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Bookkeeping for Influencers and Digital Creators: How to Manage Your Money as an Influencer?

Bookkeeping for Influencers and Digital Creators: The Influencer's Guide to Finances

Earning money as an influencer or a digital creator is growing in popularity. For some, it’s just a side income, for others – their main job. And how you earn money in the digital world needs to be adequately recorded in your books. However, the type of transactions and bookkeeping and accounting challenges that influencers and digital creators face are quite distinct from a traditional business. 

Working specifically with content and course creators in my CFO and bookkeeping practice, I know first-hand what issues these businesses often deal with and how to effectively resolve their financial struggles.

So, in this guide, I’ll share the common bookkeeping problems and solutions that’ll help you thrive in your business. Ready to keep your finances as sharp as your content? Let’s dive in!

Contents:

1. How does bookkeeping for influencers, YouTubers, and other digital creators differ from traditional businesses?

2. Why is it necessary to separate personal and business finances?

3. What are the common mistakes in bookkeeping and business finances that influencers make, and how can they avoid them?

4. How should an influencer record business transactions?

5. How should an influencer manage and plan for income fluctuations and ensure financial stability?

6. Do I need the services of a bookkeeper, an accountant, or a CPA for my online business?

How does bookkeeping for influencers, YouTubers, and other digital creators differ from traditional businesses?

Bookkeeping for influencers, YouTubers, and other digital creators shares fundamental principles with traditional businesses. For instance, both need to meticulously track income and expenses to maintain a clear financial picture. However, the unique aspects of earning income online make for specific considerations when it comes to bookkeeping for your online business.

Let’s explore what digital entrepreneurs need to know about their special bookkeeping needs that traditional businesses don’t deal with as often or at all.

Diverse revenue streams

Digital creators often have multiple sources of income such as ad revenue, sponsored content, merchandise sales, memberships, donations, or affiliate marketing. While all this money ends up in your bank account, each type of income needs to be accurately tracked and categorized in your books.

For traditional businesses, the income typically comes from more straightforward sources like sales of goods or services.

Expenses specific to digital platforms

For digital content and course creators, expenses can include software subscriptions, equipment purchases (like cameras, lighting, and microphones), digital advertising, website maintenance, and potentially fees for platforms like Patreon or fees deducted by platforms like YouTube before payout. Understanding what can be categorized as a business expense for tax deductions is crucial.

While there are overlaps in expenses (like office supplies and advertising), many traditional businesses may have more physical operational costs like rent, utilities for a brick-and-mortar location, and larger-scale inventory that content and course creators oftentimes don’t need to deal with.

International income and expenditures

Many influencers and digital creators receive income from international sources due to the global reach of their content. This introduces the complexity of foreign currency transactions and potentially dealing with international tax considerations.

Tax considerations

This takes us straight to taxes. Digital creators need to be aware of specific tax obligations related to self-employment and possibly international taxation. This includes paying self-employment tax, making estimated quarterly tax payments, and understanding the tax implications of the various income streams.

Irregular income

Income can be highly variable, with peaks and troughs depending on content popularity, seasonal trends, or platform algorithm changes. Planning for financial stability involves setting aside savings during high-earning periods to cover slower times.

Intellectual property considerations

Intellectual property (like videos, images, and written content) is a significant part of a creator’s assets. Proper accounting for the creation, maintenance, and protection of these assets is unique to this sector.

Key takeaways

While the foundation of bookkeeping—tracking income and expenses to understand financial health—remains consistent across fields, digital creators face unique challenges and opportunities. Understanding these distinctions is essential for effective financial management and growth in the digital realm.

In my practice, we encounter and offer solutions to the questions below in order to optimize growth in your business and ultimately your life.

Why is it necessary to separate personal and business finances?

When you’re working from the comforts of your home and recording a video, for example, it’s hard to see where your personal life ends and professional life begins. The same goes for your finances. Both of those worlds seem to be intertwined but they must be properly segregated

Mixing the two can lead to many issues, both small and big. Let’s have a look at why separating finances for digital creators matters so much.

Clear financial picture

Separating personal from business finances makes it easier to see how well your business is doing without the clutter of personal spending. Without this separation, you simply can’t answer the basic questions that, as a business owner, you should be asking yourself, such as: is my business growing, how should I budget for next month, where should I invest more, or how can I save money? 

You can have ideas as to how to improve your business, but it’s the financials you need to back up your ideas and turn them into data-driven business decisions. 

