One of my new years resolutions this year was to get myself more organized as a blogger, particularly my finances. I wanted to give you an update on where I was at with all that- but also, I wanted to see if you had any other life saving ideas for being an organized blogger yourself. I’m a little nervous thinking that maybe I’m the last one to know about these things but hopefully there is something here that might benefit you and your blog/business (and if not please share any other organizational tricks you have!)
Just an FYI I’m not paid to write about any of these services, I just have loved my experience using them and would highly recommend them to other bloggers/small business owners.
A about a year ago I started to grow my blog (more about my job blogging as a career here) into a team of paid contributors, you can read all about them on my about page. And I started feeling a little out of control with my finances. There were so many people getting paid and money coming in from different places- it all made my head spin and I couldn’t tell you in one given month what I was making or spending. It was nuts! I did a little research and decided for 2013 I was going to change all that. The biggest change I made was using freshbooks. I seriously can’t believe I functioned without it. I’ve only used it for 4 months so there are still lots of things I might not use/know but here are a few things I love about it so far (ps there is about a $20 fee/month but totally worth it in my opinion):
1. It organizes all of my income coming in and out each month into pretty charts and graphs
2. It makes a really easy way to send and keep track of invoices (even when you’re getting paid monthly via snail mail check). So much easier than making a time-sucking/soul-sucking pdf with your logo and more professional than paypal.
3. I can track expenses for paying my team really easily and organize them so I can fill out tax forms in a cinch when the time comes.
4. If you work hourly it’s super easy to track hours and then just click a button at the end of each month to create an invoice for unbilled hours and send it. boom. So much easier than counting hours and making a pdf.
5. I can also add expenses, track receipts and time track hours from a freshbooks app on my phone.
5 . During business hours I can just call a number and ask a nice person working for freshbooks a silly question about how to do something (life changing! I hate having a system I don’t know how to use well). This might be one of my favorite things! I’d definitely be frustrated without this. There are all kinds of video tutorials as well but I’ve found it’s so much easier just to pick up the phone and ask a quick question.
Keep on reading for a couple other organizational tools I’ve found…
Okay, so about a year ago I was complaining to my sister in law Jordan of Oh Happy Day about the annoyance of signing contracts. Having to print it out, sign it, scan it back in, blah blah blah it took forever. She was like, um why aren’t you using hellofax (they’ve since split into hellosign and hellofax but they still work together the same). HELLO! Maybe I was the last person to know about this but it makes me happy every time I use it, thinking about how much time it’s saving me (and paper!).
Someone sends me a document to sign (pretty much any format- pdf, doc, docx, word). I save it, and then open it in hellosign and sign it right here. It saves my signature so I can just plop it in wherever and you can also add text and dates, anything you need. Then I just add in a phone number (to send as a fax) or email (this is usually how things are sent) and push a button and it’s done. TWO SECONDS. I’ve noticed that my ad network, Federated Media, even started using it a few months ago.
Plus I’ve never paid a dollar in the last year for using it and I probably use it at least once a week (I think if you fax a lot you might have to pay at some point but for just uploading, signing, and emailing back to someone I haven’t had to pay anything).
3. Google Calender.
Might be a bit of a no brainer, but I recently I started really diving into the color coding option for google calender and it has made such a difference. I now have a bunch of different ‘calenders’ (as you can see from the image above): Blog Editorial (just posting schedule), Julep editorial (the Minted blog I manage), Misc blog (anything other than editorial schedule- mtgs, calls, to do items, deadlines), Family schedule (trips, playdates, dr appts), Liz personal (mostly to-do items, reminders). Seems simple but it gives me anxiety just thinking about living without it. Also I love that I can add items directly from my phone or the computer (you just sync your calenders to your phone).
Also, a few other random ideas:
1. Private pinterest boards for editorial inspiration and brain storming ideas with the teams I work with.
2. Keeping electronic lists of topic ideas for different categories (I have lists for fashion, diy, food, misc).
3. Whenever I get paid anything, I always move over 30% of the total amount into a separate account for taxes so I don’t get screwed come tax time! With deductions, it’s not usually as much as we have set aside but I’d rather have extra than not enough. Also, we use Turbo Tax and really like it.
5. I just started using Shoeboxed which keeps track of receipts and is connected to Freshbooks but I’m still wrapping my brain around it. Anyone use it?
I feel like I’m just getting started here, anyone else have genius organizational tools as a blogger/small business owner?