Like any method for pursuing a profession, freelancing requires the right tools. You might be able to get by with a bad internet connection or a distracting workspace, but you’re not going to be as productive or as profitable as you would with better resources.
As more people are leaving the full-time workforce and striking out on their own, they’re quickly discovering what they need to succeed and what is holding them back. Everyone has his own style of working and her own needs, which means that what works for some won’t work for others. However, there are a few essentials that most freelancers swear by. Here are four items that you need in your arsenal if you’re going to succeed in the freelance game.
A Fast and Reliable Internet Connection
Internet access is a must for freelancers, especially if you’re on the go. Today’s clients are constantly sending emails, transferring files or payments, and asking questions through communication apps like Slack and Skype. If you miss a notification because of poor internet service, then you could end up missing deadlines and disappointing your clients.
Fortunately, there a few ways to ensure that you have a good internet connection through a reliable network. T-Mobile is known for having the fastest nationwide 4G LTE network, so it will be wherever your business needs it, while a smartphone like the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge easily connects to most Wi-Fi networks as well. Even if you do find yourself in a network dead zone, your S7 edge can still connect to a personal or public Wi-Fi hotspot so you can keep working.
A Comfortable Work Environment
Image via Flickr by thisbrokenwheel
The word “comfortable” here doesn’t necessarily mean an environment where you can curl up on a couch or overstuffed chair — where “work” quickly becomes “nap” — but rather an environment where you can tune out all distractions and focus on the task at hand. This might be a home office space with doors to keep out distracting family members, or a co-working space or even a coffee shop where you feel like you’re able to focus. Every freelancer needs at least one workspace like this, but should preferably have several if he or she needs to move around.
When you’re outside of an office, you need to be your own motivator. There’s no boss making you sit at your desk and stay focused. If you can’t find an environment that motivates you to work, you could end up going broke because you’re not hitting your production goals.
A Professional Business Card
It might seem frustrating to order 500 business cards in a world where most people have smartphones and almost everyone is on LinkedIn, but many people still rely on these little paper cards to share professional contact information. Few things can impede a potential client–creative partnership quite like telling someone you don’t have a business card. It makes freelancers look unprofessional and shows a lack of commitment to their profession.
Much of the time you will hand off your business card and it will be ignored, and that is okay. The goal of the paper card is to provide information about yourself while getting the other person’s card and information. You can then use this to reach out and pitch your services after your initial meeting. Besides, business cards are fairly affordable and can easily be tucked into your wallet or purse so that they’re always handy.
A Strategic Business Plan
Before you enter the freelance world, craft a business plan as if you were opening your own brick-and-mortar company. How much do you need to earn monthly to cover your basic expenses (include taxes, healthcare, retirement, and savings)? How do you plan to acquire new clients, and how will you ensure you produce a quality product or service? By drafting a business plan, you’ll be able to set goals and measure your performance to make sure you’re staying on track.
Freelancing isn’t for everyone, but if you’re able to set yourself up for success with the right tools, plan, and environment, then you have a high chance of success.