10 Tips for Blogging Success

BThey’re everywhere these days.  People have personal blogs, political blogs, travel blogs, health blogs, corporate and small-business blogs.  But do you really need a blog? 

Small-business blogging is a popular, and cost-effective, method of marketing. But the point is not just to get a blog out there; the point is to have it rise to the top of competing blogs.  So, how do you do that?

Here are a few tips that will help you create a blog worthy of a significant and loyal following.

  1. Read other small business blogs.  You’re more likely to see what works by reading other blogs, especially those in the tax industry.  Do a quick search, and bookmark all those you want to follow.  This is, possibly, the most effective way to witness what works and doesn’t work in the wonderful world of blogging. 
  1. Update frequently.  People expect to find new information on a blog, so you’ll loose readers quickly if you neglect it.  While some blogs update daily and others two to three times a week, you’ll find your sweet spot, once again, by visiting other small-business accounting blogs to see what they’re doing. 
  1. Build in numerous links.  Not only do visitors find that useful, but those same sites just might return the favor by adding your link to their site, increasing your traffic. 
  1. Include free and practical information.  Not only does this demonstrate your tax expertise, but it demonstrates a professional generosity which current and potential clients will appreciate. 
  1. Avoid blatant self-promotion.  While your blog is obviously a good way to get the word out about your valuable services, you should avoid successive posts that only boast about your services.   
  1. Enable social sharing.  Most blogging systems allow you to add links to posts, enabling readers to share your blog via Facebook, Twitter, etc.  Doing so gives will increase your readership more quickly. 
  1. Keep posts short and sweet.  The nature of blogging is to abbreviate rather than blather on and on.   Most readers opt out of reading a post that involves much scrolling. 
  1. Respond to comments.  The great thing about blogs is that they are conversational.  Readers can post comments to the blogger and visa versa.  Encourage that interaction because it inspires greater loyalty among your readers. 
  1. Include pictures.  Graphics add professionalism and interest to your posts.  Look for an inexpensive graphic subscription that would enable you to easily find and upload images to your blog. 
  1. Avoid negativity.  Nobody likes to continually read text through which the author rants and raves about the injustices of the world—that is, unless those readers themselves are Negative Nellys.  Keep your posts positive. 

Once you get your blog up and running, share the URL with current clients, have it printed on your business card, include it in your email signature, and provide a link to the blog from your website.  You may discover that blogging might be one of the best marketing tools you’ve used in a long time.

Enhance Your Skillset!

Consider what your life would be like without the convenience of modern technology.  Without software programs like QuickBooks, we would be required to do things the slow, old-fashioned way.  Thankfully, we don’t have to.

The Professional Bookkeeper’s Guide (PBG) to QuickBooks will enable you to master this software program that over 80% of small businesses use to manage their accounting.  Once you do, you will be able to work more efficiently as you use all the features, functions, and shortcuts QuickBooks offers.  Not only will the PBG enable you to manage your own books more efficiently, but it can increase your bottom line as you add QuickBooks consultation, help and setup services to your menu.  With hands-on training you can earn a professional designation as a QuickBooks Specialist that will give you the creditably you need to convince prospective clients that you are an outstanding tax professional!

With just one small initial investment, you can increase your income and your clientele.  Don’t wait to thank us.  Call Universal at 1-877-833-7909 to order now!

The IRS Releases Educational Media

Annette officeIn attempts to better educate tax payers, the IRS has recently released a new video series on the IRS YouTube channel, featuring Commissioner John Koskinen discussing Affordable Care Act provisions that will impact 2014 tax returns: the premium tax credit and the individual shared responsibility provisions.

In one of the videos, Koskinen details how the premium tax credit can make health care more affordable for taxpayers with moderate incomes through the Health Insurance Marketplace. He explains, “You can get advance payments of the premium tax credit paid directly to the insurance company to lower your monthly premium, or you can apply for the premium tax credit when you file your tax return for 2014.”

Regarding the individual shared responsibility provision, Koskinen focuses on coverage requirements and exemptions as well as the shared responsibility payment.  He says, “For most people, filing their returns in the spring of 2015 is going to be fairly simple—with regard to this issue, and that is they’ll simply check a box indicating that they have qualifying insurance or they’ll indicate that they’re eligible for an exemption.  Otherwise, they’ll calculate their shared responsibility payment and add it to their tax return.”

In addition to these videos, the IRS plans to release even more about the Affordable Care Act, all of which can be accessed through the IRS Health Care video playlist.

