - just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When should you become a company?
Ben: The tax advantage is becoming less and less in previous years but there is a bigger reason to become limited than just saving tax. You have the limited liability, which means that you are covered, should anything happen and you have to close your business. Being a blogger, there's not a lot of risk for this as most bloggers do not have large start-up loans or lots of suppliers they need to pay - modern business practice has enabled bloggers to keep the costs down and flexible. We would suggest that once you're making around £25,000 in profit and above (or around £50k+ turnover) then you should be looking to make that jump to a Limited company.
What do you do with your receipts?
Ben: Just like any business, you should be claiming for all of your business expenditure. This is everything from your train tickets to meetings to your camera equipment and stationery. HMRC require you to keep your receipts and records for 5 years for sole traders and 6 years for Limited Companies. You could keep these all in a binder and sort them out into their months and years. You could also scan these manually into somewhere like a Dropbox or Google Drive folder to store them electronically or you could use something like Receipt Bank to electronically capture and store your receipts. The last one is the easiest as it also extracts the information and sends it to your accounting software, like Xero! After the 5 or 6 years have passed, you can throw away your paper copies whereas with scanning or using Receipt Bank, you can store it electronically without taking up loads of space in your home or office! As a note, all of our packages now include Receipt Bank for free for the first 12 months. It's only £9 per month after this!
What software is good for invoicing?
Ben: So there are many systems out there these days for invoicing - we commonly see creatives and bloggers leaning towards software like 17Hats and Dubsado to manage their invoicing. These tools are great to start with, and certainly better than using an old Word Document template, but they don't offer you a full accounting integration at this time, so they can cause duplication or only give you one side of the story. Obviously, as accountants ourselves, we'd recommend you invest in using a cloud software package. Something like Xero, Quickbooks, Kashflow or Freeagent. Personally, we find that Xero is the best for most small businesses and it's super friendly UI helps newcomers and the business-savvy, alike. They recently, at the time of writing, just reached 1 million users worldwide as well so you're not alone! You can make beautiful invoices right from within the software and even set them up to repeat if you have any clients on retainers. Let us know if you'd like a quick demo of how you can use Xero to manage your business!
How can cash flow be improved?
Ben: This is the golden question - most businesses will encounter cash flow issues at some point in their journey. This can be from a lack of capital (money invested, by yourself or others), you operate in payment terms, like having to wait 30 days to be paid but you have to pay your own suppliers in 14 days - it can cause issues! It can be that you've just grown quickly and to reach that next stage, you need an extra boost or push to get there. The best way, as above, is to have something real time and that can only be achieved with a cloud software package. Spreadsheets are too involved and require a lot of manual work and adjustment to make the results appear - your time is better spent on your business. 17Hats and these management tools, like mentioned above, only offer you part of the picture and so this doesn't help either. Software like Xero helps you make informed decisions on your business and help you pinpoint what is going right or wrong and how to improve and figure out your next steps. Once you know the problem, you can start to improve it. This may be like above, where your customers pay you in 30 days time but you have to pay the bills in the meantime. That can make things tight. We would always recommend to try and lower your own payment terms and increase the terms that you need to pay by to give yourself some breathing room. Not to mention it can be stressful as well, worrying about these things! A budget can help as well. Stick a budget figure next to what you want to be spending (or limit yourself to spending) for things like Advertising, Software, Stationery, Insurance, Travel etc. and see what you are overspending on and where to cut back.
How can you expand revenue?
How do you make more money? There are actually many ways to make money and it can be very easy. The most recommended, especially if you are in the blogging space, is try and bring in passive revenue streams. Now these require work to get it off the ground, but once it's done, you don't need to touch it again but still can generate sales 2 or 3 years down the line for no time spent at all. This can be something like an e-course to your subscribers on how to build your email list or it could be a subscription service to a members only part of your blog. Naturally, you want to expand on the "influencer" status that bloggers have where brands want you wearing, eating or drinking their products and you showing this on Instagram or Youtube and hoping your followers will use their product. This is ideally where you want to expand in these connections - reach out to brands that you feel you and your audience will like and pitch to them. Sure, you can sit and wait for your agency (if you have one) to come up with a few jobs here and there but that shouldn't stop you hustling like the very best entrepreneurs out there to keep improving. Put in the work and the money will come. This is how to expand your revenue.
These are just a few of our most commonly asked questions from bloggers and influencers. If you have one of your own that hasn't been mentioned or your would like to speak about how one of these questions applies specifically then hit us up!
About the author
Chloe Slade is the Marketing Manager here at Cone and focuses on creating content that brings business and lifestyle together. Chloe is keen makeup lover, foodie and loves to work from luxurous destinations.