3 Practical Tips to Become a Successful Freelance Accountant

Working as a freelancer is a dream come true for many accountants. You get to choose the hours you work, where you work, who you work with, and how you work. The good news is becoming a freelance accountant has never been easier, thanks to the mass online transformation of modern business. 

If you are interested in becoming a successful freelance accountant, read on to find useful and practical information that will help you achieve your career goals.

What is a freelance accountant? 

Just like a corporate accountant, freelance accountants help manage their clients’ money so that they can allocate resources and run their operations more efficiently. 

Listed below are some common examples of a freelance accountant’s tasks and responsibilities:

  • Record financial transactions on digital ledgers 
  • Prepare invoices and send them to their client’s customers on time 
  • Process and distribute payroll for client’s employees
  • Create financial statements and tax reports 
  • Ensure their client’s financial operations are compliant with the law
  • File tax returns and assist business owners with finding ways  to minimize their tax 
  • Create a budget for a business

See also: 4 End of Year Tax Tips for Freelancers.

3 Practical tips to become a successful freelance accountant 

These 3 tips will help steer your freelance accounting career in the right direction. 

Check them out!

1. Assure your customers that you are qualified 

You should obtain at least one accounting-related qualification before starting your freelance business. Not only does it give you the necessary knowledge to perform your work, but it also serves as proof to your potential clients that you can handle the job. The more accounting qualifications you have, the greater the chance that you’ll snag a client at a competitive rate. Here are three common ways that a freelance accountant can show that they are qualified: 

  • Have a Bachelor’s Degree 

While a bachelor’s degree in the field is preferred, any business or accounting-related degree that involves accounting, auditing, tax courses, or credits is also beneficial.  

  • Get Certified or Licensed 

Although it’s not compulsory, many businesses will only work with freelance accountants who are either certified or licensed (some clients want both!). Some professional certifications that can help you stand out are: Certified Management Accountant (CMA), Certified Internal Auditor (CIA), and Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA).

  • Acquire Experience

Working experience is a great way to prove that you know what you are doing! On your online profiles, make sure to include in detail any of your accounting work experience such as what your tasks were, which company you worked for, how long you worked there, etc. 

As important as your qualifications are, you should also constantly update your knowledge whenever you can with webinars, networking events, and professional courses.

See also: What Are The Differences Between A Bookkeeper And An Accountant?

2. Invest in equipment, software, and online tools 

Once you’ve decided to go freelance, you have to be prepared to spend a considerable amount of money on a laptop, a stable Internet connection, and accounting software and tools. There are many online accounting software on the market today, and you should choose carefully based on your accounting specialty and budget. You might want to consider some popular accounting software such as Quickbooks, Xero, Freshbooks, and Bench

When working as a freelance accountant, you usually won’t actually work in your client’s office space, so it will likely be up to you to provide the infrastructure needed to store paper files. This can be inconvenient, especially if you have a smaller living space. To solve this problem, use Shoeboxed. Shoeboxed is a software that helps you digitize your documents, especially financial receipts, in a snapshot. They will then be securely stored in the cloud, where you can go back and search for your files anywhere, anytime.    

See also: The Digital Accounting Era: Five Steps For Accountants To Succeed.

Advertising is the way to connect you with potential clients. Start small with the traditional way – word of mouth. Tell your family, friends, and former colleagues about your freelance business and what you have to offer. Next, you can create social media profiles, purchase advertising space or create marketing campaigns that show your skills and services. Advertising can have a massive impact on the growth of your freelance career, especially at the start.

See also: Financial Services Marketing: Definition, Benefits and Best Practices for Small Businesses.

Where can you find freelance accounting jobs? 

Many new freelance accountants get their first jobs through friends, family, or networks from their previous workplaces. But if that option is not for you, don’t worry. There are many freelance job websites that can help you find clients. 

