To be a successful freelancer, the two most important things you need are talent and clients. To ensure you’re able to deliver your excellent talent to your exceptional clients, here are a few suggestions for your home office setup. Instead of a roundup of products, this is a guideline of what an effective home office needs. If you’ve got a “must-have” in your home office – let us know in the comments. I always love to see cool stuff from other freelancers.
A dedicated workspace is essential to whatever type of freelancing you are doing. Whether it’s a specific room in your house can be setup as a full office, or a corner of your bedroom to park your laptop, a dedicated workspace helps you focus so you can do your best work. If possible, create your space to minimize distractions. A good workspace lets you get in the right frame of mind pretty much as soon as you sit down, allowing you to create better quality projects, faster.
If you don’t have a functional backup system, you are going to lose your data. It’s not a matter of if — it’s when. Like other unfortunate freelancers, I learned this lesson the hard way. Now I have DVD backups as well as multiple copies on multiple physical devices. It might sound boring, but when your hard drive starts making horrible noises you’ll be pretty happy you invested the time and money in an automatic solution. If you’re willing to invest in a physical storage, consider purchasing a NAS backup.
Another option is to upload your data to the cloud, using one of the many available online storage solutions, such as Mozy or Dropbox. The added benefit of this type of backup is the offsite storage, so even if your house burns down you’ve still got access to your files.
The Right Hardware
Your choice to use a Mac or a PC is entirely up to you and will depend on a number of things, including what you do as a freelancer and your budget for buying new hardware. My recommendation is to purchase the system that works for your current and near-future needs. Don’t buy something that you’re going to outgrow in a few months, and don’t tie up your cash (or credit) on features you’ll never use.
Solid Internet Connection
If you can’t trust your internet connection, you’ll miss out on finding great projects, or worse, you might not meet your deadlines. If you’re missing deadlines you won’t be a successful freelancer very long. Invest in the best internet connection you can afford, choosing reliability over performance. You don’t get paid to troubleshoot your home network, so choose a connection that lets you check the DoNanza job boards worry-free.
If you’re using one of the online backup solutions mentioned above, a solid internet connection is even more important, so look for as much upstream bandwidth as you can afford.
Social Support System
Freelancing can be a socially damaging career choice. If you’re busy, you might not go out very often because you’ve got too much work to do. If you’re not busy, you might be cost conscious and choose not to go out to avoid spending money you don’t have. Neither situation is good, but it’s important to maintain a healthy work/life balance. Building a social support system can help you grow as a freelancer, learning from some and teaching others, and is a necessary part of being a long-term freelancer.
If you’re low on funds, you can volunteer at pretty much any charity you’re interested in. This lets you get out and meet real people, without spending a cent, and you can try some effective networking techniques. If you’re super busy, remember to take time to relax and enjoy life. Don’t burn yourself out, or you might find your quality drops – and that’s never a good thing.
An effective home office is a great tool to help you make the jump from freelancer to professional freelancer, but we’d love to know if there are any other tools you find essential to running your home office. Is there anything in your home office you can’t live without? What do you need to help you do your best work?
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