Ensure you have an automatic backup installed on the system to retrieve all your files. Once you do this, you can rest easy as you will never have to worry about losing data again.
While freelancing is a lucrative method of self-employment, it also entails the requirement of certain office essentials. For example, you need to have a time tracking software if you charge your clients on an hourly basis. Also, you will need a fixed method to charge your clients. You will need access to industry websites, podcasts, forums, and blogs to keep abreast with the latest trends. If you can, try to have a wireless Internet connection as it will allow you to take your laptop to any comfortable corner of your house for working. There should be ample ventilation and lighting in the area where you plan to set up your workstation. If you can, install a climate control system as it will be very helpful. If a client wants to come and meet you at your place, you need a clean office setup in one of your rooms. Similarly, there are many other requirements which a freelancer should be aware of before starting his business. Here is a list of essential items every freelancer needs in office.
Computer and Printer
Whether you are working as a graphic designer, code developer, website developer, or writer, you really cannot do without a good computer or laptop. You will need a computer that will support the various software required for your work. For example, it is better that you opt for a Mac if you are working as a graphic designer as it will come with a better graphics card. Do some online research and you may even get a good secondhand computer/laptop. However, ensure that you will not spend too much in repairs and refurbishment. You will also need a printer along with print cartridges; hence, ensure you invest in a good one.
Where to Look For
If you are a freelance writer, you will require a document composer like Word or OpenOffice. Also, writers will need special spell check, as well as grammar and plagiarism check programs. If you are a graphic designer or an independent film editor, you will require a wide range of Adobe software. So, you will have to be equipped with them. If you are working as a freelance digital marketing expert, you will require software that can track the digital marketing trends and analytics. Depending on your profession, you will have to get the necessary software.
A good speed Internet is a must for any freelancer. Whether it is research, promotion, or communication, Internet helps a freelancer in more ways than one. Hence, it becomes essential that you get an Internet that has excellent connectivity and speed. Just imagine, as a freelance writer, you have to submit a technical article within the next few hours but your Internet fails you. This will affect your credibility. Also, you may miss out on important emails from prospective and existing clients.
Where to Look For
Whether you are a freelance graphic designer or a writer, it becomes crucial for you to promote your work to your target market. Getting a professionally designed website is ideal for you as it will showcase the samples of your work, your capabilities, customer testimonials, rate card, awards if any, etc. Get a website that has Search Engine Optimization (SEO) so that it will get reflected in search results. A website will require some initial investment; if you want to skip that, you can always go for a blog. However, a blog may not have the same powerful impact as a website.
When a very important client asks you to trace back a speech you wrote for him 3 years ago, you can't tell him you don't maintain your old files. You are bound to rub him the wrong way by giving such answers. Whether it is filing all the papers or storing them in an e-folder, you must maintain a record. All the important documents including the quotations, purchase orders, invoices, customer input, changes suggested, edited copies, etc., must be stored in a proper file system. You may never know when and how you will need it.
Writing Pad/Note Pad
A computer can never really replace the need for a writing pad. Suppose you get a call from your client and your computer is not switched on, then at such a time, a paper writing pad will come in handy to jot down the instructions of the client. Not only that, but it will also help in arranging your thoughts or sketching your design before actually translating it on the computer. This will save a lot of your precious time and efforts.
Monotony of freelancing work can make you feel bored and dull. As you will work all alone, it tends to get a bit boring. One of the ways to spice up your workstation is to put up a memo board and stick interesting notes to self, fun quotes, targets, important points to remember, etc., on it. Use bright-colored and different shapes of post-its to add color to your workstation. You will be surprised how these small changes will pep you up.
There are many times when you need to show your work to a client during a meeting. At such times, if you do not find a wireless Internet source or a connection, you may find it difficult to download the work from your emails. Hence, it is always suggested that you carry a flash drive of the work you have done. Also, it will come in handy if the client gives you some heavy reference files which cannot be emailed. For this, you will have to carry a flash drive with high storage capacity or an external hard drive.
You will need to maintain a ledger for keeping a record of all the advance, payments received, payment due dates, invoice dates, etc. You can maintain an electronic as well as book-based ledger. Having a book-based ledger is advisable as it will be useful and not get deleted if the system crashes.
Clean working space
Dedicated phone line
Project management tool
A comfortable chair and desk
Apart from the ones mentioned above, you must also get regular office supplies, like stapler, pins, post-its, pencils, pens, erasers, markers, etc. Sometimes, some DIY articles cannot do without images (needed for a better understanding of the reader). At such times, it is recommended that you keep a digital camera in your office for taking quick snaps for your article. Above all, you need one thing that is crucial for the success of your venture and that is self-motivation.