You might want to make the switch to freelancing entirely from home if you’re, for example, disabled like me, or you’re reclusive and prefer life behind the keyboard. Here’s how you can run your freelance writing business from home:
Choose the right jobs.
Some jobs (like travel writing) can’t do without travel: Skip those. Other times editors may make an exception if you explain your situation. Freelance career boards like Problogger and Writers’ Job Board are rich sources for jobs. Cold pitching magazines and blogs is another. Also consider working remotely as a copywriter or editor; look at classifieds like Gumtree, Indeed, Linked-In and Freelancer.
Avoid the mills and scams.
Many work from home writing jobs online are outright scams or content mills with terrible rates. Things like “make money now” and “2,000 words at $5 total” should set off alarm bells. Scammers like these are rife on sites like Freelancer and best avoided. Real work is found by pitching editors, visiting “write for us” pages, and building contacts.
Set your schedule.
Plan for work not to interfere with your home life, and the other way around. People will assume you have more free time, so make it clear to everyone when you will be working. It’s hard not to ‘take your work home ’, so know when to switch off, too. Plan your calendar with scheduling software like Thunderbird, EasyAppointments or OpenLava
Your house is your office.
Dedicate at least one room to work as your office. Minimally include filing cabinets, a bookshelf, desk, comfortable chair, and clear lighting. Think ergonomically; everything comfortably within reach. Decide if you will see clients or interviewees in your home and keep the office neat. Consider the background when you’re interviewing via webcam, including noise. A plain color wall-back with little audio disturbances like wind or electronic hum is ideal. (See Hope’s office background here.)
Business expenses change.
As a from-home freelancer, your business expenses change. Your rent (or mortgage) pays for your office, and you’ll spend less on items like travel expenses and client dinners but more on utilities and phone plans. Keep track, most importantly for your filing tax returns but also to maintain awareness of where your money is going so you can make informed choices.
Privacy and safety.
Be sure that people won’t show up at your house unannounced. Never share your address or images of your house and family online. Rent a post box for business correspondence. Stalkers can happen. Consider basic security like a panic button or set your laptop up as a security camera for little to no cost with iSpy or Rear View Mirror.
You can conduct most interviews remotely ((whether interviewing someone for a story or being interviewed yourself), via secure email like ProtonMail, phone, webcam or VoIP (like Skype, Appear.in or ooVoo). Ask your source which is best for them, and be flexible for the one who wants to interview you. Double-check technology with a test-run and buy a decent headset and speakers. Logitech, AKG and Sennheiser are good brands. Record and file interviews with permission using software like MP3 Skype Recorder, Automatic Call Recorder (for Android) or Audacity for PC.
Project management tools and cloud services instantly connect you and those you work with. You can upload documents, send messages and upload schedules across the board, and it’s great for keeping track of interviewees and co-workers.
Making the switch to a home base? It’s really not as hard as you might think: all it takes is a couple of changes to your routine, and then, of course, a “do not disturb” sign for the office.
BIO: Alex J. Coyne is a journalist, author and language practitioner who has written hundreds of feature articles for markets including People Magazine, Great Bridge Links and FundsforWriters. Like many authors, he is surrounded by cats. http://alexcoyneofficial.WordPress.com