10 Must-Have Things for a Kick-Ass Freelance Startup

When you want to enter the world of freelancing, the things that you actually need to start are just found at your home or maybe you already own them. Nowadays, freelancing has started to become a top self-owned businesses. In freelancing, all you need to have is just yourself and  your skills.

You may be asking on what are the things you must have to start your freelancing career. In this article, I will enumerate the things a freelance designer must have other than skills and passion.

1. Computer

Laptop desktop2

Image by: Stefan Ledwina

This is your main asset or I should say one of your co-workers, your computer. This is where you will design, code, research, write. Everything that you plan to do will be done with your computer.

There are two types of computer that a freelancer may use:

a. Desktop Computer

Desktop computer is just the usual computer that internet cafes and most people use. This is intended for a single-user only. It is called desktop for it is usually placed on a desk and not too expensive compared with a laptop.

A desktop computer has a monitor, a system unit (or mistakenly known as CPU), a mouse and a keyboard. Speakers are optional but very useful too.


  • It is cheaper than a laptop.
  • It is easy to upgrade the specifications of your system unit compared to a laptop.
  • When a component is damaged, it is easy for you to replace it.


  • A desktop computer is not handy.
  • It occupies a lot of space in your office or at home. To add up to this, more wires are needed to connect several devices such as modems, routers, etc.
  • You cannot work on a battery mode. Unlike in a laptop, you can still use it because of its batteries and can still work offline when there’s a power outage.

Desktop computer

Image by: IQ computer services

b. Laptop Computer

Laptops are small versions of a desktop computer. It has already a monitor, keyboard, touchpad, speakers, a small version of system unit and some already have built-in webcams, bluetooth, memory card readers.


  • It is portable. You can bring it anywhere you go.
  • When a power outage strikes, you can run it on battery mode.
  • It does not occupy a lot of space. Unlike in a desktop computer, you don’t really need a desk to put it up.
  • All of the tools you mainly need are wrapped up in one device.
  • Less wires in connecting other devices.


  • It is more expensive than a desktop computer.
  • It is harder for you to upgrade it, since the CPU is already fixed and cannot be changed.
  • Laptops are difficult to repair. You need an expert to open the laptop and do the repairs.


Image by: Gabriel Serafini

2. Internet Connection

Internet people

Image by: 姒儿喵喵

I find this very important for freelancers to have in order to do tasks. We know that the web is a great reference for all things, right? Also, this lets you connect with your clients and give you the chance to be exposed worldwide.

A speed of up to 1mbps is enough for a startup, just upgrade it when you are already earning well.

3. Software

Softwares are also important. These are your tools to accomplish your tasks.

For startup you may want to use freeware that are available to download on the web, or open source softwares. Before you purchase or download a software, read user feedbacks. When you are already earning well, you can purchase a licensed software. Mostly, licensed softwares are better than freeware. As what they say, you get what you are paying for.

4. Backup


Image by: domesticat

Below are threats to the safety of your important files:

  • Virus, Worms, Trojans
  • Theft
  • Accidents. This includes water spills, food spills and other incidents that can cause damage to your computer.
  • Fire
  • Flood and other natural calamities.

Let me share to you my experience with these storage devices.

Back in college, a thesis can make or break our graduation day. We were doing lots of projects other than our thesis, projects about Multimedia, Automation system, and hefty documentations. We were just using two computers to do all of these tasks. We were doubling our efforts to finish all of these before the deadline. And then…my computer crashed. The end? No. Because we kept a backup using an external hard drive and other storage devices.

This may also happen to freelancers, remember that one important asset a freelancer must secure are files. Losing these important data you have is similar to losing money.

External Hard Drive

External hard drive

Image by: William Hook

External hard drive is like the hard drives our system unit have. Storage capacity may vary depending on your needs.

Flash Drive

Cute flash drive

Image by: MIMOBOT by Mimoco

Flash drive is a miniature version of an external hard drive that is plugged onto the system unit’s USB port. The advantage of having one is the size, very handy and easy to use. On the other hand, a disadvantage is it has a smaller storage capacity compared to HDs. Flash Drives are designed differently. See the picture above? Aren’t those flash drives cute?

You may also use an automatic backup software. These are softwares that are designed to back up files automatically. There are open-source tools too, you won’t have to purchase. I suggest that you use open-source first for a startup, and just purchase software when you are already financially stable.

5. Portfolio


Image by: Abi Huynh

In the world of freelancing, portfolios are very important. Portfolios represent your skills or what you can do.

When we were in college, I planned to work online as a freelancer for extra income. Of course it is important for employers to know the skill set and past projects an applicant has. I came up with the idea of building my portfolio from scratch, having only little projects made during college days.

Here I categorized the different kinds of projects that you can create and put on your portfolio.

Personal Projects

These are the projects that you can create for personal satisfaction only. If you feel like you want to practice your skills, you may do any kinds of projects and save them for your portfolio.

Voluntary Projects (AKA Charity projects)

These are the projects you can create with no charge for other people or businesses. For instance, if your friend owns a business, you may create a computerized system  or a logo for them. Don’t think that this is a waste of time. Not only that you practice your skills, you also provide help in their business. After doing so, you may ask them to refer you to others. And that is what you call connection.

School Projects

Remember the projects you had during your school days? Those can be included on your portfolio. Just make sure you really own them.

So, always save your works no matter how small or large projects they are.

6. Clean and Comfortable Room to Work On


Image by: Aled Lewis

A good workspace reflects your work. If you work in a messy and uncomfortable room, the tendency is that your work will also be messed up.

Make sure that your things are organized. There are cabinets where you can put your paper files and books (if you do not have shelves for them).

