Any freelance writer starting out these days could be forgiven for thinking all that’s required is a laptop with Internet access, and a telephone. But there’s more to think of; hidden extras which will be needed somewhere along the line if a serious attempt is to be made.
Here’s a list of the most important things every freelance writer should consider when first starting out.
This is perhaps so obvious, that some might say it ranks as extreme stupidity to even mention it. However, you will definitely, without question, need a word processor of some description.
Fiction writers can get away with a dedicated word processor to work on, but if you are serious about making your way in the freelance writing business, you really need a PC or laptop that can connect to the Internet. So much business is done over the Internet these days, that not only is it the future, the future’s been here for a while.
You’ll need Internet access for several reasons:
- Research: the first port of call for many freelancers when undertaking research is the Internet – but it shouldn’t be the only one. A good freelancer will use the Internet as a foundation to build on, before talking to people, visiting libraries, and cross-checking with sources.
- Email: call it a curse, call it the greatest innovation in communication since two cups and a piece of string, email is here to stay. You’ll need it for applying for jobs, sending queries, receiving queries, sending in submissions – in fact, just about everything.
- Staying current: being able to read newspapers, magazines, journals, industry reports, articles, forums, or just to see what your peers are doing, can all be done over the Internet.
- Advertise: whether through blogs, websites, or portals, your services can be advertised effectively over the Internet, but only if you can access it and respond quickly.
- Restock: being able to order supplies for your home business over the Internet can save you time, money, and a lot of hassle.
Should you have one? Why do you need one? Will it do any good? To answer all of these questions think about it this way: if you don’t have one, will you be able to compete successfully with everyone else who does?
A website is relatively inexpensive to set up and maintain, and although they may seem a distraction when first setting out, having a website speaks volumes for the level of seriousness a writer has of himself. It is also a great tool for supporting your pitches, and allowing your clients, potential or otherwise, to get to know you.
Despite what I said earlier concerning email and the future of electronic communication, there will always be a place in the world for paper. Some writers use their printer for printing work to proofread, but the main use as a freelance writer is for business correspondence, and invoices.
If you have a modern PC or laptop, but have a small working environment, it might be a good investment to go for a wireless printer so you can hide it away, and then access it only when you need to.
Having a regular place to work has been known to increase productivity and allow for better creativity. It needn’t be a dedicated office with desk and chair, or kitted out with all the latest mod-cons, it could be the corner of a living room, at the end of the bed, or on the kitchen table.
Wherever you choose, it should be comfortable and conducive to producing quality work. As you move forward with your career, you will likely find that an office becomes more desirable. Finding a suitable area with more professional amenities will become more important as you grow.
Telephone and Fax
Most freelance writers have a telephone. It’s kind of assumed. Some use their home phone, some have a dedicated line installed into a home office, others use their mobile, and a few have branched out with Internet technology such as Skype.
Fax, however, is often neglected as being old fashioned and therefore not required. Not so. It’s a good idea to have a fax connection because many businesses still rely heavily on it to do business. The beauty is that you don’t need a bulky machine sitting near you to receive faxes any longer, as a simple piece of software and an Internet connection is all you need.
Invaluable for backing up everything concerned with the running of your home-based freelance writing business. This can include everything from PC data and applications, to article ideas and company accounts. You might even use it for listening to a CD when you need to relax.
PC Maintenance Software
Keeping your PC hardware, software, and peripherals in fighting shape is vital to prevent your PC falling foul to outside interference, and to make sure it is working as quickly and reliably as it possibly can.
By using anti-virus tools, malware and adware removal products, disk cleaners and defragmenters, and a good firewall product, you can keep your PC running smoothly and safely so you can worry less about it, and more about your next deadline.
At some point along the line you’re going to need a method of tracking your expenses, income, and dreaded tax return. In the beginning, a spreadsheet might suffice, but eventually you’re going to have to think bigger and get yourself a dedicated accounts package.
It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or complicated, just enough to be able to record what’s going in, out, and when.
Finally, to be taken seriously, and to help you start “thinking” like a writer, some of the following might also be useful:
- Invoice template
- Business card
- Rate card
Notice: Due to popular request we have finally released our Freelance Writing Course. Come check it out if you want to get started freelance writing online.