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Finding telecommuting work

My paper titled Marketing your remote editorial services addresses many of the concerns that managers may have when considering a telecommuting arrangement, but it doesn’t say anything about finding possible jobs in the first place. I get a lot of mail asking for the secret to getting telecommuting freelance editing work.

I’m sorry to say that there isn’t any secret, other than networking and creative marketing. Here are a few tips.

Identify your target audience.
What subject matter do you edit, want to edit, or prefer to edit? Computer user guides? Science textbooks? Legal handbooks? Science fiction? Cookery books?

Who needs that sort of material edited? Commercial publishers? (Which ones?) Computer software development companies? Government departments? Research organisations? Community groups? Do the same sort of research you would do to locate a company you would approach for an on-site job.

Which individuals in the target audience are responsible for hiring freelance


Go where your target audience hangs out.
Think about ways to network with the people you need to contact. Can you go anywhere in person to meet them? Don’t overlook the fact that someone you meet near your home may know someone in another city or country.
What magazines (print or online) are your target audience likely to read? Could you contribute an article, or even a letter to the editor, so your name might get known to your audience?
What Internet discussion lists might your target audience read? Contribute to them; get your name and skills known. Equally importantly, look for job advertisements and respond to them.
Join Copyediting-L, even if you’re not a copyeditor.
Interesting jobs turn up there, and you can filter out the chatter if you want to (I find the chatter immensely entertaining, if awfully time-consuming). Send the message subscribe copyediting-L Firstname Lastname to LISTSERV@LISTSERV.INDIANA.EDU
Plan ahead to take clients with you when you move.
By far the most successful way of getting telecommuting work is to establish a good working relationship with clients who will keep sending you part-time or full-time work even if you move a long distance away.
A variation is to contact people for whom you’ve worked in the past (on staff or as a freelance editor) and discuss possibilities. Perhaps they’ve found you hard to replace, and will now look more favorably on a telecommuting arrangement.
Be willing to spend some time at the client’s site.
Most people are reluctant to work with someone they’ve never met. Be sure prospective clients know you’re willing to come to them (if that’s at all possible), at least at the start of a project. For example, I’ve offered to spend a week or two in another city to plan and organise a project, if I can then take the rest of the work home with me.
If you live in the same metropolitan area as the client, you could offer to come in occasionally for meetings. The more flexible you are, the more likely they’ll seriously consider working with you.
Ask people hiring writers if they need an editor.
When you see some place advertising for several writers for an urgent job on a new project, contact the company to see if they can use an editor for part-time or overflow work. This tactic is less likely to work if the company is hiring through an agent.
Ask appropriate organisations if they maintain a list of freelance editors.
For example, in Australia many government departments and other organisations advertise for qualified consultants and specialists (including editors) to be placed on lists of people who may be contacted to do odd jobs or bid on contracts.
Use online job search databases in your specialist area.
You’ll have to find them, but any search engine will turn up a daunting list of such places, and if you’ve followed some of the earlier tips (particularly “go where your target audience hangs out”), you can probably narrow them down to a few that cover your interests best.
Make deals with others to offer a package of services.
Do you know any freelance programmers, desktop publishers, graphic artists, writers, consultants in almost any field? Do they sometimes make proposals for work that could use an editor as part of their team? For example, someone who does annual reports for businesses might be putting together a team of a writer, a graphic artist, a printer, and so on; surely this team needs an editor! A bit of creative thinking could turn up many possiblities.

If anyone has some more tips to offer on this subject, let me know and I’ll add them to this page.

Last updated 16 November 2001/p>