The opportunity for freelancers to make money in any number of fields is greater than it ever has been. Nearly anyone, with skills they already have, can make a living from home by freelancing. Rather than creating departments and hiring employees, hundreds of companies are using freelancers instead to get the work they need done completed.
However, being a freelancer is a huge lifestyle change for most people. You must work independently, be deadline conscious, self-disciplined, provide your own workspace and pay your own taxes. There are some tools that are essential for the job.
Here are 5 must-have tools for all freelancers:
1. A Place to Work
The first tool a freelancer needs is a place to work. Most often, freelancers work from home, although you can work from a coffee shop, a library, or nearly anywhere you have an internet connection. However, this is not always the best choice.
The reasons are simple. First, your mind will work better when it recognizes a certain spot as the place you work. Most often this means converting a spare bedroom or den into an office. Preferably, this office area should have a door, and preferably one that locks, so you can isolate yourself when necessary. This is also useful so you can “leave the office” when your work is done, and shut the door so you will not be tempted to go back in.
The second is that you can set up your office so that you are physically comfortable while you work, an important part of being productive (more on that in a moment). It also provides a barrier, so that those you live with will know when you are working and when you are not, helping you to avoid interruptions.
2. The Right Atmosphere
Even if what you are doing as a freelancer is creative, you do not have the opportunity to wait until your muse strikes to get to work. You need to work every day, sometimes more than you would like, to make a living. Making a living means meeting deadlines, interacting with clients, and more.
Therefore, the space you created above needs to also provide the right atmosphere for you to be the most productive. This can actually mean a number of tools, and one of the primary ones is music. There are a couple of options, and most freelancers have a combination of both.
Speakers: A high quality speaker can fill the room with sound, and something like the Apple Home Pod can also act as a virtual assistant, and control your Smart Home devices as well. There are other speakers like Sonos that truly adapt to the room they are in and provide great sound.
Headphones: There are those moments when a freelancer really needs to isolate from those around them, and headphones do this. Many freelancers are also audiophiles, and a good pair is really important. For corded headphones, they also often use a Chord Mojo digital audio converter and headphone amp to make the sound even better.
3. Comfort Measures
As stated above, a freelancer needs to be comfortable, and comfort measures are definite tools of the trade. This includes a desk that is the right height, or better yet an adjustable standing desk, a good chair, anti-fatigue mats for when you stand with a standing desk, and ergonomic keyboards and mice that help prevent carpal tunnel and other hand strains.
There are even stools and exercise ball chairs that help with posture and enable the freelancer to exercise as they sit and work. This is an important part of staying fit and healthy when doing sedentary work at home.
Comfort also includes the right lighting. The wrong lighting can really hurt your eyes and shorten the amount of time you can work in a day. Install programs like Flux to keep your monitor lighting right for the time of day, and use LED and other lighting that is easier on your eyes and enables you to work effectively.
4. The Right Technology
The freelancer also needs the right technology. This means that whatever your profession, you need a computer that is up to the task, a phone for staying in communication, and a printer just in case you need to print documents, scan something, or receive a fax.
The right computer should be one that you can grow into: one a little more advanced than what you need. The Apple MacBook Pro is often a great portable solution for many freelancers, but you may also want a desktop as well. If you have to run Windows based programs, a PC may be the best answer, or you may want to install Windows in parallel or Bootcamp on your Mac.
Depending on your income level, you may also want to look at computer leasing options. You will always have the best technology, and you can always right off payments on your taxes for the equipment you have purchased.
5. The Right Software
The final tool every freelancer needs is the right software. More than just the pieces that are unique to your freelance profession, like Word, Photoshop, or Logic X, you will need accounting and project management software.
You can use project management programs like Asana, or Basecamp and accounting software and apps like Quickbooks Self-Employed or Quicken.
Whatever your software needs, you will need to make sure you have the right tools to not only do your job, but to keep up with the business side of things as well.
Freelancers needs a lot of tools, and those tools are what helps them be successful. Start with this list, but don’t stop here. There will be things unique to your freelance profession that no one else can determine for you. Having the tools you need will be better for you and your clients in the long run.
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