Managing Your Money

For a seemingly bohemian profession, we photographers have to do a lot of money managing. Thankfully, we live in an age where software can do all the work for us.

Our core existence comes from generating estimates, creating invoices, and managing shoot budgets. Blinkbid (www.blinkbid.com), Fotoquote (www.fotoquote.com), and P/IE Software (www.piesoftware.com) are three software applications that are designed specifically for photographers. Each of these applications has a demo version available so you can try them out and decide for yourself which one best fits your needs.

Accurately managing your overall financial picture is absolutely crucial to running a successful business. There are no shortcuts. For the end-of-the-year tax filing, I highly recommend hiring a tax accountant. Seek out one who specializes in helping creative types so you can maximize your deductions. But keep in mind that a tax accountant is only as good as the information he or she is given. To manage the day-to-day record-keeping, I can strongly recommend two products:

♦ MYOB (www.myob-us.com) is accounting software for small businesses. A global company, MYOB is a cross-platform application that is better known on the Mac in the United States. MYOB has an incredibly easy-to-use interface and extensive reporting. It is very highly regarded and well rounded. MYOB also offers a free limited version that your accountant can download and use to access your data file if they have not been using MYOB. See Figure 10.4.

♦ The other accounting software available is Quickbooks from Intuit (www.quickbooks.com). Intuit also makes Quicken, personal accounting software, but I would recommend that you get into Quickbooks if you go with Intuit. It is designed for small businesses. Like MYOB, Quickbooks also has a remarkably robust feature set and is also highly regarded in the accounting world. Their files are cross-platform as well.

Both companies have Web sites with an amazing amount of resources. And both companies have been around a very long time with enormous user bases, so committing to one or the other is a safe move.

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Figure 10.4 Mind Your Own Business!

I'll confess. During the first 10 years of my career, I was delightfully ignorant of my overall financial picture. That was until I got a call from my bank politely inquiring how I was going to cover an $800 overdraft. That phone call caused me to change my pants and my attitude. Maintaining my financial records requires about 45 minutes a week. It's easy to download bank and credit card statements straight into the products I mention in this section. Also Blinkbid is currently developing a feature that will allow you import your photography invoices into MYOB and Quickbooks.

Pursuing sound money practices might not be as glamorous as shooting. But making a good living as a photographer is; give yourself every advantage you can.

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