You don’t need a lot of equipment to get started with freelancing. This is probably why more and more Pinoys are turning to their laptops to find new ways of making money right in their own homes.
I began my journey as a freelance writer equipped with the four must-haves I listed down below. And to sustain my freelancing career, I personally needed the things on the add-ons list. Check out the list and see if these are the same things you might need in the nature of the freelance career that you’re planning to pursue.
Here are my four freelancing must-haves:
1. WiFi Connection. When I started applying for freelance jobs back in early 2015, I relied on my Globe Tattoo postpaid mobile WiFi for connection. It was reliable enough – it allowed me to browse job openings, post application proposals, send emails and go on Skype calls for interviews and meetings.
Back then, I still kept an apartment I shared with friends in Quezon City. But because I no longer had a regular job (read about why I left my work in a TV network in this post), I had more time to come home to my parents’ house in Cavite and I stayed there more or less half of the week. With this arrangement, having a mobile WiFi was super convenient. It also came in handy as I enjoyed my newfound freedom and went on weekday beach trips, my laptop in tow digital nomad-stye.
However, as the list of my clients grew, I started to reach Globe’s data cap as early as the first week of the month. And so, I had to register for extra data everyday on top of my monthly bill.
In 2016, I settled down with my husband and gave up my nomadic (sort of) lifestyle. We got DSL in our new home and only then did I fully appreciate how convenient it was to have fast and reliable internet connection especially for a freelancer like me. Because of faster internet, I was able to finish tasks quicker cutting back time I allotted for work.
Your choice of WiFi connection relies on the nature of work you do and the type of freelancer lifestyle you want to live. If you’re always on the road or if you chose to go freelance to be able to travel more, having mobile WiFi is definitely beneficial (just be sure to have plan B if you find yourself in a remote beach without signal).
But if getting work done right away is a bigger priority so that you can spend more time with your family, DSL connection is the way to go. (For reference: my Globe mobile WiFi plan back then cost P1499 per month plus additional data charge, while our current PLDT DSL plan costs P1299 per month).
2. Laptop or desktop computer. This may not be a necessity for other types of online freelance work (I’ve seen posts on Facebook offering online jobs that only require smart phones… I’m not sure if they’re legit jobs though). But for a freelance writer like me, having a computer is essential.
The last time I owned a desktop was back in college. I don’t have a need for a high-capacity desktop computer as the type of the work I do mostly involves writing in Word and transfering the text to a Content Managment System (CMS). These tasks can be efficiently handled with a simple laptop.
According to readings online and some IT people I know, a laptop usually has a lifespan of four years – same lifespan as running shoes. That said, it’s important to take good care of your laptop so that its lifespan don’t get even shorter than expected.
The short lifespan is the reason why I choose not to invest in pricey laptops. As long as it can perform the tasks I need for my job, I’m happy with it. The current laptop I’m using is Acer Aspire E11. It’s three years old now and is starting to act out every now and then, so I’m expecting to buy a new one next year. (The last laptop I had before this was Acer Aspire One which lasted for six years – not bad for a gadget I overused for scripts and graduate school).
3. Earphones or headphones with mic. If you’ve applied for a remote job and your employer seriously considered you for the post, chances are, you’ll need to talk to the hiring officer via Skype or other video calling platforms for an interview. You’ll definitely need earphones or headphones with mic for this (for tips on video interviews and other steps in starting out a freelance career, read this post).
You can take the risk and go on a video call without earphones, but there’s a big chance you wouldn’t hear your prospective employer clearly – especially if he or she has an accent that’s already difficult to understand. It may be forgivable to ask the interviewer to repeat the question once or twice, but more than that may just be too much. You wouldn’t want to come off as a person who couldn’t comprehend simple statements.
For those considering freelance jobs as English language tutors, having good-quality headphones is a requirement. I only go on video calls for occasional meetings maybe once every two months (my clients and I usually communicate through email), so the Samsung earphones that came with my cellphone works fine for me.
4. Smartphone. You might be wondering why you’d be needing a smartphone when you already have a laptop or a desktop. Simple: think of it as your emergency escape plan. Just like working in a physical workplace, there could be emergencies – your laptop could go caput, your internet connection could fluctuate.
A smart phone with mobile data will come in handy to immediately inform your client about your situation. Remember, credibility is everyting when it comes to online jobs and going MIA on your client is a definite no-no. Better come clean right away and tell your client that you can’t work, rather than leave the client hanging until you appear back online.
Apart from the essentials, there are add-ons that you would need as you go along your freelancing journey. Here are some of the things I found very useful once I had actual clients:
1. Calendar/organizer. Having a calendar or organizer may not seem important when you’re still setting up your freelancing career, but once clients come flying in, you’ll definitely need a board to organize your work schedule.
During my first months as a freelance writer, I got too excited and accepted multiple clients. I worked for four employers – a SEO article business based in Bangladesh, a SEO article business based in India, an internet marketing company in San Diego, and a kitchenware business in Oregon. In short, I had four different clients who expected four different sets of requirements from me.
Above is a photo of a weekly calendar that I’ve kept from that time. Notice that Sunday was the only day I had to myself (I spent it with my family in Tagaytay, so it was covered in hearts). The rest of the week, my calendar was loaded with “6 articles for client A” and “3rd PR (press release) for client B” or “send invoice to client C.”
In a regular job, you could have multiple bosses but you’re all still under one company. So most likely, you’d just have to tell your superiors about a work load conflict and they could sort things out for you.
But as a freelancer, you manage and juggle your own work schedule. Your clients don’t know one another and don’t care whether you have other commitments. The only thing they care about is that you deliver tasks as agreed upon. Being organized is very important.
2. Work space. Once you have clients, it is imperative for you to have a regular work station where you can focus and concentrate on your daily tasks. It may be something as simple as a chair and table at the corner of your kitchen, or something as grand as a studio allotted for a home office.
The important thing is, you must be able to sit comfortably in your work station for hours while working on your projects (for tips on how to improve your work space for productivity, read this post).
So there you have it! The must-haves you need to set up, and the add-ons you need to maintain a freelance career.
For current freelancers, what were the things that you found essential in your nature of work back when you were still setting up your career? Tell us on the comment section below!