You already know that July was nuts for me. A big part of the craziness was because I started looking at photography as my longterm career. For a while I sort of avoided looking into the future with this job because I was afraid I might not like what I saw. It's easy to get into a bad place by working for yourself. Falling into financial insecurity or letting your anxiety rule your world are the two reasons people stop working for themselves.
It's hard, y'all, but it doesn't need to be scary! I'm breaking this part into a two part series: stress + money.
And just a note: as businesses, we need money to survive. That's sort of the part that makes this our job. To keep moving forward we need capital. Money is hard to talk about but it is so, so necessary. It's normal to go through phases of having to figure out how to make more money, spend your money wisely and keep up with it.
Here are a few of my best tips for looking at money as your friend and not your foe.
1) Church + State
My biggest & most life-changing tip just happened to me. A year ago a very trusted friend told me to set up a business account and I remember thinking that it seemed impossible-- but it's not. Go get your DBA or if you really have your business life together your LLC and go set up a bank account. Make all of your business money go through there. The goal, obviously, is to keep some money in this account. If you're bringing in $4000 a month from freelance work, take your taxes out and put them in a different account, and then try and live off of a monthly paycheck of $2500. You'll have about $1000 leftover for business expenses which can include saving up to pay yourself the difference during a slow month. For me the steadiness of having a paycheck has made ALL THE DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD. Now I feel like a normal human being that can do this, rather than a clueless teenager who doesn't understand where her money went.
2) Supple Supplements
Now that you have a business account, let's pad that sucker! This is where we talk about working hard and building up that business bank account. Are you an incredibly talented photographer who also has a network of friends with children? Babysit to build up your business account. Do you offer mini-sessions? Contribute to stock photography websites? Take on projects through websites like Flashstock or Snapwire? Do you have gear that's collecting dust that could be making you money? There's no shame in working specifically to put money in an account. Do what you can to build that up and you'll be incredibly grateful in the long run.
3) Rock Steady
One of the biggest goals for the past year that I sat for myself was to gain a few monthly clients. This would be someone that I would work for every month for a contracted period of time. I aim to bring in at least $1000 of monthly contract work per month, though lately my goal has been more. For example: A lot of you know I shoot photos for Nicole for her blog Writes Like a Girl. We shoot together twice a month. The money she pays me goes towards my monthly contract work goal. I have several clients that are like this.
4) Expense Report
If you're going through all of this trouble to separate your money, then you had better be expensing the fun things that you get to expense. Go on trips for work! Attend workshops! Take that class you've always wanted to take! Be sure to speak to an accountant before your break the bank on that Hawaiian vacation though. Only certain parts of trips (like the parts where you're actually working + travel) are expense-able.
Do you have any questions or comments for me? Feel free to comment below or email me! The Normal Girl's Guide to Freelancing is going to start going out every Monday and I'm excited that you're coming along for the journey.