ORGANIZE YOUR MONEY

20140326-220831.jpg I can't believe it's already the end of March. This means two things:

  1. My husband's birthday is near (it's actually today - wish him a happy birthday here)
  2. And taxes are due

I dropped the ball this year and did the minimum amount of financial work for my business. Meaning taxes this year will likely take triple the time it would usually. Not to mention how unhealthy and stifling it is for my business to not keep track of where and when money is coming and going. Do not do what I did. Instead, follow these tips to stay organized and ready for tax season.

Keep a balance sheet A balance sheet is essentially a spreadsheet or a piece of paper with lines and categories for you to organize when money is coming in and out. You can easily create one in google docs (see screen shot below), with windows excel, write on a piece of paper, or download this pdf I created here and pictured below. The one I use (and created for you below) has a column for projected and actual income and expenses, that way you can plan ahead and budget your money. You can use this pdf each month and at the end of the year to tally everything up.

Organize Your Money Free Download

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Put money aside Save yourself the stress mentally and financially and put away 10-15% of your monthly income into your savings for taxes. Odds are you'll have more than enough money saved to not only pay the man, but to also to go on a mini vaca or maybe attend that workshop you've had your eye on.

Have a separate business account Don't try to decipher business money with home money all in one joint account - that's terribly stressful. Do yourself a favor and open up a separate checking and savings account just for your business. That way when you meet with a client over lunch or run to Office Max to grab some ink and paper, you can whip out your business account card and swipe away knowing it won't get lost with your grocery and home charges.

Stay organized Using services like Mint, Freshbooks, Outright or Quickbooks can help you stay organized throughout the year and some offer functions and features that help prepare you for tax season. Personally I use Mint and love it. I can budget, receive texts when I'm close to going over budget, check balances from the app on my phone, create goals and its all free. Another tip to staying organized is stowing away your receipts each month in an accordion folder. That way when you need to find a receipt for a specific month, you don't have to dig through the entire years worth. Trust me, it's not pretty when you have to do this.

Print off monthly bank statements If you're like me, you use your computer for mostly everything when it comes to money. So when you receive your monthly statement from PayPal or your bank, print it out. Otherwise you might have to go backward for months in order to track down each expense. It's also a good idea to have a paper trail of everything just in case.

Hire an accountant Back when I was an employee and received a paycheck it was easy to use a service like Turbotax online. But now I'm self-employed and have a billion expenses and write off's to keep track of, I've hired an accountant. Actually I acquired my accountant through my husband when we got married and it was the best thing that ever happened to my money. My accountant keeps me organized, sends me a tax preparation packet in February and answers any questions whenever I have them - like when I discovered I had to charge sales tax (oops). When you're staring out, it might make sense to do them yourself, but as soon as you can afford an accountant, do it. He will save you time, he will cost a chunk of change but he always makes sure everything is legit.

Need more financial advice? Check out these articles:

What I Learned at Tax Time From My First Year as an Indie Business Owner 10 Tax Deductions for Small Biz Owners Being Prepared for Tax Time Taxes Made Easy Advice: How do you Deal with Tax Deductions and Working with an Accountant Taxes 101 for Etsy Sellers 5 Ways to Make Tax Season More Serene

How about you, did you file yet? Do you have any tips, resources or advice to share for us creatives scrambling to file taxes in time?

AN INTERVIEW WITH BETHANY GOSVENER

An Interview with Bethany Gosvener Today, I'm thrilled to share with you an interview with the very talented, Portland, OR based artist, Bethany Gosvener. I first discovered Bethany's work through Pinterest when searching for inspiration. I came across a picture of her sitting on the floor, on top of her artwork, drawing larger than life portraits. I was immediately curious and intrigued, not just because she was incredibly good, but also because the scale of these drawings were huge...not to mention she's gorgeous.

AN INTERVIEW WITH BETHANY GOSVENER  |  VISUAL ARTIST

How did you get started as an artist creating these amazingly realistic and life-sized drawings? I have a lot to say, but only recently have I found the courage to say it. For a while I pursued things that felt safe, like wedding invitations, greeting cards, logos, and custom works, all the while pushing down my true creative desires. Many fears kept me returning to these safe pursuits but ultimately time and time again I felt unfulfilled.

I finally took the plunge to say no to these safe temptations and to say yes to my dreams.

I've always been incredibly moved by large scale fine art and longed to create massive pieces of my own expressions. It's terrifying to be so vulnerable, but the thought of bringing to life images I've only imagined makes me feel alive and that feels worth the risk.

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What are you doing today or have done in the past to successfully grow your business? I'm personally drawn to people who I can sense are genuine and real. Even if it is over the internet, I relate and feel most at home and encouraged by them. So I suppose my goal is to do the same, to be as true to myself as I can, in whatever way that looks like. I think that in itself will help me to be successful. I think consistency of delivering quality over quantity is probably the most important standard I would like to hold myself to in all areas of my business. Although I am most definitely in a transitional period of learning what this looks like in my life right now, it's quite a difficult standard to meet.

