Virginia Wedding Photographer : Stephen Gosling Photography
The first thing I want to say is that I am under no illusion that people read my blog, let alone other photographers. I in no way think that the way I do things is the correct way and I am not writing these posts to tell people how to shoot or how to run their businesses. I am however going to be writing about my experiences; my failures, my successes, etc. If these posts help anyone, great! If not; no big deal.
If you are a small business owner, and as a wedding photographer; you probably are, then you need to be able to keep track of you finances. You need to know where your money is coming from, where your money is going too, how much things cost, what worked, what didn’t, tax info, etc, etc, etc…
There are lots of different ways to keep track of these things. A lot of people use Quickbooks or Google Wallet or even just noting down the numbers in Excel. There is no right or wrong way to do things. As long as you are keeping track of them in one way or another then you’re being responsible and I commend you for that. If you’re not keeping track of your finances; then you’re an idiot (I apologize is you fall into this category but it is not my fault), plain and simple.
Sorry for being blunt right there, but it’s true. You need to be able to keep track of things otherwise you’ll buy something you can’t afford or you’ll not buy something you need because you’re not sure if you can afford it and you’ll come into a host of other problems too (do really want the IRS knocking on your door?). So be smart and look into a way of tracking you income & expenses.
The way I do this is by using an online service called Outright. Go take a look right now!!! www.outright.com. You can sign up for free and give it a go before you commit to paying (I think it is like $100 per year or something). They even have a scaled down free version that you can use. So there. You have no excuse! IT’S FREE!
Here’s their front page.
The format is extremely simple. Once you log-in to your account, you are welcomed with the following ‘Overview’ screen. You’ll see up top is a sun and then the words ‘Profit 2012’. In that blank space will be your profit or loss for the year so far. So as soon as you log in you are welcomed with a quick reminder of how you’re doing.
In the blue-grey menu bar across the top you can see 5 categories.
Overview – Fairly simply, this is an overview for the year and the month. It shows you your income for the year and your expenses for the year. It also shows you a handy bar-graph with your yearly income and expenses. Underneath that there is a pie-chart which is shoring you your expenses for the month. And then on the left is also some quick info to give you the overview of whats going with your money.Income – Click on this option and you are taken to a section where you enter the money that you have received. You enter the amount, the person/company that has paid you, the date and a description. The income will be displayed chronologically. You can also filter by category so you can see how much you are making from weddings, or album sales or other types of income.
Expenses – This works exactly the same as the income tab. You record who you are paying money out too, for what purpose and on what date. And again you can filter how you see this so you can see which vendors you are paying the most or least money out too.
Reports – Click on this option and you will be able to see more info about your money (see screenshot below).
Taxes – This is where you can record taxes that you have received (sales tax) and taxes that you have paid out (quarterly income & sales tax). It also estimates how much tax you own and can also create a Schedule-C worksheet for you that is invaluable at tax time. I still absolutely recommend working with a CPA to do your taxes. But this software helps you to have an idea about your tax situation throughout the year so you’re not surprised come tax time. At the end of the year I print off the info from my account; all my income, all my expenses, all my tax payment info and then along with my receipts I give the info to my CPA to make his life easier when it comes to filling out and filing my taxes.
Below is a screenshot of the Reports screen. As you can see, again it is showing me a bar-graph of my income (green) and my expenses (red). I can filter the report by the month or the year so that I can get just an overview or a more detailed view of what is happening with my money over a shorter period of time.
I can also filter the results by the options you see on the right; types of income (weddings, portraits, album sales), best customers (who gives me money), biggest vendors (who I give my money too) etc…
Below is a screenshot of the Taxes screen. The tabs show that you can filter your taxes bu annual, quarterly & sales. And also 1099-k which I believe is a PayPal/eBay thingy that you need to have for tax time if you receive money from those avenues. This is probably the section I use the least but it helps me to know where I stand during the course of the year with my tax payments. And seen as I don’t want to be fined for paying my taxes late, it does come in handy to have!
And something that I just discovered is that you can also download the Outright app!!! So if you suddenly need to know where you stand monetarily whilst away from your computer; you can simply open the app and see whats going on!
Another helpful thing about Outright is that you can link you bank account to your Outright account. This way whenever you receive a payment or make a purchase from your bank account, it is automatically recorded into Outright without you having to enter the information manually. You’ll still need to keep copies of the the receipts for your accountant but this way Outright will be working in the background without you having to constantly manually enter numbers. Pretty easy!
The moral of this story; Outright makes my life easier and is so very simple to use. You just enter your information and it keeps track of everything for you. And I like things that make my life that tad bit easier!
For Photographers Archive
2012 – Skype, Equipment Update, Camera Straps, Just Some Books, Giving Back, GPS, Google Voice, You Need a CPA, Blog or Website… Or Both?, My Editing Workflow, How I Roll, The worst 10 minutes of my life.