Hey photographer! Does the business side of photography stress you out? Does the idea of managing finances, including taxes, accounting, and expenses, make your head spin? Well, in this blog post, I’ll be covering the basics on how to manage your finances as a photographer. And how to keep tabs on it all, the easy way!
Manage Your Finances as a Photographer
As a photographer, managing your finances is crucial to ensuring the success of your business. Proper financial management allows you to keep track of your income, expenses, and profits, which allows you to make informed decisions that will help your business grow.
I know one of the biggest pain points for photographers and many creative business owners is the money side of things. You might be good with making money, but you might need help with managing your money. Maybe you realize that with all the money you may be bringing in, you’re not actually keeping much of it. And you haven’t been paying yourself either.
I don’t want that for you! I want you to get paid to do what you do and be able to keep it too.
Here are the basics for managing your finances:
- Keep Accurate Records
- Have a Separate Business Bank Account
- Track Your Expenses
- Pay Yourself
- Save for Taxes
- Review your Numbers Regularly
While this post is geared towards photographers, this post about finances can benefit any creative business owner who struggles with managing their money.
Tips on how to manage your finances as a photographer
Set up a Separate Business Bank Account
Stop. Do not pass “Go” until you do this step. If you are in business and you accept payment from people for your services, YOU NEED A SEPARATE BANK ACCOUNT.
It is important to keep your personal finances separate from your business finances. Setting up a separate business bank account will make it easier to keep track of your business transactions and will also help you to avoid any potential tax issues.
So please, go set up a business bank account. You don’t have to be set up as an LLC. Check out what the guidelines are in your state, then go do it.
Here are recommended online business accounts: Relay Financial*
Keep Accurate Records
The first step in managing your finances is to keep accurate records of your income and expenses. This includes keeping track of your invoices, receipts, and other financial documents. You can use software like QuickBooks, Xero, or Wave to help you manage your finances, or you can keep track of everything manually using a spreadsheet or notebook.
You’ve heard stories about business owners with shoeboxes full of receipts, right? Don’t let that be you. It’s 2023 and it’s a simple process to get set up with software. Or, if you’re terrified of the idea of bookkeeping software, and spreadsheets are more your speed, I made one you can use! The Ultimate Income & Expenses Tracker.
Track Your Expenses
As a photographer, you may have a range of expenses, including equipment, studio rent, travel costs, and advertising expenses. Make sure to keep track of all your expenses, and save receipts for any purchases you make. This will help you to claim deductions when it comes time to file your taxes.
Yes, you could use your CRM like Honeybook or Dubsado or 17Hats, but these programs do not give you the full picture. They are great for tracking your income, but do not track your expenses. The only way to track your expenses is either manually by looking at your bank account or using software like Quickbooks.
Need help with software? Get training help here.
How to manage paying yourself and saving for taxes
Pay Yourself a Salary
If you’re in business, your intention is to make money, right? As a business owner, it can be tempting to use all your profits to reinvest in your business. However, it is important to pay yourself a salary so that you can cover your personal expenses and save for the future. To determine how much to pay yourself, you can use a simple formula, such as taking a percentage of your profits or basing your salary on the average salary for photographers in your area.
Does math stress you out, I’ve got a calculator for that!
Or, get the whole bundle! The Ultimate Finance Bundle for Photographers & Creatives.
Save Up to Pay Taxes
There’s that adage by Benjamin Franklin
Nothing is certain except for death and taxes.Benjamin Franklin
One of the biggest roadblocks I see photographers run into is underestimating (or not estimating at all) for taxes. Like it or not, the government is going to get their cut whether you like it or not. So be sure to put aside money for your income taxes for every job that you book. A good rule of thumb is 25-30% – although speak to your CPA or tax professional for best practices.
As a self-employed photographer, you will need to pay taxes on your income. This means you will need to file a tax return every year, and you may also need to make quarterly estimated tax payments. It is important to stay on top of your taxes to avoid penalties and interest charges. You can use tax software like TurboTax or H&R Block to help you file your taxes, or you can work with a tax professional to ensure that your taxes are filed correctly.
Review Your Finances Regularly
Finally, it is important to review your finances regularly to ensure that your business is on track. This means looking at your income and expenses on a regular basis and making adjustments as needed. It is also a good idea to create a budget for your business and to monitor your progress against your financial goals.
You can’t ignore your finances as a business. It can’t be the elephant in the room. You need to review your income and expenses regularly. You’ll be able to see where you’re able to invest – like new equipment or if you’re spending money on software that you don’t use. Reviewing where you are at in relation to your goals will help inform your financial decisions such as increasing your salary or buying a seat to a conference.
How to track & manage your finances as a photographer
In terms of software that can be helpful for managing your finances, there are many options available. QuickBooks, Xero, and Wave are popular accounting software options that can help you keep track of your finances. These software options also offer invoicing and payment processing features, which can make it easier to manage your business finances.
If you prefer to manage your finances manually, you can use a spreadsheet or notebook to keep track of your income and expenses. There are also many templates available online that can help you get started. You can check mine out right here! Or go check out my shop.
It’s Crucial to Manage Your Finances
In conclusion, managing your finances as a photographer is critical to the success of your business. By keeping accurate records, setting up a separate business bank account, tracking your expenses, paying yourself a salary, staying on top of your taxes, and reviewing your finances regularly, you can ensure that your business is on track.
I know a lot of creatives who will just say that they are “bad at math” and “don’t like numbers” and want to “focus on their art”. But the most financially successful creatives are the ones who manage and track their finances. They know what their money goals are and have a plan to meet those goals. As much as it feels better to just ignore the business, if you want a solid business that creates the income you’ve always dreamed of, you have to manage your finances!
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