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BJ Dooley Technical Information Services Degrees of Freedom Freelancing in Technical Communications.

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Presentation on theme: "BJ Dooley Technical Information Services Degrees of Freedom Freelancing in Technical Communications."— Presentation transcript:

1 BJ Dooley Technical Information Services Degrees of Freedom Freelancing in Technical Communications

2 BJ Dooley Technical Information Services DISPELLING COMMON MYTHS

3 BJ Dooley Technical Information Services MYTH: Freelancing only works between real jobs. A recent Intercom article talked about freelancing strictly as a fall back possibility between contracting jobs. The writer couldn’t imagine how it could possibly be a full time choice.

4 BJ Dooley Technical Information Services Freelancers can live quite comfortably. I’ve done so for over 10 years!

5 BJ Dooley Technical Information Services MYTH: Freelance opportunities are simple projects that don’t pay. Many people lump all freelancing together, and write it off as fairly hopeless--only a means to gain writing experience.

6 BJ Dooley Technical Information Services Freelancing can be made into a specialised profession. I have clients in a wide spectrum of specialty subject areas, and many require--and pay for--advanced experience and knowledge.

7 BJ Dooley Technical Information Services MYTH: Freelancing is easy. On the other hand, some believe that freelancing is an easy way to make extra money, and is only for lazy sods like…(no names, please).

8 BJ Dooley Technical Information Services For real success, treat freelancing as a full time job.

9 BJ Dooley Technical Information Services MYTH: Freelancing is really the same as contracting, with a few differences. It is often assumed that freelancing and contracting are really the same thing, with just a few minor differences.

10 BJ Dooley Technical Information Services See next section!

11 BJ Dooley Technical Information Services FREELANCING VERSUS CONTRACTING

12 BJ Dooley Technical Information Services Freelancing is LIKE Contracting, but it is not the same: Freelance projects tend to be brief Freelancers need to have many clients Freelancing gives more control BUT …there are a lot of other differences to be aware of, too…

13 BJ Dooley Technical Information Services Contractor The Contractor generally works within a company, and has clear lines of authority and responsibility. Tech Writer 1 President Corporate Communications VP Marketing VP Engineering VP Project Leader Project Leader Project Leader Project Leader Project Leader Project Leader Tech Writer 2 3

14 BJ Dooley Technical Information Services Freelancer President Corporate Communications VP Marketing VP Engineering VP Project Leader Project Leader Project Leader Project Leader Project Leader Project Leader Tech Writer 1 Tech Writer 2 Tech Writer 3 President Corporate Communications VP Marketing VP Engineering VP Project Leader Project Leader Project Leader Project Leader Project Leader Project Leader Tech Writer 1 Tech Writer 2 Tech Writer 3 President Corporate Communications VP Marketing VP Engineering VP Project Leader Project Leader Project Leader Project Leader Project Leader Project Leader Tech Writer 1 Tech Writer 2 Tech Writer 3 President Corporate Communications VP Marketing VP Engineering VP Project Leader Project Leader Project Leader Project Leader Project Leader Project Leader Tech Writer 1 Tech Writer 2 Tech Writer 3 Freelancer President Corporate Communications VP Marketing VP Engineering VP Project Leader Project Leader Project Leader Project Leader Project Leader Project Leader Tech Writer 1 Tech Writer 2 Tech Writer 3 President Corporate Communications VP Marketing VP Engineering VP Project Leader Project Leader Project Leader Project Leader Project Leader Project Leader Tech Writer 1 Tech Writer 2 Tech Writer 3 The Freelancer works with numerous companies, reporting at different levels and with different responsibilities.

15 BJ Dooley Technical Information Services Contractor The Contractor generally works on a small number of large documentation projects in a year Projects Installation Manual for Giganticorp Corporation Help System for SlowRun Computers Technical Reference Update for Giganticorp Corporation

16 BJ Dooley Technical Information Services Freelancer SAN for everyone Negotiating the Best Telecom Contract Videoconferencing Feature Comparison Corporate colours Feature review - Seagate160 GB external hard drive Review: Epson AcuLaser C4100 Review: Oki C5100 Budde Updates 0404 METROTECH Copy Eagle manages RockGas support Service With a Smile Database Management Systems Comparison The Play’s the Thing Feature review - Creative MuVo2 Budde Updates 0403 PABX Feature Comparison Peripheral vision Review: HP Laserjet 3020 Review: Zalman ZM-RS6F Headphones Budde Updates 0402 SLAs: Setting the Rules for Outsrcd Rltnshps Monitoring the market Review-HP f1903 Review-Viewsonic VP211b Better viruses lead to sicker firms Antivirus: Review - CA eTrust Antivirus Antivirus: Review - Symantec NAV 2004 VPNs and the Remote Access Market Budde Updates 0406 Supply Chain Telecom in Argentina (update) Telecommunications in Italy (update) ComPiere: Free CRM with ERP; Kitchen sink… Software for all Telecommunications in the UK (update) Telecommunications in Germany (update) Trunked Mobile Radio Telecommunications in the Middle East (update) Past 8 megapixels and beyond Review: Canon PowerShot Pro1 Review: Kodak EasyShare LS753 Budde Updates Projects The Freelancer may work on anywhere from one --up to hundreds of small projects in a year.

