There are a lot of things that a web worker needs in order to be able to do his or her work: a computer, an Internet connection … a post office box? While it’s not absolutely required in order to get your online work done, having a P.O. box can make a lot of sense.
I originally got my P.O. box because I wasn’t comfortable handing out my home address online. Despite working primarily online, I still receive a lot of mail, like review copies of software and books or contracts. I still even have a few clients who send me everything for the work they need done in hard copy — some clients just aren’t ready to go to a paperless process for one reason or another. But since I started renting my post office box, I’ve found quite a few reasons why having one is a good idea.
Having your mail sent to a P.O. box can be a matter of security. It’s a choice many people make because they don’t want to hand out their home address online, but the security questions that a P.O. box answers goes even beyond that. Many web workers still receive paper checks. A lot of home mailboxes don’t have locks, making it possible for anyone to pull your mail — no matter what it contains — out of your mailbox. In contrast, a post office box has a lock and is usually inside a post office, so your mail will be safe.
Because I don’t need much more than my laptop to work, I often spend my days in coffee shops. If a package comes while I’m not home, it’s possible that the apartment office will hold it for me. However, it’s just as possible that they’ll refuse to sign for it and I’ll wind up driving all over. Of course, that’s assuming that the delivery service doesn’t just drop my package in front of my door and hope that it doesn’t disappear before I make it home.
While a home address does not instantly mark you as unprofessional, a P.O. box can help a web worker seem a little more established. It depends on the companies and clients you’re working with, but some clients may just deem a post office box to be a more professional address than an apartment or another address that is obviously residential. In part, such judgments can be attributed to the fact that most beginning freelancers or other web workers don’t usually have a mailing address beyond their homes. If you’ve reached the point where you can have a separate mailing address for your work, you’re probably a little further along in your career.
Not everyone needs a post office box, of course. It’s worth considering how much mail you receive on a regular basis, as well as your own needs as far as factors like security go. Don’t let the price scare you off, though: it’s usually possible to rent a P.O. box inexpensively — and the cost is likely to be deductible for taxes.
Do you have a P.O. box? Why did you decide to get one?
Image by Flicker user mrarteest