Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Illustration Business Finance: 2. Income

The income stream of an illustration business is the amount of money received for work produced. However this does not necessarily translate into personal income. Personal income is based on the profit the business will generate.
© 2013 Don Arday.
Profit (or loss) is based on the juxtaposition of the operating expenses of the business to the income the business generates through the work it provides. Put in the simplest terms, if a business has $20,000 per year in operating costs, and the income earned from illustration commissions adds up to $30,000, then the business has made $10,000 in profit. The personal income generated by the business is whatever profit is achieved, in this case $10,000. This may or may not be what is required or desired by the owner, especially if a thorough financial model was lacking at the outset of doing business.

Studio Operating Expenses

The operating expenses model below has been provided to serve as a practical example of typical operating expenses for an illustration studio. In this case, the model is based upon an in-home studio, so certain expenses, such as rent, utilities, and liability insurance, are shared expenses with the household, and are prorated accordingly.

For a complete definition of each of the expense categories refer to The Informed Illustrator article at: http://www.theinformedillustrator.com/2013/08/illustration-business-finance-1.html

Studio Operating Expenses Model


Expense Category
Cost Basis/Monthly or %
Yearly Amount



Office/Studio Rent
$350/25% of $1400 Mortgage
$4200
Utilities
$65/25% of  $260 Home Utility
$780
Phone
$40/50% business usage
$960
Internet
$50/100% usage
$600
Advertising/Promotion
$750
$750
Equipment
$4200
$4200
Business Supplies
$55/month
$660
Resale Supplies
$45/month
$540
Dues/Subscriptions
$15/month
$180
Postage/Delivery
$67
$67
Transportation
8000 miles/56.5 cents per mile
$4520
Professional Services
$440
$440
Health Insurance
$255/month
$3060
Liability Insurance
$21.25/25% of  $85 Home Ins.
$255



Total Amount

$21,212
Note 1: The transportation cost figure is based on the 2013 Internal Revenue Service Mileage Reimbursement calculation. The health insurance cost figure is based on data provided by E Health Insurance. The liability insurance figure is based on average homeowners insurance rates provided by Home Insurance Co.
Note 2: This operating expense model does not take associated expenses into consideration such as student loans.

Determining Income

Using the cost figures from the above model the first and easiest thing will be to figure what the studio owner/illustrator must do to break even. This is also known as the cost of doing business (CODB). The illustrator must receive at least $21,212 to equal the CODB. Now this is where it gets interesting. The illustrator can complete 21+ $1000 editorial commissions, or 8+ varied market illustration commissions of $2500, or any combination of streams of illustration income. In terns of hourly effort, at a rate of $30 per hour, the illustrator must work 707+ billable hours to reach the $21,212. Now this may appear to be quite frightening, but it only equates to working 14+ hours a week for 48 weeks, leaving 4 weeks for vacation.

Now lets say that the illustrator/studio owner wants a salary/profit of $40,000 at $30 per hour, which includes the $21,212 in operating expenses. That would require them to work a 42-hour workweek for 48 weeks. So, if they could guarantee a steady flow of work, they could achieve their salary goal. This example could be an acceptable income for a young illustrator.

With that said, there are many illustrators that run their business with operating expenses between $20,000 and $30,000. Most use a fixed price structure for their commissions, rather than one that is hourly based. However, by using an hourly rate basis to calculate earnings, rather than a fixed price one, an illustrator can tell how many hours per week are needed for them to meet their goal. Just for the sake of expanding upon the above examples, here are some other financial projections based on a variety of possibilities and situations.

Income Projection Table


Income Basis/Variable
Business Costs
Yearly Earnings


Minus Costs
Hourly Basis


$40 hourly rate/35 hour week/48 weeks
$21,212
$45,988
$40 hourly rate/40 hour week/48 weeks
$21,212
$55,588
$50 hourly rate/35 hour week/48 weeks
$21,212
$62,788
$50 hourly rate/40 hour week/48 weeks
$21,212
$74,788
$40 hourly rate/40 hour week/48 weeks
$31,313
$45,487
$40 hourly rate/35 hour week/48 weeks
$12,121
$55,079
Fixed Job Price Basis


3 commissions per month/$1500 average
$21,212
$32,788
4 commissions per month/$1200 average
$21,212
$36,388
4 commissions per month/$1500 average
$21,212
$50,788
4 commissions per month/$2000 average
$21,212
$74,788
6 commissions per month/$750 average
$12,121
$41,879



Disclaimer: The above table is for the purposes of illustrating income potential. It represents a very limited number of possibilities. Depending on the nature of an illustration business, some of the income examples will be more pertinent, while others will not.

Income Tax

Now enters the IRS. A hard pill to swallow, and something no one accept accountants like to think about, taxes should be considered when taking a comprehensive look at income. Taxes are paid based on net income, i.e., the income that is left after operating expenses is accounted for. For the sake of again providing a simple example, if $30,000 was earned, and $20,000 went to expenses, this would leave $10,000 in profit. The $30,000 is the “gross” income, and the $10,000 is the net income. So for a single filing self-employed person, taxes would be paid based on the net income as follows: $10,000 @15% income tax and $10,000 @ 12.4% social security tax. In real dollars this would translate to true after tax income of $7260.

Income Tax Rates

Single Filing Status 2013 Rates
10% on taxable income from $0 to $8,925, plus
15% on taxable income over $8,925 to $36,250, plus
25% on taxable income over $36,250 to $87,850, plus
28% on taxable income over $87,850 to $183,250, plus
33% on taxable income over $183,250 to $398,350, plus
35% on taxable income over $398,350 to $400,000, plus
39.6% on taxable income over $400,000.

Married Filing Jointly Status 2013 Rates
10% on taxable income from $0 to $17,850, plus
15% on taxable income over $17,850 to $72,500, plus
25% on taxable income over $72,500 to $146,400, plus
28% on taxable income over $146,400 to $223,050, plus
33% on taxable income over $223,050 to $398,350, plus
35% on taxable income over $398,350 to $450,000, plus
39.6% on taxable income over $450,000

Social Security Tax Rates

Self-Employed Persons 
12.4% of net self-employment income, up to $113,700.
The Social Security tax rate had been temporarily reduced for the years 2011 and 2012, in what was referred to as a payroll tax holiday. For these two years, the self-employed persons also received the same reduction from 12.4% to 10.4%.

Employed Persons
6.2% of wage earnings, employees portion, up to the maximum wage base of $113,700. The employer then matches the 6.2% employee contribution of wage earnings, up to the maximum wage base of $113,700. This equates to a 12.4% total Social Security contribution.