Business Essentials for the Freelancer
Increasingly, businesses are using more freelancers and remote workers than ever before. This means there are more opportunities to work from home in a number of fields, from software development and content strategy to writing and graphic design.
Freelancing is about more than just doing what you love from home. It’s about running a business, something that is difficult for some creatives. However, making the transition can be simpler than you think with a couple of simple tools and tricks.
Make Room for Work
First and foremost you will need a place to work. While in many cases you can work anywhere that you have access to the internet, a coffee shop or library might not be the best choice full time. Whether you convert a spare bedroom in your home, take over a corner of the living room, or rent an office somewhere, you will need some basic equipment.
A Comfortable Chair. You will be sitting and working in this chair for a number of hours every day, so it is important that it fits you well and promotes good posture. Be sure to try these out real time in a furniture or office supply store. It is fine to order one online, but be aware of what style you need, and what fits you best.
A Solid Desk. I know, it sounds basic, but office furniture is important. Quality furniture keeps you more comfortable and helps you feel more like a professional. Two things are important here: size (how it fits in the room) and height. The reason old tables often do not work is that they are too high for you to type comfortably. A desk with a keyboard drawer will often help limit fatigue.
Computing Power. Even if you do not do so right away, at some point you will be multi-tasking and will need a great deal of computing power. Whether you are a Mac or PC user, you are sure to be able to find something that works for you. Consult a professional about the memory and programs you need to be effective. You don’t want your work to be slowed because of poor equipment.
A Fast Internet Connection. Speaking of slow, your home internet connection might be slower than you think, and for business you might need an upgrade. The easiest way to tell? Do some speed tests throughout the day using a site like Ookla. If you are lagging at any time, contact your internet provider to figure out your options.
Storage. You are going to have office supplies, printer ink, paper, and more to store somewhere. You can use anything from a wooden cabinet to a metal locker (more secure) to keep your supplies safe and separate from your other household supplies.
The good thing is, all these things and the space you use as your home office (a portion of your rent or mortgage), are tax deductible. This is just one of many tax deductions and advantages you should take as a freelancer.
Get More Education
You may already be really good at what you do, but being a freelancer means you need to really step up your game. Plus, you will need to learn more about business: from invoicing and budgets to marketing and discoverability.
This doesn’t mean you have to go back and get your MBA. There are tons of courses online, both to help you get better at what you do and improve your business and marketing savvy. Most of the time these courses are self-paced, but there are also webinars, virtual classes, and online discussions.
There are some tricks to learning online, and you should learn how to take online tests effectively, but the internet offers many great options for increasing your knowledge.
Sometimes, your community will offer community classes that are worthwhile, and the Small Business Administration also offers classes and workshops for entrepreneurs. Take advantage of these free resources as you continue your education.
Plan to Make Money
There are things you need to do for your business to be profitable, and one of the biggest hurdles you will face is discoverability. How do people find you? This is a part of your plan to make money.
Have A Marketing Plan: This includes how you will use paid and unpaid ads, social media, and other means to let people know who you are and what you do.
Develop a Killer LinkedIn Profile: Facebook is great for interacting with friends and family, but it is not the best place to network professionally. More professionals are on LinkedIn, and companies are looking for employees and freelancers there. This is an appropriate place to sell yourself, and is a perfect opportunity to do so.
Develop a Great Website: Your website should be a reflection of who you are and what you do. Your website should also showcase your skills, have a place where people can both contact and hire you, and contain informative content for your future clients.
Remember, being a freelancer is a business. You need to have a place to work, educate yourself, and have a plan to make money. If you do all of these things, you stand a good chance of success.