Also, your lighting should be not too bright and not so dark. Just average. It is not good for your eyes to work in a dark place, especially when you are in front of a computer. This contributes to a poor eyesight. It also makes you feel sleepy when you work in a dark environment (based on my experience).

Put your laptop or desktop on a table or desk where you will have a proper sitting posture. Keep your wrists in a way that is positioned naturally. Also, make sure that you can lean on the chair you use to protect your back from aching.

For a startup, you may use a room or part of your home to be your office for the mean time. And if you feel that you need to rent an office for your freelance business, better.

7. Mobile Phone

Mobile phone

Image by: Konstantin Sutyagin

Mobile phones are another way to contact and stay connected with your clients other than e-mailing. Nowadays, there are mobile phones that are cheaper than a dinner in a fancy restaurant.

8. Money


Image by: RichSeattle

Yes, even if you are just starting out you still need to have a small amount of money. If you have some expenses for your business at least you have something to spend on. Freelancing also entails you to spend, but it is worth the expenses and efforts if done correctly.

9. Advertisements

There are many ways to advertise yourself and your business:


Having a website is the best way to advertise yourself not only within your place, but worldwide. Today, this is a popular way of advertising products or services since most people use the internet to find information. For a start, you may want to create a Facebook fan page or create your own website using WordPress or any open source Content Management System. You may also post ads on classified ads websites for more exposure.

Print Ads

There are several kinds of print ads you can create: business cards, flyers and brochures. In creating print ads, make sure that the information you put there are true and reliable. Design them in a way that can motivate prospects to give you a call.


Connections can be your family, relatives and friends. You may ask for a favor to refer you to others about the services you offer.

Different ways, different strategies. All you need to do is be creative, be motivated and be strategic.

10. Printer


Image by: hisks

A printer is also an essential equipment you must have. This is used in printing of documents, business cards, and brochures in advertising your business.

It is not easy to start a business, especially a freelancing business. Success is equal to effort plus sacrifices. All you need to have is patience, motivation, passion and hard work.

And that’s it! Those are the ten necessities a freelancer must have for a start-up.

Feel free to share your opinions regarding this topic on the Comment section.

Charina Torres

An Information Technology graduate who loves learning new things and chocolates, too. She spends the whole day sitting in front of the computer, making herself updated with the things going on around her.

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  1. Mo says

    You missed marketing knowledge or experience. Without proper approach to online ads and webmarketing you may and up using your money and not closing any deals. IT experience is a must – or at least there should be someone that can help….

  2. says

    Great article!
    When I’m 100% freelance I’m going to think about these things ;)

    Maybe an 11th one is Dropbox, easy to share or backup files!

  3. tykayn says

    a good thing too is to know how to purchase for clients, and knowing that we can pay some associations for them to find clients for us :)
    and printers are nice to make bills.
    having money is a nice start, and planning your own spends are important too.
    great website by the way.

  4. says

    I’d have to agree with MattDavis, if anyone was starting freelancing and didn’t know these things, then odds are they don’t even have the skill set to begin. If you’re trying to break into web design or graphic design, you’re already going to have a computer, design software, etc.

    For a little positive criticism, I think the emphasis on backups is important. Maybe a follow-up article could really dive into each number and argue why each is a necessity. Listing desktop + laptop doesn’t tell us much. If you explain the processing power, data redundancy possibilities, etc, then it would make more sense.

    I’d also argue that a printer is required, but not for the reasons listed… if you’re a graphic designer, your business cards, proofs, etc, should all be printed on professional printers, not a $50 deskjet.

  5. Austin says

    awesome article, I must agree that having a small amount of money is really need since projects are irregular and also freelancers are also be aware about his or her expenses…

  6. says

    I think there are a few good points here although I wouldn’t necessarily call them unique. This is a decent basic list of things you need to have. Expanding on each of these in an individual post would be a great idea. I would maybe add to this list a management system for invoicing and clients. It took me a while to figure out what a great asset it is to be able to send invoices and manage clients all in one place. Ballpark is a great system I started using after going through Ronin and a few other sites.

  7. Eloka says

    Nice list. I’m agree with this and I think an other thing important is to have an excellent management accounting.

  8. Rob van Linda says

    Gives the feeling for newbies that it isn’t that hard to get started.

    Loads of other people act like they are gods having power over compicated and secret acient science.

    I really like the cool way you leisurely talk about the subject.


  9. theDreamer says

    I LOVE and trust 1stwebdesigner and if someone is copying then I’m sure it will be your other ‘source’ Notne

  10. says

    can you show to which one if you’re thinking so?

    btw take your accusations more seriously, because I assure you we are spending time to offer unique articles and if you’re not showing that other source I don’t see like you have proven any value here other than insulting writer and me on overall. Thank you.

  11. Matt_davis321 says

    I think all these points could be combined into one: COMMON SENSE

    There is nothing new or useful in this article for anyone serious about freelancing.

  12. Rahul says

    yeah, you have a good idea in this, for me i also have laptop for me to bring anywhere i go, but when i am at home, i am much comfortable using my desktop.

  13. Anonymous says

    Its correct.. Freelance designer must have things rather than skills and passion.. Excellent article..

  14. Shrikrishna Meena says

    1) I have laptop…
    2) I have Internet connection…
    3) I have Cell phone…
    4) I have needed software’s
    5) Rarely done back up’s – bad experience with them also,
    6) started work on building my portfolio,
    7) no separate room to work,
    plus I have all the skills needed (As per my experience)….
    But I lack money instead my father earn enough to fulfill my needs… and leads to this,
    1) no E-HD,
    2) no FD,
    3) no money (can ask only for Internet charges),
    4) no advertisement,
    5) no printer

    Thanks for the article … Trying hard keep me organized… So, that things will not go from hand.