Today I am switching things up a bit, and want to talk to you about the business side of food blogging. Things like food blogger tax deductions and how food bloggers actually make money. This post is sponsored by Intuit QuickBooks, a service I love! It is incredibly helpful in managing the books!
How food bloggers make money and food blogger tax deductions work
The most frequently asked question I get (aside from recipes and things related to food allergies) is, "How do you make money?!"
It makes me laugh, because some people seem to think that blogging isn't a "real" job, or that it is merely a cute hobby. Oh no, my friends. It's a real business, and can be quite lucrative.
This food blog provides me a steady income to help support my family, through monetizing. Thanks to you wonderful people! First and foremost, my heart is full of love and gratitude for you being a part of this community. I love learning from all of you, and feel blessed that I am able to create content and recipes that help YOU.
5 ways to monetize your food blog
- Ad revenue. This is when you make money off of the traffic your blog receives through the use of third party ads. The higher your traffic, the more money you can make, so that's why it's important to focus on your SEO strategy.
- Sponsored posts. This is a large portion of The Butter Half's income. I partner with brands that I love, use, and recommend to you, my awesome followers! Today I am partnering with Intuit QuickBooks Self-Employed, to show you how easy it is to use their system, especially when you have to do your taxes as a small business owner. I keep track of all my receipts, mileage, and expenses through their app. Then, I do my taxes through TurboTax Self-Employed and it links everything in one place. That way I get the most deductions and know how much to pay for quarterly taxes because it automates everything for me. I used to do this on a spreadsheet, AND TRUST ME. Using QuickBooks Self-Employed is a lifesaver. CLICK HERE to purchase it for 50% off for an ENTIRE year!
- Freelance work. This is the other big portion of how I make that sweet moolah. I write for magazines, websites, and publications, as well as providing recipe development, food, and product photography.
- Products. This includes things like a cookbook, ebook, creating a line of supplies, or making a course. I used to sell punny food tees, and now I offer my Instant Pot Palooza course, which teaches you how to confidently and efficiently use your Instant Pot pressure cooker. (CLICK HERE to download your free Instant Pot starter kit.)
- Events. This one is probably the most fun and terrifying at the same time! I founded the food blogger conference, Tastemaker Conference, where we teach you how to run your own food blogging business. We have a full media platform where we give you free resources to help you succeed in the oftentimes overwhelming world of food blogging. In fact, on our most recent episode of Tastemaker Conversations, our food blogger podcast, we are talking about overcoming challenges and giving away a free ticket to Tastemaker Conference 2018, which will be in SLC, UT on September 14-15. CLICK HERE to go listen and enter the giveaway. We'd love to see you there!
5 tips for bookkeeping and accounting
Bookkeeping and accounting isn’t something most people like to do while kicking back on a Friday night. Keeping a detailed and accurate record of your day-to-day expenses can feel overwhelming, laborious, and confusing. In fact, it’s one of the most commonly mismanaged tasks of bloggers, causing stress and frustration!
But you don’t need an accounting degree (or a lot of time) to become a pro bookkeeper for your blog. Taking time to track and manage expenses over the course of the year means less of a hassle come tax season and it will also help you be able to claim every deduction you possibly can. Did you know that the average person misses nearly $500 in unclaimed deductions each year? Don’t be one of those people!
1. Open a business bank account
If you don’t have a separate account for your blog, open one today! While there are many advantages to having a separate account so that you can keep your business and personal expenses separate, the most important one is that it will make taxes so much simpler. Less time stressing about taxes = more time running an awesome blog! A separate account will make tracking business expenses and deductions a breeze.
2. Organize your expenses (and income!) into categories
Create a spreadsheet that allows you to track your income and expenses. This will not only help you as you set up a budget for your blog, but will also help you take advantage of deductions that you shouldn’t be missing out on! Everyone will have a slightly different way of categorizing expenses, but here’s an example of some of the sections your spreadsheet might have:
Professional fees: This includes money spent on web design, photography, lawyers (for contracts), etc.
Marketing and Advertising: This category might include expenses for Facebook or Instagram ads, ads on other websites, and mailer memberships (such as MailChimp)
Meals/Travel: As long as it’s related to your blog, such as that business lunch you had last week, track it! You can also deduct expenses to and from an industry event – meaning, if you come to Tastemaker Conference, you can deduct the price of your travel AND the conference ticket! Score!
Supplies: Expenses in this category might include photography props, thank you cards, and office supplies.
Miscellaneous: This may include website hosting, Google domains, and membership dues for organizations/subscriptions/
If spreadsheets freak you out, don’t worry! We use QuickBooks Self-Employed to link up our business bank account, credit card all in one place. It automatically separates and categorizes expenses for you. Just remember that come tax season, you can only deduct things that are used 100% for your blog. CLICK HERE for a free 30-day trial to QuickBooks Self-Employed.
