Does a Freelance Writer Need a Post Office Box?

by John Soares on September 29, 2014

Why would a freelance writer or any other home-based worker want a post office box? Well, as a freelancer who has a home address and can easily get home delivery, I’ve chosen to have all my mail go to my post office box. Here’s why…

The Advantages of a Post Office Box

#1, If You Rent

If you’re a renter like me, you know the hassle of having to change your address every time you move. And not only do you have to fill out the form and hope everything gets forwarded, you also should contact all your important clients to let them know, especially since they’ll have to send you 1099 forms that you must have to do your taxes.

Here’s a cautionary story. I moved in 2013. I promptly notified all the companies I worked with so they could update their records. I still had problems getting all my 1099s, and I also missed a check that was sent to my old address and somehow didn’t get forwarded. (My bad, though, for not following up much sooner on the missing check.)

#2, You Want to Keep Your Home Address Private

This is an issue for some of us. We don’t want our home address floating around out there, and we don’t want unwanted visitors knocking on our doors.

#3, You Travel Frequently

No need for a vacation hold (if you’re gone less than 30 days): the post office will keep it all and you can fetch it when you return.

#4, You’re Concerned About Mail Getting Stolen

Your box is secured by lock and key. That’s not the case where I live now. My mailbox is on the street where anyone could open it and steal the contents.

#5, You Want to Keep Your Freelance Business Separate

You can choose to get personal mail at home while getting your business correspondence at the post office. This can be a good idea if you’re concerned that important business mail will be lost or misplaced by the people you live with (kids, sloppy roommates, absented-minded husbands).

Some Disadvantages…

#1, You Have to Travel to Get Your Mail

This isn’t a problem for me since I live near downtown Ashland, Oregon and the post office. I’m within a couple hundred feet of the building several times a week and I have 24-hour access.

#2, There’s a Fee

Yes, it costs money. However, if you use it for business, it could be a tax deduction.

Suggestions

#1, Get a Big Box

They cost more, but they also hold more, which means you can pick up less often. Another advantage: important mail, like magazines, and 9×12 envelopes, won’t be as bent. They may even lie flat if you get a large enough box.

#2, Use a Private Company

Not necessary, of course, but many private businesses offer mailbox service. They have an added advantage in that you can often have packages delivered there that you can pick up whenever the business is open. (The post office doesn’t do that.)

Your Take

What do you see as the advantages and disadvantages of having a post office box? 

 

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