When people think about illustrators, they imagine us drawing and doing creative things all day. But the reality is very different.
Like any other business people, we spend lots of hours dealing with very boring but important tasks like emails, accounting, contracts, invoices, quotes, etc.
The accounting is especially important, since there is money involved, and we need to keep our business’ paperwork in order. But sometimes we feel overwhelmed with all those things.
When I became self-employed, I created a very basic spreadsheet where I tracked all the assignments. This spreadsheet has evolved and improved over the years, and now I have a powerful tool to track all the work I do.
Today I’m sharing the spreadsheet with you. You will be able to easily track all your assignments, invoices and earnings.
What it is useful for:
- Have everything under control
Do you know that feeling of having everything under control? That’s what being organized produces. You are able to focus on creating when you empty your mind of worries, thoughts, and unimportant things.
- Track your income
With this tool, you can have a record of how much money you produce each month, which is extremely useful to know how your business is doing.
- Track who paid
This spreadsheet is very useful to track who has paid and who hasn’t.
- Invoice numbers
Record the invoice numbers and the date you sent them.
- Know how your business is doing
You know how many assignments you do per month, so you know if your business is growing, going well, or not.
What it includes:
- Assignment date
- Art director/contact person
- Agent Fee (optional)
- % of tax
- Net earnings
- Invoice number
- Invoice date
- Payment date
- Total net earnings per month
Use the spreadsheet:
You can create a copy of my Google spreadsheet and use if for yourself.
Just follow the link and go to File > Create a copy.
How it works:
I adapted my version of the spreadsheet to make it extremely easy to use.
The spreadsheet is automated, which means that you don’t need to write any formulas by yourself. I added three fictional assignments to show you what the spreadsheet looks like.
- Add a new assignment
To add a new assignment, type the name of the client, what you were commissioned for, the date of the first contact and the name of the art director.
- Add the budget, % agent fee (optional) and % tax
Add the budget, the % of your agent fee (if you have one) and the % of taxes. Your net earnings will be calculated automatically.
- Add the invoice date, number
Add the invoice number and the invoice date.
- Track when the client pays
When a client pays, add the date and change the whole row’s background color to green. This is very useful to see quickly who hasn’t paid.
- Canceled and on hold projects
Change the background colors of the canceled and on hold projects to track them as well.
- Extra: track how much money you are earning per month
This is the only step that requires modifying a formula to make it work. When a new month comes, just copy and paste the month row under your last assignment. Then you need to double click on the amount cell in the N column and modify the formula to adjust to the number of assignments. Change the cell numbers in the formula to get the first and the last assignments of the month.
The spreadsheet is very simple and easy to use.
I’ve removed some advanced functionalities to avoid complexity and the need of writing formulas. But if you learn a bit about how Google Spreadsheets works you can extend the functionalities.
You can get some useful extras like converting the money to your currency, track your annual earnings, do some graphs to visualize how your business is doing, etc.
The possibilities are endless.
Let me know in the comments if you have any questions, troubles or new ideas to improve this spreadsheet. Let’s create the ultimate assignments tracking tool!
PS: My online course Strategy & Business for Illustrators is now available for pre-order!