writing budget

I’ve long said that you can start a writing business with no money, which is true. However, I only recommend that for those who have no money to spare. In most cases, it’s good to spend money strategically to build your writing business. With that in mind, in this article, I share my writing budget with you.

Best Tools For Freelance Writers
Best Tools For Freelance Writers

My writing budget includes expenses for each aspect of my business, such as the money I spend on my blog, books, and online course creation. I also include my rationale for why I spend what I do and why I’m not spending money in certain areas. I also dive into the strategic way I allocate money for essential things such as investing in my retirement account.

Without further ado, here’s my writing budget.

Last Year’s Writing Expenses

I want to start by sharing my total writing expenses last year, and then I’ll get into what I have planned for this year.

Writing Budget

As you can see from the image above, last year, I spent $5,788.64 as a blogger, author, and online teacher, or an average of $482.39 per month.

This Year’s Writing Budget – $6,300 (Anticipated)

I loosely based the numbers I’ll share below on last year’s budget, with a few slight changes.

ADVERTISING–$1,000

Writing budget advertising

 

Last year, my advertising budget was low, averaging $30 per month, or $360 a year. So far this year, I’ve spent less than that on average each month, but I anticipate increasing this amount. Here’s why.

I prefer to invest most of my time creating content such as blog posts, books, and online courses, and minimal time on social media. Because of that, I’m choosing to increase my advertising budget to reach people not already on my email list.

Here’s my projected ad spend:

Amazon Ads – $700

I plan to spend $700 on Amazon ads. I’ve found Amazon ads to be the most cost-effective way to get new readers since the people that see the ads want to buy books related to my books. If this is working well for me, this number will likely go higher than my anticipated $700.

Facebook and Pinterest Ads – $300

I plan to spend $300 on Facebook and Pinterest ads. The goal of these ads will not be to sell books, but to drive traffic to blog posts with lead magnets, and thus grow my email list.

EDUCATION–$600

Writing budget education

 

As a writer, it’s vital to grow continually. As such, I’m a firm believer in learning consistently. I do that through the following means:

You’ll note that one reason my education budget is as low as it is is that due to my writing business relationships, I have free access to a lot of educational content.

FINANCE – $604

Writing Budget Finances

 

Every year around tax time, I see social media posts from some of my writer and online teacher friends scrambling to figure out their finances. They may not know where receipts are or have to go through their bank statements to figure out what they spent. I’ve found it’s much easier (and no doubt more profitable) to make managing finances a regular part of my writing business life. Here’s a snapshot of my finance-related writing expenses.

Tax Prep – $400

Each year I spend approximately $400 on tax prep. I’ll admit that sometimes I’m tempted just to buy something like Turbo Tax to figure my taxes. But as a self-employed individual, I highly recommend hiring a professional to handle your taxes.

I won’t go into the whole story here, but several years ago, after filing our federal income taxes, we got a substantial tax bill. It took us four years to resolve the issue. If it hadn’t been for our accountant assuring us we didn’t owe the money, we would have just paid it. It helps to have a tax professional in your corner to ensure you are getting all the deductions you deserve and being there for you if you ever run into trouble.

GoDaddy Bookkeeping – $120

GoDaddy bookkeeping isn’t the most robust bookkeeping software out there, but after struggling with more complex systems, it was a breath of fresh air. It just made sense to me, so it’s been easy to use. I also like that it gives me a figure for how much I need to pay in each of my quarterly tax estimates.

You Need a Budget (YNAB) – $84

YNAB is my budgeting software of choice for both my personal budget and business budget. This robust budgeting software really helps me spend my money wisely. I especially like that I can set date-based goals for expenses that come up quarterly or annually or for things I must purchase eventually, such as a new computer. Setting aside money each month for those things ensures that it’s there when the charge lands on my credit card statement.

TECHNOLOGY (Website, Email, Content Creation Tools) – $1310

Writing budget technology

 

You can see that technology is one of my biggest expenses. That’s in large part because I’ve lumped several things under this category. Tech is also an important part of my writing budget because I can’t succeed as a writer and online teacher without these tools.

SiteGround Web Hosting – $240

SiteGround web hosting starts as low as $3.95 per month, but I need a bit more robust web host, so I opted for one of the more expensive options. When starting out, the StartUp option should work fine for you.

Domain Name Renewals – $36

I used to buy domain names like candy. Now it’s true that if you purchase good domain names, down the road, you may sell them for a lot of money. However, they can also just cost you money to hold to year after year, and I’ve held on to just the ones I use.

