Invoices & Bookkeeping For Busy Designers

Screen shot 2014-03-31 at 8.01.54 AMI am not a detail oriented person, so as you can assume my experiences with bookkeeping have been a wild ride. When I began freelancing I didn’t track my expenses (I know..I know..), which meant that I had to spent weeks scrambling to gather invoices and deductions before tax time. When I recovered from that nightmare I started tracking expenses and sales through a simple Google document. That worked for many years, but I still had to spend days adding forgotten payments and expenses before starting my taxes.

Last year Tara Gentile, someone who I admire greatly, recommended the free website Outright, so I thought I would give it a try. Since I started using the program mid-year I had to add a few transactions and update the expense categories, but I loved that it automatically imported all of my bank account, credit card and Paypal transactions.

Screen shot 2014-03-31 at 8.02.04 AMWell…February rolled around and it was time to prepare my files. I set aside an entire day for the task, which is a pretty big deal for me to devote eight hours to any one project in a day, and I dove into the program. I then saw that if I upgraded to the paid version they would prepare my tax documents for me, listing out an Annual summary, Schedule C, estimated taxes and sales tax and I could also begin using the program for invoices and time tracking. For $9.99 I thought it was worth a try, so I upgraded and my files were prepared in under an hour. AN HOUR! A process that once took me days, sometimes weeks, was done in under an hour. I was ecstatic. Needless to say I am now a HUGE fan of Outright (now GoDaddy Bookkeeping) and I wanted to take a break from our normal pattern talk to share this resource with you all.

If you are like me and struggle with the details, I highly recommend trying out the program for a few months and getting your monthly “update spreadsheet” task off your to-do list.

Another time saving tool that I recommend is our FREE Rate Sheet Template. It helps you to avoid awkward rate conversations and client confusion by presenting your rate and prices in a well organized pdf document. Download the free template here.

***Update: Since publishing this article my business structure has changed and under the advisement of my accountant I am now using Quickbooks. While it is a perfect fit for my existing business I still recommend GoDaddy Bookkeeping if you are just getting started!


  1. For me any comments on business is very wellcome. Is one of the most important issues when we start a buisiness, and sometimes we are not prepare at all!!!!
    Thank you Michelle

  2. Thanks Michelle, This looks great. Now, is this just for businesses that are set up as Corporations? The Go Daddy site says it prepares your taxes for Schedule C. Do you know if schedule C works for LLC or sole proprietorships too?

    1. Hi Carol! I have an LLC as well and I just printed the documents out from GoDaddy and then handed them over to my accountant. I am sure it works for sole proprietorships as well. Great question!!

  3. Hi Michelle,
    I signed up for Fresh books. I wonder if it’s similar? I really never got started but I was recommended to Freshbooks by Lesley. She seemed to like it alot.

    1. Hi! I think they are similar, but I believe freshbooks is about twice as expensive I think you can be paid directly through freshbooks which is nice.

  4. Awesome, yes, please keep sending over great ideas!! Business stuff is hard to come by for artists – we aren’t usually well trained in that part in school and have to teach ourselves.

  5. Hi Michelle, I’ve literally just devoured heaps of your blog posts and finding them soooo useful. With the accountancy software you recommend in this one, do you know if it’s just US applicable? I am UK based so would need something that works with the UK tax system.

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Knitwear Designer: Hannah Buswell