Setting an Office Up for Freelance Work

Freelance work is becoming the new “in thing.” You work from home and can set your own hours. This is all well and good, but when you work from home, you want to be sure that you have the area in order to work effectively. This means you might want to set up an office. There are some things that you should have to make your work easier and they should be in your office.

In this post, I’ll list some essential tools that all freelancers need and describe how you can arrange your office for maximum productivity.


Basic Needs for Your Freelancing Business

The first thing that you should have is a computer and a good comfortable office chair with a chair mat to protect your floors. It’s always nice to have a laptop for times when you go on business, you can take it with you. With this, you should have an email address and if you can swing it, you should have a website to promote you and your business.

You are going to want a good place in your home to work in. A place that is not in a highly trafficked area in your house is ideal so that you do not get too many distractions during your work time. A spare room in your house is perfect for the job if you happen to have such a thing. Being able to close the door and have the room out of the way is a perfect way to detach your work area from the rest of the house. Working from home can sometimes make you feel like you are always working so closing the office off during non-work times is an excellent way to keep the line between work and home.

Additional Tools You May Find Useful

Another thing that is useful is a fax machine. This is nice to have as you create contracts and orders. This way, you have a hard copy that you can have on file, which will come in handy for when you have to prove something for taxes or other issues that may arise during your work. These days, you can even opt for a three in one option that will include a fax machine, printer and a copier all in one device. These are relatively inexpensive and makes for excellent use of space since one thing does all.

It’s wise to have a phone with an answering machine. This line should be separate from the phone you use for your home so then you aren’t worried about the kids erasing the phone call from that one client or so forth. You should have this in the office as well. Alternatively, you could use a cell phone for your office number with voicemail enabled. This way, you can always have the phone with you and you will never miss any important calls that may come up while you are out doing other things. And, if you start to feel like you are getting to many calls during your off work time, you can let it go to voicemail and get back to them as soon as you are in work mode.

Organizing Your Business Documents and Your Time

It’s a good idea to have a file folder or an envelope that you can keep receipts in as well. As a freelancer, you are self-employed and you need to be able to keep good records of all your earnings as well as expenses. While you are self-employed you can write things such as your stationary, your envelopes, and your stamps off your taxes. You need a place that you can put all these receipts and keep them well organized. It is not a fun task to wait until the end of the year only to find that you have a huge pile of receipts and earnings that you have to shuffle through.

The other thing that you want to do is make sure that you have sticky notes. You might laugh, but these will really come in handy. You will be jotting down notes and things like that to remind you of what you need to do and when you need to do it. I believe that the sticky note is one of the best inventions in the office supply realm and they have saved me from forgetting a lot of things over the years!

The last thing that you should have is a calendar. The reason for this is because of the fact that you are on deadlines. Therefore, to make sure that you don’t overbook yourself use one of these. There are many who do this and if they could keep track of the date, they could have saved themselves the hassle.

What About You?

These are the things that you can do to help you get where you need to be. This will help you to organize yourself and to be ready to do business. Now, it’s time to get clients so that you can get down to business and working from home.

What tools do you use in your freelancing business? Share your answers in the comments.

Image by Extra Ketchup

Comments

  1. says

    Another thing that I find extreme helpful is a dry ink white board. I can write down outstanding tasks, notes, memos so that I can keep track of my essentials without having loose papers floating around my desk. They are relatively cheap and can be purchase in Staples, Sams Club or practically any large stationary store.

    Go ahead give it a try, you wont be sorry..!

  2. says

    Having a visible calendar is important for me. I like having the ones on my computer and phone but physically writing appointments or tasks down on a paper calendar seems to help me remember them better.

  3. says

    The Fax should be a thing of the past for a freelancer. Instead, a printer, scanner and e-amail is all you need. For contracts electronic signatures work even better.

  4. says

    Major major requirement….

    1. Minifridge (dont spend over $80) just big enough for Mt Dew & coffee creamer
    2. Keurig 1 shot coffee maker (no mess)
    3. Lots of those 1shot coffee things, creamer (in your mini fridge)
    4. Computers & stuff

    hah

  5. says

    Having a nice office as a freelancer is very important. I know I spend most of the time in my office at home than any other room. It has to be somewhere that is comfortable yet professional. The more windows you have, the better. It’s hard to get creative when you are looking at 4 white walls around you. Some other things that are great to have are:

    - Multiple monitors, you can do so much more with them, your productivity will skyrocket.
    - Wireless headset for your phone – I like walking around a little bit when I talk to people, it tends to get the energy up and you can be more animated too. Even though they can’t see you, it will come through in your voice. It will also help your neck since you won’t be bent over all the time.
    - All in one color printer/scanner/copier/fax, this saves on desk/office space and can be pretty economical if you choose the right one. If you don’t want to use the fax you can signup for something like efax.
    - A couple of fun things. It doesn’t need to be all business. I have a dart board and a medium sized saltwater fish tank in my office. It’s nice to take a 2-3 minute break and focus on those for a bit to clear your head.