3. Capture expenses in the moment
No matter how hard you work to stay on top of things throughout the day, life happens and often keeping track of every single expense is one of the first thing that falls through the cracks. Don’t wait until you’re home from blog-related travel or a week after you’ve finished a project to try to track down and organize all of your receipts and expenses. Make it a habit and come up with an easy way (such as downloading an app like Expensify, Shoeboxed, Wave, or Quickbooks Self-Employed) to snap photos of receipts and track your expenses as they happen. It’s worth the extra few seconds it takes!
4. Track all of your income
The income you generate from a blog is a lot different than the paycheck you’d take home from a 9-to-5 job. Blogging income also includes compensation like affiliate commission, product your receive for reviews, trips, conference sponsorships, and free items that companies may send you. It’s can be easy to forget to track some of these items because they don’t necessarily show up as income in your bank account! One of the easiest ways to do this is to add another tab to your expenses spreadsheet and record everything there.
5. Plan for tax season
Remember that you WILL have to pay taxes. Which is why you are here, reading this article. As a blogger, the IRS doesn’t take taxes out of your paycheck automatically, and it is easy to forget how much you will actually end up owing in taxes. At the end of every month, put around 30% of your net income for the month into a special account that will only be used to pay taxes. That way, you’re not put in a tight spot once tax season comes around.
Okay, so let's talk about food blogger tax deductions specifically
This is the next thing I get asked about most...
Do you get to write off everything?
Welllll, yes. And no. It has its perks, because we do get to write off all the food we make for recipe testing and development for the blog. But no, we don't get to write off the space in our kitchen or every single time we go out to eat.
So what can you write off?
Here are a few of the basic food blogger tax deductions that are fairly standard. There are a few more specific ones, but those can be discussed and assessed with your accountant, tax professional, or tax software.
1. Self-Employment Tax Deduction - You can read all about those details here.
2. Home Office Deduction – This is deductible if it's a clearly dedicated room for business only. Sorry, your bedroom or your kitchen table doesn't count! IRS Publication 587, "Business Use of Your Home" gives details on your eligibility and how to calculate your deduction.
3. Office Supplies – As long as office supplies are purchased and used only for your business, they may be considered as standard business expenses and deducted.
4. Educational Expenses – Do you attend events and conferences relevant to your industry? (You convinced you need to come to Tastemaker Conference yet?! ) Or do continuing education or courses to develop your blogging skills? Write those off!
5. Communication Expenses – I'm looking at you cell phone and internet! As a food blogger, it's our job to be on the internet and social media, so those are definitely deductions.
6. Travel Expenses – Business travel, food and entertainment within necessary business trips is deductible. For example, your airfare, food, and hotel for attending conferences.
7. Promotional Expenses – Business-related advertising costs—media promotion, social networking ads, print ads, business cards, etc. Anything you spend on marketing it is all deductible! Promotional gifts may be deductible as long as they are branded to your business.
8. Mileage – Do you use your car for business purposes? You can either take a standard mileage deduction (54.5 cents per business-related mile for 2018) or take a deduction based on actual costs such as fuel, maintenance, licensing, and depreciation. Some public transportation expenses may also be deducted. Make sure to keep the personal and business-related mileage expenses separate, collect all necessary receipts, and keep good records as proof of business use.
9. Contract Labor Costs – You may employ other independent contractors on a contract basis to provide services – for example, contracting with a web developer to create your website, or a virtual assistant to run your Pinterest account. Those expenses are generally deductible. In the past, you could deduct the cost of tax preparation services, but the new law eliminates that provision.
Should I hire an accountant or do my taxes myself?
I have great news! QuickBooks Self-Employed does your food blogger tax deductions for you automatically! This is what I use to track expenses and do my food blog business taxes.
You can upload your receipts in the app and link your business bank accounts and credit cards. From there it will organize by its deduction classification. This will save you 10 precious hours when it comes time to fill out your Schedule C. (Which TurboTax Self-Employed also conveniently provides. You just have to click a few buttons to sync all of the information together!)
Bottom line: if you are a blogger or a small business owner, you NEED QuickBooks Self-Employed in your life. As I mentioned in this post, I have been using the Intuit products for years (even before I partnered with them!). I 100% trust and recommend their services. It's a good system, and makes your life easier, freeing up your time to do more of the work and creating you love.
Sign up here to QuickBooks Self-Employed and get 50% off your membership for an entire year.
Hope this guide is helpful! Best of luck with your food blogging business!