Q: I see you run your affiliate business from home. Can you tell me some of the products and services you use to make up your office?
A: I’ve been working from home for five or six years now. I learned quickly that I had a need for the various business machines that I had taken for granted when working in offices.
For instance, I still have a somewhat frequent need to send and receive faxes. So, I use CallWave, where I am able to get incoming faxes as a PDF via email.
When I have to sign a document and fax it to somebody, I’ll just scan the document and email it. No fax machine needed.
I have a landline for my phone, but often I want to record a call for an interview to transcribe or other needs. In those instances, I’ll use Skype with a recording program called Pamela.
Another phone related service I use is FreedomVOICE, which provides me with a toll-free number that forwards to my regular number.
And I use Google Voice for incoming phone calls, because I am able to have it ring to my office phone and two cell phones. Also, they provide a free voicemail transcription service, and those messages are sent via email.
When it comes to email, I used Microsoft Outlook in the past, and that was a burden to run with people scattered in different states. There would be times when the PST file got too big and Outlook crashed, as well as other occasional problems.
This was fixed by switching over to Google Apps accounts for Gmail. I am able to manage the email server easily and there is tons of space (25GB of email storage per employee), so that’s not an issue. Also, it integrates nicely with Google Calendar, Google Documents, etc.
I do two different things to backup my data. I have a 1 TB external hard drive that is set to automatically backup any new files nightly.
I also use a service called Jungle Disk for an online backup. This is also set to make an incremental backup each evening. Jungle Disk becomes a virtual drive on my computer(s), so I can access those files from anywhere – very convenient.
Having that redundancy makes me comfortable, but I was thinking of adding a second online backup service to be that much more comfortable. Some people might call it paranoid, but it’s a modest fee to know my data is safe.
I have a Cisco-Linksys E1000 Wireless-N Router, and had been leasing a cable modem from Comcast until recently, when I realized I could buy my own.
My current modem is a Cisco-Linksys CM100 Cable Modem, and it will pay for itself, compared with leasing from Comcast, pretty soon.
And I actually have two each of the router and the modem (plus two Comcast connections), because I had some dead spots in my house, and wanted to be able to get fast Internet access anywhere inside and outside the house.
Speaking of Internet outside your house, be sure to use the security options for your browser, so your neighbors aren’t tapping unto your connection. While you’re at it, change your SSID to something that will freak out most people. One of mine is “install-virus”.
When it comes to the mailing address, I previously used my home address, and I regret doing it. For privacy reasons, I would suggest getting a box at your local post office or UPS Store. I did the latter a couple years ago. I prefer the UPS Store over the post office, because they will accept FedEx’s for you.