The Minimalist Guide to Setting Up a (Quiet) Home Office
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Whether you’re making an effort to become a full-time affiliate marketer or just need to get some extra work done from home – a home office is the ideal work environment if you plan to get things done.
Sure, working from a remote location at a beach or from the coffee house looks neat and all but the vast majority of us need a quiet work environment if we plan to tackle our business activities; we can’t have people strolling in for a chat or the dogs running around your feet.
Many affiliate marketers setup shop in some corner space in their home and deal with it even though it’s not the best place to work; they’re cramped, the environment is uninspiring, and it becomes a secondary cubicle (which is unfortunately attached to your house).
In this article, I will detail the items and resources worth your while for setting up a quiet home office without breaking the bank. A small investment of about $200 – $500 can have you on your way to building the ideal workspace for your home office. Let’s get out that hole-in-the-wall and into a fun, inspiring place of business …
The Home Workspace
Your home workplace truly depends on your style of business:
- Fast paced and in need of constant change
- Solitary and hermit-like to keep focused
- Cluttered and stacked with projects
- Minimal and clean
From years of experience, I would highly recommend you find a balance in your workspace between solidarity and minimalism. Most of your “clutter” will be on the computer so there’s no need to overwhelm your office space with physical copies (unless it’s business equipment like a whiteboard or video equipment). The workspace, ideally, should allow you to block off the outside world during intensive business moments and when you’re in need for privacy (such as doing an interview).
Of course, you might be the type that can handle the cross chatter and busyness of the World which makes coffee shops, Internet cafes, and free Wi-Fi ideal for your work situation. It’s your choice. In all, though, you need to develop an area where you’re most productive, inspired, and able to tackle big projects without someone walking through the area to disrupt your activities.
The Desk (Or Lack There Of)
The desk is the heart and center of your affiliate business activities; it’s your command center.
Desks can range from a few bucks you scraped together for a yard sale item or into the thousands depending on your budget and taste. But as you’re already thinking … a desk is a desk.
There are three elements that make a desk worth your while:
The quality of the desk should reflect your budget. You could opt for a sturdy wooden desk or go easy with one of those plastic folding ones – it’s whatever fits the area but never compromise on the stability of the desk because you can’t afford for it to easily fall apart mid work.
The pricing will play a part, of course. You probably won’t want to drop a whole lot of money if you’re just starting so set a budget of about $50 – $100 for something basic. In time, you could always upgrade to something elegant depending on your office environment, interaction with clients, or taste. In all, find a balance in your budget that works for your business than just blowing money on trying to make a statement.
The spacing is most likely the one element of the desk that doesn’t get enough attention. Sure, you could get something stylish but we affiliate marketers love the ability to have everything in one place but still have plenty of area so we’re not feeling cramped. A long desk (think: 6 – 10ft) is wondrous because it gives you a ton of space to work from while keeping the important business items (printer, folders, media equipment) within arm’s reach (rather than stuffing it in the storage areas).
Many affiliate marketers opt to work from the kitchen table which provides each of the select qualities in a desk but you could take a stroll to a hardware store and pick up one of the big tables (you’d find for displaying items or for a work bench); these are huge and give you a great bang for your buck.
A Note on Standing Desks
The alternative, and one that’s been catching on like crazy, is a standing desk. You can modify most existing desks into a standing design by adding a few blocks to the bottom or you could purchase desks built for this style of work. A standing desk will hurt your feet while working but only within the first few days; over time, you’ll adjust and find that standing, while working, is actually quite pleasant. A standing desk helps prevent the onset of fatigue (and disease) caused by long hours of sitting; it also allows you to step back from your work and do a bit of exercise which goes a long way for your health. Consider this option if you can invest in these styles of desks or if you’re willing to modify the classic desk design.
The Chair (Don’t Skip This!)
You could be working in a stylish office or a complete dungeon of a workspace but one thing that matters most, for your physical well-being, is the computer chair.
Often an oversight, the computer chair needs to be comfortable and support your body type. One of those simplistic, swivel chairs you’d find at a big box retailer won’t do the trick. Spend the extra $100 for a proper chair you’d find at a computer retail store such as Staples – believe me, it’s worth it.
You’ll spend inordinate amount of hours working in front of your computer each day and you will only curse yourself if you’re using an uncomfortable chair. Look for one that has good support for your bottom and lower back; get one with comfortable arm rests and the ability to adjust the important elements of the design (height, angle, etc).
The Computer, Peripherals, and Gadgetry
The draw of affiliate marketing, as a business venture, greatly stems by the fact that a computer and Internet connection is often all you need to get started. The computer becomes the front-and-center of your business because it’s the link to the outside world – it’s the tool to create content, connect with people, and generate sales.
Your computer should be, at least, reflective of current design and demand. Yes, you can get away with an older model as long as it connects to the Web but dipping out on a decent computer means you’re giving up a lot of great opportunities such as video production, high definition video playback, and overall speed. A computer operating on a dual core (or one of the Intel ‘I’ series) CPU, 4 – 6GB of ram, and an Nvidia/Radeon video card can be bought for less than $1,000; it will give you everything you need to handle 80% of operating a diverse online business.
Outside of the computer, you may want to consider a few other items:
- Toner-based printer (better for your budget)
- Filing system and storage (for your hard copy)
- Digital camera or video recorder (for video production)
- HD webcam (for Skype and other online conference tools)
- Mid-range microphone (so you’re not sounding like the Terminator)
- Responsive computer mouse (the more buttons, the merrier!)
- Land-line or cell phone (for important calls)
Going higher on your budget allows you to compile most of these items into your computer or just a few gadgets rather than the whole spectrum so take it all into consideration when you’re setting up shop.
You may not need them all at this very moment in your business but owning these items will give you the greatest flexibility to explore new mediums of lead generation for your business and to ease the work required for each project because they’re time-saving tools.
The Software and Tools
Software (and tools) depend heavily on your operating system, computer, and business needs; it’s hard to accurately gauge which software works best for your company because there are always new applications to explore and test.
This list is in no way complete but here is a great place to start:
- Gmail – email and connection to other Google accounts (analytics, G+, etc)
- Skype – video calling
- Google Voice – voice mail
- Google drive or Evernote – online documents (alternative for MS Office)/note-taking
- Adobe Suit or Gimp – photo editing and document manipulation
- Vegas, Audition, iMovie, Movie Maker –great programs to edit and product video
- Tweetdeck/Hootsuite – easily manage social media accounts
- Dropbox – sync files between multiple locations
- Audacity – a powerful audio tool that includes editing features (podcasting)
- Adobe (or Foxit – lightweight) Reader – for working with PDF formats
- Paypal, Google Wallet, Amazon Payments, etc – payment processing
I would consider these items the “must have” for affiliate marketing at its fundamental level; everything outside of these greatly depends on the direction of your business. You may find a need for affiliate software – or not. Likewise, you may dig deeper into multi-media production. Just get these essentials covered and you’re good to handle the majority of your daily work.
Making It All Work, Together
Now, what does it take to make it all work in your favor?
1. The office needs to cater to your time management needs.
2. Your hardware and software should be able to handle any request.
3. You should be comfortable while working.
Periodically take breaks from your work to get up and walk around; take in your surroundings and be thankful that you have the privilege to work from home (if you’re there yet). Not only are you keeping your body healthy but you’ll clear the mental “cobwebs” of your mind which, in turn, aids in your ability to focus and stay productive.
Seeking a bit of inspiration?
- 30 Enviously Cool Home Office Setups
- Inspirational Workspace: 60 Awesome Setups
- Top 96 Kick A** Home Office Setups
How is your office setup? Share a comment, below.