2-Minute Checkup: Freelancer-friendly accounting

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Dear Readers: In addition to the usual Q&As, this is the first in a series of “2-Minute Checkup” posts on quick topics that can make long-term impact to your business.

Everyone loves getting a check in the mail, but whether we’re writers, editors, graphic designers, web gurus, or photographers, freelancers often struggle on the expenses/revenues/invoicing/accounting side of the equation. The creative side of the job is more fun. With that in mind, the key is to provide some structure for yourself. Herewith, some thoughts on the pros and cons of a few popular systems:

Excel/Word. The pros are that it’s free and convenient, most likely already installed on your computer. The cons are that you need to be skilled at Excel to put together a worthwhile database, and Word isn’t the most elegant-looking invoice format, which makes you look like a home business instead of a “real” company.

Small business software. My first foray into software was MYOB FirstEdge, and it was OK, but not great. Easy, somewhat clumsy interface and not much more elegant than Excel/Word. That may have changed for the better since it appears that FirstEdge now has a relationship with Apple. I currently use QuickBooks, which is more expensive and way more complex and intense to get started, but has a couple of advantages, including sharp-looking invoices and seamless interfacing with tax programs. It’s what my CPA recommended (and I’m an obedient guy, right?)

Online accounting. Intuit has an online version of QuickBooks. Freelance-Zone recently gave a plug to Outright, which I don’t have any experience with, but might be worth a tire-kick if you’re in the market for a new solution.

As with all systems, the best system is the one you use. So, find something you like…and start that money rolling in!
P.S. Keep your eyes open for the first installment of Dr. Freelance’s Video Question of the Week—coming soon!

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  1. Dr. Freelance says

    Thanks very much, Kristen. That is indeed very handy! Perhaps I was too quick to judge…it’s been a while since I’ve used anything but QuickBooks.