the question today is: “how do you handle your accounting and bookkeeping?”


good question! i’m still figuring out what works for me. i was using Numbers for Mac, but it was annoying to keep up with because sometimes i work on a desktop and sometimes i work on my laptop. for a while i’d “file” an email into a bookkeeping folder as a reminder to do it later. it worked until i started to forget to mark it.

right now i’m currently using google docs. i can access it from any computer, iPad or iPhone. i keep organized in the tabs and color code categories. i also use it as a project management spread. i’ll note that the project is with me for design round two, or the invoice has been sent (and note the due date). so far its working. i also just started using google calendar. i can sync up reminders on my projects and easily toggle back and forth from drive to calendar. i can’t wait to hear what works for you! do you have any cool apps to recommend?


oy vey. i am hiding under the desk right now just thinking about this. i am not a numbers gal, so this has been the most difficult part of freelancing for me, but i will shamelessly tell you what i have going on over here anyways. the FIRST thing i did was opened up a business account at the bank. that way i know that anything i put on that card, i can write off for taxes. it’s much easier to track everything down this way – checks coming in, checks going out.

i am also using google docs to keep track of all my income. one tab is for blogshop, one tab is for the blog/ads, and one tab is my design work. i make notes next to it that say if they paid their deposit, or if the job is done and i am waiting for payment. i put reminders in my google calendar to check that the payment has been received on time. (it’s really frustrating when a client doesn’t pay you on time and you have to hunt them down) i also am a fan of for my reminders and sharing lists with my assistants.

even with these systems in place, it’s all a little overwhelming still. i am actually going to meet with a bookkeeper next week to go over quickbooks and try to get everything a little more legitimized. when you are starting out, just keep track of everything to be safe. you can save all of your invoices in a desktop folder (or at least a copy of them) so you know that all the jobs you have done that year can be found in one place.

best of luck on this, creatives. we know it can be daunting, but you can do this!

(illustration by . read more freelance advice posts are over here!)



Add your own

    Ravyn says:

    I was using spreadsheets until the end of last year when I found FreshBooks. It’s all online & SUPER user-friendly. I think I pay about $300 per year, but considering I can track all of my income/expenses/invoices/clients/time/etc., it’s TOTALLY worth it. Plus, I can export everything at the end of the year into super simple PDF’s for my CPA (it’s also organized well enough to do taxes yourself). It tells you how much you’ve collected each week, how much clients owe, and how you’re allocating your money towards expenses. We tried Quickbooks, but honestly, there were SO many bells & whistles … it was SUCH a headache. I really can’t recommend FreshBooks enough. PS, I’m not affiliated with them at all … just a really happy customer! 🙂 Hope this helps.

    Diana says:

    I use the app Mint for my personal use. It logs you into your online checking and keeps everything updated and graphically represents your spending, income, budgets… and being a visual thinker, it is MUCH easier to process when it is laid out in personalized infographics!

    bri says:

    diana – i like using mint too (especially around tax time!)

    Erin says:

    Ravyn, I use FreshBooks too, and love it! It’s so easy to use which is great for people like me who aren’t necessarily the most savvy when it comes to numbers and spreadsheets. 🙂

    Jessica says:

    This is the hardest part of running my design studio too! I absolutely hate talking about and worse yet, thinking about it. However, I *have* been finding sanity in Freshbooks – and have been using it for about 3 years now. I felt it way easier to understand and use on the go than Quickbooks – def worth a look!

    Thanks for posting this, it’s always reassuring to know another designer hates this just as much as me 🙂

    I just started using FreshBooks too, and it has made my life SO much easier!

    richele says:

    I have a bookkeeper come in once a month to do my quickbooks. it makes me feel better that I’m not in charge of the numbers.

    as for invoicing, I do it the old fashioned way and print a copy and keep it on a clipboard of outstanding invoices.

    Freshbooks sounds interesting though. Anything to help me feel better about numbers – it’s my weakest link for certain.

    I use the Harvest app, they have a web app and iphone app so you can use it on the go. It lets you invoice by client/task/project etc and record all your expenses. You can then designate specific expenses to the appropriate client. It even has a handy calculator for logging your mileage. Makes tax reductions so easy! Oh and it also lets you personalize it for your business, putting in your own logo if desired and has handy reminders (lets you send auto reminders to your clients to pay on time 🙂

    Lydia says:

    Going to second harvest app. Switched from freshbooks and I love it!

    Hannelore says:

    I use Freshbooks for everything! It lets you break down billing rates, and helps me track where I’m spending my time with a monthly overview. I always set aside and hour or two Thursday nights to enter all my hours and send invoices. That way, I go into the weekend feeling super organized!

    chloe says:

    I will chime in and add another notch for Freshbooks – it is great!

    I have an Etsy shop and e-com website which don’t really work for Freshbooks (not how FB was designed to track income/expense), so I use a combo of Freshbooks and Quickbooks. But, I am not a big fan of Quickbooks.

    I am still looking for a app/program that makes linking income and expenses efficiently. So, for example for Project A I want to be able to link Project A’s income with all of Project A’s expenses (printing, shipping, time, etc). I have asked Freshbooks amazing customer support team long-winded questions about how to accomplish this, and they were nice enough to be upfront and say that FB does not have that capability.

    So, my search for the *perfect* solution continues…

    EM. Halliburton says:

    Anybody tried Solo? It’s beautiful but I don’t know anything else about it.

    Sarah White says:

    Harvest all the way!

    Alyssa says:

    I just started freelancing a few months ago and am a HUGE fan of Outright + FreshBooks as a combo. As a mac user, you really only have the option to use quickbooks online, which is very limited in functionality, so I started looking for alternatives. I use Freshbooks to invoice all my clients. It keeps track of when payment is due and follows up automatically, which is a huge time saver. I then link Freshbooks up to Outright and Outright up to my up to my business bank account so all my income and expenses (including attached images of all my receipts) are in one place. It’s super user friendly and even shows your estimated taxes based on how much you’ve made on the homepage. The whole thing was kind of complicated to set up (feel free to email me if you want me to explain how I did it) but SO worth it.

    katie evans! says:

    oooooh, alyssa I like your comment. i’m going to check that out.

    Erin May says:

    Great post! I too use Freshbooks and it has been such a godsend- so great for tracking time, sending estimates, billing, etc. It’s work the $20/month I spend.

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