ADVICE / 60
today’s question: “how do you invest in your business?”
i’m not really at a point to invest in my business yet. as soon as i get there i would probably start renting a studio space to work out of. it would be nice to separate home and work. and! with that comes the adventure of furniture shopping!
i’d also like to find an accountant that works with freelance designers to make sure i’m actually doing everything the best i can. i currently work with a lovely H&R Block woman named barbra for my taxes. she told me she was proud of how organized i was this year vs. last. she is great but i just wonder if i’m getting the best freelance advice. i would also get a lawyer and have him/her go over all my paper work and make sure my business is set up the best way. since i wrote this post about getting paid i’ve had a couple of sticky situations come up. it would’ve been nice to have some heat backing those emails i was sending.
i assume that if i’m profiting enough to put money back in my business i’d be crazy busy. i might want to hire an intern to help out a couple days a week. i’d try to find someone from a local art college to help out. i love working with students. they’re so ambitious and excited. i like to think that i’m helping them on their career path like my mentors once did for me. my mentors help me make my career. every big job came from someone recommending me. it’s really all about word of mouth.
so…one day…that’s the plan.
i have definitely learned the importance of putting money back into the business. sure, we’d all love to get a paycheck in the mail and take it straight to the bank…and then to the mall. but it doesn’t really work like that.
i am going to focus on the expenses of a blogger for this one…
1. employees & contributors: my biggest expense! in the beginning this expense scared me the most because it’s sure not cheap! but when i was really able to evaluate the income before i had the extra help and then after, i realized the value right away. i needed to free up some of my time so i could think further into the future and stop spinning my wheels.
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2. branding: with all these blogs out there now, the desire to make yours look presentable and professional is more than ever. (this is why we created blogshop, so you can!) this means forking over the $$ for a slick blog layout, money to pay a coder to make it all function, web hosting, a custom domain name, business cards…the works!
3. content: sure, bloggers get to a point where sponsored posts come our way. but more often than not we are making blog posts happen on our own dime. the costs can add up, from paying photographers, spending hours of your own time putting shoots together, buying supplies, props and outfits if you’re appearing in the posts…if you have an idea that you feel is something people would be into, don’t be afraid to spend money to make it happen. hopefully you will see profit in return in other ways! this also means documenting your everyday experiences (for instance, traveling!)
4. all that business stuff: if you want to be a legit business, you’ve got to act like it, and invest in yourself. at the very beginning it might seem silly or not necessary, but it’s better to be prepared to run like any other company. find an expert to help you set up your corporation or llc, trademark your name/logo, get set up on quickbooks online. a tax accountant makes everything a little easier (although the process is always a pain!) you may find you need to get business insurance, but for sure have a lawyer that you can at least consult if need be. you don’t want to be caught down the line unprepared. i asked my other freelance friends if they had a lawyer that they could recommend and eventually found one that way.
5. workshops & conferences: get out there and stay inspired, educate yourself and network with people in your industry. invest in a class that interests you, take up html, head to alt summit or a local design conference. never stop learning, or refining your skills. and you may meet just the right people to collaborate with.
6. workspace: then there are the day-to-day expenses of running your actual business. it’s important to work in a space that inspires you, if possible. we just got done making over our office and it really is so great to be there each day. even if it’s just a nice potted plant, or treating yourself to comfortable chair or buying a cool art book. start small. at some point you may want to look into renting a workspace. there are options to share a creative space in many communities (like makeshift society in SF!), or maybe you just need some storage for all your supplies. assess your needs and invest accordingly. it also goes without saying you need the proper equipment. computers, wacom tablets, cameras, an iphone so you can operate on the go, this is all money well spent.
7. other tiny details: these are the kind of obvious, but sometimes overlooked. along with my hosting fees for my site, i also pay monthly for photobucket to host my photos, and a handful of other subscriptions. hey, netflix is research or spotify to play during blogshop! you also want to look presentable for meeting with clients and any time you might be photographed. i think the proper wardrobe, hair, makeup can all be considered under this category as well (and no, you can’t just write off a whole shopping spree). i know i don’t want my nails to look chipped and haggard if my hands are in a DIY shoot. and if you’re driving around town for meetings, shoots, etc. parking, fuel and even your car and maintenance can be considered a business expense. from client gifts, to lunches and cleaning supplies, there are all kinds of little details that go into spending money on your business. the bottom line is, if you invest in yourself, it will pay off down the line!
what are some of your biggest expenses as a freelancer? i am sure we are forgetting lots of them!