Blog Finances 101
Let’s talk money, shall we? Blogging Finances to be exact.
When we first started blogging, the absolute last thing on our mind was making money. That being said, we never really had a “plan” or quite frankly, any real idea how to handle the financial side of our blog when it came time. We still are navigating our way and have A LOT to learn, but through some serious trial and error (and lots of guidance from Casey’s husband, Finn), we try our best and have learned a ton.
Here are some of the “tips & tricks” we use to organize, spend, and track our moola.
1. Open a Bank Account
From the very beginning of transitioning the DIY Playbook into an actual business (DIY Playbook, LLC), we opened a bank account at a local bank. If you want to make money as a blog and be taken seriously by brands, we definitely recommend opening a separate account for your blog. We looked into several different banks, some large-scale and some smaller scale, and eventually decided that a local bank in our hometown was best for us because there aren’t high fees for their business accounts, which isn’t the case for all banks. <– Just something to keep in mind when shopping for a blog bank account. Having a bank account was essential for many reasons, but one of the big factors is that there are 2 of us and having 1 pool of blog money makes things a heck of a lot easier. Plus, it’s so much easier to track income & expenses for tax purposes when all of your money is in 1 spot.
This year we also got a business credit card, specifically because we knew we had some big purchases and wanted some of the perks/incentives/cash back that come along with having a credit card vs. a debit card. This was a great choice for us and is another thing to look into for your own blog.
2. Create a Payment Tracker
Game Changer. When we first started juggling several accounts, sidebar sponsorships, and paid opportunities all at the same time, we realized that we were NOT keeping track of our payments very well. So much so that if a business didn’t pay us, we probably wouldn’t have even noticed (not a good thing if you’re looking to make money! Oops). That’s when we created a Payment Tracker in our Google Drive. This is a google spreadsheet that outlines dates, invoice numbers, prices, dates that we receive payments, dates that we deposited payments, etc. As we have grown as a business, Finn has stepped in to help hone this document, which is extremely helpful. If you don’t have a Finn on your blog team, just a DIY Payment Tracker can do the trick… and make a huge difference for that bottom line. We keep a file folder with hard copies of all invoices too.
3. Hire an Accountant
As you can probably sense, business is not “our thing” which is reason #542 why we hired an accountant to handle our taxes. Taxes are a serious part of any business, and we wanted to make sure we were following proper protocol from the very beginning of the DIY Playbook’s life. And let’s be honest, as a baby blog we had no room to budget for any penalty fees for incorrect tax paperwork. Our accountant takes care of all of this for us and advises us on what tax forms we have to fill out (our taxes are even little more complicated since there are 2 of us as “owners”). Of course there is a fee for our accountant’s hard work but we consider it a worthy investment to stay in good standing with the IRS. 😉
4. Track ALL expenses for Taxes
More tax talk…. yay?! It’s important that you track your spending so that you can write-off your blog’s expenses when it comes tax time.
5. Save your Receipts
One of us is way better than the other at this tip– Casey is a receipt queen while B is still in training. Receipts are an important part to those dang taxes so it’s important that you save EVERYTHING you can! From a $2 purchase to a $2,000 purchase, save those receipts. Find a system that works for you (we need to upgrade from our big ol’ ziploc bag) and stick to it, you’ll be happy that you did come tax time!
6. Know your worth
Believe it or not, blogging is not always coffee and pretty hydrangeas (we wish!). One post can take 10+ hours before it goes “live” on a blog. Between brainstorming a project, shopping for materials, actually doing the project, photographing it, uploading photos, editing photos, watermarking photos, writing the post, formatting the post, editing the post… we’re tired just thinking about it! Blogging takes time and as we all know: Time = Money. It’s your responsibility to analyze and calculate your worth so you know your rates when brands approach you. Trust us, YOU’RE WORTH IT!
7. Don’t sellout…. ever!
Never, ever, ever, ever sellout for less than you think you deserve. Whether it be working with a sponsor for a price you don’t agree with or sharing a product you don’t actually enjoy, selling out is not an option. You have worked too hard, you have way too much passion, and your voice is so much more valuable than settling for less than what you deserve. Sometimes it hurts to decline what seems to be an awesome opportunity (trust us, we know all too well), but at the end of the day, you’ll be far more proud of yourself and your blog for not settling for something that isn’t right for you & your audience. Plus, when the “right” thing comes crawling along, it’ll feel even sweeter and you’ll appreciate it faaaar more! #WINWIN
8. Treat your blog like a business
Our +1’s are huge advocates & constantly reminding us that we need to treat the blog for what it is, a business. We are extremely grateful for this support and could use the reminders. They are the DIY Playbook’s biggest cheerleaders and are constantly making sure we make decisions, both financial and non-financial, that align with the idea that we need to take our business seriously.
9. Invest back in the business
“Spend money to make money” <– we never really thought much about this before, but now we get it… sometimes you really do have to spend some of your hard-earned money back into the business in order to make more money in the future. We have invested back in the business by buying new computers, upgrading our cameras, hiring a webmaster to handle the tech side, etc. By stepping up our equipment game and the overall functionality of our site, we have been able to improve our quality in some of these areas, which has increased our value to brands and opened new doors of opportunity. See the trend? Investing back into the business to improve your “blog game” is a must. Bonus: You’ll have less blog income to declare come tax time, so you’ll save some dough too.
10. Reflect & Assess consistently
This is probably our newest piece of Financial Advice and one that has helped us a lot most recently. Just like in any career, it’s important to make time to sit down and intentionally reflect/assess where you have been, where you’re at, and where you want to go. Blogging shouldn’t be any different, especially when it comes to the blog money and financial goals. We sit down as a group (Casey, Finn, Bridget & Matt) quarterly with a formal agenda, statistics and financial projects (thanks FINN!). This gives us an excuse to get together, and also gives us the specific chance to talk moola.
11. Treat yourself!
Save the best for last, right?! You probably shouldn’t take our advice on this one because we’re pretty awful at this one! Blogging is EXTREMELY time intensive so it’s important that just like in any job, you take a break and treat yourself! You work hard for that money, you need to make sure you splurge (without feeling guilty!). Dinners, drinks, travel, clothes — something fun to motivate yourself to keep on working’ hard!
I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m married to Finn & mom to Rory and Ellis. Together we’re creating our dream home in Chicago, one DIY project at a time.