Working from home is not perfect. As with everything in life, you have to take a lot of things into consideration before you make the decision. But, if you are reading this, it is likely that you have decided that the pros outweigh the cons. I agree.
If this is the case, take a look at this article to see what your next steps should be. And, if you are still not sure, you should take a look at these articles on the many advantages of working at home versus the potential drawbacks of working from home. However, once you’ve decided to go for it, what’s the next step?
First of all, you will need to plan your business. Don’t think that just because you won’t be a big multinational company, you don’t need a business plan. That said, if the thought of drawing up plans and making spreadsheets overwhelms you, don’t panic. Creating a business plan is not as difficult as you might think and will be extremely useful for helping you to better understand what your life and career will look like in the near future.
Because working from home requires you to be entirely self-sufficient and self-motivated, having some sort of business trajectory – not to mention a daily/weekly schedule – is a must. It doesn’t have to be a detailed breakdown of everything you want to achieve in life plugged into a complex spreadsheet. Instead, ask yourself what your long term goals are. Do you want to work as a full-time blogger? Self-publish eBooks? Quit your day job and work as an article or content writer? Or find the perfect balance between work and leisure?
Whatever your goal, break it down into smaller, more manageable goals and give yourself a timeline to make sure you’re accomplishing each goal in a timely fashion.
For example, your first goal may simply be to set up a profile on one or more of the many freelance work platforms out there. While that may seem like a small thing, you’d be surprised by how many people find taking that first step to be the most daunting. So go ahead, put it on your ‘to do’ list. Whatever your ultimate goal is, if you break it down into smaller tasks it will become a lot more manageable.
Once you’ve established yourself and landed a few writing contracts, you’ll need to stay focussed on the work itself. While this may sound easy, when you’re working from home there are countless distractions to keep you from getting down to business (as you’ll see in my SWOT analysis), especially if you find something interesting in your research. Because so much of your work will be researching topics on the internet, it’s easy to get lost in a rabbit hole of links – only to emerge hours later with nothing on your page to show for the time you spent reading. To keep this from happening, try using a timer app to keep track of the time you actually spend working. Having an alarm go off every 20 minutes or half an hour is a great way to remind yourself of what you’re supposed to be doing – as well as chance to get up and stretch a bit.
Likewise, it’s a good idea to find a quiet, distraction-free space, whether in your home, a library, or local café, where you can work without interruption. If you still need help concentrating, try turning off your phone or, if you don’t need it for research, disconnecting your wifi. While this may sound drastic, it removes the temptation of procrastination. Many freelancers find that having a specified space just for writing helps them to get down to work faster because their minds are trained to recognise that location as a “work only” space.
Because you’ll be working alone for the most part, it’s also important to remember to take care of yourself. Make time to stretch, go for a quick walk, or even just look at something further away that your computer screen in order to give your eyes a rest. It’s also a good idea to learn a few easy hand and wrist exercise to keep the tools of your trade at optimal operating capacity.
Moreover, when choosing your workspace, make sure you find somewhere comfortable. Nothing ruins your concentration more than a sore back or cramped legs.
Finally, don’t forget to make time for your friends and family. Freelancing can get lonely. If you miss office life, maybe try switching up your routine and spending a day every week in a co-working space or getting together with some fellow freelancers for a work date in a café – just make sure you’re actually getting work done! Working from home doesn’t have to turn you into a social outcast. Your best bet is to try a few different locations and figure out a routine that works for you and your workload. After all, the best part about working from home is that it’s all up to you. If something isn’t working, change it!
In the next few posts I will go over my SWOT analysis of working from home, in which you will receive tips on researching and understanding your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. If you aren’t familiar with the SWOT analysis, you can start by reading Wikipedia’s article about the SWOT analysis. Over the course of the next few days I will be publishing a post discussing each of the four aspects of this business planning tool in order to help you plan your strategy for working from home.
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Below you will find the four articles discussing my SWOT analysis of working from home. There is one article per category to help you decided what areas you need to pay the most attention to when starting your freelance business.
Here you can read about: