Why You Need to Hire an Accountant by Ashleigh Cropper

I could sing praises about my accountant over and over again!

Not only has he saved me so much with my business time, and time again, he gives me some of the most sound advice I receive.

I have moved between multiple states which means multiple accountants, and I have finally landed with an accountant that understands the photography world and small businesses! Here’s the crazy part, even though he is based in Colorado Springs, I have actually never met him in person. Everything has been virtual, and honestly I don’t mind!

Here are the three reasons you need to hire an accountant for your business!

They Can Save You Hundreds If Not Thousands

You use TurboTax? How is that going for you? Well let me just break this to you, as your business grows, you will want to make sure you have the absolute best accountant on your side.

Did you know that making proper reconciliations can save you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars each year in your business!

There are many moving pieces to a photography business from possibly having a studio, miles driven, meals on the road, equipment, office space, supplies. The list can go on and on. I have found that my accountant makes sure I am reconciling correctly and saving my business all the money it possibly can from my day-to-day activities. At the end of the year, I find that I am saving anywhere from $3000-$5,000 just from following the protocols my accountant has set-up for my business.

Frees Up Your Time

I was actually complaining to my accountant the other day about just the upkeep with my business because well, it is expensive. He said something to me the other day that made me stop dead in my tracks which was, “Ashleigh you are saving yourselves days out of each month with having these tools and an accountant. This frees up your time so you can go invest it in other parts of your business.” Shoot, was he right! And that was why I hired him to begin with. Yes, overhead can become frustrating at times, but having an accountant is essential to any business moving forward.

Checks and Balances

I am putting my mistakes front and center for you because, hello! I am just not perfect here! I sure wish I was, but I am not. At the end of each year, my accountant goes into my Quickbooks account and runs through my expenses, income, transactions etc. This past year was a doozy while being pregnant, having a baby, being a new mom. I did all that I could, but unfortunately I had some blips, didn’t enter things correctly (hello pregnancy brain!), and my balance sheet was way off. My accountant came to my rescue! He pointed this out to me, helped make the changes, walked me through how to not make those mistakes in the future, and off I went with a brighter and better 2019! Trust me, an accountant will be your lifesaver time and time again!

If you don’t already have an accountant, ask other photographers in your area who they use. You will probably start to hear a pattern and will want to reach out to those few accountants that come up time and time again.

This will be one of your biggest business expenses. Just do it! You will thank your past self if anything comes up in the future.

You Need A Separate Business Bank Account by Ashleigh Cropper

Do I dare ask…do you have a separate bank account for your business? Or are you using your personal account then driving yourself mad sifting through all your transactions to remember which were business expenses and which were personal?

I believe in having your own business account! It is super easy! Here are the steps you will most likely need to follow to open an account:

Go To Your Current Bank

Make it easy on yourself. Unless there’s a strong compelling incentive, I recommend opening your account with the bank you already have your personal accounts at. Whenever I have an issue it is so easy because I already know how to use the interface from my personal banking, and less verification is usually needed. And, transferring money between accounts is a LOT faster than transferring money between separate banks.

Documents You May Need

Since most likely your business is either an LLC or Sole Proprietor, (if you’re a Sole Proprietor, time to jump on the LLC train) you will only need a few documents. First, a copy of your federal taxpayer identification number (yes, register your business!) that is your Employer Identification Number (EIN).

If you’re a Sole Proprietor, rather than providing a EIN, you will use your social security number, so make sure to bring your card.

Don’t forget your ID, and just to be safe, a piece of mail that proves your address.

Some states will ask for a business license, or fictitious name certificate or statement, certificate of assumed name, or organization’s articles or bylaws.

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But Why Do This?

Let me share a little bit about what I learned so you don't need to go through the tedious task of not having a personal business account. Maybe you are in the thick of this right now?! But throughout the year as you reconcile your business spending it can take hours and hours to pick through each bank statement for what you have spent or brought in during each month (“was that gas station part of that trip we went on? Or was that for that family session I did?”).

