I hear that lot when people find out I have a home business. Working as a freelance writer/ghostwriter is pretty amazing. But that’s mostly because I love what I do so much that sometimes I can’t believe I get paid to do it.
Yet just like with any other job, there are things that are great about it and a bunch of things that aren’t so great. For me the pluses outweigh the negatives without a doubt. That has a lot to do with the tools I rely on each day to make things flow smoothly.
Must-have tools vary according to what your home business requires you to do but there are some things that everyone needs. We all need hardware, software and Wi-Fi. And there are online services and apps to make everybody’s job easier. You have to figure out what you need through trial and error – and asking other people what they use.
Speaking of other people, let’s get back to the misconceptions about working from home. The same ones tend to pop up a lot when I get into conversations with people about work. In fact sometimes I pause before answering the “What do you do?” question because I know what’s coming next.
1. You must love being so flexible.
In some ways my schedule is very flexible. Give me my laptop and an Internet connection and I can usually work anywhere. But there are only so many hours in the day to finish work projects and time management is a skill that requires practice. It’s very easy to overbook yourself with things that have nothing to do with work.
Sure I fit in the Girl Scout cookie booth, volunteer in my kids’ classrooms and manage to meet friends for lunch every so often. But my work still needs to get done. I have pulled more than a few all-nighters to finish a project after other stuff got in the way. And I routinely work weekends. You need to set a schedule and stick to it if you don’t want to play catch-up. Time tracker software helps too.
2. I bet you spend a fortune on supplies.
I don’t have the opportunity to stick pens and Post-Its in my bag like some office workers. You don’t realize how expensive office supplies are until you buy them all yourself. But overall you don’t need a lot of expensive equipment and services to work at home. A reliable laptop is essential. Microsoft Office is a smart investment. You can try it out for free before having to pay for it. It will quickly become clear how much you need it.
I use MalwareBytes to protect my computer and that doesn’t cost anything. Google Drive is another free service that I love. I can’t tell you how many times I thought I saved a document only to lose it when my laptop shut down out of the blue. It’s a good feeling to know you can access your documents on the cloud wherever you are. And your document automatically saves your changes. Many of my clients work with Drive because it’s so easy to share documents.
Another investment I recommend is a cheap phone and landline. Don’t get me wrong, my iPhone is amazing. But when it comes to a good connection you can’t beat the real thing. It’s just too embarrassing to have to keep repeating yourself because the person on the other end only hears every three words. Don’t get me started on dropped calls while talking to a client.
3. You don’t have to buy work clothes.
Sure, you get to work in your pajamas sometimes. But I spend a lot of time on Skype with clients. The last thing you should do is show up for an online meeting in sleepwear. I was reading a MegaMeeting review about video conferencing and suddenly had this image of the reaction I would get if clients could see me in my ponytail and sweats. Luckily on Skype you can chat without video too.
4. You can be there whenever your kids need you.
I wish it was that easy to juggle both work and being a mommy. If you are going to be home working when your kids are out of school I suggest a dedicated office and a good babysitter. That way when you are out of the home office your kids know it is their time. Otherwise you feel like you aren’t giving enough of yourself to anybody.
Is it frustrating when people don’t quite get what I do? Sometimes. But I wouldn’t trade my job for any other. I love waking up knowing that I will be doing what makes me happy – from the time I wake up until the time I tuck my kids in at night.
Freelance writer Jennifer Koebele is a mom of three living in Charlotte, NC. She loves working from home so that she can be nearby her children. Jennifer enjoys dabbling in Internet marketing and writing about issues facing home business owners – such as never showing up to an online meeting in pajamas. She relies on sites such as Web Conference Classroom for information about the latest tools for freelancers.