Listed below are the biggest and most well-trusted websites for freelance accounting jobs:

  1. Fiverr: On this platform, freelancers can post and advertise details of their services. Potential customers looking for a freelance accountant will scroll through and choose a suitable one. When you register as a freelance accountant on Fiverr, you can classify your services into basic, standard, and premium packages.
  1. Paro: Paro is more specific to financial services, and accounting is listed among jobs such as bookkeeping, financial analysis and planning services, and even CFO services. According to Paro, only the top 2% of finance freelancers make it through their rigorous vetting process, which includes a skills assessment, interview, test project, and reference check. 
  1. Upwork: Upwork is pretty much the same as Fiverr. Millions of jobs are posted on the site, and there are over 5,000 skills on offer, including accounting. One downside of being on a platform this size is that you have to really stand out against thousands of competitors to get clients.

Final thoughts 

Becoming a freelance accountant is a pretty straightforward process. If you constantly improve your knowledge, acquire modern accounting tools, and put yourself out there online, you will soon be able to build a successful freelance business. 

What’s Shoeboxed? 

Shoeboxed is an application that lets you digitize paper receipts in just a few seconds. It automatically extracts and categorizes important data from your receipts, which then gets approved by a team of data experts. Quick, reliable, and trustworthy, Shoeboxed guarantees to organize your piles of documents in the best way you can imagine! 

Go paperless for FREE with Shoeboxed

Your Complete Guide to Online Accounting Jobs

While the fallout of Covid-19 continues to affect large portions of the world’s economy, working remotely is becoming a new work trend. Online accounting jobs are no exception. Fresh-graduate accountants, those with a CPA certification, and people returning to work should still be able to find opportunities for remote and virtual accounting jobs. Instead of working in an actual office, virtual accountants work from home or another location outside of the office. 

However, finding those opportunities may take some additional digging to understand which professions and industries are best situated for remote workers. Check this article for the complete guide to online accounting jobs! 

What does a virtual accountant do?

Virtual accountants are in charge of a wide range of responsibilities, depending on their profession. Like the duties of their traditional counterparts, a remote accountant’s responsibilities may include:

  • Examining and verifying financial statements
  • Calculating, preparing, and filing tax returns and other tax-related work during tax season
  • Helping business owners reduce costs and/or improve profits to run more efficiently
  • Keeping the books and financial records up to date
  • Ensuring that accounting procedures adhere to best-practice standards
  • Overseeing payroll operations

Though an outside auditor is usually brought in to review the accountant’s work, for smaller companies an accountant may double as an auditor around tax season. Some other common duties of virtual accountants may include: 

  • Documenting individual expenditures
  • Reviewing financial statements for quality assurance
  • Verifying transaction compliance 
  • Identifying potential internal and external risks for fraud
  • Estimating and evaluating the efficiency of financial operations and decision-making
  • Making best-practice budget recommendations to increase the financial efficiency of their clients

With the given duties, it’s common for employers to seek experienced virtual accountants who are familiar with accounting software and cloud computing. Additionally, some software-based companies like Shopify, Stripe, and TaxJar require their candidates to have technical skills.

See more: What Are the Differences Between a Bookkeeper and an Accountant?

How much do online accounting jobs pay?

Since a virtual accountant is involved in several different tasks on any working day, the salary possibilities for online accounting jobs are wide-ranging and often based on the applicant’s accounting experience, not the job location. 

According to ZipRecruiter, a virtual accountant’s annual salary currently ranges between $44,000 to $63,000, with top earners making $86,500 annually across the US. The average annual salary for a Senior Regulatory Accountant that works from home is $98,833. 

Salaries in certain cities can be significantly higher. For example, in California, the annual salary for virtual accounting jobs varies from approximately $63,000 to $70,000.  

Again, the pay rate isn’t affected by the location of the job but is usually influenced by supply and demand, cost of living, job requirements, and whether the position is full-time or part-time.

Where can you find online accounting jobs?

Given that work situations have changed for so many people and businesses, virtual accounting jobs are available all around the country.

Cloud-based enterprises

Cloud-based companies were thriving before the pandemic hit, and they will likely continue to grow once the pandemic ends. These companies are finding innovative ways to reach new clients, expand their employee base, and transition office environments to remote work. Staff in these companies can work from anywhere across the country, as they serve clients through cloud-based applications, software, or online platforms. 

