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Starting a blog is all well and good, but you might be in for a wakeup call if you think you’re just going to make some extra money on the side and call it a day.
When I first started freelancing, I made the mistake of not doing the research and finding out what all I’d be responsible for that my employer took care of. Along with the loss of an awesome benefits package, there was another sizeable chunk coming out of each of my checks (an extra 7.5%). Paying in thousands of dollars when you’re used to getting returns is not the kind of wake-up call you want.
While it would be nice to just get paid to blog, get some extra spending money, and file it in with all the rest of your taxes once a year, it’s usually not that easy.
Depending on how much you make, you’re probably required to file quarterly, or even monthly if you’re using your blog to push sales on your physical goods. It can get complicated quickly, and you probably won’t go from $0 to making enough to hire an accountant very quickly. (Though, I do know some self-employed individuals who’ve been lucky enough to never lay a finger on taxes! You never know.)
There are tons of things to manage on the financial side of things, even if you hire someone to prepare your yearly taxes. Here are a few features of my favorite bookkeeping software I use to make it all a little easier.
Whether or not you have a bookkeeper, Quickbooks is a great tool to have on hand. Even if you already have someone that does your yearly taxes, you’ll most likely need to at least make your quarterly estimated payments. At the end of the year, you can link your accountant into Quickbooks and get all that information to them without having to email a bunch of spreadsheets and documents back and forth. It’s a huge time saver, and even if your accountant doesn’t primarily use Quickbooks, it’s still an easy way to export the data they’ll need.
Quarterly Tax Estimates
One of my favorite things about Quickbooks (and the most obvious feature) is the ability to easily pay your quarterly estimates.
Kinda seems like a no-brainer, but seriously, this thing is a lifesaver.
For the most part, once you get all your rules and such set up, you really don’t have to do anything from quarter to quarter. You just mark all of your transactions to or from a certain company to be marked as business or personal and let it work its magic. Your estimate stays listed in the top right.
You can rely on this number, but you’ll often end up overpaying, especially if you have a lot of things you can deduct at the end of the year. (More on this from Intuit.) And if you have any questions about this part (if you’re like me and don’t know any more than absolutely necessary), they have a wonderful support staff waiting to help. Read more about how to file quarterly taxes as a freelancer.
With Quickbooks ability to pull reports on just about everything you could possibly want to look at, you can toss your excel books out the window.
You can see your profit and loss, expenses, account balances, invoices, mileage, and estimated taxes all at a glance on the dashboard. Reporting includes more in-detail views for profit and loss for custom date ranges, receipts, tax summaries, and tax detail. It’s simple, easy reporting that you can quickly download to send to your accountant or keep for your own documentation. The profit and loss statements are really nice if you just want a quick breakdown of how your expenses are categorized.
Quickbooks also takes care of invoices and payment processing, reducing the need for something like PayPal, Square, or a payment processor that might be more targetted towards something like a retail business. (And compared to PayPal, QB is cheap. If your customers have a PayPal debit card, they can use that, too!) And let’s face it—you need an affordable way to get paid. I’ve seen services that charge 15% of what you make to send an invoice and collect payment. Needless to say, most of those services are starting to lower their rates, but they’re still pretty high. (Check out this free invoice template!)
The mileage tracker is also useful if you’re doing a lot of driving around. While most bloggers I know don’t travel much, I do know a few who speak at conferences. Likewise, if you rely on doing product demos and showing off your business in person, you’ll get a lot of use out of the mileage tracker. (It would have been awesome to have this when I was doing onsite computer repairs!) The best part? It’s as simple as downloading the app and telling it when you’re about to start a trip. You can also go back and add miles if you’re not able to actively track your trip.
These are just a few of the main features I use in Quickbooks, but there are different versions for different things. I use Quickbooks Online for our local business, which you might find more useful if you’re running a business that requires working with many different vendors and tracking a bunch of different accounts.
Ready to get started? Click here to start your free trial of Quickbooks Self-Employed.