Bookkeeping basics for bloggers, influencers, and entrepreneurs is a skill we need to master. It can be difficult and frustrating for travel bloggers. This is podcast episode 189 and focuses on how to create a budget, how to focus on creating more profit and learning how to determine what to pay yourself, and much more!
My guest today is Stephanie Skryzowski.
Bookkeeping Basics & Best Tips for Bloggers with Stephanie Skryzowski
Listen to today’s episode where Stephanie and I chat about bookkeeping basics for bloggers, influencers, & entrepreneurs. How to create a budget, focus on creating more profit & how much to pay yourself.
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About Stephanie Skryzowski
Stephanie Skryzowski is a globetrotting CFO that helps purpose-driven entrepreneurs better understand and use their numbers to make smart decisions to grow their bottom line.
Stephanie is passionate about educating entrepreneurs to understand, use, and communicate their numbers to create financial sustainability and increase their impact on the world. she also runs The Entrepreneur’s CFO Corner, a program to empower entrepreneurs to master their own finances.
When she is not crunching numbers, Stephanie is exploring the world with her husband and two young daughters.
Break Into Travel Writing: A podcast and website designed to help you build a travel blog your readers love as well as help you achieve your goals as a travel writer or blogger.
This is podcast episode 189. Stephanie and I chat about bookkeeping basics as well as diving in deeper to strategies to help increase profit and keep your taxes on track and your books up to date.
Bookkeeping Basics for Bloggers and Influencers
Stephanie and I chat about money and finances and how travel writers and bloggers can learn to grow their bottom line and all kinds of other fun financial tips. Before we jump into money and finance. I knew Stephanie would be the perfect guest to talk to about bookkeeping basics and tips because she is a true traveler and understands wanderlust and the passion for travel and adventure.
During this interview, Stephanie is able to connect the world of travel with the concept of making and saving money.
13 Blogger Tips to Master Bookkeeping Basics
Stephanie and I begin our chat focusing on I’d love to hear a bit about her journey from working at a law firm to traveling around the globe and how she found her way to financial consulting. Interestingly, it has to do with Afghanistan.
Let’s jump into learning more about money! On this podcast episode, I have several questions from other travel writers, bloggers, and content creators as well as a few of my own.
1. The Financial Numbers Bloggers Must Know & Understand
Understanding your numbers is key. I ask Stephanie what numbers a freelancer, entrepreneur or influencer, a blogger should be most focused on.
Stephanie shares the 3 most important numbers that bloggers should understand:
- Revenue. How much money is coming in the door every month. As bloggers, our revenue can vary month to month, but keeping total revenue in one spreadsheet so you can review it to see on average how much money is coming in for each quarter or the last 6 months is very important.
- Expenses. What are the business’s costs? What are the costs for operating your business? At the very least, you need to make at least as much as you spend, but in a perfect world, you want to bring in more revenue than you incur in expenses. Like your revenue, you should also keep track of this on a monthly basis to know your average business expenses.
- How Much Money is in the Bank. Stephanie believes you should be one with your numbers. So, don’t let guilt or shame get in the way of keeping track of your bank balance.
2. How to Create a Monthly Finance Routine for Bloggers
Stephanie shares that is quite common for entrepreneurs to avoid their finances as long as they have some money in the bank. If there is enough to pay the bills many bloggers will avoid reviewing their finances and bookkeeping until mid or end of the year.
Stephanie recommends creating a CFO day when you sit down once a month for an hour to look at your numbers and understand them. No matter how big or small your business, you should be CFO for a day to review your finances to know your profit. Profit is what is left over after you minus expenses from revenue.
Revenue – Expenses = Profit
During the monthly finance meeting, you can also move money from checking to savings for taxes or to pay yourself. You can also use this time for invoicing any clients.
You should include any financial tasks in this monthly routine and be consistent every month to have this meeting with yourself.
Why do you need it?
Check out episode 5 on Stephanies Podcast for more on a monthly Finance Routine and how you can use it to grow your business and your bottom line.
3. How to Save For Taxes as a Blogger
Every month you should move money into a separate savings account. This should be an additional savings account that is for taxes only.
Tax Formula = 15% of revenue monthly is a good buffer for saving for taxes.
4. How to Create a Business Budget as a Blogger
Question from Darla Graff from Darla Travels asked for advice and tips on coming up with a business budget as a new blogger.
