How To Save Time and Get Paid Faster
"Money is the opposite of the weather. Nobody talks about it, but everybody does something about it." – Rebecca Johnson
Have you ever noticed how many blog posts there are about how to write blog posts and get ideas for blog posts... and so very few on the business of blogging. Yet if we're going to be honest, most of us are in fact trying to make a business of this activity.
I have certainly fallen into this trap, having focused most of my attention and articles on social media. Consider this the first of many posts designed to correct that.
As bloggers (as well as any number of other small, online businesses), we often find ourselves needing to do things like send invoices, track payments, record expenses, and do general business accounting.
For a long time, I used Microsoft Word and email to send invoices, with a physical address to send checks. When I started using PayPal, I would sometimes send invoices from within PayPal, but neither of those solutions looks very professional. Or trackable.
And using spreadsheets to track any recurring invoices or expenses you might have is a disaster waiting to happen.
That's actually what prompted me to start looking for an online invoicing solution. I had grown part of my business to the point where I had nearly 100 clients whom I needed to invoice monthly or annually. I would have to create and email a bunch of new invoices on the first of each month, and track separately whether they paid.
The solution I discovered is called FreshBooks, and in time, I found that it would do far more than just manage my recurring invoices for me.
(I have been using FreshBooks since 2013 and am proud to promote them using affiliate links!)
Invoice Clients for Services
At its core, FreshBooks is a beautiful online invoicing system. You will create an account for your business, brand it with your logo and colors, and then issue invoices for whatever work you're doing.
As a blogger, this might include writing articles, publishing sponsored stories, or various consulting services.
Which, of course, is exactly how I use FreshBooks.
Any time I have a new client, whether it's for a blog consultation or setting up Facebook ads, they get a new entry within FreshBooks, and I'm able to generate an invoice for them quickly. Normal products and services can be saved as line items in advance, and I'm able to specify how I want to be paid.
What's particularly useful is that the system will email the client as soon as you save the invoice, and will indicate whether they've viewed the invoice and logged in.
If you need to collect taxes on any of the products or services you invoice for, you can set that up in advance as well.
You can also enter payments received via affiliate relationships just as if you'd invoiced a client.
Recurring Invoices for Ongoing Services
Sometimes, particularly as bloggers, we'll commit to regular services and support for other businesses. Perhaps you have a gig writing blog posts for someone else, or maybe you're offering a number of hours per month consulting.
If you find yourself billing the same client the same amount regularly, you can set up a recurring invoice.
Recurring invoices can be sent weekly, monthly, yearly or several other time periods, as many times as you need. Each time, a new invoice will be generated automatically within your account, using the preset defaults for recipient(s), line items, payment terms and notes, and then sent.
As I mentioned above, I had grown a part of my business to the point where I had about 100 clients who needed to be invoiced regularly. They were all on an annual payment plan, which meant that half a dozen different clients needed to be invoiced each month. FreshBooks took all of the manual tracking and invoice creation out of that process, which led to a lot of time being saved and faster payments (since the invoices always go out on time).
For more detailed instructions, read How To Set Up Recurring Invoices For Your Blogging Business.
If your business model includes creating quotes for business clients, quotes that you'll need to turn into invoices once they're approved, you can use Estimates within FreshBooks.
Create the Estimate using the same line items you would for an invoice and then, once approved, it's a click of a button to convert that into an invoice to be sent out.
And since you're setting up clients within FreshBooks and issuing all of your invoices from the system, you can now track those clients and their payments.
You can learn who your most valuable clients are, who pays fast and who doesn't, and other valuable insights.
Want to know exactly how much your blog business profited last month? Tracking how much you bring in from invoices is only part of the equation. We all have hosting fees, domain name fees, tools, and other expenses. You could put them into a spreadsheet, but why not automate the parts that can be automated?
Just like recurring invoices, you can set up recurring expenses. Suppose, for instance, that you've got a Hootsuite account that you're paying $10 a month for. Set that up as a recurring expense for the day it comes out, and let FreshBooks track it.
Spend a little time each month entering in the non-recurring expenses, and you'll have a complete picture of your overhead to compare against your revenue.
Don't forget that, as a home based business, utilities, equipment and internet access are all expenses to be tracked!
Now that you're tracking all of the income your business receives, and all of the expenses your business pays out, now you can take full advantage of the automated accounting reports that FreshBooks provides, including:
- Profit and Loss
- Expense Report
- Balance Sheet
- Tax Report
- and so on.
You can also grant your account access to your system to help generate your quarterly and annual paperwork!
As you can see, FreshBooks is a particularly powerful tool, and an essential part of my blogging toolkit. With it, you'll be able to send invoices, track expenses, and get a crystal clear picture for how your blogging business is performing.
If you have any questions at all about FreshBooks, or how it can be used to help your blogging business, leave a comment below.
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By Mike Allton, Content Marketing Practitioner
Mike is a Content Marketing Practitioner, Blogger and Author in St. Louis, and the Chief Marketing Officer at SiteSell. He has been working with websites and the Internet since the early '90's, and is active on all of the major social networks. Mike teaches a holistic approach to content marketing that leverages blog content, social media and SEO to drive traffic, generate leads, and convert those leads into sales.
Mike is the author of, "The Unofficial Book On HootSuite: The #1 Tool for Social Media Management", "The Ultimate Guide to the Perfect LinkedIn Profile.", and "Blog Promotionology, The Art & Science of Blog Promotion."