It’s that time of year again when we either vow to make more of an effort to organise ourselves and our blogs or we are determined this is the time to make the leap into monetization. That time, of course, is the start of a new tax year.
Start as you mean to go on is a motto of mine, and organising your spreadsheets, receipts etc is always easier at the beginning of the Tax year than waiting for months, as if you are anything like me you’ll lose that really big receipt you needed and will forget which clients need chasing for payments and when.
Organisation is key to keeping yourself up-to-date and on top, so that come the start of the next tax year you aren’t scrambling around to find paperwork and receipts or like me in the past lost HMRC login details 5 days before the tax return cut-off date – it’s for this reason I never leave submitting mine to the last minute, it’s never worth that panic again.
Firstly, if you are blogging and don’t make any money that’s fine but if you start earning through your blog you need to register as self-employed with HMRC within 3 months of earning, this can be earning via affiliate links, sponsored posts, selling on review products and even if you are paid in vouchers for work you do – this is to be treated as if they were cash, so a £100 voucher is recorded on your tax return as £100 cash– anything which makes you money via your blog needs to be declared.
It sounds daunting but really it is very simple – you can either call and register to do so online. After this you will receive your UTR (Unique Tax Reference) and login details for HMRC – you will have to activate your account using a code they send you within 28 days. Once done you won’t need to do this again.
Now is the perfect time to be organised with your record keeping, the beginning of the tax year means empty spreadsheets which I find is the easiest way to keep track of your incomings and outgoings, but you could obviously use the old fashioned way of writing it all down – find what works for you. Some like separate spreadsheets for incomings and outgoings, petrol/mileage while others perfect to see it all on the same page – there is no set formula as long as you keep a record of it all including invoices you send.
Not sure what you can include as a business expense?
- Telephone: both mobile and landline. Track your calls over a period to identify what percentage of your calls are business-related, and then use that percentage to calculate the allowable expense;
- Broadband: track the family usage of broadband over a period to come up with a proportion of business vs. personal use, and again use that proportion to calculate the allowable expense;
- Website costs: any costs to develop and/or maintain your website can be considered, including web hosting and domain registration.
- Membership fees/subscriptions; PicMonkey, Canva, Deposit Photos etc are just a few – if used solely for your blog
- Professional fees e.g. lawyers’ and accountants’ fees, VA fees etc.
- Conferences and associated travel; and travel to and from events if for work (i.e. mileage and parking to a blogging event)
- Marketing costs including advertising of your blog, printing business cards, etc.
- Working from home – you are able to claim a percentage of your household bills (gas, electric etc) if you work from home
It really is worth looking over at the HMRC website for a full list of what you are allowed to expense and they also run very informative webinars for various subjects too.
I use an app which helps me to keep track of my expenses such as mileage, train fares etc. while I am out and about – it’s called Expensify, I can take photos of my receipts etc which are then recorded straight to the app where I can see a monthly tally of my work outgoings, there are other similar alternative to this too.
You’ll also want to set yourself up an invoice template, one where you can change the details accordingly for the work done but keep bank details, your details etc. the same.
What details to include on your invoice:
You can find any online invoice templates to help you.
- The word “invoice” on the invoice…just in case someone doesn’t know what they’re looking at and to make it immediately obvious
- A unique identification number for the invoice (001 for example for the first changing the number accordingly)– not just for your benefit, but for the company that is paying you.
- Your name, address and contact information
- The (company) name and address of the customer you are invoicing.
- A clear description of what you are requesting payment for (If you’re requesting payment for a specific blog post, then include the link in the description. This will be helpful for the customer at the end of the year)
- The date of when the items you are requesting payment for were completed – published date etc.
- The date of the invoice
- The amounts being charged per line item (for example, perhaps you charge £50 per blog post, and you’ve written 3 for the same company. You would put 3 x blog posts @ £50/ea – £150 – do include the urls of the posts too)
- The total amount of the invoice
- Payment terms if you have pre-agreed these i.e. 28 days from invoice date
- How to pay you – bank account name, sort code and account number, paypal email if you accept that
- I also add my UTR (unique tax reference number to mine as more and more companies are asking for it, and it proves I have registered self-employed)
If you have set up a limited company for your blog stuff, then you’ll also need these things on the invoice
- Your company registration number
- Your company’s registered office
- Your company’s full name as it appears on the certificate of incorporation (you might choose to use a different company name so you would need to show this as [company A] trading as [company B])
- If you include the directors of the company name’s on the invoice, you must include all their names
If you are at all confused about your tax return, what you can and can’t claim or are wanting any further advice then do speak with HMRC or a qualified accountant who can talk you through the in’s and outs.
Remember: You have to keep hold of your documentation for 6 years in case you are asked for it, so all invoices, receipts etc but most are acceptable in digital format if you don’t have the room to store them all.