17 BJ Dooley Technical Information Services Contractor The Contractor generally works for a few large companies, each with a regular and fairly large salary.

18 BJ Dooley Technical Information Services Freelancer The Freelancer generally works for multiple clients with numerous tiny payments that will seldom match a contractor’s pay…even collectively. But that’s the price you pay for freedom!

19 BJ Dooley Technical Information Services Contractor Me The Contractor generally works for a few companies in the local area.

20 BJ Dooley Technical Information Services Freelancer Me The Freelancer often works with a large number of clients, all around the globe.

21 BJ Dooley Technical Information Services Contractor Manuals The Contractor is often engaged in a few large projects, with a high degree of specialisation.

22 BJ Dooley Technical Information Services Freelancer Journalism Help & MultimediaResearch Reports Manuals Analysis & Prognostication The Freelancer must be a mercenary, willing to undertake projects of all types and sizes.

23 BJ Dooley Technical Information Services Contractor Play NIGHT DAY Work 30 % 40 % 10 % 20 % Sleep The Contractor is often able to maintain fairly normal hours and a standard work week.

24 BJ Dooley Technical Information Services Freelancer Play NIGHT DAY Work 60 % 25 % 10 % 5 % Sleep Freelancer work days are irregular, and there is a tendency to overdo to keep on top of things.

25 BJ Dooley Technical Information Services Contractor Contractors work with time in large blocks, with few requirements for use of downtime. Downtime may even include paid vacations.

26 BJ Dooley Technical Information Services Freelancer Freelancers need to spend a lot of time marketing, and have many very brief periods of downtime—which should be used for marketing. What’s a vacation?

27 BJ Dooley Technical Information Services Contractor Diet Hints: Counting Calories Contractors make good money, but it can be sedentary work, so calories must be counted. Here’s a calorie guide to keep healthy as a contractor.

28 BJ Dooley Technical Information Services Freelancer Diet Hints: Counting Calories Protein (g)Fat (g)CarbohydrateCalcium (mg)Iron (mg) Giant Water Beetle Silk Worm Pupae Dung Beetle Cricket Large Grasshopper June Beetle Caterpillar6.7N/A 13.1 Freelancing can also be sedentary work, but money can oscillate widely. Here’s a calorie guide for freelancers.

29 BJ Dooley Technical Information Services BRIAN’S RULES FOR SUCCESSFUL FREELANCING

30 BJ Dooley Technical Information Services Brian’s Rules for Successful Freelancing 1.Never turn down a job 2.If you are not writing, you should be marketing 3.Work at least up to your minimum pay each week 4.Seek quality, from planning to production 5.Seek regular clients 6.Remain “hungry” 7.Maintain good records 8.Be flexible 9.Find your niche 10.Remember, the client is OFTEN right!

31 BJ Dooley Technical Information Services BRIAN’S RULES IN DETAIL

32 BJ Dooley Technical Information Services 1. Never turn down a job Why? Every new job has a substantial acquisition “cost” and represents an opportunity. How? There are almost always options. If you don’t have the skills, find a subcontractor who does; if the pay is too low, put limits on the job; if the project is too big, assemble a team.

33 BJ Dooley Technical Information Services 2. If you are not writing, you should be marketing Why? You are on your own clock. There is no such thing as free time. If you do not market when time is available, you may not be able to when schedules fill. How? Marketing is discussed at length later, but involves Web searches, maintaining contact lists, and advertising.

34 BJ Dooley Technical Information Services 3. Work at least up to your minimum pay each week Why? Project schedules will be all over the place. The one thing that you do know is that you need to make a weekly rate to pay the bills. Work done is “money in the bank,” no matter when it gets paid. How? Start projects early, if necessary. It is not necessary to wait until you are near deadlines.

35 BJ Dooley Technical Information Services 4. Seek quality, from planning to production Why? Reputation is important, and part of your business will rely upon word-of-mouth. It is much easier to sell if you are known for quality work. In planning, remember that accuracy, records management and good product scoping will save misunderstandings and build confidence. How? Know what you are doing, and work to the best of your ability. Always back up your work with careful planning and a strong contract. Ensure that the customer is always aware of your actions, costs and requirements.

