Imagine an office where the coffee machine is right next to you, there are always snacks in the fridge, and you can wear whatever you want. That’s more than just a fantasy for millions of people in the information economy such as copywriters, journalists, and web developers who have made the move to working at home in the new gig economy. Here are some tips on how you can join them and start living the dream rather than just dreaming.
Set Up a Workspace
Once you’ve gotten the legal documents filed and your business plan worked out, you can move on to the fun stuff. Setting up a dedicated workspace is important if you intend to work from home. Your computer and its accessories are your new lifeblood, and you do not want to face a meltdown when approaching a deadline for your first client. Take a look at the system you have now and get ready to upgrade if necessary. An old laptop the entire household uses for gaming is not going to cut it, so you may have to invest in a new one that is dedicated to your new career. Check out the state of your cables and peripheries as well before you head to the shop.
Next up comes your chair. Since there’s a good chance you’ll be sitting down and tapping at the keyboard for the better part of the day, you’ll want something that’s ergonomic to avoid back and shoulder pain. The right one should support your posture while reducing pressure on your hips, factors that will increase your overall comfort and make work a lot easier.
Install an Accounting System
You want to be ready for your first client, who might show up sooner than you expect. This means having a system in place to manage your income and expenses; otherwise, you won’t know how much money you’re making, and you could end up in hot water come tax time. A simple Excel spreadsheet may suffice in the beginning but not once the business starts picking up.
According to the Freelancers Union, a website devoted to the gig economy, the right cloud-based software will not only minimize the amount of time you spend on accounting but improve your financial decision-making. They propose a variety of solutions, including one that’s free and others for as little as $9 a month.
Stick to a Schedule
Time management could be the difference between success and failure, as hours spent gazing at cat memes can be costly and cut into your bottom line. That’s why experienced freelancers agree: Make a schedule and stick to it. This includes rather mundane things like getting up at a decent hour and getting showered, dressed, and ready for action. Too much freedom can be your worst enemy.
Next comes the actual work. It’s handy to make a checklist of the things you need to do each day, then set aside specific hours for each task. Remember not to make your schedule too tight. Trying to do too much in too little time is a real risk when you’re getting started, as the pressure is on to bring in the revenue. Be sure to include breaks and meals in your planning to avoid being run ragged.
Get Out and Network
Now that you’ve set up your home office and established a daily routine, it’s time to leave. Some of your most valuable work won’t be found online at your desk but by meeting with potential clients at networking events, so be sure to fit this into your schedule. You can start small by contacting other freelancers in your area and inviting them out for a cup of coffee.
For bigger occasions, make sure to be prepared. This means learning a little about other attendees, dressing appropriately, and having business cards at the ready. And remember, the contacts you make are only worthwhile if you follow up later with an email or a phone call. Your marketing and self-branding should continue unabated when you’re back at home in your comfy office chair.
Though success may not come immediately, you’ll hit your stride soon enough by staying motivated and sticking to your schedule. So get back to work and stop looking at those cat memes!
Image via Pixabay
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