We know that handling finances can be the hardest and most stressful part of being a freelancer, artist or otherwise. Unfortunately these essential skills aren't widely taught, so we went ahead and whipped together a micro-toolkit to help artists better manage and understand money so they can get back to what they love - the work:
1. When preparing an invoice, include a reference number. This is so you can keep on top of your invoicing but also so that you can chase them up! Make it make sense to you. Something simple like starting at 0001 and increasing the number or you could include a project code i.e. BF01 would be the first project you run for us.
2. Include the project you did and the dates of it. Put that in the email and in the invoice to help finance departments process it quickly.
3. Add your BACs detail. That's the account number, sort code and name of your account. DON'T give your long card number - that's how people take money out!
4. Include your payment terms (usually 30 days), but understand that if you've signed a contract with a company, you'll have signed up to their payment terms unless you explicitly agreed otherwise. Read this through thoroughly before signing.
5. If people haven't paid on time, do a polite chase reminding them of the payment terms. Then send another chase stating your rights and that you will be prepared to go to a Citizen's Advice Bureau to get further advice if needed.
6. Don't invoice until you've done the work unless you both agree otherwise. We suggest sending a line or two of evaluation with your invoice. This is not compulsory!
7. Keep good records of all of your invoices out, (i.e a spreadsheet with who you've invoiced, the project, the amount, the date you invoiced and the date it is due). Mark off when someone has paid you so you know who and when to chase.
8. Keep good records of expenditure. Train tickets, parking tickets, materials, training courses, paying others for help, equipment. This will help prepare your self-assessment.
9. The self-assessment date is 31st January if you do it online. This means working out how much tax you owe (very simply put - taking your incomings and taking away your outgoings). It relates to the year before up til the 5th April. (For more information)
10. Register with HRMC as soon as you start working as self-employed. This will give you a Unique Tax Reference and will allow you to start working freelance!
Tools & Useful blogs
Invoice template: Make sure to replace the Beatfreeks and any relevant information with the correct details though!
What To Do When People Don't Pay On Time: Tips to Take to Avoid a Client Not Paying You for Work That You're Doing
Links On Setting Payrates:
4 Department for Business Innovation and Skills: They also run a Pay and Work Rights Helpline (0800 917 2368, Textphone: 0800 121 4042)
CC Skills Provide a list of work related responsibilities, and indicate what pay people with certain skills might expect.
For Technical Staff: BECTU
For Visual Artists: a-n The Artists Information Company
For Writers: Writers’ Guild
We will be updating this throughout the year, let us know if you need any more specific information, or if you have anything to add that can help aritsts.