Simplified tax time

When taxes are due, teasing out business transactions from personal ones is a painstaking job – a job that can be easily avoided. Having separate accounts saves you from the headache of sorting through mixed transactions. 

At the end of the day, you need to file your taxes accurately, since any mistakes can be very costly. Having all your work documents neatly filed away, simplifies this process, come tax season. 

Professionalism

When business and personal financial records are mixed, it can give an impression of disorganization. Just like having a business email address shows you’re serious about your work, having separate finances reflects your professionalism to banks, sponsors, and partners.

It also builds trust with those that might want to invest in your business. 

If your business is an LLC or a corporation, it is critical to keep finances separate to protect your personal assets if your business faces legal trouble. Should anyone take action against the business, then your personal assets are protected as long as you are not muddying the waters and mixing funds.

When I see this line being crossed with my own clients, we educate them on the risks and work together to create clear boundaries between business and personal accounting.

What are the common mistakes in bookkeeping and business finances that influencers make, and how can they avoid them?

Managing money might not be the first thing influencers think about when they start creating content, but it’s crucial for turning a passion into a sustainable business. We’ve already spoken about mixing personal and business finances. So let’s dig deeper into common financial missteps influencers make and how to solve them.

Neglecting to track expenses meticulously

Not including minor costs in the records because they seem insignificant can become a larger issue down the road. However, just like loose change can add up to a lot over time, so can small business expenses.

That’s why, keep receipts and record every expense, no matter how small, and categorize it accordingly. With the help of a bookkeeping professional and accounting software, you can easily set up automation flows to track and accurately categorize these expenses.  

Forgetting to plan for taxes

Not setting aside money for taxes is a common issue. The best practice is to estimate your tax liability and set aside a portion of your income regularly in a separate savings account. 

Remember that taxes can take a significant bite out of your income. Work with a tax professional to understand your obligations, explore deductions, and plan for quarterly tax payments if applicable.

Recording net income after payment processor fees

A mistake a lot of digital creators make in their bookkeeping is only jotting down the money they end up with after fees from payment processors get taken out. 

When you don’t keep track of those fees separately, it’s easy to lose track of what you’re actually paying just to get your money. The full financial picture could prompt you to look for better deals or switch up how you get paid. 

Plus, this issue can affect your budgeting and planning because it gives the impression that you’re spending less than you actually are. Writing down your total earnings and all these fees helps you see your finances more clearly, making it easier to make smart moves that boost your profit.

Focusing solely on revenue and forgetting about profit

Another mistake I see is only watching the revenue and not profit. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of increasing sales but if expenses are ballooning at the same rate—or faster—you might not actually be growing your business’s financial health.

For digital creators, expenses such as software subscriptions, advertising costs, equipment upgrades, and platform fees can quickly add up. These are essential for creating content, reaching audiences, and running the business, but if they’re not carefully managed, they can eat into your earnings significantly.

Therefore, it’s crucial to maintain a balance by monitoring both your incoming revenue and outgoing expenses closely. This approach lets you identify which expenses provide value and contribute to growth, and which might be trimmed or managed more efficiently. 

Regularly reviewing your profit margins can help you make informed decisions, such as adjusting pricing, optimizing ad spending, or renegotiating software licenses. In my CFO practice, we monitor spending and profit meticulously to ensure that it doesn’t eat into being able to pay yourself well.

Overlooking the need for a cash flow plan

Having a cash flow plan is key. Without it, it’s tough to predict when money will come in and how fast it goes out. This can lead to financial hiccups, especially during slow periods or when unexpected costs pop up. 

By mapping out when you expect to receive payments and what your expenses look like, you give yourself a clearer roadmap. This helps ensure you always have enough resources to keep your creative engine running smoothly and avoid any unwanted financial detours.

How should an influencer record business transactions?

Having seen what pitfalls might await course and content creators and how to avoid them, let’s now have a look at how to do bookkeeping the right way – from the start.

Open a business bank account

This is step one – opening up a business bank account. Use this account for anything related to your work—receiving payments, buying equipment, or paying for any services that help you grow your channel.

Use a dedicated credit card for business expenses

Having a separate credit card for your business expenses helps you track spending even more easily. Every swipe of this card is for your business needs, so you don’t have to sift through statements to figure out work costs.

Keep your bookkeeping records organized

It takes working with a professional who understands the industry to set up their financial tracking so income can be sorted into their appropriate revenue streams.