Small Business Webinars for Tax Professionals

In efforts to increase education among small business owners, including the tax professionals who file their taxes, the IRS is also releasing webinars designed to help them prepare for the upcoming tax season.

The newest webinar entitled Business Use of Your Home, can be viewed today at 2pm eastern time; it focuses on how to determine whether one qualifies for the home office deduction.  Better Business through Better Records can be viewed on September 11th and 2014 Affordable Care Act Provisions for Individuals, Families and Small Businesses can be viewed on September 17th.

For more information, visit the official IRS website.

Universal Accounting Helps Tax Preparers Succeed

At Universal, we believe it’s important to prepare for the future, and we’re interested in seeing your future success as a tax preparer.  Our Professional Tax Preparer Program is designed to help professionals like you master tax preparation, becoming efficient in the completion of individual and business returns.  If you would like to learn more, visit Universal for a free video today!

 

Resources

IRS YouTube channel

–.  “New YouTube Videos Provide Tips on Health Care, Tax Returns.” 8 September 2014 IRSgov.com

–.  “Webinar Spotlights Home Office Deduction.” 8 September 2014  IRSgov.com

–.  “Webinars for Small Businesses.”

Sharpening the Saw

sawIn Stephen Covey’s well-known and oft-quoted book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, the last and final habit is known as “sharpening the saw.”  Covey explains that this habit “means having a balanced program for self-renewal in the four areas of your life: physical, social/emotional, mental, and spiritual.”  If you’re like many professionals, the idea of taking a time-out to rejuvenate yourself may seem a little self-indulgent.  Aren’t you too busy sawing, for heaven’s sake?  Unfortunately, too much sawing and not enough sharpening makes your work less effective and eventually, inadequate.  Consider creating your own program for self-renewal using the following suggestions:

Physical. Neglecting your health will come back to haunt your business at some point or another, either in sick time, lack of focus, or compromised workflow.  And while we’re not suggesting you train for a triathlon, we are saying that taking better care of yourself will only benefit your business in the long run.  Getting plenty of sleep, water, and exercise, while enjoying a healthy diet, will provide the perfect foundation for a balanced life.

Social/Emotional. What’s life about if not making meaningful connections with the people around you?  Whether it be friends, family, or neighbors, take the time to associate with those you care for.  In fact, to demonstrate your commitment to balancing all aspects of your life, use the same calendar for both personal and business activities.

Spiritual. Covey suggests that honoring the spiritual element of your life might require “spending time in nature, expanding spiritual self through meditation, music, art, prayer or service.”  In addition, Walter Bagehot claims, “No great work has ever been produced except after a long interval of still and musing meditation.”  To many, meditation is a mystical, new-age activity for which they have no time, and those who practice it claim to be more adept at concentrating, critical thinking and problem solving—all of which are important skills for the business owner.

Mental. Regardless of your profession, it’s important that you continually challenge yourself mentally.  Learning new things and keeping up on industry advancements enables you to keep the saw sharp while improving your practice.  To do that, we suggest regularly honing your skills by investing in training that will improve your financial expertise.

Expand and Refine Your Financial Skills

Most of your competitors don’t offer specialized small-business accounting services.  But after completing the Professional Bookkeeper (PB) program, you can!  Consider a training program that is catered to your needs and busy schedule—one that will enable you to earn a professional designation after just 60 hours of your valuable time.

When you enroll in the Professional Bookkeeper Program you receive to the following:

  • Flexible training you complete on your own schedule
  • Rich and engaging training DVDs you can view again and again
  • Hands-on instruction and practice sets through which you gain much-needed experience
  • Training in building and marketing your new practice
  • 6 months of valuable follow-up support
  • The opportunity to earn professional certification
  • Our iron-clad risk-free guarantee

Expand your service offerings by enrolling in UAC’s valuable Professional Bookkeeper Program.  Call 1-877-833-7908 to enroll today!

Resource

“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw.” StephenCovey.com

The Proper Classification of Freelancers

Both the Wall Street Journal and Entrpreneur.com are reporting that the IRS is cracking down on small-businesses, suspicious that they are underreporting revenue and misclassifying freelancers.  The Wall Street Journal investigated numerous letters that had been sent to small businesses, inquiring after what the IRS considers a “widespread problem: failure by businesses, including mom-and-pops, to report all cash sales in order to minimize tax bills.”  Their key interest was in cash receipts which are more difficult to track than credit-card sales.

