What are the system and software requirements for using TEA? The Editor's Affairs runs on both MacOS and Windows PC desktop operating systems. TEA is designed to run in the latest version of Microsoft Excel included in the Microsoft 365 subscription. Some features and functionality may not be compatible with older versions of Excel. If you have questions about running TEA with your specific system and Excel version, please feel free to contact me.
Do I need to be an Excel expert to use TEA? Not at all! TEA is designed for Excel novices and expert users alike. The TEA guidance documentation that accompanies your TEA package includes Excel basics and walks you through each detail that you have to fill in yourself and each data point that the spreadsheet formulas generate automatically.
Investing in TEA
What sort of time investment does TEA require? Once you receive your TEA files, I suggest setting aside an afternoon to read through the TEA Guide and familiarize yourself with the various fields. In general, though, how you use TEA once you have purchased it is entirely up to you. Some people keep it open on their computers and enter project, client and expenses data each day as they go, while others set aside weekly or monthly TEAtime to update their TEA records and check in on their business health. Are there ongoing costs for using TEA? The TEA system of Excel spreadsheets is a one-time purchase for the templates that you can start populating with your business data out of the box. If you would like your spreadsheets customized at any time, the work for the customization would be priced at an hourly rate agreed in writing by both of us in advance.
Is there a trial period for using TEA? Since TEA is not a subscription service, there is no trial period. Once you have purchased TEA, your spreadsheets are yours for life.
The Standard TEA Package
What income and project data can I record and analyze with the standard TEA package? The Income & Expenses spreadsheet in the standard TEA package includes the following columns in the Income tab:
Month [when payment is] Due
Work Completed [Date]
Payment Due Date on Invoice
Job [Title] & Notes
Total Word [or Page] Count
Rate per 1000 Words [or per Page] (Estimated)
Hours Worked (Estimated)
Words [or Pages] per Hour (Estimated)
Desired Rate per Hour
Hours Worked (Actual)
Rate per 1000 Words [or per Page] (Actual)
Words [or Pages] per Hour (Actual)
Rate per Hour (Actual)
Amount to Quote Before Tax
Amount to Quote Including Tax
What expenses data can I record and analyze with the standard TEA package? The Income & Expenses spreadsheet in the standard TEA package includes the following columns in the Expenses tab:
Date [when the expense was incurred]
Month [when the expense was incurred]
Total Amount Paid
Receipt [format, e.g. printed receipt or credit card statement]
What summary data is included with the standard TEA package? The Income & Expenses spreadsheet in the standard TEA package includes the following tables in the Summaries tab:
A Monthly Summaries Table breaking down income invoiced and received, hours worked and expenses by month.
An Expense Categories Summary Table breaking down expenses by category.
A Client Summaries Table including the income received, hours worked, average rate per hour, and date last contacted for each client.
Customizing Your TEA
Can I customize my TEA at any time? Yes, although some times are better than others! You may find it helpful to first purchase the standard TEA to get a feel for it and add customizations at a later date, but I recommend adding customizations before you start entering your business data for the current year. This is because if your TEA already has some data in it, you'll either have to copy it into the new customized version of TEA that I send you or share your filled-in TEA with me so I can customize it directly (see my T&Cs about sharing your business data with me during customizations).
The customization fees increase slightly each year, but otherwise there's no extra charge or penalty for purchasing a customization at a later date.
Which TEA customizations would you recommend for new /experienced freelancers? TEA users' needs and preferences vary so much that it's hard to make a blanket recommendation. I would suggest thinking about what you're keen to keep track of, and where your admin strengths and weaknesses lie. You may, for example, be exploring a lot of new marketing avenues and want a table to track which ones lead to the most paid work. Or, if you work best with bright visuals, you may want a pie chart showing the countries that your clients are based in or the types of clients you have (indie author, hybrid publisher, academic press, etc.).
If you'd like to schedule a chat about your business admin needs, feel free to get in touch anytime.
Using TEA: General
Can I make any modifications to my TEA myself? Yes! All TEA users can hide, unhide, and make changes to any unlocked cells in their TEA spreadsheets. Which cells are unlocked depends on the version of TEA that you have and the customizations you've purchased. All TEA users can also add new tabs to their TEA spreadsheets.
TEA users who purchased their TEA in 2021 or who have upgraded to the 2021 version can also hide and unhide locked cells and add new columns anywhere in their TEA spreadsheets.
Why can't I add rows? Since each row includes some locked cells that contain formulas, TEA users cannot currently add rows in TEA.
I have disabled the option to let users add rows in the TEA spreadsheets because any newly added row would contain only blank cells and would not include the formulas that power the TEA calculations. If you manually entered project or expenses data into a blank row and did all the calculations yourself, that data might not get included in the Summaries tab, and there would be a risk of introducing inaccuracies and inconsistencies through human error.
Is there a simple way to clear contents from a row when some columns are locked? Excel's ‘clear content’ function unfortunately doesn't work across a whole row in the TEA spreadsheets because some of the columns in each sheet are locked. You will need to delete the text from each unlocked column in the row, one at a time (which would also clear the data in the auto-populated locked columns).
If you wish to clear the sample data that I included in your TEA spreadsheet, you'd only need to do this once and then save the sample-free spreadsheet as a new file if you want to create a clean template for future use.
Using TEA: Project and Income Data
Can I keep using TEA to record my income and expenses after this financial year? Absolutely! If you're a TEA user, I encourage you to keep using your existing TEA package to record and analyze your business data in years to come. Simply open the most recent TEA Income & Expenses Excel spreadsheet that I emailed to you and save a new version of it (with a filename that reflects the new year), where you can enter all your data for the new year. You can open and re-save this file directly from the email I sent you to ensure it doesn’t contain any of your previous year's data.
How do I record projects that start in one year but end in another? I recommend that you include rows for the project in both years' TEA but only fill in the payment and hours-worked details that pertain to the current year in each spreadsheet. Filling in all the details in both years can lead to the payment amounts and hours worked being included in the monthly, client and overall summaries for both years.
As a simple example, if the client paid for work in 2020 but you only did the work in 2021 (and if your TEA is organized by calendar year), your 2020 TEA should include a row for the project with the "Payment Due Date on Invoice", "Date Paid", "Amount Invoiced" and "Amount Received" columns filled in, and your 2021 TEA should include a row for the project with the "Start Date", "Work Deadline", "Work Completed" and "Hours Worked (Act.)" columns filled in.
Using TEA: Project Timesheet
How do I use the Project Timesheet for each new project? I recommend going back to the blank template you received as part of your TEA package and saving a new version of the Project Timesheet workbook for each new project. It's also possible to create copies of the Project Timesheet sheet within a single workbook, though (instructions here) – for example, if you want to keep timesheets for each client in a single Excel file.
Similarly, the standard Project Timesheet template doesn't have space for previous sprints, so usually you would just keep overwriting the sprint fields as you go. If you need to retain the details of previous sprints, however, you can create copies of the Project Timesheet sheet for each sprint within your Project Timesheet workbook.