Pro tip: Revenue is best tracked as separate line items. 

You should also diligently categorize expenses related to content creation, equipment purchases, influencer marketing, and other business-related costs using accounting software. 

Digital or paper – make sure you have a record of all business transactions. Many apps can help you scan and organize receipts if you have them in paper form. This is not just for returns or warranties but crucial for taxes and understanding your spending patterns.

Use accounting and bookkeeping software and tools

There are plenty of user-friendly options out there designed for people without an accounting background. These can help you categorize income and expenses, see your financial health at a glance, and make tax time less stressful.

Digital creators should lean more towards tools that integrate well with online payment platforms, and social media revenue as well as offer flexibility for tracking multiple income streams.

At the end of the day, you should try to automate as many of those tasks as possible. This saves a lot of time, reduces the chances of errors, and makes for accurate and detailed reporting.

Consult with professionals who understand the digital creators’ industry

Even if you’re great at managing money, working with a financial advisor who understands the influencer industry can offer personalized advice and save you money in the long run.

Improving businesses: Success story

One success story from my own practice illustrating how creators can leverage bookkeeping to grow their business involves a course creator, coach, and event planner (one amazing woman CEO). By meticulously tracking income from courses, coaching, events, affiliate income, and merchandise and the costs individually associated with each income type, they were able to recognize that coaching was the big ticket item and a game changer for their revenue and profitability. 

They were able to re-allocate resources towards high-impact activities such as targeted advertising campaigns and funneling customers to their coaching program through course purchases and event attendance, resulting in increased membership, and ultimately, profit.

There is a power in numbers that goes beyond record-keeping and tax compliance. It’s about empowering companies to reach new heights in their business growth.

How should an influencer manage and plan for income fluctuations and ensure financial stability?

Income for creators can be extremely volatile as it follows the market trends and consumer purchasing comfort levels. This makes forecasting income and understanding recurring income crucial to anticipate when they may need to rely on savings and what minimum amount of cash is needed in their accounts to stay afloat during slow times. 

Build a solid emergency fund

Prioritize building an emergency fund – this is your financial safety net. Aim to save at least 3-6 months’ worth of living and business expenses. You may not need it, but you’ll be glad the emergency fund is there when the leaner time comes.

Diversify your income streams

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Explore various income avenues like merchandise sales, sponsored content, affiliate marketing, or even creating a course or writing a book related to your niche. Diversification adds stability to your finances, as when one stream dips, another might rise.

Invest in passive income opportunities

Unlike the active income generated from your day-to-day content creation efforts, passive income provides earnings without the constant hands-on work. 

Depending on your creative work, there are plenty of opportunities to earn through passive means. 

Adopt a conservative approach to budgeting

For digital creators and influencers, adopting a conservative approach to budgeting means planning their expenses around their average income, not the windfalls from their best months.

This strategy helps cushion against the unpredictability of earnings, ensuring you’re never caught off guard during leaner periods. 

Do I need the services of a bookkeeper, an accountant, or a CPA for my online business?

If you’re running an online business as a digital creator, figuring out whether you need a bookkeeper, an accountant, or a CPA comes down to what stage your business is at and what financial help you’re after. 

What can a bookkeeper offer to an influencer business?

A bookkeeper is invaluable for day-to-day financial record-keeping. They ensure all transactions are accurately documented, which helps keep a clear picture of your financial health. It’s the foundational layer of financial management, helping maintain order and enabling you to focus on content creation and influencer business expansion.

How can accountants and CPAs help with your influencer accounting?

As your business starts to grow and things get a bit more complicated, bringing in an accountant or a CPA (Certified Public Accountant) might be exactly what you need. Accountants dive deeper into your finances, helping with taxes and other complex accounting matters. A CPA can also do everything an accountant can but with the added bonus of being able to deal with the IRS directly if needed.

To work with any of these professionals, you can use outsourced accounting or bookkeeping services on a need basis or establish a more regular work relationship. It’s all about matching your financial needs with the right professional help and the level of bookkeeping and accounting services your company requires. 

Conclusion

Keeping accurate financial records is a stepping stone to a healthy and flourishing company. Numbers know the truth. They can guide you in the right direction as long as you pay attention to a detailed bookkeeping routine. 

Digital content and course creators who arm themselves with accounting software, bookkeeping diligence, and the help of a finance expert can really pave the way for a successful digital venture. So embrace the right bookkeeping practices for continued business growth. 

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