    @Paul – A whiteboard is a great idea, I’ve been thinking of getting one for a while. I will have to pick one up soon. So many things you can do with it.

  6. says

    If you want to forgo the extra cost of an additional line, there’s always Google Voice. The added benefit is that you can have it route to your home phone or even cell (portability wins out in my book).

    @Paul- I agree– the dry-erase board is indeed an excellent idea, although it’s even better when it’s magnetized too.

  7. Hilary says

    Skip the fax machine and opt for an online service for receiving and sending faxes via e-mail.

    This doesn’t mean you can’t have a paper copy if you want but you don’t get stuck with wasted paper and ink on spam faxes and you don’t have to have a land line if you don’t want to. It’s also more portable.

    I still have enough clients who are afraid of technology so asking them for an e-signature would probably make them panic.

    I currently use Kall8 for my incoming faxes because I already had my 800 number with them. And I use GreenFax for outgoing because I don’t sent that many outgoing and it’s the cheapest for the occasional outgoing fax. Depending on your faxing quantity you may be better off with different services than I chose.

    A couple of resources to find and compare prices:
    http://www.faxprices.com/
    http://www.faxcompare.com/

    I think there may be some add-on services for fax via skype too.

    I technically have a desk area but I prefer portability. Other than printing and scanning I can work anywhere from what I keep in my laptop bag and purse. I seem more focused on my work when I’m not at home but that’s not the case for everyone.

  8. says

    I’ve painted my working room with a pale yellow color just like the one you can find in the some book sheets.I find that color very helpful in self-concentration.I’ve also put my desk next to my window so I can have natural light and watch the view.Very relaxing and inspiring sometimes! :)

  9. says

    I find my lighting setup is very important to my workflow – multiple lighting setups from full blown lighting when sketching out ideas to mood/ambient lighting when doing late night perusing. I like multiple low watt desk laps that i can turn on and off in combination to achieve the mood.

  10. says

    This really gave me the kick in the butt I need. I do most of my freelance design and writing work in bed – literally. Very disorganized and not very productive. Thanks for the great tips! Aside from my general chaos, there is one thing I can’t live without as a freelancer – my hardcore dayplanner. That thing is my bible and I would be lost without it.

  11. says

    Great post Corey! Other office requirements for me include a trash can to de-clutter, my organizer/planner to write down important data in, my mobile phone (w/ email installed) in case I need to get out of the office, and enough light. I have bad eye sight so good lighting is important to me if I want to keep my concentration intact.

  12. says

    A better chair and a white board. That’s what I need for now. The rest is ok as my office is very minimalist: a desk, a (not-so comfortable) chair, a laptop, pen and moleskines.
    Thanks fot these tips.

  13. says

    Great article. Good read.

    I agree tho, having a fax right now could be the first thing I would remove from that list, there are digital options now.

    I don’t currently have a printer or copier… i plan to get one shortly tho. :D

  14. says

    I think that freelancers have a hard time defining that thin line between work and play so I make sure I get myself a good alarm clock to ring on the hours when I have to stop working and live my life, and vice versa. I put my mobile phone on alarm too, as well as use an online tool that will help keep me track the hours I’ve spent in the PC so far. You know, with Facebook, it can be a single link that lead to many places which can consume almost two hours without you knowing it. It helps to manage yourself and your time.

  15. says

    Hi! This is such a great article! I also have my own home office setup at home. I got it setup with a black and white theme. My desk and walls are white. My computer,laptop and other accessories are black.

    I am Diana Mathew, an Australian Entrepreneur, ebook author (The Money Tree by Diana Mathew) and a Saving Money guru.
    If you have time, maybe you can visit me too:www.money-savings-experts.com

  16. says

    Very helpful thread. I have just started my freelance business. By creating such working environment will help to treat online business professionally.

    I think area of office is also very important.The source of potential distraction is definitely one of the biggest factors that could influence our work. Office space should be away from all the distractions.

  17. says

    @Hilary – I love using an online service for receiving and sending faxes via e-mail. One less piece of equipment taking up office space.

    We found that we were not using our dining room for any dining so we converted it into an office space big enough for 2 of us and all of our computer equipment. We found great inexpensive desks at Staples and Costco and then added comfortable chairs and some nice calming decorations.

  18. says

    Great idea @Adam Bluhm.. Soon I should have three cute picture frames in my room. One for a family picture, one for my little daughter’s solo and the other one would be a country’s tourist spot (which I should changing every now and then).

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