Just as plumbers need their wrenches and accountants need their calculators, freelance writers also need their fair share of tools and resources. We don’t make use of as much specialized equipment, but we still need some basic necessities to operate our businesses effectively and efficiently. You’ll need a reliable computer, for example, as well as a decent supply of stationery. There is also the requirement for all sorts of virtual goods that may not take up any physical space. Freelancers need access to the Internet, a suitable suite of software, and other fundamentals.
Listed below are five such resources and tools for freelancers. In the interest of full disclosure, this article does contain affiliate links, but the opinions expressed are wholly my own.
Turbo Tax Premium: It’s that time of year again. We all have to file our income tax returns and it’s important you invest in suitable income tax software. Most freelancers can run a reasonably simple and straightforward business, so it may or may not be necessary to hire an accountant to do your taxes for you. Should you choose to do your own taxes, Turbo Tax Premium is a good option (for Americans) and it’s available for free through this link.
For any Canadians in the audience, I recommend Ufile.ca or Ufile for Windows. It’s inexpensive and very easy to use. If you have more advanced needs, then you’ll need to invest in more advanced income tax software.
Turbo Bag: If you have yourself traveling on a fairly regular basis, going through airport security can quickly become one of the most frustrating aspects of your trips. As a freelance writer, I tend to bring my laptop with me everywhere I go, but it can be a pain to take it out every time I go through the airport scanner.
Getting a checkpoint-friendly laptop bag can make the process a lot easier. The notebook can stay in the bag, minimizing headache and reducing the possibility of damage. The Turbo Bag is one example of this. I currently use a checkpoint-friendly bag from Targus.
Overnight Prints: Even if the vast majority of your business is conducted online, it’s important you have a means of networking offline as well. Whenever I attend any networking event, conference, or trade show, I make sure that I have a few business cards ready to share with possible contacts. It’s also a good idea to keep a couple in your wallet, just in case.
Contrary to popular belief, business cards don’t have to be expensive. In fact, you can get free business cards from Overnight Prints, as well as some other free stationery samples. Every freelancer should have a business card.
101 Inks: While buying a new inkjet printer can be very cheap these days, the same thing can’t really be said about buying all of those ink cartridges. The same thing can be said about laser toner, especially if you find yourself printing a lot of documents. Going to your local big box store for a new ink cartridge can get very expensive.
With 101 Inks, you can buy ink cartridges and laser toners online at up to 85% off the regular price. They also offer a 100% guarantee and free shipping, so you can always keep your ink stocked without having to break the bank. Why pay full retail?
I Know Key: You want to keep your data secure and you want to know everything that is happening with your main work computer. This is true of freelancers, parents, and just about everyone else. When you work out of a home office, the situation is even more complicated.
If you suspect that someone is accessing your computer without your permission, you may want to consider an Internet tracking USB key. I’m not entirely sure how this works, but I fathom that you can install the software on your computer and it’ll track all the Internet activity that takes place in your absence.