Exposing my Influencer Business Expenses

"It's a write off"

by kaya@comfygirlwithcurls.com

You know we are all about transparency around here. So today, I’m pulling back the curtain on the financial side of my journey, sharing how much I’ve spent on business expenses as a full time influencer/content creator.

After sharing that I made over $100,000 in 2023, it’s time to break down the expenses that either fuelled my success or cut into those earnings… depending on whether you are a glass half full or half empty type of person.

*Some of the links included in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on them and make a purchase, I will make a small commission at no additional cost to you.*

Revealing my 2023 Business Expenses (YouTube Video)

If you want to see the video version of this post, check it out below! Keep scrolling for the text version!

Let’s Talk Influencer Business Expenses/Write Offs

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty, let’s address the elephant in the room—the public’s perception of business expenses.

I’ve been sharing my income recaps online for years now. And every time I do, I have strangers in my comments demanding to know how much I’ve spent on my business and how much I pay in taxes–as though omitting that information is inherently deceitful.

But the thing is as a society, we always discuss salaries in terms of Net Pay.

You don’t ask someone how much they take home at their office job after they pay for their car insurance and commute. You don’t ask someone who works from home how much they take home after their internet and utilities…

That being said, I do understand the skepticism towards income recaps, as some “business coaches” and “social media consultants” do misrepresent their income as a way to lure in clients and sales. But that isn’t the majority.

I also think there is an assumption that a creator’s business expenses cut drastically into their total earnings–that for every $100 we earn, we might have to spend $50.

But for the most part, content creators have very low overhead compared to a business owner who deals in product inventory or the high overhead of a brick and mortar.

In fact our expenses tend to be more of a privilege than a non-negotiable cost of doing business.

The Privilege of Investing in Your Business

For me, expenses are investments that legitimize, improve, and scale my business as a creator. As I make more money, I’m able to put more back into it.

From photography gear to new software, these purchases allow me to elevate the quality of my content, and increase my efficiencies.

It’s a privilege and a perk to deduct these expenses from my income, reducing what I owe to the government.

Plus, as an influencer, I can also write off seemingly frivolous things like travel, nails, meals, and clothes that enhance my ability to create captivating content… but we aren’t getting into that category today, because that’s a whole other can of worms (and basket of receipts).

IMPORTANT NOTE: I am not an accountant, and none of this constitutes as financial advice. I’m just going by what I have been told by my accountants, and advise you to run your expenses/write offs by yours.

Organizing my Business Expenses as a Content Creator

And finally before we dive into my expenses, I want to say I was dreading putting this content together.

I’m horribly unorganized, meaning it was VERY time consuming to gather these numbers, as my expenses were scattered across email inboxes, folders, and random receipts.

Every tax season, I’ll tell myself I’ll do better next year… and this season was no different. 🫣

But despite the chaos, I’ve gathered everything, calculated the numbers, and even delved into my past to show how my expenses have evolved as I’ve gone from hobbyist to full-time creator.

Now, without further ado…

Evolution of Expenses: From Hobbyist to Full-Time Creator:

Now, let’s delve into the evolution of my business expenses I’ve had as an influencer over the past eight years. They’ve definitely ballooned with time, but I hope the illustrate that you don’t need to have a lot of money to get started as a creator.

Black Blogger Creating With Kaya Dumping out receipts to show how much she spends as an influencer or content creator on business expenses.

1. Starting as a Blogger (2016):

When I first started creating content online, I started with a blog and I invested accordingly.

  • Initial investment: ~$200
    • Included my domain, hosting, and a $50 theme.

From my very first year, I started out with a self-hosted Wordpress site hosted through Bluehost.com. It was quite affordable, and came with a domain name, and to date had the BEST customer-service I’ve ever experienced.

I have since upgraded to SiteGround as I was hitting some speed limitations as my blog grew, but I still recommend Bluehost to anyone who’s starting out.

Of course there are alternative website-building and hosting options, but I wanted to have full control of my blog, backend and front, and so I made my decision accordingly.

Related Post: How Much it Costs to Start a Blog

2. Taking Content Seriously (2020):

Then as I begun taking content creation more seriously, I started to actually make money. In 2020 I made ~$10,000 as an influencer, which made me feel a lot more comfortable increasing my business expenses.

I also still had my day job at this time, so an extra $10k in the bank felt like I had money to play with for once.

  • I spent a total of $3500
    • $1500 in Subscriptions (broken up through the year in monthly expenses)
    • $2000 on a new camera, lenses and lighting

3. Purchases over the Years (2021 – 2022):

As I continued to make money, I became increasingly comfortable in spending it. But I do want to note that I waited to buy the more fun stuff–the toys–until I started to really earn from content creation.

In both 2021 and 2022 I made approximately $70,000 and so I spent…

  • $4500 in gear
    • More lenses, lighting, a gimbal, an iPad, which are referenced here.
  • ~$2000 in Subscriptions

4. Current Business Expenses (2023):

Now, let’s break down my regular recurring business expenses as a content creator.

for 2023, I spent a total of $7,250. Which breaks down as follows:

  • $5,000 on subscriptions.
  • $2,250 on one-off purchases

First I’ll list every single software and service I use, pay for, and write off as a content creator. Listed below is how much I paid total for the year for all my subscriptions–some I paid on an annual basis (ouch), some on a monthly.

Social/Video Category – $1769

  • Artlist Max for royalty-free music, sound effects, and stock footage. – $480
  • InShot for video editing on my phone. – $19
  • TubeBuddy for YouTube video SEO. – $237
  • Gling (AI software for video editing). -$180
  • Adobe Creative Cloud (Photoshop, Lightroom, Premiere Pro). Special note as I don’t currently pay
  • Canva Pro – $240
  • TikSave – $649 … a horrible mistake I didn’t realize I was paying for.

Socials/Logistics – $1318

  • MailChimp for newsletters – $256
  • QuickBooks for invoicing and income/expenses tracking. – $120
  • Microsoft 365 for email through Outlook. – $207
  • Zoom for one-on-one calls. – $224
  • One Sec app to manage social media usage. – $15
  • PO Box for privacy. – $200
  • 1Password a Password management service. – $32 (next year will be $95)
  • Notion (paid version for multiple users). – $80 (next year will be $240)
  • Google Drive – $28
  • and iCloud storage (upgraded to 6TB for next year) – $156

One-off Expenses in 2023

  • Refurbished iMac.
  • Unexpected $2,000 expense for M1 MacBook.
  • Miscellaneous items like hard drives, mics, and lights.

Total Expenses for 2023:

A grand total of $7,250 spent on my creator business last year.

RE: Other Write Offs + Taxes

Apart from the mentioned expenses, I also get to write off a portion of my rent, utilities, internet, phone bills, etc. Plus, there’s a box of receipts containing various travel expenses, Uber rides, Halloween costume materials, and more.

As a Canadian sole proprietor, I aim to set aside around 30% of my earnings for taxes. Remember, your expenses help lower your reported income, but always consult with a tax professional for advice tailored to your situation.

Final Thoughts on Influencer Business Expenses

If you’ve made it this far, thank you for taking a deep dive into my business expenses. Remember, the journey from hobbyist to full-time creator doesn’t require a massive upfront investment. There are free tools available, and you can build up gradually as your income grows. Stay savvy, stay creative, and until next time!

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