It is high time I finished my Freelance Writing Guide for New Freelance Writers and posted those last two missing components. Setting up your own freelance home based office is no different than any other office environment. However, there are a few things you should keep in mind. The following tips will help you to be better organized and ultimately more productive.
Before I go into details on the more intricate aspects of setting up your home office, let me tell you that the movable office type is a lot less productive than when you stay put in the one place.
Home Office Traps
I have trialed just about any place in my home but in the end, I work way better when I stay chained to my desk with all my necessary tools around me within easy reach.
While trying all sorts of location to work, I have found that the biggest issue was loss of concentration and that I was forever chasing my writing tools and my Moleskine. This almost always happened as I was just about to get comfortable. Whether I worked on the couch, the bed or sitting at the table on the veranda, I found that while it might be fun to do a stint of two hours in a different environment, ultimately I was not comfortable enough to work productive.
Some of you might feel more creative by moving around home frequently, provided you do own a laptop. In the end, your home office setup has to work for you.
Home Office Requirements
An effective home office mustn’t be hard to setup, but it is important if you want to work productive and relatively undisturbed. For those of you with toddlers it might be beneficial if you were able to work in a closed room, away from kiddie demands and annoying interruptions.
Having said this, I understand that this might not be easy to achieve. Either way, do whatever you can to work in hourly batches without being disturbed.
Desk: You will need a desk or table to work on. Preferably you want to own that desk, meaning nobody else will dump their stuff in your working environment. The more professional you act, the easier it will be to work in the flow.
Chair: I suggest your splurge on expenditure to buy the comfiest chair possible. Given the fact that you will be spending many hours parked on this chair, it makes sense, don’t you think?
Computer: Naturally, being a writer you will need a computer. Whether it is a desktop or a laptop is insignificant right now. What matters though is that you have all the right tools installed to make your life a little easier.
Computer speed also matters a lot since you will be able to work with multiple applications all at once without getting decelerated to a snail’s pace. Remember, for freelance writers, time is money.
Adequate lighting: As you will probably end up working late on most days, you should try to buy a good light for your office’s desk. Staring at a computer screen for hours on end is tiring enough. Protect your eyes where you can. Take regular breaks to ease eye strain.
Reference books: As a writer you will need to have a dictionary and some good books related to your craft. In my post “recommended reading” I did a showcase for some of my favorite books; some of them a must for writers in my humble opinion. Note, these are from Amazon and if you were to buy through my affiliate link, it would mean I will get paid a small commission. It’s your choice and I won’t be offended if you use your own link instead.
I do recommend you get The Writer’s Market 2009 book. I own the deluxe- and the normal version, which is probably one too many. The book is loaded with places to find potential work through the comprehensive writer’s market listings. Plus, you will find helpful tips and plenty of insider knowledge.
Broadband Internet: As a writer you don’t want to be stuck with a dial up connection. Especially if you work predominantly online. I couldn’t imagine running my business with a dial up Internet connection. I reckon if I did, I’d go mental. Buy the fastest connection you can afford. Mind you, this only helps, if your computer is up to date.
Email: I’ve come to the conclusion that having two email accounts is the way to go for freelance writers. Ideally, you will have your domain email, through which potential clients can contact you. Preferably this should be visible from your site to help you get connected.
The second email should be a Gmail based one that either contains your name, or something related to your business. Please don’t use a crappy Yahoo email with letters and numbers thrown in. These don’t do much for business credibility. The reason I say Gmail is twofold. For one, you can access your inbox from any Internet connection in the world and if you move from one Internet provider host to another, you won’t need to worry about losing your email account.
There is also a third bonus. From what I know, Gmail is actually working on getting it included in Gears which means you will be able to go offline. This is great, especially for when you travel because you will not have to pay excessive connection fees and save on the bottom line. I heard they would release this sometime this year, but that’s all I know at present.
Online and Offline filing system: It pays to be organized in your home office. Admittedly, I’m not always succeeding with this. Some days my desk looks really cluttered. I think you will understand that on those days I work very unfocused.
The ideal working environment for me is to have a clean desk with files neatly filed away where they belong. I use a combination of manila and file folders offline and folders on my computer, for email and on my backup drives to stay organized. I also use Google Docs to store my previous clients’ work. I believe it is safe enough. This allows me to keep the brunt of my files away from my computer’s hard drive.
Cleaner HD equals more processor speed which relates to faster tasking.
Home Office Mood Enhancers
I normally listen to relaxing music when I work and more upbeat tunes when I have to clean the house or feel like a spot of impromptu dancing. Relaxing music helps me to keep focused better while it nourishes my creativity.
If you are the snack food lover type of writer, then by all means keep those snacks handy. But watch that middle section of yours. Sitting down all day doesn’t go particularly well with sporting the sexiest body in the house, unless you factor in regular exercise.
To me, herbal tea is a staple and an absolute must. I drink at least 6 cups a day. Even though I love a good cup of coffee, I limit myself to one cup a day, which makes me a connoisseur of some kind. Plus having a Barista in house makes it all the while more enjoyable.
Drinking lots of water is another must if you want to keep your brain energized all day.
It might benefit you to surround yourself with nice things that make you happy while you work. It could be candles, photos, pebbles, shells, flowers, paintings or ornaments. Whatever gets you “in the mood” to be creative – use it to your advantage.
You can setup your home office within a day if you must. It is actually a lot of fun to create your very own home working space and before you know it, you will be the master of your own domain.