Do you love working with numbers? Are you detail-oriented and enjoy figures and spreadsheets? Then bookkeeping may be your work-at-home calling!
Working as a bookkeeper is an excellent way to make good money and gain the flexibility and freedom you crave. Plus, getting started is easy. There’s not a lot of set-up or equipment required, aside from a computer, an internet connection, and bookkeeping software. While learning the ropes of bookkeeping can take some time, almost anyone with a head for numbers and a propensity for data entry can learn with practice.
If bookkeeping sounds like it would be a good fit for you — here’s what you need to know.
Bookkeeper vs. Accountant
When you hear the term “bookkeeping,” you may wonder what sort of responsibilities and experience are required. Unlike the more formal position of an accountant or CPA (which requires a bachelor’s degree and certification), bookkeepers fall under the umbrella of accounting. Still, they’re more focused on the day-to-day operations of tracking income and expenses and balancing the books. While experience is beneficial to working as a bookkeeper, you don’t need a college degree or CPA certification. Therefore, while the bookkeeping role requires close attention to detail and a high level of accuracy, there’s less responsibility than an accountant’s role.
On the other hand, accountants are typically in charge of setting up the overall budget and financial direction for a business; they oversee tax information and set up the chart of accounts according to standard accounting practices. Accountants analyze financial information, produce reports, and make strategic recommendations based on data and tax laws.
What Types of Work Do Bookkeepers Do?
Bookkeeping is a back-office position required in almost every industry, so there’s the built-in advantage of being able to work in any field. Once you’re trained in bookkeeping, you can work within many different industries and find work that interests you, whether working with small business owners, bloggers, or even non-profits — every industry needs bookkeepers.
Common tasks often include:
- Entering and managing accounts payable
- Entering and managing accounts receivable
- Maintaining the general ledger
- Managing inventory counts
- Overseeing payroll
- Filing accounting reports
- Paying suppliers and following up on purchase orders
- Monitoring petty cash
What Training Do You Need?
If you have a college degree in business, accounting, or mathematics, or if you’ve balanced the books for a family business or worked as a store manager — you probably have a good foundation to work from home as a bookkeeper.
However, if you don’t have bookkeeping experience, there are ways to get up to speed. For instance, try this FREE online bookkeeping discovery series: How to: Own a Successful, Run-from-Anywhere Digital Bookkeeping Business.
Most online bookkeeping training courses take approximately three to six months to complete, including the one I recommend, Bookkeeper Launch. However, because Bookkeeper Launch is self-paced, you can complete it on your own schedule; in fact, many students complete the course and land their first client within the first three months.
Callie Sitek (owner of TheSmartKeep.com) took Bookkeeper Launch and has had massive success as a remote bookkeeper!
How Much Do Bookkeepers Make?
According to Small Business Cost Helper, hourly rates for bookkeeping services can run between $20-$50 per hour, depending on the position’s challenges and nuances. Most experienced bookkeepers who work on a contract or consulting basis make around $30-$40/hour, but many make well over $60/hour. The number of hours varies by business.
Working for a company, a bookkeeper’s salary typically runs between $30,400-$39,898 for full-time positions. Of course, the advantage is that you don’t have to worry about the steadiness of the hours, and you may even receive benefits. But working for a company might mean you have to work a set schedule with lower pay.
Where Can You Find Virtual Bookkeeping Jobs?
When it comes to working as a bookkeeper from home, there are a few options. If you have the experience, it might be worth it to reach out to your contacts from your previous job to see if they or any of their clients are looking for someone to help with their books. You can also check local listings for bookkeeping services, many of which are looking for remote bookkeepers on a consulting basis.
Remote Bookkeeping Jobs:
- Amy Northard, CPA
- Backyard Bookkeeper
- Good Cents Bookkeeping
- Intuit Quickbooks
- Supporting Strategies
Freelance Marketplaces, Remote Job Boards, and Staffing Agencies:
Want to Start Your Own Bookkeeping Business?
If you’ve decided running a bookkeeping business is the right path, the first thing you’ll need to do is educate yourself on the background and requirements for the position. Some bookkeepers who work as consultants may need business insurance or to be bonded, particularly because they’re often handling finances for their clients.
1. Gather Your Tools
To start, you’ll need a computer with an internet connection. You’ll also need to use some accounting software to manage your client’s finances. Popular options include Excel, Bill.com, Xero, QuickBooks, or Sage — QuickBooks tends to be the industry standard.
2. Build a Website
To advertise your business and spread the word to your clients, you’ll need to create a website, particularly if you plan to work with several different clients on a consulting basis. On your site, be sure to include your experience, list your services and areas of expertise, and always include client testimonials. Not sure how to set up a website? Check out this post for an easy and inexpensive solution.
3. Market Your Business
If you’re not sure how to market your business, there are plenty of ways to get the word out. Make up a few business cards to get started and reach out to your contacts on LinkedIn and in your social network.
Other ways to market your business:
- Social media
- Cold calling
- In-person networking
- Email marketing
- Lead generation
- PR opportunities
- Public speaking
- Guest blogging
- Print advertising
- Forum participation
- Email prospecting
- Facebook groups
Once you’ve got your website up and running, you should set a goal to reach out to a certain number of prospective clients each day. The general rule of thumb is five to ten but set your own pace as you build up your client base.
4. Stay Up On Training and Trends
Professional development is a good idea, no matter what your industry. The good news is it’s widely available! Not only do conferences, events, and professional groups enable you to meet other people in your industry, they can help you connect with clients, stay on top of changes you need to know about and keep yourself competitive. Watch for webinars, online courses, books, and training sessions relevant to the bookkeeping, finance, and accounting industries.
Bookkeeping is a great work-at-home career option with a lot of opportunities. Bookkeepers are needed in nearly every industry and company, and it’s something you can do from home without a large investment on the front end. If you think bookkeeping from home is for you, get started today!
Originally published March 1, 2017. Content updated November 4, 2020.