A seasoned blogger with 10 years of solid experience, Grechen Reiter shares an invaluable insight about the ‘Business of Blogging’. Her million dollar advice to make it big as a blogger is:
‘HANDLE THE FINANCIAL SIDE PROFESSIONALLY’
Now, that doesn’t sound very difficult right? Ask any blogger who is trying to earn a consistent income through blogging and s/he will attest to my view that it is, indeed, quite difficult. Grechen, however, has been kind enough to also tell us HOW. Here’s what she has to say on her post at IFB:
Establish a business FIRST
I actually did this…but it’s really important to have a business entity that you work under right from the beginning. I never took personal checks or cash or anything like that, I started with a PayPal account and sent and received invoices through that (I still do). You can set up an LLC, or a sole proprietorship if you want, you have to decide which one is better for you, but DO IT. You might also want to check out a blog post about HostGator vs Bluehost at Inlinehostblogger, to find which hosting site is better for you if you are just starting out.
Make a business plan
Set goals for yourself and your business and then hold yourself accountable. Start small, and make a one year business plan, then circle out to include where you want your business to be in 5 or 10 years. I’ve heard that having a business plan can make you more productive and efficient (I honestly don’t know though, I have never done one. Although I know I should!!). It can also be useful if you’re looking for investment, even if only from friends & family.
Start with Quickbooks immediately
I started using Quickbooks a few years into my business and it was the best decision I ever made. Before I had come to the conclusion that QuickBooks was the best software for me to use for my business, I made sure that I researched all of the other options that were available to me first. I only say that because my friend told me that she prefers to use something called Wave, so that’s when I had to have a look at something like this comparison of wave vs quickbooks to get a better idea of both softwares. And even though it was still a tough decision to make, I’m glad that I made the right one for me in the end. I wish I’d started earlier, but even so, having an accounting system is ESSENTIAL to knowing how much money you make every year and filing your taxes. If you take some time every month to reconcile everything (now it’s much easier than it was 10 years ago!!), you’ll have nearly nothing to do at tax time, just fill in the numbers. I like Quickbooks, and now I use the online version, but there are other free services out there.
However, there are other ways that you can sort your accounting out easily. Quickbooks works for me, but one of my business friends uses outsourced accounting services to help her with her finances. It’s completely up to you how you deal with your company’s accounting though, make sure you find the most beneficial way for you.
Separate business & personal accounts
After you create your business entity set up a bank account IMMEDIATELY, and then keep it separate from your personal account. I did this too, but I didn’t try very hard to keep it separate. I still don’t, honestly. It’s hard! The idea is that you receive money to your business account and pay business-related expenses from that, AND keep some in reserve, then pay yourself by transferring money into your personal account.
Also, if you earn any money from affiliate commissions you know how cyclical it can be. One month you’ll rake it in and the next, crickets. Unfortunately for you, the IRS still needs to get their estimated taxes every quarter, and you probably have bills to pay that don’t fluctuate with your income, so it’s important to save enough to cover the lean months. This is something that I still haven’t perfected.
Have an accountant
I still don’t have an accountant, but I wish I did. Especially if he/she would tell me how I can consider my clothing purchases business expenses!! Seriously, I think paying professionals is important, especially if you’re running a business. You do what you do best and let someone else handle the other stuff! I definitely wish I’d hired an accountant early on and kept him/her. There are some great ones out there like Dave Burton and his accounting firm. It is a serious must to be financially capable in business.
Invest in the business, tools, classes, etc.,
Ultimately, my regret boils down to not making the investments I should have in my business from the beginning: not investing the time to do accounting properly, and then not investing money BACK into my business, so that I’d have some reserves and the ability to purchase things I need to run it efficiently. Not just clothes 😉