We’re on a mission to help photographers get organized in 2024 and one of the most important things in a business is to know your numbers, have a tracking system to keep clients invoices organized and a place to enter business expenses and sales tax information.
Insert Quickbooks for the win!
Yes, we love Quickbooks and cannot wait to dive into it!! We hope something we’ve mentioned will resonate and you’ll find Quickbooks or another accounting software to help get you organized and ready to launch into your business for 2024. Try Out Quickbooks
So what exactly is Quickbooks? Well, Quickbooks is an accounting software program that helps keep you organized and puts everything in one place. I personally use the Quickbooks Desktop version and love it but I also have heard many great things about the online monthly subscriptions as well. For me, I love the one time investment instead of having to be locked into paying monthly. After talking to my accountant, he said, in reality, my desktop would be a better investment since I don’t need to update yearly because I don’t do payroll. So for me, it’s about $200 to purchase the desktop version, divide that by five year (I purchase the newest version every five years) and that’s about $40/year I’m spending for the program. The cheapest online subscription version is $10/month so basically, you’re saving a lot by just purchasing the desktop version. 😉
As a photographer, one of the major things we do in our business is send invoices to our clients. I’ve already gone over how I utilize Shootproof in a previous post and that’s what I use for my actual invoicing but I also use Quickbooks to keep track of my overall accounting for my business. So, I create my invoices in quickbooks and that’s the official place I keep track. If clients pay with cash or a check, it gets recorded here and nothing is created in Shootproof. If they want to pay with a credit card or set up payments, we then create a duplicate of the exact same invoice in Shootproof and then they do those payments there. Once payments are made, it gets entered in Quickbooks. But my favorite reason for using Quickbooks for my clients is because I can look up their past order history. Sometimes I’ll have a client come back the next year wanting to order Christmas cards and can’t remember how many they ordered the year before, I just check out their past invoices. Or, maybe they booked a high school senior session with me, well, I can look up exactly what we ordered for their older sibling and see what we had extras of and adjust their new invoices accordingly. It seriously is amazing.
I’m not going to lie, setting up Quickbooks is overwhelming. My biggest suggestion when setting it up is trial and error. You really have to ask your specific accountant for help as tax information can make a difference but for me, I took the time to enter every single item I sell as products for clients along with each session type that I have. Yes it takes forever, yes it sucks, but long term, it’s the best time I’ve spent! When making up lists of your items I’ve found it helpful to get specific. Check out the image below. I created a main category for my sessions (as a service). From there I entered my session fees and put the pricing along with any description I wanted for the invoices to auto populate. Then, I created another category with my Print Packages (towards the bottom) and enter a sub-category for my Create Your Own Collections and then etc from there. Then, my other sub categories for the rest of my product based on types and sizes. Again, I know it’s time consuming. BUT once it’s done, all you have to do is drop them into your invoices. Easy. Peasy.
Another thing I’ve learned to create and utilize is the credits section. I offer referral credits to my clients who refer friends and sometimes, it’s tough to keep track of who has earned what. So, I created a line item and just go to create a credit and apply it to their account. I send an email to them thanking them and then it’s sitting in their account for when they’re ready to use it. I also give a credit to the person who gets referred, so in the description I’ll typically write who referred them and that’s it. Then, I apply that credit to their invoices. Simple, and easy to track. My kinda program 😉
Here’s here Quickbooks gets magical. You know all those pesky expenses that come with running a business? All those receipts floating around your office and wallet? QUICKBOOKS ORGANIZES THEM!! That’s right. All you have to do is enter them and bam, records all nicely organized and ready for your accountant. I do mine a little different but the system works for me. I have a folder on my desk, I put all my incoming bills/print invoices/receipts into it. (Disclaimer, most of my bills are set up as autopay, so when I get the paper copies, they’re already paid). At the end of the month I sit down and “enter bills” into QB. Then, you select the magic button “pay bills” and you can actually mark them all paid all at once! It’s magical friends. Seriously the most magical part of the entire accounting system. There is just way too much info to go into details in this section so I’m keeping it short and sweet for now.
Again, as a photographer, we often are driving to locations or dropping off orders for our clients. QBs has a section dedicated to entering in mileage which is super helpful when my accountant asks! No more guess work or back tracking to see where I went or who I met with. You can set up exact mileage pricing as well in there. So many great things!!
Ok this is another favorite part. Quite often I see people asking for tax advice on how to stay organized and reporting of sales tax. News flash. QB can do it for you (kinda). If you have it set-up, Quickbooks can auto populate which line items are needing to be taxed. From there, it’ll show tax collected and then show a summary of what taxes are owed to whom. This is so tough to get into details because you really need to ask your local accountant but for me, this was my biggest selling reason to purchase QB. I like looking at a glance to see how much I owe. I personally have a separate bank account set-up and after each session/order I transfer $XX amount into that account to hold back for taxes. That’s a whole separate subject for a different day but for now, just make sure you’re pulling aside that sales tax and tax income amount so you’re not scrambling at the end of the year to pull it together. Technically, the sales tax isn’t yours anyways 😉
Hello I’m Kelsey and I’m a complete nerd about reports and knowing my numbers. This program is fantastic to show me the overall reports about my business. It shows me what’s making money, what’s not doing so well, and even compares numbers to last year. I like setting number attainable goals monthly and I love snapshots because it shows me graphs and charts along with comparing it to last years monthly numbers in sales. It’s a great visual to keep you on track and at the end of the year compare what worked the best throughout the year. I like printing them all out and sitting down to make decisions, if, for example, I have metal prints on my price list and show I sold only five but my canvases I sold forty, maybe it’s time for me to look into removing metal prints from my product line-up and up prices slightly on canvases. These reports can be worth their weight in gold and my account especially loves them because they auto-populate for tax income time!!
I hope all of this information helped you guys out. It took awhile to gather the info and get it all laid out but you really should invest in some type of accounting software. You’ve spent so much money on equipment for your business why not invest in something to keep you organized when if comes to tracking your numbers? You wouldn’t buy educational workshops and then not watch them, so why would you collect income but not monitor where it’s all going?! For more info please feel free to reach out to us, we’d love to help you out! But as always, make sure you consult with your accountant, we truly don’t know your personal business’ and it’s always best to advise with someone who knows your situation the best.
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