Do Freelancers Need an Office to be Taken Seriously?June 13th 2017 Sally Ormond freelance business, home office, working from home
In a departure from my usual articles on all things copywriting and marketing, I wanted to explore the life of a freelancer in light of a question that was raised by one of my Facebook contacts the other day.
Like me, she works on a freelance basis (although in the field of design as opposed to copywriting) and has recently moved into serviced offices.
She cited one of the main reasons behind the move is that some of her prospects didn’t take her seriously as a designer because she works from home.
That got me thinking.
Should the location of your business activities reflect on your experience, expertise and professionalism?
It’s only bricks and mortar
Working from my home office suits me because:
- Nine times out of ten I go to my clients’ premises for meetings
- It keeps my overheads low
- It fits in with my lifestyle and family commitments
- I don’t waste time each day on a lengthy commute
Admittedly, about four or five years ago I gave my office a makeover. It has always been a dedicated office, but in the early days, it also doubled as a junk room. Now, transformed, it looks and feels like an office that just happens to be in our house.
In the ten years I have worked this way, it has never caused any issues with clients.
Even the large corporates are happy to contract with me as a freelancer working from a home office. That’s because they can see beyond my place of work and instead place value on the expertise and professionalism I bring to each project.
On occasion, clients have come to me for meetings and are very happy to sit around my kitchen table (there’s more room in there than in my office) chatting in a relaxed setting over a cup of coffee.
For me, therefore, working from home has never caused an issue.
Advantages of being in an external office
Ok, so I’ve already set out my stall for why a home office works for me (and my clients), so what are the advantages of having an external office?
Some believe it makes them look like a bigger concern. After all, if you work from an office, you must be a decent sized company, right?
With the growing number of serviced office units available, anyone can hire a small office from which to run their business.
If you have a steady stream of clients coming and going, or need a lot of equipment to do your job (which you don’t necessarily want cluttering up your home), then I can see the advantages of an office.
But if you just want to come over as professional and you don’t need the space an external office offers, I would let your work speak for you rather than increase your overheads unnecessarily.
The freedom of freelance work
Broadband has revolutionised the way many freelancers work (provided you live in an area that offers a decent connection).
They have the freedom to work where they like, allowing them to work around their other commitments while reducing their overheads.
Due to the uncertainty of workflow, it’s not for everyone. There’s no regular salary, no sick pay, and no management hierarchy through which complaints or issues can be escalated.
It’s more of a lifestyle choice.
For me, it offers the freedom I want, the income I need and the ability to work with some amazing clients. I get to pick and choose the projects I want to be involved with and bring extra value to my clients by offering advice on the wide range of experience in copywriting and marketing I have amassed over the years.
Should you work from home or an external office?
Returning to the original debate about whether a home offer or external one is best – there is no right or wrong answer.
It all comes down to what works best for you and your business.
If you have no qualms with working from home, go for it. It will provide you with excellent flexibility and low overheads.
If you don’t have the discipline needed to work from home, or you want the kudos of having an office, and you can swallow the additional costs, go for it.
The main thing is to create a working environment in which you are comfortable, productive and relaxed.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this debate. Have you had a simialr experience? Leave a comment below and tell me how you feel about home working.