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Accounting for your time? - part 1 of 1

Published 01/08/2009

Howard Butterfield of theimagefile... offers some more good advice

Let's face it; most photographers are one man bands and as such the scale and variety of tasks and jobs that need to be done for the business are huge. In essence these tasks can be divided into two broad groups; those that you bill someone for and those that you do not. (The rest of our time is divided into essential tasks and leisure but that is another story).

So, it surely makes sense then, that if we want to increase our earnings, apart from our passive income streams. (passive income streams are those that once initiated break the link between your time and your income, these should be explored with vigour and have been the subject of an earlier article) We reduce to a minimum those tasks that we don't bill for and increase those that we do; whilst simultaneously increasing our hourly bill rate.

For example most accountants and lawyers have computer and telephone systems that account for every six minutes of a working day. Someone, somewhere pays for each and every one! Whilst I don't suggest that you necessarily take matters to those extremes, self discipline in this area is extremely important.


The trick here then is to separate for yourself, those tasks that you are, or at least feel you ought to be paid for, from those that are just time costs of running the business.

For example, actually using your skills on behalf of a client; travelling to location, shooting, preparing the studio, post processing, are, or really should be, billable time. Preparing your VAT return or cleaning the office perhaps are not but they still need to be done. Now if you have valued your billable time at £60.00 per hour, then if you can get someone to do your VAT return for £25.00 an hour and clean your office for £8.00 an hour then it would make sense to do so. So long as of course you can then fill that time with billable tasks.

Two fundamental truths then come clearly into focus.

Firstly, our marketing and sales effort should be providing enough work so that we always have enough to fill those freed up hours and we can gracefully reject work that does not quite 'fit' to enable us to put upward pressure on our prices. If this is not the case then this area should be addressed as a priority.

The second is, that the higher we are able to work our hourly billable rate, the greater choice and number of tasks you are potentially able to hand over to other people or organisations. Working closer towards these two objectives should mean we increase our earnings and have a greater control over our day and our time.

Howard Butterfield is Managing Director of theimagefile - providing internet sales and marketing solutions for serious photographers. www.theimagefile.com 0870 2242454.

For more help and advice to get your work online with fully integrated e-commerce...plus other key benefits, take a look at the page opposite or visit www.theimagefile.com/try where you can set up a no commitment trial account or call 0870 224 2454 to find out why more and more Society members use them.


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1st Published 01/08/2009
last update 20/05/2017 10:53:00

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