Thrive Themes–$228

Thrive Themes has become one of the most essential tools that I use in my business. The company no doubt started as just themes (hence the name) and now it is so much more. I use it for creating optin forms, quizzes, my theme, landing pages, and more. It’s an essential tool in running my writing business. Note that I started off buying a couple of the individual components of Thrive Themes before I made the plunge in investing in the membership.

MailerLite -$120

One thing that I love about MailerLite is that you can get started for free. However, I’m at the point where I need a paid account that costs me $10 per month.

Office365 -$99

Office365 is one of my most-used tools in my business. I use it literally every single day for everything from writing blog posts, storing files, creating videos and images in PowerPoint, and more.

Adobe Photoshop – $120

Photoshop is our tool of choice for creating things like book covers. My husband is the one that does this for me, as I do all my image creation in PowerPoint and have no clue how to use Photoshop. 😊

TechSmith Products – $160

I primarily use TechSmith products for my videos.

  • Snagit upgrade – $20 – I use Snagit for screen grabs, marking up documents, and creating animated gifs. I also use it to make quick videos.
  • Screencast – $90 – Screencast is where I host my video files.
  • Camtasia – $50 – Camtasia is what I use for screencasts and editing videos that I create in PowerPoint. I pay an annual maintenance fee so I always have the latest version of Camtasia and access to their premium training.

Grammar-Checking Tool – $87

Even if you have solid writing and grammar skills, I recommend using Grammarly. It’s my tool of choice for helping me catch grammar errors.

PresenterMedia – $50

PresenterMedia is my source for PowerPoint templates and animated gifs. Since I use PowerPoint for everything from blog post images to video creation, this is a resource that is well worth the annual subscription cost.

Phone – $2960

Writing Budget phone

 

  • T-Mobile – $960 – Nothing too exciting here – just my cell phone service, which includes unlimited data.
  • Phone – $1,000 (anticipated new phone purchase). I used to buy new phones frequently. Honestly, it was kind of a status thing because I enjoyed having the latest and greatest. I’m planning on using my current phone until it breaks, so I may or may not need a new phone this year.

What’s Missing from My Writing Budget

So now, let’s talk about what’s missing from my budget this year.

A TEAM

First, I don’t anticipate hiring any team members this year. In the past, I’ve had an assistant that also did graphics work for me. She was terrific, but after our working relationship ended, I decided not to replace her. Now my husband is my primary team member, and other than the fact that he benefits from any income I bring in, I don’t pay him anything. 🙂

NEW COMPUTER

Since I spent $1760 on a laptop last year, I don’t anticipate needing a new computer for a few years, and most certainly not this year.

Determining Your Personal Writing Budget

There is no one-size-fits-all budget. When I first started, even paying $19 a month for my email seemed steep. I got by comfortably on less than $1,000 a year because I simply didn’t spend any unnecessary money. But at some point, I needed to spend money to grow my business.

I’ve always been frugal and monitored my spending, but it wasn’t until I read the book, Profit First, that I had a clear idea of how to best handle my business finances.

Here’s the basic premise of Profit First. We’ve always heard that income – expenses = profit. The problem with this approach is that it’s very easy to look at what’s in your bank account and spend the bulk of what’s in there, which ultimately leads to having very little profit. The Profit First method flips this formula like this. Income – profit = expenses. Focusing on profit first and then using what remaining funds for your business expenses ensures that a business is profitable.

Over the years, I’ve tweaked the Profit First philosophy to fit with my personal financial goals, but the general idea is the same. Here’s what it looks like for me.

In my budget, I set up a broad category that I call first priorities. In this category, every time I get paid, I allocate a set percentage to the following categories that I feel are most important:

  • Giving
  • Taxes
  • Retirement
  • Business Emergency Fund

Funding those categories first ensures that I always have enough income to fund the things that matter most.

Your Budget will Look Different Than Mine

Most likely your writing budget will look very different than mind. The key is to figure out your first obligations and then make your business expense and salary decisions on what’s left. Using this approach has helped me make better spending decisions and has ultimately increased my net worth.

Making Adjustments to Your Writing Budget

I’d be remiss if I didn’t admit that my projected budget may differ from my actual spending. This is really no different from other goals in your writing business. The key is to be mindful in every decision you make as a writer. Creating a writing budget and determining your financial non-negotiables (such as my first obligations budget category) lay the foundation for building a profitable writing business.

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