Getting the Best Deals on Your Home Office Purchases

GUEST BLOG

Jamie Griffiths is a content writer for Approved Index – the UK’s leading B2B marketplace for buyers and suppliers of business products and services.

In the digital era setting up a home office to accommodate your new self-employment necessarily involves purchasing some new kit. Often these purchases go one of two ways: either you spend countless hours determinedly hunting around for the very best deals or you take the easier option of shelling out what is probably a bit too much money.

Neither of those is the ideal outcome for the cash-strapped and time-poor start-up business person. Some kind of compromise is required so that you’re not distracted from your core activities for too long while still getting a decent deal on your equipment. The following tips should save you time and money whether you’re looking for cheap photocopiers, a business phone system or a new PC.

1. eBay is your friend…

If you’re not scared of a lack of manufacturer warranties then eBay is the place to look for your home office equipment. As well as independent sellers off-loading their used hardware you’ll also find many businesses which offer refurbished and reconditioned multi-function printers, telephones, desktop computers etc. Sometimes these companies will even offer their own warranties to provide that all important peace of mind. Sticking to the eBay seller rating system will ensure that you’re not about to be ripped off by non-existent goods.

2. …but do your research first

Of course it’s all well and good recommending eBay as a place to buy your equipment, but that doesn’t answer the more fundamental question of which equipment should I buy? Google searching a type of product with ‘reviews’ only turns up pages of SEO-ed content which is usually of no help whatsoever. Instead, go to Amazon or another large online retailer which has a customer review facility. Search for the type of product you’re after here and use the star rating system and user comments to narrow down your search. Apart from general user experience keep an eye out for comments on the price of consumables (e.g. toner cartridges). Once you’ve found a suitable solution you can then try to find the same product for cheaper elsewhere.

(Reminder: Be a good citizen; when you’ve purchased your item, leave a review for future users)

3. Don’t be rushed

While you don’t want to waste days looking for your office equipment neither do you want to get stuck with the first product offered. If you are going to buy from a dealer and enjoy a manufacturer warranty you should still take the time to compare prices across several sites. Type the product name as precisely as you can into Google and then check out the shopping results (by clicking the ‘Shopping’ link under ‘Search’ on the left hand side) for a quick overview of prices.

4. Check the delivery rates

I may be stating the obvious now but always check that the delivery price is included and the time frame. Some retailers offer only their very slowest delivery options for free and these usually also have restricted delivery times (though if you’re working from home that shouldn’t be a problem).

5. Don’t be afraid to return

Phones not up to scratch? Copier not working the way it said it would? Vital PC components missing? Then send it back. Check before you purchase that the seller accepts returns (eBay Buyer Protection can resolve such problems eventually but it’s always best to ensure the seller has their own agreeable policy) and that they’ll cover the cost of sending the unsuitable item(s) back.

I hope you’ve found the above advice helpful. All that remains is for me to wish you good luck in kitting out your new home office and the very best of fortune in your self-employment!

Self Publishing your eBook the DIY Way!

So you have written a book, you might have had it published as a paperback but now want to tap into the eBook market.  Well it doesn’t have to cost the earth, in fact I formatted my late Grandfather’s book by following the guidelines on Amazon KDP and Smashwords.  Of course the first time it took me many hours to get it just how I wanted it, but now most formatting jobs take me between 1 and 3 hours depending on the length of the book.

If you want to go the DIY route, these are the key points you need to follow:

1. I recommend going to Smashwords first and foremost and downloading their Style Guide – it’s very easy to find as it is at the number 1 spot on the Most Downloads section.

2. Read this guide from cover to cover and make notes on the key points you need to achieve for your eBook to be accepted onto the Smashwords catalogue.

3. Work on formatting your eBook… the first thing you should do before anything else is to clear all formatting from the document so you can start with a clean text document.  You can do this by copy and pasting the document into Notepad and then copying it back into Word (or whatever word processing software you want to use).

4. Follow the guide, it’s as simple as that!

5.  Set-up your account on Smashwords and upload your formatted eBook, if there are any problems with the file they will inform you so you can go back and correct them.

6. Once Smashwords have approved your eBook and it’s ready for distribution, use your formatted file and upload it to Amazon Kindle.  I found the formatting suggestions for Kindle a lot more complex than Smashwords, but my finished eBook looked more professional following Smashwords Style Guide.

There are some really useful tips on the Smashwords website, this document in particular – How to Publish and Distribute Ebooks with Smashwords.  I like the fact that Smashwords distributes your eBook to many different retailers, these are Barnes & Noble, Apple, Sony, Kobo, Amazon and Diesel.

It does take time to get your eBook into the system, through formatting, setting up your accounts and then promoting.  Alternatively you can get someone else to do all this leg work for you.  eBook formatting is one of my specialist services and it doesn’t cost a lot, so if you’ve just written a book and would like a quick and cheap way of getting it published to the masses drop me an email so we can get started.

If you’d like to publish your book in a paperback version, then take a look at my previous blog post How to Self Publish your Book on a Budget.  For some marketing tips please see this great blog post by Stephanie Chandler Strategies for Promoting Ebooks.