5 accounts essentials for content providers

Blog post - 5 accounts essentials for content providers - MA Technical Copywriting

For any freelance business, managing your cash flow is one of the most important things you can do. Whether you are a copywriting, graphic design or any other content provider, here are five top tips to keeping your budgeting in check:

1. Factor in non-client work

Never underestimate the volume of non-client or non-invoiceable work you will need to do. That is unless you have the budget to take on specialist resources to help you. There are numerous things you’ll need to consider – your initial branding; accounts; website and SEO blogs to feed into it; social media; business development; sending and responding to emails; dealing with your IT issues.

All these things could easily comprise well over 50% of your non-invoiceable workload and are part-and-parcel of the territory.

2. Keep up with invoicing

For many clients, your standard payment terms will be around 30 days from invoice date. Try to get a 50% advance wherever you can, although in most cases the client will have their own standard terms. You might want to start with them on a couple of small jobs to ensure you are the right fit for the client, and that they pay on time.

The main thing is to keep up with your invoices. Once the client has approved a job as completed, immediately ask if you can invoice and get it in the system with the payment date clearly stated.

Mark the due payment date in your diary or calendar, and chase it when it’s due (of course, checking your bank account beforehand to cross-check if it has been paid). Then chase periodically – once every week is good – until it is cleared.

3. Have a proper accounting system

You may get by with a self-designed spreadsheet for a while, but as your business grows you’ll need something more robust. And if you leave it too long – particularly if you have to submit tax returns, you may then have to re-input everything from your spreadsheet into your more ‘formal’ accounting system and re-create all your invoices, which could take days.

If you are seriously embarking on a long-term freelance business, subscribe to an accounting package as early as possible. It will make your life much easier and save you time in the longer-term.   Xero is an excellent cloud package for small businesses – easy to set-up and maintain at a very modest price.

4. Get an accountant

As your business builds, you will soon get to a point where you cannot do it all yourself. Equally, you will have a restricted budget and will need to prioritise where to allocate it in a way that will bring you the best value. There are some key areas you might need to consider depending on the areas you need the most help – a web developer, an SEO specialist or social media strategist. But arguably number one is to seek the expertise of an account – particularly in helping with tax returns and general compliance.

Accountants generally charge per hour. And as a freelancer, your accounts shouldn’t take up too much of their time, so it doesn’t have to be costly. They should also be able to help you set up you accounting system, which you can then maintain thereafter to keep costs down.

5. How much to charge

In terms of how much you charge, there are no real hard-and-fast guidelines to this and rates amongst freelancers vary widely. It really depends on your experience, the budget tolerances of the client and where in the world you operate.

The main thing is to assess how much you need to live on, and as time goes on you will get a better idea of what you can realistically charge.

A key point is to factor in how many rewrites to include. Be clear with your client on your – and their – expectations for redrafts.

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We partner with copywriters and graphic designers whenever the need arises. Please contact us on +44 (0) 1242 230404, or hello@macopywriting.co.uk.
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