It can be a challenge for freelancers working from home to keep their business and personal lives separate.
The humble telephone number is a great example of this. Many freelancers end up using the same landline for personal and business calls. This can lead to all kinds of awkward situations, like your kids answering when your most important client calls.
The price of a landline
But landlines are expensive, costing as much as £15 a month from BT. Getting a second one installed hardly seems worthwhile, especially if you mostly use your mobile for outgoing calls.
Well, here's a cheaper, more flexible alternative. Skype - the internet telephony and instant messaging service that's now owned by Microsoft - can give you a landline number for a fraction of that cost.
It works really well - I've been using it to take business calls for the last few months.
You need to have a Skype account to buy a number (it's free to sign up). Once you have a number, the Skype app on your computer will 'ring' when someone calls it. You can answer and speak to the caller using a headset connected to your computer.
If you'd prefer to have a separate phone on your desk, you can buy a Skype phone instead.
Other advantages of Skype
Price aside, there are other advantages to this approach too:
- Flexibility. Unlike a normal landline, your number isn't linked to a location. Callers can dial the same number and reach you anywhere. If you're out and about you can automatically divert calls to your mobile or use Skype's mobile apps to stay in touch.
- More choice. Skype lets you choose which area code you want your number to have. This means you can get a London number even if you're based in Leicester, or an Edinburgh code even though you live in Essex.
- Cross borders. You can also get a number for a different country, if you choose - it's a nice way to let international clients call you at local rates. Dialing international numbers through Skype is often cheaper too.
How to get started
If you have a Skype account, it's easy to add a number to your package. Just go to the Skype website and sign in. Then:
- Scroll to the Manage features heading and click Skype Number.
- Click Get a Skype Number
- Click the country for your Skype number
- Click the dropdown menu to choose your area code
- Skype wlll give you a list of numbers to choose from. Choose the one you want and click Continue.
- Choose whether you want to buy for 1, 3 or 12 months.
- Enter your payment details and follow the instructions to complete your purchase.
That's it. Now when you're signed in to Skype, people will be able to call you on your landline number. And they'll never know that you're not using a normal telephone.
(Image: Flickr user dno1967b.)