Not only does it make life easier administratively, but also emotionally. Imagine throughout the year, putting all the money you make into your personal savings account. In April, the IRS says that you owe several thousand dollars in taxes. It is SO much easier to pull that money from an account you’ve set aside for business transactions than pulling it from your personal savings.

So rather than dealing with the emotional dilemma and administrative headache, create a business account and only use it for your business. From there, you can connect to to your accounting app. As I’ve said before, I like Quickbooks. The app will track all your money going in and out of your business! Then you can reconcile those transactions at the end of each week, month, or quarter. It will keep you so much more organized. Your accountant will thank you as well!

It really is that simple! All my expenses and incomes go straight in and out of my business banking accounts. It makes everything much easier and smoother.

I hope you are on my email list because I shared how to take your business account one step further with organization, and set-up!

The Importance of Being An LLC by Ashleigh Cropper

Google “ridiculous lawsuits” and see about a million reasons why someone may decide to sue you! Seriously, it is scary stuff! This isn’t a “scare tactic” blog post, or maybe it sort of is, because I want you to really listen up here and take what I have to say into serious consideration.

Let me just name a few ways that someone can decide to sue you and your business:

  • poor quality photos

  • delayed or non-delivery of photos

  • late at a session

  • last minute cancellation

  • you used the images without authorization

The list goes on, but the point is, it can happen and as a business you want to make sure you are protecting yourself, and ultimately your family.

Here is my recommendation for you: become an LLC ASAP!

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Most photographers have two ways of going about their business set-up:

A sole-proprietor

A Limited Liability Company

I adore The LawTog. Rachel, the lawyer and photographer, behind this blog breaks it all down so well for you. Go check her out here. But let me tell you the reason I decided to become an LLC immediately after starting my business.

It was to eliminate risk.

I truly have a fear of trusting others. Maybe that’s too strong. I trust people, but I’m not willing to bet my everything-I-own on them. I don’t know what others are thinking and I have been so fortunate to have the best couples. But you just never know what could happen. I have heard horror stories with a wedding going perfectly, and for some reason the couple decides they aren’t happy and then sues the photographer. I have heard of family sessions where someone feels what should have been done, wasn’t. Or maybe while at a shoot, someone steps in a hole, sprains their knee and decides that’s on you.

If you happen to find yourself in this situation, an LLC will protect your personal belongings and finances. If you are ever sued, they can sue your business, but your life savings, your spouse’s 401(k), your house, little Billy’s bike, that’s all untouchable.

I am always trying to protect my family and this was the absolute first thing to do in order to make sure my personal life could not be touched.

As Rachel from The LawTog puts it, “At formation, LLC and Corporations give you two buckets—personal and business.” I always want my personal life and business to be separate!

My #1 Tool For Accounting by Ashleigh Cropper

Can you guess my #1 tool for accounting?! You better believe it is Quickbooks! But let me back up here a minute because I actually JUST switched over!

When I first started my business I was using an excel spreadsheet to track all my expenses and income. Wow, did that end up being exhausting and time consuming! I DO NOT recommend it.

Then just over this past year I was having lots of challenges as my business grew with my current software, Xero—another accounting software and it just wasn’t working out anymore. There were no checks and balances in place, and my accountant recommended I switch over to Quickbooks.

I was VERY hesitant! Like it took about three times of him mentioning it for me to actually do it.

“But I feel like I know what I’m doing with Xero.”

But it took me weeks to learn Xero and I don’t have time.”

“But I heard Quickbooks is complicated and only worth it for bigger business.”

… Then this past month I finally did switch.

Learn from my mistake. Just get Quickbooks now! Here are the three features I love:

Expenses/Income Tracking

It easily tracks your expenses and income. When you open the software everything is right there so you can glance over your numbers really quick and see where things are for the month. No digging around and opening other tabs to find where your business is currently at. It is literally staring at you right in the face!

Built in checks

QuickBooks makes sure that all your numbers add up. When you go into reconcile your expenses for the month, Quickbooks requires that you enter in your last banking account statement. That way you are comparing your bank account transactions to Quickbooks. It is fool proof! That way you cannot reconcile incorrectly!

