The importance of good equipment

The importance of good equipment

The biggest resource when it comes to freelancing, and indeed life, is time. Time is money is a cliche that we throw around a lot, but it's absolutely true, and in the context of freelancing, time is what freelancers tend to charge for in one way or another (be it by project or by the hour), and so it is really important to have equipment that can support your needs and not to hinder your performance or to slow you down.

The central piece for most freelancers is a laptop computer. The computer was invented to make things easier for humans, although sometimes, ironically, they make matters a lot worse. When you are charging somebody for your time, you can't charge them for the time that your laptop had frozen, shut you out of your browser, decided to spontaneously reset and then taken half an hour to turn back on again - your employers will expect you to have all the sufficient equipment within reason to complete your work with continuous flow. If your computer is showing some signs of age, it might be worth taking it in for a maintenance check up or to consider a replacement, because, god forbid, if you put this off too long it could completely break one day during a vital assignment with a tight deadline. Keep your software updated and keep your computer healthy for maximum efficiency resulting in maximum productivity output.

Much like having a working laptop, having a working internet connection is also absolutely vital for most freelance work. You can teach yourself to type without error at impossible speeds, but if your connection is slow, you will forever be waiting for your browser to load pages which, with today's technology, should be instant. This is particularly important for work that pays by the project as the more projects you can complete in an amount of time, the higher your income, and you will only be able to flit quickly between pages if your internet can keep up with you. You can check your connection quality and speeds using several applications or web based programmes. This can be difficult for those who wish to work remotely so that they can travel, because while many coffee shops and public establishments have free wifi, sometimes it is restricted by data use and slow, and can end up slowing down your work flow. If this is the case, it might be worth investing in a portable wireless router which operates from a sim card to ensure that you always have a trustworthy connection while you are in reception, although these can be expensive.

Software is just as equally as important as hardware. If your work is written, this is not so much a problem as most companies will usually request or accept documents written in Microsoft word, which is available on most operating platforms, but also most word processing applications will allow you to convert to a Microsoft document format, however for more specialised work which uses applications such as photo editing software or music editing software, there are often industry standard programmes such as Adobe Photoshop, which employers will expect you to be up to speed with, and while there are other applications which are perfectly capable of producing similar or even better results, you can't skim over the essentials that most employers will look for. While they don't always have to be your default editing programmes, it helps to be familiar with them as sometimes employers may specifically ask you.

Having the right equipment is an investment, as often it will set you back before you have even begun your work, but, over time, if it allows you to work quicker, more efficiently and more professionally, it should pay for itself and start to see a profit over making do with the basic tools that almost every modern person possesses. As well as saving you money, it can potentially save you a lot of patience, as technical problems are often very frustrating and stressful, particularly when deadlines are looming. Do yourself a favour and treat yourself to a nice laptop and some nice software, your wallet and your sanity will thank you later.

Self Promotion

Self Promotion

When you work as a freelancer, you effectively create a brand for yourself, and as you become more and more established you should, in theory, be able to decrease your efforts in finding work as potential clients may be searching for you and requesting your services without you having to approach them. It is a good idea to have a strong online presence and a programme of promotion so that you can advertise your services and so potential clients can see your work and find your contact details online.

One form of self promotion is your work itself; if you do a good job for your client they are likely to recommend your services to friends and other businesses within their professional circles. If your physical presence is required in the work, or if you meet with your clients, or indeed if you post any material to them, it may be a good idea to send or to take a few business cards with you that they would be able to pass on to other contacts. If you don't meet with your client, make sure your clients have all your contact details, and perhaps provide a link at the bottom of your email signature that leads to a contact page or to an email reply as this will ensure that anybody can easily find a way to speak to you about potential work.

As well as word of mouth, there are other ways you can promote yourself. Before you start an advertising campaign, consider your target audience. Also consider just how remote your work is, as if you are working, for example, as a freelance photographer, you probably do not want to send your advertising too far away from your point zero as you will also have to travel that distance to successfully complete your work. If your work is quite restricted to a small distance, creating posters that you can display in cafes and on noticeboards is quite an effective method. Printed media doesn't tend to stray too far from your base, and gives potential clients something physical they can hold and keep.

If your work is completely remote, you can look more into using the internet as your main advertising space. For designers and visual freelancers, using a visual platform is a fantastic way to connect with potential clients as you can let your visual speak more than your words can. Having a bright and attractive Instagram page with links to your contact details is a good idea, and you can even pay for advertising through the platform so that examples of your work shows to any number of people scrolling through their picture feed. This can be personalised so that you can target a specific audience, minimising your spending and maximising the advertising effect.

You can also set up a Facebook business page to promote your work. This is a good way to connect with potential clients through mutual contacts who can show your page to their friends and contacts with ease through their smartphone or laptop. It also allows you to use words and writing more effectively than Instagram will as it is a mixed platform, and also has a larger space for you to provide contact details. From Facebook, you can also target specific audiences through paid advertising.

LinkedIn is a much more professional platform which allows clients to seek out freelancers and to create professional circles. For anybody taking their freelance work seriously, it is a good idea to have a strong LinkedIn profile and to check it regularly. Here you can also provide details on the kind of work you are looking for, references from previous clients and employers, and links to your portfolio.

It is important to have a strong portfolio somewhere online that you can send to your potential clients which you can also link to from your social networks. This is perhaps your strongest advertising tool as it shows your best examples and provides clients with a snapshot of the style and quality of the work they can expect to receive from you. Make sure your portfolio is clean, polished, and easy to navigate and is reflective of your best work and your preferred style.