The Blogging Business and Taxes

The Blogging Business and TaxesOne question that I receive nearly every week from readers is what I do about taxes since I am now a full-time freelancer/blogger. This is a topic that I have been promising for quite some time now, so I’m glad I can finally publish it!

Tax tips for bloggers isn’t exactly the most exciting topic in the world, but it is something that needs to be discussed. As a blogger/freelancer, I have noticed that there are not many articles out there about the subject.

Why is that though? As a blogger, taxes can be a scary thing to think about, especially if you are new to the area or if you haven’t been saving for taxes as you go.

Here are my tips to have a successful blogging/freelancing business while doing your taxes correctly.

 

Remember to keep an accurate record of everything.

One thing that I am really guilty of is being extremely disorganized, and lets just say that this is really hitting me hard right now.

I have receipts and papers all over the place, and I already know that I have lost many receipts. This is probably my number one tax tip for new bloggers. For my 2014 taxes, I have been working on staying organized as I go and I have separate folders for everything.

However, for 2013 I am not so lucky. I am still organizing everything so that I can do my taxes, and it is not a pleasant experience.

Always try to keep everything organized and keep a receipt for everything that is related to your business. Also, it is wise to keep a detailed note of what you spent and why you spent that (such as in an Excel sheet). It may seem overboard to some, but the IRS doesn’t like rounded numbers and guesses. They want the exact figure.

 

Remember to pay estimated taxes.

If you are new to blogging or freelancing, then your tax bill once the year is over may surprise you. As a blogger or freelancer, usually taxes are not taken out when you are paid.

With every payment that you receive, you should be setting aside a certain percentage for your taxes. You should not be touching this money, and it may be best to completely push this tax money out of your head so that you don’t consider it “yours.”

Paying your taxes is something that you will probably underestimate the amount you have to pay if you haven’t contacted an accountant or done any research. Estimated taxes are due every quarter. You should try to figure out what you should be paying, because if you don’t pay them at the correct time and the correct way, then you may have to pay a penalty.

Below is when estimated taxes are due.

  • April 15th
  • June 15th
  • September 15th
  • January 15th

 

Don’t forget that you also have to pay self-employment taxes.

You will most likely have to pay self-employment taxes, so do not forget to account for that as well (if you used to work for someone else, your employer used to help cover this).

There are ways to help lower this by forming different types of entities, but this is something that you should contact a lawyer or accountant about if you do not know what you are doing. Articles to read about this include:

 

What if I just blog in my free time and work for someone else full-time? – You will still have to pay self-employment tax on your blogging income.

You can read further about this on the IRS website.

 

The Blogging Business and Taxes

There are things that you can do to lower your tax bill as well.

In order to lower your tax bill by claiming deductions, you need to prove to the IRS that your blogging business is an actual business and not just a hobby.

If the IRS believes your blogging business is just a hobby, then they may not approve of your deductions. According to the IRS, you can prove this to them by showing them that you have earned a profit, the time that you put into your blogging business, and so on.

Anyway, after you have determined that you have a true blogging business, you can then deduct certain expenses as long as they are legitimate and necessary for you to run your business. I wouldn’t advise deducting every expense that you can find or imagine up, as some will trigger an audit.

Always be wise with what you chose to deduct and make sure that you have good reasoning and proof to back up your claim.

Different items that you may be able to deduct include:

  • Your home office. Always be careful with this though as a home office can trigger an audit since many people fake this.
  • Household expenses if your office is in a room in your home. This could include a share of the business’ amount of rent (be realistic with this – if your mortgage is $1,000 and you are claiming that rent on the room is $1,500, that will most likely not work), electricity, gas, trash, sewer, etc.
  • Office supplies and furniture.
  • Internet expenses.
  • Applicable phone costs.
  • Meals. You can only deduct 50% and there has to be a legitimate reason for this. Keep good record of who was there, when it was, and what was discussed.
  • Advertising and business cards.
  • Certain car expenses.
  • Conference fees related to your blog. An example would be if you attended FinCon.
  • Website related expenses such as for hosting, design, and so on.

 

Note: Please keep in mind that I am not a tax professional and I never was. I complied all of the above information by doing research and contacting some accountant friends. When I tell others that I used to be a financial analyst they tend to bombard me with tax questions and I am not sure why 🙂 The above post is meant more as a guide but you should always contact an accountant or a lawyer if you have any questions. Each case does vary with each company/person, so everything does not apply to everyone. 

 

Are you a blogger? How do you handle tax time?

What tips do you have for a new blogger trying to manage their taxes?

 

4 Tips To Negotiate Your Salary

4 Tips To Negotiate Your SalaryI know that on this blog I talk a lot about working for yourself. However, that doesn’t mean that I’m against a person working for someone else (there are, of course, both pros and cons of self-employment).

