Have you come back from a long day of work and just thought to yourself:
“Why am I here? This isn’t what I want to do with my life.”
Want to gain back your independence and make money using your current skills? Then congratulations! Welcome to the world of freelance where you are your own boss. But how do you start? There’s so much advice out on the internet which is essential for creating your own business it can be quite difficult to process.
That’s why I created ‘The Freelancer Guide’, to help people like you find out the essentials in creating a successful business within web design and online marketing (though some information may be applicable to other freelance industries).
To begin with, let’s start small and work our way up. One thing I would like to run through today is simple yet essential to any freelance entrepreneur.
Your home office.
You may be thinking that this isn’t very important to focus on. However, this is the foundation of your so to be successful business. Without the right work environment, you’ll be unable to focus on your work, become unproductive and end up searching for a desk job.
And for what, to have that ‘work environment’ you were used to having?
So now that you understand how important a home office is, let’s run through what you need to make a home office perfect for you.
The Perfect Space
Before you start buying anything make sure you find the best spot in your home to work.
Try to find somewhere with little distractions and I personally recommend not setting up shop in your bedroom. You want to keep your home space separate from your work space. Being able to ‘leave’ work and come back home is important for yourself otherwise you can find it very difficult to ‘turn off from work’ which will just lead to unnecessary stress.
If you have a dedicated room you can use, perfect. If not, look for around your place for corners, nooks, or unused areas you might not even realize you had. Make sure you are near electrical outlets and have access to the internet and secure that spot as your office.
Desk and Chair
Now that you have your office space, you will need the most essential parts; the desk and office chair.
Measure out your space to find what is the maximum size your desk can be. Find something that has enough space for your computer setup along with office supplies. Getting a desk with shelves or drawers is great to keep everything you need to work in order.
Try not to spend too much money on a desk since you’re only starting out your new business. I recommend keeping your desk selection in the range of $100 – $200. If possible, I would highly recommend investing some extra money on a standing desk converter as this will help decrease back pains and better your posture.
You’ll want to spend less on a desk as you will need to spend more on an office chair. Make sure you find the perfect chair; with great back support and fully adjustable. Trust me when I say you will be happy you spent the money on a good chair. This is something you can’t go cheap on as you will be sitting on this at hours at a time.
Who ever got anything done on a terribly uncomfortable chair?
Fill it with Personality
Remember, you are going to be in your new office most of the week. Try and make the space as comfortable as possible by adding your personality to it.
Have a certain style you enjoy? Create that space with some matching furniture, decor and even complimentary office supplies. Love comic book? Hang up some cool artwork on the walls. Interested in Space? Put that awesome model of the Apollo 11 right on your desk. Watch cartoons all the time? Place some of your collectible merchandise on the shelves.
I think you get the picture. Whatever makes you happy, add it to your office and it will make you feel great and ready to work.
Your Computer Set-up
Let now talk about the equipment you will need to do your job.
As creatives, we all have our preference on what type of computer we use. I will assume that most people reading this already have a desktop or laptop they use. If not, I recommend finding out what tasks you will be doing the most and then find a computer which can handle those the best while trying not to break the bank.
Mostly this section will be talking about additional piece of computer equipment that will be useful for your home office.
If you never worked using more than one computer monitor, you’ll thank me when you start as this will completely change your productivity for the better. I would recommend having at least two screens to start as if you already have a computer this will mean only purchasing an additional screen which you can easily find between $80 – $120.
Ergonomic Wrist Rests:
In my first few months of working, I noticed some pain I was developing in my wrists, especially on my right hand (my computer mouse hand). There are risks of Carpal Tunnel when working on the computer day after day, so it’s best to try and reduce this risk as much as possible. After picking up some gel wrist rests for both my keyboard and mouse, the pain disappeared and I was able to work at full capacity again.
Multiple Backup Hard Drives:
This is one of the most important pieces of equipment you will need as data backups are vital to ensure that all your hard work doesn’t one day disappear or get corrupted. I personally have two 1TB Portable Hard Drives that I use to back up all my work to on a weekly basis. Remember, make sure once you get the hard drives to make a schedule to regularly back up everything. As a freelancer, there will be not only work you create for clients you will need to keep safe but also sensitive business information such as invoices and contracts.
This is not a recommendation, this is a mandatory action.
A good pair of headphones:
I find it extremely difficult to work in complete silence. Most of us need something going on in the background to help us focus on the task at hand. During the day, I listen to music and podcasts on a nice pair of headphones to get me into the workflow.
Any business just needs a printer/scanner in their office. We are always creating new ideas that we need to either be scanned to work on them on the computer or we create something on the computer and we need to print it out, analysis and archive the development of an idea. No only that but it’s always useful to print out and have hard copies of important documents from clients.
Now we come to the bit where I quickly talk about all the little pieces you should have in your office to help with work. There’s no point in trying to explain why you need a pen or sketchbook, you should know that by now. So instead I will just show you a small list of things I recommend having:
- Sketchbooks (my preference are Moleskins but any will be just fine)
- Pens and Pencils
- Mechanical Pencils (Blue and Red lead are perfect for making ideas pop)
- Post-it Notes
- Markers (I use both ProMarkers and Sharpies)
- Design Reference Books
- Tape, Glue or Stapler (use these to add printed ideas or outside sketches/notes into sketchbook)
- Scissors or Scalpel (only use a scalpel if you have a cutting mat)
- Printer paper
Home Office: Complete
You now have the guidelines to setup your home office. You can add even more on top of this to create something that’s perfect for you. For more information about creating a great home office setup go read this article from Charlotte Plans A Trip.