Have you ever thought about going into business for yourself as a freelance writer, graphic designer, life coach, real estate agent, or some other similar kind of entrepreneurial professional? In my recently published book Beyond the Margins, I offer tips and advice for precisely these types of individuals. I draw from my several years of professional experience, providing insight into what it takes to be a successful freelancer… ike having the right technology on hand.
When you work for someone else in a more conventional kind of office, you can usually rely on the company to provide you with the infrastructure that you need. When you have your own freelance home-based business, however, that responsibility falls squarely on your own shoulders and you need to invest in the right kind of equipment to have a suitable home office.
Your exact technological needs will vary based on the nature of your work, but we can safely assume that we all need a computer, an Internet connection, and a mobile phone (preferably of the “smart” variety). Beyond those, though, what else do you need to get started?
When I first got started with freelancing, I thought that I was going to lead a mostly paperless existence. However, that hasn’t really been the case for all sorts of reasons and that’s why every home office should have a suitable multifunction printer. It’s up to you if you want to go with laser or inkjet, black and white or color, but at a minimum, the multifunction printer should have both a feed and flatbed scanner, automatic double-sided capabilities, and a standalone copy function. The Epson WorkForce series is pretty great with prices starting at under $100.
One of the key elements to having a smart office is ensuring that you have proper backups of all your critical data. Ideally, you want to have an off-site backup to protect against physical damage, but you should at least have a network drive that is not directly connected to your computer. One of the simpler solutions for this purpose is the WD My Cloud, available in 2TB, 3TB, and 4TB capacities. It connects to your router and even allows for remote access, just like Google Drive and Dropbox. Prices start at $150.
Backup Notebook PC
I rely on my computer and the Internet for livelihood, so when either one of these is compromised, I can’t work. I’ve had some troubles with my primary PC before and that’s why it is always in your best interest to have a secondary computer available. You can use it to download needed software and drivers, look up assistance and guides, and so on. Sometimes a tablet or smartphone will do, but something like the Acer C720 Chromebook can offer much better peace of mind for as little as $200.
Uninterruptible Power Supply
When I had a notebook PC as my primary computer, this was less of a concern, because I’d still have battery life if there was a power outage. Since switching to a desktop PC, though, having a proper UPS is an absolute must. You don’t want to be caught with unsaved work (and other headaches) when the power cuts out. The size of the UPS will vary on your needs, but a smaller unit like the $60 APC BE550G UPS should be adequate for a single basic desktop PC with an LCD monitor. Larger units may be needed if you have more powerful equipment.
Most of my business correspondence is conducted via email and most of my phone calls are still with my smartphone, but there are times when you may want to conduct a Skype conference or make a more affordable long distance call via VoIP on your computer. A headset is far better than using an on-board microphone and speakers. You can get a Creative gaming headset for about $30, which will likely provide better audio quality than the far cheaper and more basic alternatives.
An Indispensable Guide for First-Time Freelancers
Technology is naturally only one part of the equation and there are many other factors that come into play when you’re thinking about a career in freelancing. For advice on how to set your rates, how to attract the right kinds of clients, how to hedge your bets against the ebb and flow of income, and more freelancing considerations, pick up a copy of Beyond the Margins and ensure you kick off your home-based business on the right foot. It’s available now in your choice of paperback or Kindle.