Even if you work for someone else, increasing your salary can still be a part of your plan for financial independence.

Maybe one of the ways that you diversify your finances is by working for someone else and this is one of your forms of income (Robert at Beat The 9 To 5 is one of those people! – he has multiple streams of income that include his day job). Or maybe you want to increase your income at your current job as much as you can so that you can retire earlier.

Whatever your reason is, if you can increase your salary by negotiating for it, then you definitely should.

I know that asking for a raise at your current job or negotiating your salary for a new job is hard. It can be tough to put yourself out there and do this. However, the more prepared you are, the better chance you have of getting the salary that you want!

Here are four tips to negotiate your salary successfully.

1. Be polite.

You shouldn’t threaten your boss (or future boss) when you are asking for a higher salary. Always be polite and show respect for the person that you are talking to.

You should also try to set up a meeting for the salary negotiation if you can instead of butting into a conversation that your boss is having with someone (I have heard of someone doing this!).

Also, I have heard of many people threatening to leave for another job that offers more money. This isn’t always the best thing to bring up in a threatening manner. An example would be if you have been working somewhere for a few years and told your boss that you have another job offer somewhere else and if they don’t meet the salary amount that you will leave.

This may make your manager let you leave the company (or just fire you) because you are not dedicated to the company. If you are willing to risk your current job by threatening to leave, then by all means do so. You just have to realize that there may be consequences!

2. Research what others in a similar position to yours make.

Before you ask for a salary increase, it is always wise to know what others make in your position so that you can use that to your advantage. If you know that many others are making thousands and thousands of dollars more than you, then you should back it up with proof.

You should research the following:

  • What do others at similar companies make?
  • What do others in similar positions to yours make?
  • What do others in your city/area make?
  • What do others in your specific field make?

 

3. Know what else to ask for.

If you can’t get the salary that you want, then try asking for something else. You could ask for a better benefits package, more vacation time, paid time off, health insurance and more.

4. Be confident.

No matter what you do, always make sure that you are confident when you are speaking. If you are not confident, then it will show. If you don’t believe in yourself, then how will you persuade someone to give you a raise?

You need to be able to tell them confidently why you desire a raise. You should bring past results of yours to your salary negotiation so that you can show that you are an important part of the organization and that you deserve the raise.

What salary negotiation advice do you have?

 

Tips To Manage Your E-mail Better

Tips To Manage Your E-mail BetterTo some, managing your e-mail may seem very easy. A post on the subject may seem repetitive. However, to others an e-mail inbox may be the source of a lot of stress. I receive many, many e-mails each day and I’m sure many of you receive even more than I do.

Some days I want to just close my laptop and run away (don’t worry, I actually love to receive e-mails, but sometimes they can be overwhelming).

Usually, I wake up to a few hundred e-mails each morning, and that doesn’t even include the hundreds of e-mails that automatically are sent to my Junk folder.

The weekends are a little lighter, but there are still a lot. Some of these e-mails are just coupons (ooooh Victoria’s Secret has a SALE today?), some of the e-mails are blog posts that are sent to my inbox, some are questions/compliments from readers, and the rest are usually business-related e-mails.

The last three categories are my favorite types of e-mails to receive.

Here are my tips to manage your e-mail inbox more effectively and efficiently.

 

Delete the junk immediately.

The first thing I do when I open up my e-mail is that I delete all of the junk right away. This way I feel a little less stressed because a lot of clutter has been eliminated.

 

Unsubscribe.

Do you find yourself constantly deleting e-mails from the same company all the time? Why don’t you just unsubscribe? It will save you the hassle of having to delete their e-mails every day for the rest of your life. I’m sure that there are at least a few e-mails that you could unsubscribe from.

 

Create specific folders.

I don’t have the best memory in the world. If you tell me that you e-mailed me, I may not remember it. Placing e-mails in certain folders can help me remember what the e-mail was about without me having to read a single word of the e-mail.

So, this is why I like to create specific folders in my inbox. Once I receive and respond to an e-mail, I try to archive it if I can (unless the job is still ongoing and I know I will pull up the e-mail all the time).

Different folders could include:

  • Awaiting Payment. This is of course e-mails where I am waiting payment.
  • Payment Received. These are projects that are completely done with where I have received the payment and nothing is needed from me for the time being.
  • Blog related. These are e-mails such as questions or compliments from readers.
  • Business Leads. These are e-mails from potential clients.
  • Wedding related. Yes, I have a folder dedicated to wedding stuff. There are so many e-mails related to the wedding!

 

Hire someone.

If you absolutely hate e-mails or if you are too busy to answer them (such as if you are on a break or vacation), then you may just want to hire someone. I have had a few people in the past month ask me to completely manage their e-mails, so this is not out of the ordinary.

What tips do you have for e-mail management?