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The few hours that you invest to create your workspace will pay off big as your freelance career progresses, because setting up well will improve behaviors that you do everyday. We'll start by revisiting questions asked earlier, specifically, where will you work and what do you need when you work? To get the answers, try thinking through what you expect a typical day to be like. Let's say that you think you'll spend about two hours everyday on email, one hour on other housekeeping, and five hours on client work.
The email part can be done anywhere, so all you need is a laptop, an Internet connection, and a comfortable place to sit. Now that's the easy part. Next comes the hour when you do other housekeeping. For that, you might need to file paperwork so perhaps it can only be done where your filing cabinet is. That means you'll need a space there, with a desk, light, and electricity and so on. Finally, there's the client work. If you're a graphic designer for instance, you'll probably want a big monitor and perhaps a graphics tablet.
If you're a caterer, then you'll need an entire kitchen full of equipment. Such items limit your mobility so you'll have to prepare that space appropriately. Of course, all three of these spaces could be in the same location such as your home and that's fine. But if your freelancing dream is like mine and includes working while you travel, then you need to set up for multiple locations or create a mobile workspace. Wherever you end up working, here are some amenities you'll probably need. First are the utilities.
These might seem obvious, but it's easy to forget that an inviting looking garage loft might get too cold for work when autumn comes. Tangential to utilities are environmental items. I'm also sensitive to sound so I want a place that's quiet enough to concentrate, but loud enough, so I can make a phone call without bothering anyone. Next comes office equipment. Skipping the small stuff--like paper, pens, tape, and staplers--here are the things that I think are essential. First, a filing cabinet along with plenty of folders.
People have talked about the paperless office for years, but I think you'll always need a place to put signed contracts, past portfolio work and the like. Similarly, you'll need a printer and a scanner so you can create and scan such documents. Next, a paper shredder. Finally, we have the usual office furniture: shelves, lighting, and a comfortable place to work. You'll be spending a lot of time in your workspace. Make it a place that you want to go. The last category is the equipment that you need to do the work.
This is where there's the biggest variety among freelancers. What you'll need is up to you and the requirements of what you do. Keep in mind that your business equipment partly determines who your clients will be. If you're a photographer, for example, you'll need a certain kind and quality of equipment to attract high end clients. For such decisions, you should do a cost-benefit analysis that bounces the cost of the equipment against the benefits you expect to get from it. If you can't afford to buy such equipment, consider renting it as needed until you can.
The cost worksheet you did earlier will help you figure out what you can afford. Lastly, as you get to know other freelancers, take a look at how they have their offices set up. Visit as many as you can, steal their workplace ideas, and try out plenty of your own. It'll take awhile for you to settle in, but eventually, you'll find your own workplace style. Starting out with the items in this video will get you on the right track.
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