The Born Freelancer on Having a Business Mailing Address

This series of posts by the Born Freelancer shares personal experiences and thoughts on issues relevant to freelancers. Have something to add to the conversation? Your input is welcome in the comments.


It was late one night when a loud hammering on my front door interrupted an enjoyably quiet summer evening. Upon opening my door I was surprised and somewhat annoyed to discover a semi-inebriated former employer in need of a shoulder to cry upon about his unhappy domestic situation.

Why me?

He’d remembered “how well” we’d got along. This despite terminating my freelancing services. However, he had kept my business card. It had my home (office) address on it – and, lucky me, he’d been in the neighborhood.

Ah, the joys of being a freelancer. It can be hard to close the door (figuratively or literally) on a possible employer – even an ex-employer – and didn’t this one know it.

Now this scenario did not involve any danger to me nor serious consequences but it might have. What if it had been a former employer with a vindictive agenda? Or an unhappy story subject with an imagined grudge?

Working from my home office it had never occurred to me not to put it on my letterhead, business cards and promotional material. Now for the first time I felt vulnerable. I resolved in future to make my physical location less readily available.

The first thing I did was to eliminate my home address from most of my promotional material. I only gave it out when required.

But this proved problematic. Some may believe having a physical address to receive business materials is anachronistic but it is still a necessity for many of us. Employers and others needed it to send me materials, often without me knowing ahead of time. So this meant phone calls and emails determining why they needed the information and then calls back and forth again confirming it. This wasted a lot of time and usually ended up frustrating all of us.

When I opened an office away from my home I was able to direct mail and shipments there with a higher degree of security and privacy. But that arrangement did not last. Soon I was back to my home office and using it as my business address once more.

So I resolved to look into acquiring a separate business mailing address. This meant getting a post office box, a UPS box or some kind of “convenience” address.

My final choice would depend upon a number of factors.

Why have a separate business mailing address?


I no longer liked the idea of publicizing my home as my business address. Nine-to-fivers can use their business offices as their business address. It provides an automatic layer of privacy and security. It is an advantage freelancers do not possess. So we are forced to do something about it if it is an issue for us.


Some freelancers may want to look into acquiring a business address based upon appearances. An address in a nearby bigger city or on a more fashionable street or in a professional neighborhood may be thought to enhance your brand’s reputation. 

I know one successful freelancer who for years had an impressive address in a major city. When I asked to visit he had to confess that it was only a “convenience address” and that his physical office was in a rather rundown part of town about which he preferred to keep quiet. When I visited and saw the epic mess I totally understood why.


Many freelancers move about so often that a constant change of address can be both problematic (updating files) as well as giving out a negative impression of instability. A permanent business address means that contact information does not need constant updating. It can also give the impression of permanency despite actual circumstances.


It can be a great advantage to locate your business address in a part of town with useful nearby resources. A post office, a library, a prominent employer, an office supply store and good but affordable restaurants are all useful resources for the freelancer to have near a business address. I’ve also written extensively about the creative advantages of walking. Having a business mailing address to walk to every day can also be a tremendous health benefit.

In your absence

At my home office I was often out and frequently missed items that had to be signed for or received in person. It is useful to have a location as your business address that can receive mail for you in your absence and either hold it for you or else make it conveniently available for pick up.

Tax deduction

A business address used for professional purposes is also invaluable as a tax deduction and for further proving your serious intentions to the tax authorities of a career as a working freelancer.

There may be other good reasons but for me I had more than enough. It was time to research my options.


“Convenience” addresses

This could be an informal arrangement with a friend to use their address, or arranging with a small retail store (for a fee) at a suitable location to receive and hold your mail.

I used this approach for a while (a friend’s address) but it seemed an unnecessary imposition that soon intruded upon our friendship. I needed a better solution.

UPS or PO Box

In the end, for me, it came down to selecting a box at either a UPS Store or Post Office branch.

To help decide, 

* I looked at the various services each provided. (There were differences).

* I compared costs. (They were differences). 

* I looked at many locations. (These varied greatly). 

* I noted many UPS stores were located on easily accessible major streets.

* I noted many post office boxes were contained within postal substations, that is, within drugstores or retail outlets which also provided post office services.

* I looked closely at the times I could access my mail. (It varied from location to location).

* I also considered the likelihood of any particular location undergoing renovations in the near future which might interrupt or curtail my mail service.

Obviously all of these issues can change with time. You will need to investigate and compare your own current local market conditions.

My decision

I chose a Canada Post main post office box in the downtown heart of the city. It had a location I liked; it was priced competitively; it had nearby resources I wanted; it was an invigorating walk for me to access; it gave me the privacy and security I was looking for; and it gave me the confidence in its continuance that I needed to put it on all of my new assorted promotional material.

The takeaway

A business address may not be necessary for all work-at-home freelancers but I would posit more and more of us will soon want to look into it for some or all the reasons I’ve outlined. 

* If you work at home and have not considered it, it is worth the mental exercise to review the points I’ve raised to see if any resonate with you.

* If you already have a business mailing address, it is worth reviewing your satisfaction with it given there may be new alternatives available.

Oh – and that inebriated ex-employer? After providing caffeine and a sympathetic ear he was never heard from again. 

So the next time an unwanted, uninvited business visitor wants to drop by after hours, they’re most welcome to do so at my new business address. 

It’s clearly printed on all my cards.


Posted on January 15, 2016 at 9:00 am by editor · · Tagged with: , ,

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