Play Safe, Freelancer’s Guide to Good Record Keeping

Freelance is a business where one wants to use their creative talents to make money. And if you are freelancers, you might probably be working for the same reason. Contrary to popular belief, freelancing is a business in its own; the only difference is that you are the owner and the employee yourself. In the role of the owner, you have to take care of the management and the administration of your business yourself. These have to be taken care of even though they are less enjoyable than the creative work you are doing. The most important aspect of the management and administration of your business are to keep records and keep them well.

Keeping Track of the Delivered Projects:

Freelancer Guide - Keeping Track of the Delivered Projects
Keeping Track of the Delivered Projects

If you are sending out your work to publishers and you have to wait until they tell you whether it is accepted or rejected, you must keep a track of all your submissions or delivered projects so that you know at all times where you are pitching your work. This is important as freelancers tend to take it lightly and often forget about their submissions.

For example, you are writing for a newspaper or magazine as these are the places that only allow one submission at a time. If you don’t keep a track of where you have sent your work and you forget about it, it might happen that you send the same work to the same place again and what’s even worse is that you send the same work to any other place. So it’s better that you don’t rely on your memory a lot in this regard.

Methods of Record-keeping:

Freelancer Guide - Methods of Record-keeping
Methods of Record-keeping

You can keep these records in as simple a form as in a notebook or to be more proper, on a spreadsheet in your PC. It is seen that the most popular and relatively easy way of keeping records is on an Excel Spreadsheet. You just have to mark every new payment in the sheet, adding a title is also a good option. You can also add expenses in the sheets if you want so that you know where you are spending the incoming money.

A more advanced option of keeping the track online is also available. In any case, you have to take care of recording every submission, its current status (whether it is accepted or not) and also any comments that you have received and need to remember.

Be Prepared for the Taxes:

Be Prepared for the Taxes
Be Prepared for the Taxes

Figuring out taxes is something which is a turn off for everything, it is even worse if you have not kept safe your records or haven’t kept them at all. Taxes happen all year round so you should proper arrangements of keeping a record of them by setting up a system that keeps a track of your incomes and deductions.

Keeping Receipts:

Keeping Receipts
Keeping Receipts

Saving receipts is also a very good habit though many would thing this is a primitive thing to do. You can just put aside an envelope for receipts, keep adding every slip in it and check at the month end whether any is worthy of noting it down in the records. This is another aspect of playing safe as these can come to use in case of an audit.

Clients and Jobs:

Freelancers Guide - Clients and Jobs
Clients and Jobs

If you have a huge dealership that a single Spreadsheet might not work for you, then you might want to make a separate folder for each client and every job which is, in fact, the best practice if you are working or have worked with a large number of clients. This will also give you a secure way to look into past records that are separate from the current ones.

You can also add notes and references of correspondences with each for quick reference. Even noting down their likes and dislikes is a good practice which makes you keep in mind what to do and what not to do in the future. These notes can be as trivial as the client’s birthday if you want to keep cordial relations with him. You would find clients that would appreciate you taking care of minute details and when they don’t have to remind you of every single thing all over again.

As for the current jobs, you can make your task easier by keeping an editorial calendar where you can mark your day’s topics and tasks. You can also add deadlines on this calendar to have a strict check on it. This calendar can be used to set priority and note down important details so that you can give your mind some rest and not rely on your memory for everything. You would notice how much more efficient you can become in your work taking care of such details and keeping record of all the important things. You would certainly like to see your client’s favors.

Even Recording Your Time is Important:

Freelancers - Even Recording Your Time is Important
Even Recording Your Time is Important

If you are only relying on your mental abilities, you cannot be sure how much time are you spending on each project accurately. For that, you will have to keep a record. Determining the time spent on your work is also important to know whether you are getting paid according to the time spent and whether your rate of pay is reasonable. If you are working more and receiving less or anything related to your time, this can help you see whether you want to confront the client, drop the project or keep it going.

Strategize Well Through Record Keeping:

Freelancers - Strategize Well Through Record Keeping
Strategize Well Through Record Keeping

If you are doing freelance work at more than one place, which is highly likely, you would want to know at which place your efforts are the most fruitful. By keeping a record, you can see which company is working the best for you. Also, keeping a record can also tell you where you are getting the most payments from and after what kind of work so you can prefer those companies more in the future. These will be the choices you will be making on actual data not only using your memory and guesses so it’s a safe play.

Final Thoughts:

What might be the best option for keeping records depends on the size of your freelancing business. It can be as small as writing down all the records on a notebook or a spreadsheet or can be complex so that you have to make use of accounting software package available for small business setups. Keeping records is not only to see how much work you have done and how much money you are getting but also helps you to set goals and see your progress over it. This can turn into a motivation factor for you and will also tell you the rate of increase in your incomes.

For people who are highly creative, record keeping is not as easy a task as producing something creative. However, it becomes essential when it comes to taking care of the taxes and submissions and certainly very helpful in determining your future plans. Probably the best way to make record-keeping an easy task is to start off with it right from the beginning, from the very first task even it is a small one, so that it becomes smooth until you reach to more complex projects.

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