Stephanie’s first suggestion is to call it a “profit plan” or forecast instead of a budget. She believes the word budget puts many in a negative thought pattern and thinking about scrimping and saving. Instead, think of your profit plan as the way to create more money at the end of every month and every year.
Next, start with revenue. What is your revenue goal? Is it a certain number? Is it to replace your day job income?
Then take that yearly revenue goal and divide it into 12 months, so you know the amount of money you need to generate. For example, if you want to earn $100,000 as a travel blogger that equals about $8333 a month.
Then, based on your rates, you can figure out how many sponsored posts you need to write. For example, if you charge $800 for a sponsored or freelance post, you’d need to write 10 per month.
If you want to earn a percentage of that in affiliate income or ad income, you can continue with this math equation to determine how much you need to earn per month per income category.
By knowing this piece of the profit budget, it allows you to get clear about how to reach your goals.
Turn it from a big scary math problem into more of a sales and marketing situation, gives you more control over the situation.
Next is thinking about the expenses. Do you need to spend any money to hit your goals, such as an assistant, VA or anything else? Are there any travel expenses?
It’s Just a Forecast
Her advice is to not get caught in perfection. When you are creating your “profit plan” use your best guesses. This is just a forecast. The numbers don’t have to be exact. By at least having a projection, you have a place to work from and you’ll become better and better at predicting your budget.
You’ve got to start somewhere, and as you go month to month, you can redefine the forecast and become more accurate.
5. How Much Money Should You Reinvest in Your Blog
Question from Travel Writer, Chantae from Chantae.com asked how to determine how much money to reinvest into her blog. She said, she’s inclined to save every dollar she makes, but knows that you need to spend money to make money (on things like outsourcing content, editing, etc.) Is there a general rule or percentage ideal for reinvesting?
Stephanie recommends starting with a minimum of a three-month cash reserve of your living expenses in savings (and up to six months) before reinvesting into the business. A good rule of thumb is 10% of profit to reinvest into building the business. This should be based on your profit forecast of course!
For larger expenses like website development or a big conference, this would need to be included into your budget forecast to make sure the funds are available and planned for.
Goals vs Expenses
It’s also important to think about your goals and if certain expenses will result in more income, it’s a bit of a different calculation.
6. How to Determine What to Pay Yourself as a Travel Blogger
Question from Travel writer Erin Clarkson of Savannah First-Timer’s Guide said she’s been spending most of her earnings over the past year investing back into the blog (hiring writers, purchasing SEO tools, courses, etc.), but has reached the point where she feels comfortable paying herself a salary. What tips does she need to keep in mind when determining how much to pay herself?
First, Stephanie hopes anyone who is running their blog as a business and isn’t already paying themself, starts. She believes this should happen before you incur expenses for your business. This means moving money from your business account to your personal account (even if it’s a small amount as you get started).
Percentages of Revenue
If you are an LLC, you can move money from the business to a personal account as an owner’s draw. To determine how much to pay yourself, you should look at percentages of revenue, based on the book Profit First by Mike Michalowicz.
The book and method use the idea of buckets. Your revenue is in one big bucket and each month you need to move a percentage into your ‘tax bucket’, your ‘income bucket’, ‘operating expenses bucket’.
Revenue and Expenses Percentages
They should look something like this each month:
- Taxes – move 15% into a tax savings account
- Operating Expenses – 30-40%
- Profit / Savings – 10%
- Pay Yourself 30-40%
This will be different for each person and will depend on your operating expenses for the most part. Whether or not this is your entire income or you are trying to turn your blogging hobby into a business, you should follow these principles.
7. How To Set Up Finances for an LLC
Question from content creator, Amy Piper from Follow the Piper just obtained an LLC and wants to know how to set up the finances. Should she loan the business start-up money? She is a sole proprietor with no employees. What does she need to be careful of? She said she only knows she needs a separate bank account.
Yes, if you have a business you should have a separate business checking and savings account. You want to separate personal and business accounts from day one.
If you are loaning the business money to start up. You should do this by loaning a specific amount instead of spending it out of personal checking.
Next, set up Quickbooks. Most businesses grow faster than they anticipate and having accounting software in place will save you tons of time in the long run. Then connect your bank account to QuickBooks so it downloads your business transactions.
Stephanie says to set your business up today for the business you want it to be in one year. I love this!
