Being able to work from home is a dream. And thanks to the internet more of us are able to make that dream a reality. Whether you are a blogger, writer, photography, or graphic artist, you can turn your skills and even your hobby into a business. But there’s no denying that working for yourself takes dedication. You only have yourself to motivate you, and there’s always the risk that a slow month could leave you struggling financially. Waiting for payments sucks! But providing you work hard and do everything right, freelancing and working from home can work out. However, you need to be equipped to do so. Here are some of the things that can help you succeed when you work for yourself.
A Suitable Working Space
Luckily, being a blogger I can work from almost anywhere. However, I am definitely more productive when I'm in my office, at my desk. It puts me in work mode. Whether it’s a home office or a desk set up in the corner of your bedroom or living room, you need a place to work. Invest in a decent desk, plenty of storage and office supplies. Positioning your desk by a window and letting natural daylight flood in is said to be useful for boosting mood and productivity. However, I recommend testing this out before you decide on a location for your desk. In my old house my office window faced West. In the afternoon with the sun beaming in, it was hot and way too bright! If you have the same problem invest in some great light filtering blinds. Once you get going, try to keep your office organized so that you can work more efficiently. I'm very much looking forward to setting up my new office. It is larger than my old office, and I have plans to have a lot more storage so that it can be more organized.
A Reliable Computer
When your livelihood is working from your computer or laptop, you need a good one. Something that’s fast, efficient and reliable. Processor speed, hard drive space, and RAM are very important. You need to spend some money to make some money. You do not want to chance your old iffy computer breaking down in the middle of an important project. You will be so happy that you upgraded. Of course exactly how much power you need will depend on what you do, so read a useful article or two, talk to a geek friend, or ask a tech geek (like me) for a recommendation. It's important to know exactly what you need before you make your purchase, so that you do not regret it. Check out a few of my past posts on choosing great laptops.
If you do not have a great smartphone by now, you are living in the dark ages. Your smartphone can replace your computer when you’re on the go. And having the right apps installed can keep you connected all day. If you carry multiple devices, some apps like Evernote can be installed on all your devices giving you instant access to your notes and information no matter where you are. Being able to check and respond to emails and keep in touch with clients when you can’t use your laptop is useful, and so a good smartphone is essential.
An External Hard Drive
Even if your computer is super reliable, you should always back up on an external hard drive. Yes, I do this in addition to using the Cloud. It never hurts to have a contingency plan. Your computer could be irreparably damaged or stolen, so having backup files stored away is crucial. Whether you’re a writer, designer, photographer or something else entirely it’s an essential piece of kit to own. I use several drives to backup photos from my photography business, and other important documents.
A Computer Geek Friend or Repair Company – Just in Case
If the unthinkable happens, you need to know what to do. Or, you at least need to know who to contact. Have the information for great repair companies on hand that you know can fix the problem quickly and efficiently. Us geeks can sometimes do a lot, but even I have had to use a hard drive recovery service once or twice. And if you need a screen replacement or a new motherboard, you can’t afford to wait weeks to get your laptop back. Either find somewhere local with good reviews, or a company which can fix and then dispatch your hardware back to you quickly once it has been fixed.
Great Accounting Software
When you are starting out, you may not be able to pay an accountant to handle your business finances. Or… you may like that doing that sort of thing. Many of us don't! However, if you want to go ahead handle your own accounting, invest in some good accounting software. It's been awhile since I've used anything like Quicken or Quickbooks, but it is on my list to keep better track of my business finances starting next year. Each year at tax time I realize that I should have been more organized! And many accounting softwares allow you to export, or connect directly to the popular tax software to get your taxes done. Yeah… I must do this.
A Website and Social Media Accounts
If you’re responsible for pitching and finding your own work, you’ll need to show potential clients that you’re legitimate. Having a well thought out website is one way to do this. Include information about your services, relevant photos, reviews and testimonials from past clients as a way to showcase your business and skills. Be sure to link to your social media accounts, include a contact page, and great information on the background of your business. If you do not have the skills to get it done, hire someone to build a professional site. Not only is a great site and social media a good way to connect with brands, customers and clients, but it helps to show that you are serious about your business.
A Drive To Succeed
Some have this naturally. Some of us struggle with finding the drive when things gets tough. Remember that the harder you work, the more successful you will be. Your success and failure lay solely in your hands, so ambition, a drive to succeed and a strong work ethic are all essential if you’re considering working as a freelancer.
Do you freelance? What are your working essentials?