One of the joys about freelancing is that you can work wherever and whenever you want. In fact, all you need is a laptop and a decent wifi connection. You might even be tempted to work straight from bed (not a good idea).
Although the freedom is there, you have to realize that freelancing is both a career and a business, which means it’s important to conduct yourself professionally. As such, your first order of business when starting out as a freelance graphic designer should be to create a conducive workspace, one that allows you to be as productive as possible.
HOME OR COMMERCIAL?
Your first decision should be whether to work from home or go commercial — either renting an office or sharing a co-working space. Both choices have their pros and cons, but productivity should be the main consideration. You also have to factor in cost, especially when you’re just starting out and don’t have much income.
If you’re easily distracted, then working from home might not be the best option. An alternative is renting an office, which usually comes with a desk, wifi and a few other amenities. It can be costly though, so make sure you have your finances in order before you commit to anything.
At the same time, having your own office can be a source of motivation. It means you’re serious about achieving success, and not just working to make ends meet.
Being a freelancer doesn’t mean you have to be isolated from the outside world. Consider joining a co-working space: a shared working environment that focuses on building relationships. It’s really about the community, as you draw inspiration and motivation from other like-minded individuals in the same space.
A co-working space is not only cheaper than an office rental, but also comes with different membership plans for you to choose from.
Although it might seem like a given, you always want to make sure that your office or co-working space has internet that is fast and stable. Also, choose a place that has 24-hour access, so you don’t have to worry about any time differences between you and your client.
Working from home is probably the most convenient and affordable choice. You can start work right after getting out off bed, and don’t have to waste time on commute. However, there are still changes you can make to the workspace that can make a big difference to your productivity.
Comfort is an important consideration, since you won’t be able to stay focused and motivated for long periods of time if you aren’t feeling comfortable. At the same time, you don’t want to be so comfortable that you fall asleep while working. It’s a fine balance, but you want your workspace to be comfortable enough to add to your productivity.
For a start, the space you choose should have enough room for you to move around freely. In addition, studies have shown that subjects who are exposed to natural lighting show improved concentration and lower stress levels; so having your workspace beside a window is ideal. Finally, make sure your workspace isn’t too hot or cold, so you don’t expend energy that can go towards concentration and inspiration.
As you will probably be working for long hours, having an ergonomic chair is vital for your productivity and health. When choosing your chair, look for one that’s not only adjustable, but is able to provide proper support for your back.
As a freelance graphic designer, you will often be communicating with clients, whether it’s by phone or on Skype. As such, you need a space that is free from distractions. You don’t want to have a meeting with a client, only to have kids and pets running around in the background.
Your workspace should be physically separate from your living space. If there isn’t much room, consider options such as a folding screen or room divider curtain. By having a dedicated workspace, you can condition your mind to go into ‘work mode’ every time you step foot into the area.
If you’re living with others, set clear rules and let others understand that you shouldn’t be disturbed when you’re in your workspace. You don’t want to be fully concentrated on your work, only to be interrupted at the worst possible moment.
Disorganization will lose you time — and time means money. Keeping your workspace clean and organized will help to improve your productivity. Start by designating spots for your frequently used items so you can quickly and easily locate them. As a freelancer, consider storage solutions such as a filing cabinet for all your contracts and invoices.
In addition, it’s a good idea to have a whiteboard close by so you can write down project timelines and organize your schedule. By improving your organizational skills, you will be able to increase your productivity as well.
Just because your workspace should look professional doesn’t mean you turn it into another office cubicle. You might want to hang motivational posters on the walls to inspire you; or have a few graphic design pieces around to get your creative juices flowing. In the end, it’s all about adding a personal flair to your workspace.
In fact, some people swear by scents for their workspaces, and not without good reason. Scents such as rosemary and peppermint can help to improve your concentration, relieve stress and invigorate your mind.
You shouldn’t overlook the importance to create a conducive workspace when starting out as a freelance graphic designer. By choosing the right space for your needs, you will be able to be as productive as possible right off the bat.