LLC is a Good Thing for Bloggers
Stephanie recommends registering for an LLC. It’s a simple process to register and allows you to separate your personal finances from your business.
8. What Travel Can a Travel Writer Deduct on Taxes?
Question from Travel Writer, Robin O’Neal Smith of robinonealsmith.com has a question about taking a trip and then writing about it. She wants to what counts as a deduction as a freelancer. Also, does the article have to be published during the same tax year? For example, she is traveling at the end of 2021 but the article won’t be published till January 2022.
Stephanie shares as long as the trip is documented and it is for business there is no reason you can’t write it off on taxes one year and have the article published the next.
As far as travel tax write-off’s the most important things are consistency and substantiation. You must show the purpose of the trip and substantiate it with proof of the project or published piece.
What you can write off, will depend somewhat on the CPA or tax account you work with. It’s important to find a CPA that understands your blogging or freelance business and therefore what you can write off.
There are also IRS rules of what can and can’t be written off, such as clothing for travel or photoshoots. You don’t want to get to the end of the year thinking certain items will be write-offs and they aren’t. So, do your research or, better yet, work with a CPA.
Freelancer Vs. Blogger Tax Write-Offs
Can’t claim anything that was comped. But, any expenses for travel that are related to a freelance article or an article for a personal blog should have the same write-offs.
9. The Best Business Credit Cards for Bloggers?
Question: Travel Writer, Amanda Jones from Wayfaring Mandy wanted to know your recommendations for business credit cards? Or, should she keep it on business debit cards and avoid credit cards?
There are many credit cards that are great for building travel rewards. For anyone in the travel industry, there are cards with really great benefits. The key is that you should pay the card off in full every month. You don’t want to incur any fees on a monthly basis.
Don’t spend just for points. There should be a plan! As long as you are managing expenses well, putting as much on the cards as possible for the rewards, but paying it off monthly.
Stephanie personally loves the Delta Amex.
10. Best template for Tracking Finances
Questions from: Travel Blogger, Karen Lynn Robinson from TravelwithHealThriveDream wants to know if there is a recommended template for tracking finances and spending that works the best for the needs of a travel writer.
Quickbooks and spreadsheets are great for tracking finances. You can also download a free template from Stephanies’s website to help map out the future and your budget.
Quickbooks shows you what has happened. The above template will help your forecast.
11. What investments/stocks within the travel industry should travel writers support?
This is a great question for a financial advisor. I have already booked an expert on stocks and investments for the show in early 2022, so stay tuned!
12. Recommended Software or Tools for Finances or Bookkeeping
Content Creator, Rob Best from Roam Yonder wanted to know if you recommend any software or tools for finances or bookkeeping. He also wanted to know about any general organization tips that help if you aren’t in the U.S. since he is based in the U.K.
If you are under a million-dollar business, Quickbooks is the best option. You can invoice any clients or brands directly through Quickbooks. You can also accept payments through Quickbooks.
In the U.S., Gusto is payroll software. If you are putting yourself on payroll as a W2 employee or have contractors this is a great option, because it takes care of end-of-year 1099 forms and end-of-year tax filings.
For organization; with Quickbooks, you can also email all receipts, and its AI stores them in the correct expense category.
If you don’t use Quickbooks, the most important thing is to keep all receipts in the same place, whether it’s a folder online such as Google Docs or an actual folder in your office. Keeping them in one place is the secret for organizing.
Do what’s easy, as long as your are consistent.
13. How Can Bloggers Work with a Bookkeeper?
What is the process to work with a bookkeeper? Is it a monthly or quarterly bookkeeping update? What do you need to be organized and to provide the bookkeeper?
Hiring a bookkeeper means all of your paperwork will be taken care of, Quickbooks will be kept up to date and all financials will be organized.
Also, Stephanie offers CFO strategy. This is taking the numbers from Quickbooks and analyze the numbers and to help you plan for the future.
How Entrepreneurs Can Increase Their Impact on the World
One of Stephanie’s passions is to help entrepreneurs increase their impact on the world. Her belief is the more money we earn, the more impact we can each make individually. Her goal is to help bloggers and entrepreneurs set up their businesses to reach their goals.
The Entrepreneur’s CFO Corner
Is this something that would benefit bloggers & travel writers?
Thanks for checking out this article and my interview with Stephanies. Definitely double-check with an accountant or CPA to see what applies to your situation based on where you reside and your specific circumstances.
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