36 BJ Dooley Technical Information Services 5. Seek regular clients. Why? Every new client has a substantial acquisition “cost,” which will include the time, effort and energy spent in getting them on board. While one job from a client may be worth, say, $1000, a regular client may provide jobs worth $100,000 or more over a period of years. In fact, I have a client that has been worth over half a million dollars over a long period of time. How? Keep in contact with clients. Suggest projects. Send Xmas cards (a personal favourite), “tickle” them periodically for new jobs. And, of course, give regular clients red carpet treatment.

37 BJ Dooley Technical Information Services 6. Remain “hungry”. Why? Clients can be fickle, and entire markets can fold. You, the freelancer, are on the far end of the branch in the corporate “feeding chain.” The very first budgetary move is to cut down on freelancing. Also, new editors take on the job, policies change and so forth. You can never be totally secure, and income depends upon keeping client numbers up. How? Keep marketing, looking for new clients, seeking jobs, pursuing contacts.

38 BJ Dooley Technical Information Services 7. Maintain good records. Why? Client and contact records are essential to pursuing business. You need to know who the contact is for this client, what happened last contact, what their postal, and phone details are, what projects you have done for them, and what types of suggestions are likely to interest them. Work records need to be accurate and include all project details, plus all retained correspondence. If you use subcontractors, you need to ensure that you maintain all payment and rate information as well. How? Use a database system or a spreadsheet for most information. A customized system is best. We developed a system in MS Access, for example, partly due to a need to handle the large amount of details for publications projects, and partly to permit multi-currency invoicing.

39 BJ Dooley Technical Information Services 8. Be flexible Why? Flexibility is a key freelancer strength. You should be ready to accept numerous work arrangements, numerous payment options, and other conditions that might pertain to different projects. For example, accepting limited “in house” contracts, payment at the end of a project, royalty arrangements and so forth. How? Consider each proposed option carefully, in relation to your total portfolio, and work to accommodate special requests.

40 BJ Dooley Technical Information Services 9. Find your niche Why? In writing about a subject, you will often find that previous work in that area is the best advertising for the next job. It is a lot easier to convince clients to use your services, and also gives you an air of expertise in that subject, or in those subjects. How? Every time you accept a job involving a new subject matter or new type of product (online documents versus printed documents, for example), explore the possibility of doing further work in that area when you are doing your marketing.

41 BJ Dooley Technical Information Services 10. Remember, the client is OFTEN right! Do the best that you can, but avoid pushing the client too far. If they must have things done a certain way, find a quality way to do it that it will reflect well upon both you and upon your client.

42 BJ Dooley Technical Information Services MARKETING …how to handle the great unknown in freelancing, without losing your shirt.

43 BJ Dooley Technical Information Services Marketing is Constant It includes: Job seeking Advertising Networking Promoting Reminding

44 BJ Dooley Technical Information Services Job seeking Use the Web. Find regular job sites and look up “freelance”; go to specialized freelance sites; look in international listings. Use specialty publications such as Writers Magazine, Writers Market and so forth.

45 BJ Dooley Technical Information Services Advertising Advertising is expensive, so try to find most effective possibilities: –List in Yellow Pages for different areas, –List with writer’s agencies such as WriterFind, if they have a track record, –Place advertisements in specialty publications within your field, if seeking corporate work.

46 BJ Dooley Technical Information Services Networking Maintain contact with individuals, even after they leave key companies—they will be going to other companies that may need freelancers Join local business organizations Join local professional organizations Always carry business cards, even to informal, non-business gatherings

47 BJ Dooley Technical Information Services Promoting Maintain a Web site and keep it relevant and up to date Keep good Web statistics Mail out press releases for significant events Submit essays to key publications Publish a newsletter for existing clients and prospects

48 BJ Dooley Technical Information Services Reminding Make certain that you adequately harass your current contacts. Seek them out for quotes, additional projects, or just to see if they might need more work.

49 BJ Dooley Technical Information Services THE FREELANCE LIFESTYLE

50 BJ Dooley Technical Information Services The good stuff Live wherever you want Travel whenever you feel like it Work mainly on projects that really interest you Control your own schedule, income and advancement

51 BJ Dooley Technical Information Services The bad stuff There may not be enough cash to do any of the good stuff…at least in the beginning Working can take over your life Projects can come at inconvenient times Multiple deadlines can make pressure intense

52 BJ Dooley Technical Information Services But think of the possibilities!

53 BJ Dooley Technical Information Services


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