What is one of your greatest accomplishments? Starting this first Pollinate piece! I am so proud of myself for going for it! This will be my first series to complete, which is just the start of my goals. It was a terrifying commitment and I could not be happier to have made it. I'm amazed to see how far I've come away from those initial fears and doubts. Finding that courage has been most rewarding and I can't wait to see where it leads me!

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Tell us more about the Pollinate piece and what exactly Pollinate (in regards to artwork) means. Learning about the beauty and knowledge bees posess fascinated me. I've never realized just how incredibly moving and beautiful they are, nor the great impact they have on our lives. For our species to be so dependent on such tiny creatures was such a beautiful example of what it means to live on this earth, in gratitude. The way we treat one another. I began to think about the comparison of flies and how they are attracted to death. I had fun designing the series, so these deep feelings I hold may not come across but the concept revolves around how we live our lives, what we give and attract. Do we choose to keep death or life alive.

How do you create such large-scale portraits? Do you use a projector, an image or is it purely memory? I begin with a concept and from there plan out each piece to tell the story and then take specific photos similar to the design already formed in my mind. I then use a projector to quickly trace the basics, where the eyes, mouth, ears, arms etc are. Filling in the details is quite difficult and time consuming. I may generally know where the arm is but creating the shape of each shadow and the other subtle details is always challenging, but it's also half of the fun

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What's one short term and one long term goal of yours? One of my short term goals is to complete a portfolio or works I can be proud of. One of my largest long term goals is to one day have a piece in a museum. (ah! that's a vulnerable goal to admit!)

What's one challenge you've encountered as an artist and what did you do to overcome it? I think my largest challenge has been the sense of failing and my perspective on what it means to fail. We all have so much inside of us to give that we're unaware of. Doubts and fears that keep us from ever even picking up that paint brush or taking that dance lesson or buying that 8'x4' drawing board. I would have never even known the ability I have to draw if my husband hadn't badgered me with encouragement to just try. I now am very thankful for his encouragement and pushing through my failings, they've rewarded me with humility as well as showing me that I can fail better next time. With my blog I hope to badger everyone with as much encouragement to try as they need. It is worth it.

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Any words of advice for other creatives and artists looking to start and grow their expertise and business?

Do not lose yourself in fear. Let out what is inside of you. Take a chance. Let your soul breathe.

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What was the last music you Listened to? Macklemore. His lyrics inspire and amaze me.

What was the last book you read? The Watchmen. Super intriguing! Read it, read it!

What's your favorite desert? Sucker for black and tan brownie any time!

Coffee or tea? Miso soup! All day.

To see more of Bethany's work go to here website, Instagram or Pinterest

( PHOTOS HERE & HERE )

CAMPS, COURSES & CONFERENCES

camp-courses-and-conferences-23 As a self-taught artist, I learned early on that a constant flow of education and inspiration is mandatory for my personal and business growth. It's like the fuel that feeds my fire.

Lately, I've seen workshops, e-courses, classes, conferences and camps popping up all over the country. It's no surprise to me that more and more people want to share what they know with others because I believe that most of us were put on this earth to do exactly that. And two (or several) people/brains are better than one, right?

The obvious reasons to participate/purchase/attend a class, course or conference are:

  1. Connections - whether you're attending an event in person or online, the connections you develop with others who attend, teach or speak are priceless.
  2. Inspiration - Sometimes inspiration comes from photographs, nature or music. Other times I find endless inspiration from others. Participating in a conference, course or camp gets you out of your own head and watching and experiencing others.
  3. Learn - I am proud of the fact I am an entrepreneur living my dream and I couldn't have done any of this without the help of courses or conferences. I have yet to attend a camp, but I have a feeling they help you learn new ways to pave your own path too.

So here are my favorite camps, courses and conferences (most I have yet to attend) that promise a bucket full of inspiration and education.

Conferences

This year, I've attended 2 conferences and met dozens of creatives, speakers and leaders who were a part of them. Most of my business is based online, so the value of having face-to-face-shake-their-hand conversations with real people is priceless. I walked away with lasting impressions, business cards and the feeling I wasn't alone and that others want to connect too. Here are a few I have my eyes on and a few that I attended this year:

Courses

I am no stranger to e-courses. This year alone I purchased 2 out of 3 of the e-courses that Braid offers. I then ultimately hired them to help guide me to where I am today. Check out their courses and some other awesome online courses that look interesting:

Camps

I have yet to attend a camp, besides the ones in grammar school, but love the idea of taking consecutive days off to from work to shift your focus and thinking. Here are a few that sound pretty inspiring:

Resources

Here a few additional resources to find camps, courses or conferences:

Have you attended/taken or purchased any camps, courses or conferences lately? I am always on the hunt, do you have any recommendations?

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