E-commerce companies

Many e-commerce companies have grown dramatically during the pandemic as buyers have turned to shop online while staying home. Online shopping has become a new global trend that helps consumers avoid going to a physical store and dealing with reduced capacities, empty shelves, or the general anxiety that can arise from catching Covid-19.

E-commerce companies often have a flexible working environment. This allows their accountants to work from anywhere and connect virtually through meeting software. 

Financial institutions

When most people think of a financial institution, they likely think of physical locations such as ATMs, bank tellers, and loan officers. Though most of these locations have stayed open for customers to handle their day-to-day tasks, most of the back-office work of financial institutions can be done remotely. This makes them an ideal option for accounting professionals looking for remote opportunities.

Some popular financial institutions hiring online accounting jobs are Citizens Bank, JPMorgan Chase, and USAA. These financial institutions often hire accountants for various roles, such as audit managers, home lending specialists, and loan underwriters.

Recruiting platforms or agencies

There are plenty of recruiting, hiring, and job-placement platforms and agencies which can help accountants find remote work that fits their job needs and skillsets. Some platforms even focus on specialized roles, such as accountants, financial experts, etc. This helps avoid a one-size-fits-all recruiting partner who sometimes feels like they’re looking for a sale and not the right fit.

Accounting Principals, Kforce, Randstad, ZipRecruiter, and Robert Half International are some notable recruiting platforms for remote jobs. 

Even if a recruiting agency can’t find the right online job opportunity for an accountant, it can still offer many job-seeking benefits. For instance, these agencies can help applicants become aware of available types of work, as well as help match their knowledge and experience level with the best-suited job. This allows the job seeker to make an informed decision about their next place of employment.

Startups

The term “startup” refers to a company’s current status rather than the industry in which it operates. However, startups are often ideal places to look for remote work, especially online accounting jobs, simply because most startups transition the traditional office setting for a more flexible working environment.

Startups also need financial professionals to help them better understand where they are and how stable their finance is. For example, if a startup seeks IPOs (Initial Public Offerings), they’ll need help ensuring their financials pass the audit. 

The bottom line

Many companies found out that they don’t need an actual office to continue running and growing their businesses. On the other hand, they still need accountants to manage the financial aspects of their business. So now is the time for job seekers to be aware that online accounting jobs are out there. You just need to find the right fit.

Shoeboxed is the complete receipt tracking and expense management solution for freelancers, virtual accountants, or small business owners who are looking for the most versatile accounting app. Shoeboxed helps users scan paper receipts into digital data, create comprehensive reports, and prepare for tax seasons. 

What’s more, Shoeboxed offers exceptional features that allow users to track mileage for business, store business cards, and there is even a receipt scanning service. All you need to do is send your paper receipts to Shoeboxed’s facilities in our postage-paid Magic Envelope™. We’ll then scan your receipts and turn them into organized and actionable digital data. Our human-data verification function will double-check to ensure that your receipts are human-verified, audit-ready, and accepted by both the Internal Revenue Service and the Canada Revenue Service. 
Sign up now and claim your limited offer!

How One High-Growth Startup Uses Shoeboxed to Sustain Their Momentum

Brandon Gaines started Attorney Prime three years ago, and after receiving some big press mentions his business blew up. Learn how this high-growth startup uses Shoeboxed to sustain their growth,

With Shoeboxed, there has never been one “best” way to use our service to stay organized. And after processing over a billion dollars of expense data since 2007, we say that from years of firsthand experience!

Shoeboxed takes enormous pride in serving clients from around the country and across the globe, all of whom use our service in a myriad of ways to fulfill a whole host of organizational needs in both their personal and professional lives.

As attorneys, our product is time, and Shoeboxed helps us save money by saving us time.

-Brandon Gaines

brandon gainesIntroducing: Brandon Gaines

Profession: Owner, Attorney Prime

Location: Austin, TX

Find them: @AttorneyPrime on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn

Shoeboxed: Hi Brandon! Thanks for taking the time to chat. Let’s start with a little background on you.

Brandon Gaines: Sure! I’ve basically been an attorney my entire life, even though I only became licensed four years ago. Both of my parents are lawyers, so when I was growing up I always worked in their law office. I enjoyed learning the law and talking to clients, and my parents enjoyed free labor. I knew very early that I wanted to be an attorney and work closely with families just as my parents had done.

