Free Advice on a Freelance Life – Part 2
Money Makes the World Go Around (And Keeps You In United Pixelwork Swag)
Congrats! You followed the first part of my advice – you dated your clients and now
you got a few steady gigs keeping you in the latest Tom’s and United Pixelworkers’
Tees (Jessica Hisch FTW). So – what to do with that money? Glad you asked.
First thing you need to do is keep track of it. There is no shortage of bookkeeping
software available to the up and coming designer. Some popular examples include
Harvest, Freshbooks and Mac Freelance but personally, I prefer the simplicity and ease of use that comes from a spreadsheet document. Either way, tracking what clients owe, those who have paid and those who are being dead beats is vital to keeping the lights on and stress low. Chase Jarvis says the best camera is the one on you – Kyle says the best bookkeeping system is the one that you’ll use. Make this happen.
Another key move is to become incorporated. In this day and age people due some
crazy things when it comes to business. Who knows if that photo you included in
that fly ass print campaign was actually paid for by the client or did he stiff the
photographer. Now Mr. Shutterbug eyeballs his fantastic photo all over town, and
is looking to get paid. He cops a lawyer, has a copyright and marches the client AND
you into court. It’s a stretch for sure and we’d like to believe we’re smart enough to
avoid scenarios like the reality is they do happen and innocent people wind up in
the lurch for big legal fees. Protect yourself and your personal assets by the shilling
out the $65 required by the state of Arizona to become a legal entity – keeping your
personal belongings out of the reach of angry photographers, disgruntled clients
and anyone else making eyes on your modest (but developing) fortune.
This next tip isn’t so much a business school rule as much as it is a personal
experience one – make your deposits in person and make it a point to say hello
to your banker. One of the first items on your to-do list needs to be opening a
business checking account and when you do, make friends with the banker. By the
time you are done with the enrollment process you should be on first name. If the
sign up went smoothly, grab their card and email them to say thanks again. Build
on that initial rapport by walking in your deposits, saying hello when you can and
generally keeping your presence in their mind. Why? Banks are infamous for nickel
and diming the hell out of small business accounts and having a good relationship
with your banker can help get these waived. They can also help with emergencies –
say your hard drive crashes and you don’t want to empty your savings for that new
Drobo - your banker has the discretion to provide you with a “signature” loan – a short-term loan with no equity required. Generally these loans need to be paid backin a short period of time ( one week to one month) but they really help when you get in a jam. And when you go in to ask for one, or any banking favor, wouldn’t it be nice to know that your banker recognizes you, sees you as a valuable and loyal customer of the bank and remembers how polite and considerate you have been.
Lastly – you need a CPA. Find a reputable one that you get along with but these guys
get the opposite treatment of the banker – email them when you have questions and don’t pop by unless you are bringing cookies or muffins.
A Life In Color