One potential barrier for any career change is the assumption that you’ll need a bunch of “stuff” in order to set yourself up for success. For some careers, you need to make an up-front investment in the tools of the trade. (Construction workers need boots. Nurses need scrubs and stethoscopes.) If you’re on the fence about embarking on a new freelance career, you may be concerned about the gadgets necessary for a freelancer home office.
But don’t believe the hype. Your home office can be as simple as you need it to be. Let’s break it down, shall we?
Freelancer Home Office Must Haves
To start off, the great news is that the list of essentials is relatively short. Here’s what you’ll need to get started:
- A computer
- Internet access
- A telephone and/or video conferencing software
- Someplace quiet to get your work done and take client calls
There may be other programs or tools your particular industry requires. For example, a designer may need Photoshop. Quickbooks may be essential for a bookkeeper.
But in general, a freelancer home office really only needs these four items.
Now, you’re probably either extremely relieved, or incredibly disappointed by this short list. When I was first starting out, I know I was really looking forward to a spending spree at Home Depot or Staples!
Now that I have years of experience with freelancing, I know that many tools that feel essential only serve as security blankets to help us feel productive and professional. They’re distractions from the real work I know I need to get done.
Things that Are Nice to Have
I know, I just said you only need four things! But, having said that, there are some nice-to-have extras. Here are some optional tools you may want to invest in.
1. In this day and age, most of our client interfacing takes place over Zoom, Skype, Google Meet, or some other video conferencing platform. All of these options offer basic plans that are free. However, you may choose to pay for the pro plans. If you go this route, make sure the subscription is paying for itself—and then some.
2. Along these lines, you may want to get a lamp for more flattering lighting during your video calls. There are relatively inexpensive ring light options (between $20 and $50) that also allow you to secure your phone under the light, in case you’re taking calls via there versus your computer.
3. A printer is also nice-to-have office supply. While most things can be done electronically, every so often we need to have hard copies of forms or client work. Many printer options also include a scanner, which comes in handy if you have to sign any paperwork for your clients.
If you don’t have one, though, you can use your local library or the printing service at an office supply store.
These items may be a good investment in your freelancing career. Just don’t feel like you must have them in order to succeed. You can absolutely succeed without them.
3 Freelancer Home Office Items You Do Not Need
1. A dedicated phone line. Whether you have a landline or a cell phone, it’s not necessary to have a separate phone number for your business. Just make sure your voice mail message is general and professional. (“Hi, this is Bob and I’m not available at the moment. Please leave a message at the tone.”) One phone number will work for both business and professional use.
2. A fax machine. I mean, we all just use email, right? So don’t feel like you have to go all out for an epic printer/fax/scanner combo.
3. A brand new desk, desk chair with lumbar support, gooseneck desk lamp, and standing desk converter. Nope. Chances are, you can use surfaces and lighting that you already have in your home. Pull up to your kitchen table on the trusty chair you’ve had for a decade, and you can still be a cutting-edge freelancer.
And if you really want to get something new to spruce up your space, make it a reward for completing—and getting paid for—your client work!
The Secret to Freelancer Home Office Success
Believe it or not, the gizmos in our offices are not how we become successful. The reality is that you are the secret sauce.
So, before you buy one of everything from the home office section of the store, consider carefully what makes the most sense for you and your budget. Consider getting your business underway and then adding items as you need them, or have the extra cash to purchase them!
Your turn! What are your home office essentials? Or what did you buy for your freelancer home office that you wish you hadn’t? Let us know in the comments below!
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