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What's in your home office?A home office is essential if you plan on running your graphic design business for any length of time. Sure the kitchen table can make due in a pinch, but if you're serious about your business, you will want to carve out a bit of that home real estate and claim it as your own.
But once you've planted your flag and claimed the space in the name of your graphic design business what do you do with it? In this episode of the Resourceful Designer podcast, I go over some essentials to make your home office reflect you and your business. Be sure to listen to the episode for the full story. Better yet, subscribe and never miss an episode.
Essentials for your home office space
A dedicated room
A dedicated room in your home devoted solely to your home office will solidify the feeling of running a business. Not to mention that having a dedicated home office makes it much easier come tax time for calculating deductions you can claim as a home based graphic design business.
Sounds crazy but being able to close a door while you are working can establish not only your working space but your working hours. The rest of your family will quickly learn not to disturb you when the door is closed. A door also helps you focus by cutting you off from the rest of the household.
A good environment
Make sure the room you choose has proper ventilation and good lighting. You will be spending a lot of time in your home office, so it's essential to make it as comfortable as possible.
Essential equipment for your home office
A good computer
This one is a given. As a graphic designer, your computer is your main tool when it comes to earning your living. Whether you choose a laptop or desktop, Mac or PC, be sure to choose a computer that will be powerful enough for the projects you will be working on and one durable enough, so you don't have to replace it too often.
Unless you're a fly-by-night freelancer who likes to sprawl out on the living room couch with your laptop, you're going to need a desk. A desk is a long term purchase so choose one that will fit your needs. Keep storage space in mind when shopping for your desk. There are some beautiful minimalistic styles out there, but they are not very practical for someone who will be using it every day.
An office chair
Do not skimp on your chair! Your chair could be one of the most important investments you make in your business. You will be sitting in your chair for hours on end, day after day so choose one that is comfortable for you. Spend some time trying out different styles and find the one that fits your body type.
A desk lamp
Face it, as a home-based designer you will probably find yourself working at all hours of the day. A good desk lamp is essential when burning the midnight oil. Choose one that is not too harsh, and that won't affect the way you see colours in your room.
A printer/scanner is something every office should have. Depending on your needs, you may be able to get away with one of the less expensive models available.
I mentioned storage space earlier. A filing cabinet is a great way to keep track of papers and remove clutter from your room.
A paper shredder
Depending on your clients, you may come into possession of some sensitive documents. When it comes time to discard of them, a shredder is the only way short of burning them.
Essential home office supplies
Every office should have disposable storage devices such as DVDs or flash drives for giving files to clients. Do not always count on cloud based storage systems. Some clients will want something physical they can hold.
Spill proof mug
Staying hydrated is important for your health so expect to drink throughout the day. However, liquids and computer equipment don't get along very well. Invest in a spill proof mug or bottle and never worry about knocking it over.
Face it, between your computer, external drives, phone wires, charging cables and who knows what other wires. The space behind your computer probably looks like a spider's web. Purchase inexpensive wire organizers and keep your wires nice and tidy.
If you're like most home-based designers, you will spend more time in your home office than any other room in your house (awake that is). So it's essential that you make this space your own. Decorate it with things that inspire your creativity such as books, artwork, knick knacks, plants, etc. Anything and everything that makes you feel good. Having a happy environment will make you a more productive designer.
If you share your home with little ones, either children or pets, be sure to include a space for them so they can be close to you without getting in your way. A pet bed or a bean bag chair can go a long way to satisfy young hearts.
What essentials do you have in your home office?
Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.
Questions of the Week
Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.
This week’s question comes from Lora
I'm new to your podcasts and was introduced to you from the Print Brokering one. I look forward to listening again–interesting and rich in information. I am a graphic designer and design instructor. After teaching graphic design full-time for 15 years, I started Orangish design last year, and teaching design again, part time. It's proving to be a great balance, business is slowly picking up and could use the bonus cash from print brokering you talked about!
I've always thought about print brokering but was concerned, if I'm honest, afraid, of paying the printer up front. Your explanation makes perfect sense and you make it sound so easy–invoice the client, they pay you, then place the print order.
Here is My Question:
I use an online printer, Moo.com, and now plan to work with them as a print broker. When you say: “You can make a good income by adding a hefty markup to their prices.”, how do you add that markup to online printer invoices, yet present the marked-up invoice legitimately to your clients? My clients always want to see quotes 1, 2 and 3. Clients are pretty darn savvy these days.
To find out what I told Lora you’ll have to listen to the podcast.
Resources of the week: Two Design Podcasts
This week I share two resources in the form of podcasts. I listen and enjoy both these shows, and I think you will too.
Logo Geek is a podcast produced by Ian Paget. Ian interviews influential designers to discuss all things logo related. If designing logos is part of your business this podcast is a must listen.
This Design Life is produced by Chris Green. Chris also interviews designers, but he focuses more on the life they live. Asking them questions like what inspires them and why they choose to become designers.
It's always fun to hear how other designers live and produce the wonderful works they do. Both of these podcasts offer small glimpses into the lives of talented people just like you. I encourage you to give them a try.
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Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business, please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org