Our approach was simple: as more and more designers and creatives take the freelance route, knowing how to start and run a business can be overwhelming. With that in mind, we started with Level Up Your Freelance Finances.
This was our first attempt at showcasing real stories about freelancers who elevated their game. We also wanted financial experts to share tips and examples that could help freelancers increase their overall revenue and save big on taxes.
Three Informative Sessions That Can Seriously Help Freelancers
We hosted three different sessions at the Dribbble event. Two of the sessions were led by finance experts who’ve helped hundreds of freelancers with the money side of their business. The last session was an interview with a freelancer who is currently running a podcast for freelance designers and developers.
Being a Business
The first session was led by Andrew Carroll, CPA, who specializes in working with freelancers. If you were to walk away with one thing from Andrew’s talk, it would be this: “Be and act like a business.”
During his presentation, Andrew mentioned that, besides making a freelancer look more professional, acting like a business could also help them save a ton in taxes.
- Andrew led with the theme, “Be a business” while emphasizing that S Corps are the best corporate entity option for freelancers. He walked us through the steps a freelancer has to take in order to set up their business, proving that it doesn’t have to be a difficult process.
- When Andrew says, “Act like a business,” it basically means that, as a freelancer, you’re doing payroll, you’re doing your “books,” and you have the necessary permits and licensing for your business.
- Finally, Andrew reminded us that businesses exist to create a profit, and a profit is more than just a wage. He discussed tax-saving strategies to increase profit, with the most important strategy being that freelancers should be treating themselves like a business.
The second session was led by Andi Smiles, a bookkeeper with substantial experience working with freelancers. She shared four secrets to organizing freelancing finances in order to maximize tax savings.
The overarching theme for Andi’s presentation was that bookkeeping is done to track your money for taxes, and to track your income and expenses for insight that will allow you, the owner, to make informed decisions regarding your business. Her main recommendations were to:
- Open a business checking account that would be used solely for paying business expenses and depositing business income
- Open a tax savings account that can help prevent you from spending your tax savings on something that isn’t worthwhile or strategic for your business
- Start using a bookkeeping program to automate reconciliations, save time, and avoid missing deductions
- Set up a bookkeeping routine that involves updating your accounts at least once a week for about 30 minutes.
The last session took place in an interview-style format. Ugur Kaner, Hyke’s CEO, interviewed Sarah Jackson, who shared her experiences with starting a variety of businesses, including her most recent endeavor, Spec.fm, which produces top-rated podcasts and content for developers and designers at every stage of their career.
Sarah is dedicated to helping designers and developers learn, find great resources, and connect with one another. She talked about how Spec.fm took off, and how it grew over time. She then shared how she started working with sponsors, and how she navigated the new territory of accepting money for the work that she and her team were doing.
Like all entrepreneurs, Sarah had some fantastic stories about successes and challenges from her early days, and those stories are worth hearing if you’re a freelancer who’s just starting out or aiming to expand. Feel free to listen to this interview on the live stream, where she also talks about PixelFox and Mule Design Studio.
A Little Bit of Data About the Dribbble Event
We mentioned that we’d share some of the statistics that we gathered during the registration process. Out of the total number of registrations (n = 141), we had some fascinating numbers (see below).
The majority of the people interested in this event were sole proprietors, with roughly 50% of them making above $50K. We hope to gather more data to share with you in the future.
Revenue expected from 2019
Less than $50K = 50.35%
$50K – $75K = 16.31%
$75K – $100K = 12.77%
$100K – $150K = 12.06%
$150K+ = 8.51%
Type of business
Sole proprietorship = 63.12%
LLC – single = 18.44%
LLC – multi = 2.84%
C corp = 2.13%
S corp = 7.80%
Cooperative = 0.71%
Other / no answer = 4.25%
Not freelancing = 0.71%
Overall, this was an event that we’re extremely proud of. And we hope that those who attended, and those who will watch it online, will greatly benefit from the information and advice that was shared by our panel of experts.
If you’d like more information on the Dribbble event, or if you’d like us to email you the slide presentations, feel free to contact us at [email protected]. Thanks again to all of you for a wonderful event!
Ugur Kaner is the co-founder and CEO of Hyke, the online platform that helps freelancers save $15,000 or more in taxes every year