SBX: That sounds like a solid foundation for you to start your business, Attorney Prime. Can you tell us a bit about it?

Screen Shot 2015-01-28 at 3.43.28 PMBG: Absolutely. Attorney Prime is an online legal services provider that is run and operated by attorneys. We give our clients the full legal experience for a low, flat fee. We help people who aren’t comfortable handling their case themselves and need attorney advice for a low price and with all the convenience of an online service. We started the business in 2011 and went national in 2012, and we’re based in Austin, TX.

A few years ago, a couple of family attorneys and I were discussing the rise of sites like Legal Zoom and other sites that sold court documents. Since family law is so specific to every client’s circumstances, those sites aren’t able to do many types of family law cases that a traditional attorney can. Attorney Prime fills that gap, and allows a client to get all of the benefits of actual attorney advice, as well as the ease and convenience of an online service.

SBX: It sounds like Attorney Prime fills a real need – that’s awesome! We often hear from small business owners that when they start their business, they try to handle all the paperwork themselves. Was that the case for you? When did Shoeboxed enter the picture?

BG: Yes, we basically just scanned all of our invoices, receipts and business reports and kept them in files on our computer. That worked okay when we first started out, but after we were featured in an article on Huffington Post, our business blew up within weeks. We immediately realized our hackneyed system needed a significant upgrade and fast. Enter Shoeboxed.

After we began to get a little press, our business basically blew up within a few weeks. We were bursting at the seams with receipts and invoices with no easy way to handle that amount of volume, and we found and integrated Shoeboxed about that time. This all happened about seven months ago.

SBX: Cool! It’s amazing what a bit of press can do for a business. So how does Shoeboxed fit into your daily workflows now?

BG: Everything goes into Shoeboxed. Everything. We love the Shoeboxed Receipt & Mileage Tracker app. So when we run business reports, along with the tally from Shoeboxed, we are far more efficient and accurate on our business projections. As attorneys, our product is time, and Shoeboxed helps us save money by saving us time.

SBX: Do you use any other features of Shoeboxed you’d like to share?

BG: Yes, Evernote is the big partner app that we use with Shoeboxed. Since every client case is different, and requires its own attorney notes, photos, and other work material, Evernote, working alongside Shoeboxed, is irreplaceable.

SBX: Awesome! We’re big fans of Evernote too. So what’s changed in your business since starting to use Shoeboxed?

BG: The level of case volume we have now, compared to before we integrated Shoeboxed, is so much larger it is difficult to quantify exactly how much time and money it has saved us. Suffice to say: we wouldn’t be able to manage our receipts without Shoeboxed.

SBX: Well, we are honored to be able to help! Any other benefits you’ve found?

BG: A major part in our business growth, which means bringing in more attorneys and clients, is that our infrastructure is dependable. If we were still using a file system for our records, it would be impossible to grow since our system couldn’t support it. With Shoeboxed, we have yet to see any limit to how large our business will grow.

SBX: Wow, what an awesome endorsement – we’re blushing! In closing, what’s your number one piece of advice for other small businesses to get organized?

BG: Get organized before you actually need to get organized. Our previous file system worked fine for low volume, but when our work volume exploded overnight, we were completely helpless due to the unexpected demand. If we had planned for success, and used Shoeboxed even at the low volume, we could have avoided that problem altogether.

SBX: Fantastic. Is there anything else we didn’t cover here that you’d like share?

BG: We primarily use lawyer-targeted services because of the unique needs of attorneys. Shoeboxed is so flexible, it fits our needs better than even the serviced tailored for lawyers. Because of that, I have to imagine Shoeboxed would work within any industry.

SBX: We strive to suit the needs of our customers no matter what industry, and we’re thrilled that you’ve found us as a solution that works for you. Thank you so much for taking the time to chat, Brandon!

Are you a Shoeboxed user who has a success story and would like to be featured on our blog? Then we would love to hear from you! Please reach out to Emily at emily@team.shoeboxed.com for more information.

Until next time, stay tuned… and stay organized!