Being a freelancer in any profession affords luxuries those forced to clock in and out every day rarely have. You are quite literally your own boss.
But before you go getting too blasé about it, it’s important to remember that you have a job to do – and to do it well and professionally you have to make sure you’re kitted out with the right kind of office to do it.
Of course, the prevalence of laptops means a lot of freelancers are out and about, taking advantage of the multitudinous Wi-Fi spots and pontificating over their work whilst sipping a skinny latte. But every freelancer needs a home base, so here are a few things every freelance office will need.
Stationery And Equipment
Your fingers may nimbly hop like graceful ballet dancers across a keyboard more often than not, but occasionally you’ll need to physically write something down. As well as the usual big chains, supermarkets run their own line of office stationery supplies – and at very reasonable prices, so you can stock your stationery cupboard with pens and post-its at minimum cost.
Business cards are always a good addition to the freelancer’s professional oeuvre. There are three options here: you can create your own cards and letterheads, get them produced at a professional printers (though that may be stretching the wallet a little too far), or you could create your own at one of those kiosks ubiquitous places like Boots – they look professional and you won’t have to take out a second mortgage.
It’s also worth investing in a printer, copier or fax machine. In fact, you don’t have to buy them separately as they nowadays come as a single, combined unit – which also saves on space.
Depending on where your home-based freelance office is will determine the space you have the type and amount of furniture you’ll need to kit it out. De regeur, however, is a desk and chair. Have a flick through the local directories and online – Thomson Local, Yellow Pages and Gumtree , for example – as they carry a comprehensive list of furniture suppliers.
In these cash-strapped times you can always go the second hand route: the above directories will point you in the right direction, but why not scout your local charity shops as well? They’ve usually got good quality, secondhand furniture in stock.
There’s no escaping we’re in the age of the mobile phone – the now-matchbox sized piece of plastic that can surf the net, offer Sat Nav, pick up alien life forms and do your laundry at weekends. Rumour has it it can make the occasional phone call, too. Nevertheless, you’ll need the back-up of a good, old fashioned landline just in case, so check out the best offers from the various landline providers. Similarly, if you’re in an area that provides Broadband, see what good deals you can get.
Those in the freelance fraternity might not have the burden of of set working hours, but being a freelancer by its very nature dictates you need to possess a certain amount of focus and discipline – and this is certainly true with time management. Despite the malleability of largely being able to do your work without constantly watching the clock, the fact remains you still have work to do. Setting a diary or rota or some kind of timetabled system is imperative if you want to survive successfully as a freelancer – the work, after all, isn’t going to do itself.
I’m sure there are plenty of experienced, veteran freelancers who have got a few useful suggestions of their own, though. Have you got any ideas? I’d love to hear from you.