Working from your RV while traveling is not much different from any work from home (WFH) job. The biggest difference is the amount of space you have for your office. And, as often as not, your office chair may be your RV’s passenger seat. As mentioned in Creating a Portable Career, no one knows where you are when you work from a virtual office.
As with any home based business or remote office job, you need to be organized, disciplined, and of course trained. Whether you’re an entrepreneur choosing to work as a freelancer or remote employee, your work at home plan will be very similar.
RVers WFH Job Training
If you already have career training you’re ahead of many RVers. Whether you need training to learn professional, office, computer or business skills you can find much of what you need online or in home study programs.
In fact, if you are looking for specialty training such as grant writing, the Foundation Center offers several no-cost training modules on their site. There’s also much available for photography and other professions. So don’t hesitate to search for free training in your portable career field.
American Writer’s and Artists, Inc. offers training in dozens of writing, photography and graphic arts professions. Bob Bly’s freelance training programs cover a variety of fields as well as how to operate a business and marketing. Work for RVers and Campers offers an abundance of information for “Workers on Wheels” as they call it. You’ll even find a tax advisor on their site.
Networking through online social networking sites like LinkedIN can get you connected to people who are looking for workers, training programs, and other people with whom you can exchange information or support.
RVers WFH Office Equipment Needs
Your office needs a computer, printer, scanner, copier a phone, FAX, and Internet access. Some jobs require Windows® OS., so either use a PC running Windows® or get a Windows® emulator if you use Mac. Faxes can be sent through online FAX services or at an office supply store.
RVers WFH Office Software Needs
You can find free training for word processing, spreadsheets, presentation software and more on Microsoft and Hewlett Packard websites. If that isn’t enough, there is even free software saving you the cost of an office suite, desktop publishing and graphics editors for photo and art editing, etc.
The software you need depends upon the work you do. Most people will need some sort of office suite. While MS Office® is one of the most popular, it can be expensive and unnecessary. Remember that freeware is just that, free. Shareware is not free, but fees are usually between $10 and $50. The developer is asking for a nominal donation, and may or may not limit your use of the software without payment.
OpenOffice is an office suite and is freeware. You’ll find both software and instructions at their site. Software programs include a word processor Writer, a spreadsheet Calc, a presentation program Impress, a graphics program Draw, and a database Base. Most RVers will find these five programs to be more than enough for them to provide professional level services for any employer, as well as to manage their business records. OpenOffice is available in both PC and Mac versions.
Picasa is one of several popular photo editing and management software packages. Not only can you edit your photos with this program, you can use its database features to sort and organize them. Picasa is available in both PC and Mac versions.
If your work involves graphic design, you can download free or inexpensive desktop publishing software to design brochures, menus, forms, e-books and other typeset documents.
Creative Commons is a non-profit organization that offers legal and royalty-free use of copyrighted writings, photos, graphics, videos, educational, medical and scientific research documents. Make sure you read the FAQs. You must choose the right Creative Commons license and include the required attributions wherever you use these documents. They are subject to copyright law and to the copyright usage granted to Creative Commons by the copyright holder. Although many documents are available for commercial use, make sure the ones you use in your business are licensed properly. In some cases you may have to pay a royalty for use, so do read your license carefully. Documents are available for both PC and Mac.
Fonts, or typefaces, may be something you need, especially if you do graphic design or typesetting. Run a search on “free fonts” or “free typefaces” and plan to spend a while finding what you need. You’ll find several types and the ones you need are based upon your computer and printer. Some are specific to PC or Mac, and some even specific to the operating system version.
- TTF: true type fonts; print on most printers including postscript printers
- Postscript: prints on postscript printers
- OpenType STD: OpenType is an enhanced TTF; most software can work with OpenType STD (Standard,)
- OpenType Pro: some applications have not been upgraded to take advantage of all of OpenType Pro’s features
To find other freeware and shareware that you need to do your job, run an Internet search on the words “freeware” or “shareware.” It’s a good idea to run a virus check on anything you download from the Internet. Viruses, worms and other malware can destroy your hard drive and cost you more than a commercial version of the software you downloaded.
RVers Learning to Work on the Road
Now that you know how to set up your RV office on the go, how to get and use the equipment and software you need, go back to Bob Bly’s site and look over the many e-books he offers on marketing your business, your website, getting clients, taking payments, designing a website and promoting what you do. Most of his books are inexpensive but full of high quality content.