(Side note: as you reconcile, there is also some information off to the right with all your numbers for the month. You will know you reconciled correctly because it will equate out to $0. That is an automatic check that you have reconciled correctly! Xero doesn’t have this feature and it is a lifesaver!)

The App

Quickbooks has an app and it is the best! I can easily log in and check my accounts. I can do everything that was on my desktop on the app. It is the most user friendly experience I have had out of all my accounting software’s thus far.

If you are using a spreadsheet, or just not satisfied with your accounting software, then definitely start using Quickbooks. I currently use the Simple Start plan and have found it is plenty for a photographer. I haven’t found a need for all the amazing other features that come with Quickbooks, but if I do then I would upgrade because I am sure it would be worth it.

Having Quickbooks has allowed me more freedom in my business, given my accountant access to my business information easily, and helps me manage every business decision I make. I hope it can do the same for you!

5 Apps and Tools That You Need! by Ashleigh Cropper

When I started my photography business, it became clear that I needed as many tools as possible to help me manage all parts of my workload. Do you feel like you wear so many hats in your business? Lets list all the positions that you fill when you run your own business: accountant, social media expert, creative director, secretary, office manager, web designer, and that’s before you even get the the actual essence of your business! It is insanely overwhelming at times, especially during your busy season! So here are the 5 apps that truly continue to help me with my workload!

None of my recommendations are sponsored. They are tried and true for my business that I actually use!


Project Management/To-do Organizer: Asana

Asana has been a part of my corporate business world before I left, and I carried it into my current photography business. I have watched this software grow and continue to utilize it. From my daily “to-do” list, to my big, dream projects, I list it all here. You can also set priority levels, launch plans, daily calendar, etc. It will keep you so organized!


Accounting- Quickbooks

Are you using Excel spreadsheets to keep track of your business costs and income? Time to ditch it, and move on to Quickbooks! It is accessible on your phone and desktop. I used a different software for a while, but my accountant convinced me to switch over to Quickbooks and I am so grateful for that! It is by far the most user friendly accounting software. It will automatically categorize my expenses, reconcile my accounts, and has freed up so much of my time! My account also has access to it, so he can pop in there any time I have a question or need some help! I use the Simple Smart plan, which provides plenty of tools as a photographer.


Tracking Miles - MileIQ

I LOVE MileIQ! I stumbled upon it years ago when I wanted to track my miles while driving to photography locations, wedding venues, vendor meetings, client meetings, and didn’t want to log those miles in a notebook. That use to be the way we had to do it though! Then MileIQ came into my life and waaaala! Best decision to use this app! It creates reports so you can easily share that with your accountant and get this amazing write-off during tax season!

Gallery Delivery - ShootProof


I switched from Pixieset to ShootProof three years ago, and I have no looked back since! It is so much more than a gallery delivery software. I use ShootProof for keeping my client information stored, sending contracts, and storing my work. Did you catch that last part?! After a gallery has expired and the client downloaded their images, I will then use ShootProof as a backup storage location in case anything were to happen to my hard drives. With a quick click you can create your templates for contracts and send them away to your couples. They can sign the e-contracts right away along with an invoice you send through the system too! It is an incredibly useful tool in my business that I am always finding more ways to integrate with.

Social Media Management - Iconosquare


Oh, social media! I have a strong love/roll my eyes at relationship with Instagram. I love the community it offers, (and hopefully you are one of those following my account)! But at the same time it can be so time consuming! I have tried multiple posting apps and have stuck with Iconosquare for two years now. There is so much conflicting information about Instagram allowing third party apps to post on your behalf. Many say you can become shadow banned. So I don’t even go there and have used Iconosquare to remind me when I need to post. I create my Instagram posts as part of my work flow on Monday for the whole week. I then schedule it out for the week, and when I need to post Iconosquare sends me a little reminder with my image and wording ready to go! Quick and simple!

I hope all these apps and software programs will allow you more time in your business to keep those creative juices flowing, let in some more freedom throughout your week, and spend more time with others!