PAPER WORK BY NAILA RUECHEL
I currently represent myself. While this means that I retain the percentage I gave to agents in the past, this also means I am solely responsible for preparing estimates, deal memos, and invoices. It can be very time-consuming, but paperwork doesn't have to be a hassle.
I find that if I keep all my categories separated and organized as I go along, life is much easier at the end of each project. I keep a main file folder for the overall job and give assistants their own folders with petty cash that they must reconcile at the end of each day. I am responsible for the main folder and while assistants may help with calculating, not one page of an invoice will go out until it has been checked and approved by me. I then scan all the pages and get them over to the producer via email. I only keep the hard copy until the invoice is paid, at which point it goes on to the shredder. After all, I have a digital copy!
Having billed for at least a couple hundred advertising projects, my method of filing and submitting invoices has always worked seamlessly. That is... until recently. Here’s the story: I submitted an invoice and was paid within the usual ninety days. Three months later, I get a frantic call from that project’s producer requesting the original receipts. Apparently a few pages of my invoice, as well as the invoices of other artists on the project, had been flagged and all original receipts had been requested. The ad agency was apparently withholding payment to the producer until original receipts were produced, even though they were in possession of clearly scanned, detailed receipts.
Of course I did everything in my power to accommodate the producer. I searched through boxes and boxes of files marked, “To Be Shredded.” I was able to recover all but one of the original receipts being requested. She was grateful that I was being helpful, but at the same time she was annoyed when I was unable to provide that one last receipt. Remember, this was six months after the project and I had already been paid. But I learned a valuable lesson. I now keep all originals. It is so important to cover all bases, particularly when it comes to recording your finances.
Words and image by Naila Ruechel
Naila Ruechel is an NYC Fashion Expert, Stylist & Photographer
You can get to know Naila by reading our interview with her.