Today’s question comes from Marlene H., who asks “I haven’t decided whether I’m going to write copy full-time or part-time, but I know I need to set up some kind of a home office, right? What do I need? And will it be different if I’m full-time or part-time?”
Great question, Marlene! I’m going to assume that you mean you’re going to be writing copy as a freelancer and doing it from home (as opposed to being on staff or working as a contractor at a company). The great news is that, despite what many books will tell you, there’s actually not a lot you need in your home office and what you need for full-time or part-time are exactly the same.
Here’s a list of your copywriting home office essentials:
1. A computer
2. Internet access
3. A printer
4. A telephone
5. Some place quiet to write and take conference calls
And…that’s it. Seriously. You don’t need anything more than this. However, if you’re anything like me, you’re easily lured in by gadgets and gizmos at Staples or Home Depot. Just to quell the impulse to buy, buy, buy!
Here’s a list of things you will be tempted to purchase but really don’t need (and why):
1. A fax machine. You will be able to count the number of times you have to fax something over the next decade on a single hand. Kinko’s exists for a reason: Use theirs.
2. A scanner. See #1. You’ll probably need to scan something more often than fax it, but unless you’re buying a printer and getting a super good deal on a printer/scanner combo, you don’t need to buy one. Kinko’s is your new best friend.
3. A dedicated phone line. Unless your only phone line is a family line and the message is “Hi! You’ve reached the home of Bob and Judy and Junior and Spot, the dog! Arf! Leave us a message at the beep!” you don’t need a dedicated line. Your own cell phone will work just fine. Keep your message simple and non-specific (“Hi, you’ve reached Skipper and I’m not available right now. Please leave a message at the tone.”) and it will work just fine for both personal and professional contact.
4. A desk, desk chair, desk lamp, etc. As an avid consumer, I often foolishly fall prey to the idea that the right accessories will make create the right results. Be wiser than I am—you can work from the kitchen table on the same chair you’ve had for 20 years and still be a crazy-successful writer. The clothes may make the man, but the desk does not make the writer.
Keep it simple and then, if you really, really, want a new desk chair or a fancy file cabinet, reward yourself with some of the earnings from your copywriting work!
Okay, it’s your turn. What are your home office essentials? Or what did you buy for your home office that you wish you hadn’t? Let us know in the comments below!