I am a freelancer, and if you are reading this, chances are, you are too! Working solo, if that is your gig, can get boring and monotonous most times, lets not joke about that. It’s the truth and much as we might like to make it seem rosy and perfectly worth its while, sometimes it does get to us – this working on my own, being my own boss thing. So you go out to a coffee shop or a restaurant as a default work place but that can easily run you a hefty bill if you look at your monthly accounts. Coffee shops are not cheap – whether you go to a chain or an indie store, they can easily run you $3 upwards and who’s to say you wont be tempted to add a bagel or pastry to your order while you are there?
Here’s a few places you can and should be able to work for free without having to spend a pretty penny.
1. Work from home – Yeah, I know, we already talked about how that’s not working for us but consider moving around and finding a few nooks in your home. I do have a work desk but when I really need to focus on something, I work sitting out on my patio or standing by the breakfast bar. Finding a few different places within your home might sometimes work wonders.
2. Work from your friend’s home – Surely you have a network or support groups of other friends who are solopreneurs. You don’t even have to be doing the same nature of work, just understand each others working sensibilities and share a space so you at least feel like you have a comrade in arms, a partner in crime or what have you. I have a friend I meet with especially when I am sending out final drafts of stories so she can quickly review for any typos or other style flaws and I do the same for her. Also, coffee costs nothing at a friend’s place as long as you return the favor.
3. Clubhouse or leasing office – If you live in a fairly new community or sub-division, chances are you have a clubhouse or leasing office on the premises. They usually have a common area you can use and almost always have free wi-fi and hot beverages as well. Head on over on a weekday and you will see the office staff is mostly busy doing what they do and most other tenants are not around then to use the space anyways. Some communities even have a neat office space with copier and fax. Mine has a meeting room, which is really for the staff, but if you are on good terms, they might let you use it for a client meeting or two. The best part? We have a pool table and TV so taking a quick break is easy. Also a refrigerator and microwave mean I can take along a snack for lunch!
4. Your local library – I am writing this article sitting at my local county library. It’s ten minutes from home, free parking, free wi-fi, lots of space, nobody conversing, has all the resources and references I’d need AND I don’t pay a dime! This one’s a no-brainer. If you haven’t worked out of your local library, try it today. The downside – if you can call it that – is no outside food and drink in there. But I see that as a good thing – this means I must focus on what I need to get done within a certain timeframe before the orchestra in my stomach decides to make itself heard playing its hungry tunes.
5. Bookshops – On a related but not similar note, if you live near an indie or chain bookstore, they almost always have free wi-fi in there and you can find a nice lounge-y corner to focus on your work but still experience the energy of a busy space.
6. Malls – All malls have free wi-fi. All malls have seating spaces in common areas. Weekday mornings are typically slow, especially before lunchtime so get yourself a comfy spot and get working. Also, if you look real busy nobody disturbs you AND you never know what story ideas might strike you there.
7. Hotel lobbies – This could be iffy but you wont know until you try. I do this especially on days when I have meetings so when my client gets there, we can order a drink or coffee and continue our discussion. Be sure to choose a space that has free or validated parking though. Some hotel lobbies might need a room number but if you happen to be visiting the coffee shop area the free wi-fi is guaranteed.
8. Co-working spaces – Not always but if you do live in an area with a few of these then stay tuned and watch out for open houses. They will sometimes let community members work from their space to see if it’s a good fit and spread the word. The newer ones will be positively happy to have you there so they can show they are busy, but you know all good things come to an end so watch for that day when they tell you that you gotta start payin’ up.
9. Ikea – The Swedes sure know how to build community, not just furniture. Their café area has free wi-fi, at least here in Atlanta, and if you have their orange loyalty card then you also get free coffee. Even if you do choose to add some snack or lunch to your day, its usually much cheaper than anywhere else. They have free parking, lots of it, and plenty of space in the café to find a spot quiet enough or as noisy as you’d like.
10. Scoutmob for 100% free places – Now this one is not available everywhere but if you have Scoutmob in your city, that app is a blessing I tell ya. Their regular deals are good enough but sometimes they go a step further and you can find establishments offering things 100% off a.k.a free! When I find such a deal I make a beeline for the place. And who knows, if I really like it I might add it to my roster of coffee shops to meet clients and get some work done.
Now tell me those were not all great suggestions? And if you have a few to add, please do share. Freelancers love referrals from fellow entrepreneurs.