When I began writing from home, I had a sluggish ten year old laptop and my tiny desk was shared with my less than organized husband, the conditions were not ideal. The funny part is, at the start, I didn't even realize what I needed to be more efficient. After taking some time to cultivate my perfect setup, my days and creative process now seem to go a bit smoother.
Where to Start
It can be hard to imagine all the items you might need to work from home if you've never done it before. While a separate space is key, it may not always be possible. However, if a full office space/room is not available, setting aside a relaxing and comfortable workspace can keep distractions down and create workflow ease.
Potential expenses for your first year are also quite difficult to imagine (especially if you're anything like me and unsure of what you might even need to start). Here's a general list to help give you an upfront idea of what you might need...
While my old laptop was technically in working condition, it wasn't very conducive to getting much done. Despite cleaning it up, it was painfully slow and many tasks took twice as long. Time is money, especially when you're paid to create content and expected to be on the computer for most of your workday.
Get a current & updated laptop or computer (with virus protection!)
The money spent on my new laptop was one of the best investments I could have made. Not only did my new toy inspire me to write more, but it's cool features help me get so much done in half the time. I personally work on a Surface Pro Laptop. The screen in big enough to read/view work, yet easily portable to make my office mobile. My other favorite features include the detachable screen (turns into a tablet - you're allowed to have a little fun too!) and the touchscreen capabilities, including being able to take on-screen notes. I find this feature particularly helpful when researching multiple sites for information to be included in an upcoming article.
While the keyboard on my laptop is great, typing all day requires a proper, full keyboard (unless you want your wrists to whimper by lunch every day). I use a Logitech K120. Do a little research and see what setup you might prefer - there are many different orientations of keys available. If possible, test drive it at the store before you buy. While there were other keyboards I had my eye on, this one's key placement works best for me and far reduces my rate of typos. Hey now, don't go digging through this article looking for typos... a tired nurse writer can easily defy the rules of any helpful keyboard. Bonus feature of the K120 keyboard - it's quiet and doesn't have that extra loud clackety-clack noise that could drive me to the brink of insanity.
Make your setup work for you and as ergonomic as possible - your body will thank you.
If working on a laptop, elevate it to eye level (lots of cool setups to choose from online... or a huge med surg book works well, too!)
Ensure your chair has great back support, elevate feet if space permits
Lower the keyboard so your shoulders don't ride up to your ears (yikes!), keeping a near 90-degree angle in elbows
Invest in proper lighting for your workspace (I see you squinting...)
I'm definitely an office supply nerd. It's quickly become one of my favorite things to shop for. Aside from the basics (pencils, steno pads, paper clips & post its - among my frequently used items), you may also need:
Separate office calendar to plot out due dates for work ahead
Small dry erase board (to keep track of potential pitch ideas, to-do list, or business goals)
Getting your hands on some pre-formatted templates can save you a ton of time. (You guessed it, I learned this one the hard way.) To find these formats, dig around online, in the Microsoft Office suite, or reach out to other helpful colleagues. Examples of some frequently used templates include:
Invoices, expense sheets, time tracking sheets, contracts, pitch formats, etc
Employee ID Number (EIN)
Obtain an EIN from the IRS
While the options of LLC, Inc. and other business structures exist - that's a whole topic for a whole other day. What I can tell you is obtaining an EIN is a great starting point for any new freelancer and the online process is actually quite easy. The benefit to having an EIN is it prevents your social security number from floating around on invoices and other forms exchanged between you and clients. The application form takes less than 10 minutes. The best part? It's free.
One of the benefits of working from home is being able to tailor your space to your needs... and likes! Include some fun stuff that will keep you happy & motivated. Here are a few examples of things I love to have/frequently use in my office:
"Focus & Patience" scented candle, made by Chesapeake Bay (Target.com)
Essential Oil Diffuser (Amazon.com)
*I like to use an energizing citrus scent when working
Music Application (Pandora.com)
Note cards of encouragement from friends
Surrounded by books (inspiration, humor, nursing research, etc)
What are your favorite things that make your work-from-home day a little easier or more enjoyable?
I started a wound consultation business from home and saw a few clients before giving it up. The biggest things that slowed me down was that it was a lot of work for the same amount of money as a an hourly job.
I learned a lot from building the website, like hidden fees. Wanna open an email account? Costs more than the website itself. Make sure before you commit to one that you know each cost of everything you'll need.
If I did it again, I would start more mom and pop.
I put a lot of effort in making my business look professional before starting, to give the right image. Ultimately though, it was through word of mouth and referrals that I got business. I don't believe to this day that the website was any help to anyone in my small town. I would make the website when business started coming in.
I would have probably not started my business, only because it is hard to break into a higher income bracket as a nurse consultant driving to peoples homes. You can only charge so much for that. So I suggest having a business plan that actually shows profit to be made for you, while affordable rates for the client.