In addition to underreporting data, the IRS is also concerned that small business may be misclassifying employees as freelancers in order to avoid additional taxes.  Jeff Weld examines this particular issue in a recent article posted to Entrepreneur.com entitled “The IRS Wants to Know If Your Freelancer Should Be Getting a W2.”  He explains, “With a W2 employee, the government gets timely payments through withholding, there is no danger of non-reporting, the worker doesn’t write off expenses… and payment is made to unemployment insurance, workers comp and disability.  Even though independent contractors are supposed to cover their own unemployment, works comp and disability that still leaves a tax gap that is driving the IRS crackdown.”

It’s important that you appreciate this crackdown in order to help your small-business clients avoid undue attention from the IRS.  To eliminate the question of misclassified freelancers, help you clients answer the following four questions, as posed by Jeff Weld:

1. Is this person really a freelancer?  This can be determined by having your client answer the following questions:

    • Did she incorporate?
    • Does she have business insurance, a business bank account, an actual office?
    • Does she have a website, a logo, marketing materials?
    • For how many other customers does she provide service?

If your client answers “no” or “0” to any of the above questions, chances are he/she should add the individual to their payroll and have them complete a W2.

2. Do you have financial control over the person doing work?  Your client is not responsible for any equipment or tools the freelancer uses to complete his/her assignments.  The client should also pay a fixed amount for either hourly or per/project work. 

3.   How much influence can you have over this person’s day?  If your client can contact the freelancer and demand them to complete an emergency project by day’s end, chances are that individual sees him/herself as your client’s employee. 

4. How does this person’s work get performed?  As Weld explains, “In some ways, this is the most important test.  The core of the IRS focus is determining whether the work should have, or could have, been done by a full-time employee.  If you are engaging freelancers simply to not hire more full-time employees for something core to your business, you are taking on risk.  You should not have employees sitting next to freelancers doing the same work.”

Help your clients ensure that those they see as freelancers can really be categorized as “freelancers” by IRS standards.  Not doing so could put them at risk for an audit in the future.

Increase Your Profitability, and the Profitability of your Client’s Businesses, NOW!

Allen Bostrom, President and CEO of Universal Accounting Center, has a lot of experience helping small businesses become more lucrative, and he’s written a book about it called In the Black: Nine Principles to Make Your Business Profitable.  Practical and easy-to-apply, you can finish this book in one day and begin implementing those principles the next.  To learn more about this book and some of the principles he shares, visit his website today!

Resource

Hennessey, Ray.  “5 Reasons the IRS’s New Focus on Small Businesses Is Ridiculously Egregious.” 12 August 2013 Entrepreneur.com

Weld, Jeff.  “The IRS Wants to Know If Your Freelancer Should Be Getting a W2.” 14 August 2013 Entrepreneur.com

The IRS Continues to Fight RTRP Court Ruling

Recently we posted an article updating you on the RTRP Court Ruling as of February 1st, 2013.  The IRS continues to battle the ruling, attempting to advance its case as follows:

The IRS took advantage of its right to file an appeal within 60 days from the ruling, and on February 21st, 2013, the Department of Justice filed an appeal on their behalf, safeguarding the IRS’s right to fight the recent ruling on Living v. IRS, which could prevent the IRS from testing and regulating paid tax preparers.

Deputy Director of the Return Preparer Office, Preston Benoit, said that as a result of the injunction the IRS is currently unable to recognize nor endorse the RTRP credential.  However, he also said there is nothing preventing tax professionals from displaying certification, although the IRS is not commenting on RTRP credential usage or the ongoing litigation.  Speaking for the IRS, Benoit said they are trying to quickly resolve the matter and are considering instituting voluntary testing for those interested.

On February 26th, 2013, the Department of Justice, acting in behalf of the IRS yet again, filed a Government’s Motion for a Stay Pending Appeal.  This motion is intended to reinstate the IRS’s testing and registration program for tax preparers during the appeals process.  According to the NATP website, “The motion argues that the stay is in the best interest of the IRS, tax preparers and most importantly, taxpayers.”  The motion states that “the greatest harm from the injunction will come in 2014, when the regulations meant to guard taxpayers from incompetent and unethical tax-return preparers are scheduled to become fully operational.  The IRS estimates that fraud, abuse, and errors cost the taxpaying public billions of dollars annually.”

For more information, please visit the official website of the National Association of Tax Professionals.

Universal will continue to update you in our weekly newsletter.

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