Re: Clients Who Telecommute

Subject: Re: Clients Who Telecommute
From: Peter Kent <76711 -dot- 2557 -at- COMPUSERVE -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 14 Feb 1996 17:31:53 EST

>>Kathy Fisher said:
I am curious about how many writers out there have clients out of their area
or out-of-state, if they telecommute with those clients, and how they obtain
those clients. ...<<

I've done some work like this; I could have done more, I think, but didn't need
to--I had enough work locally. I did a couple of jobs for Amgen, a drug company
in CA (I'm in Denver, CO), and a few things for MasterCard in NY.

I think telecommuting has been greatly hyped by its proponents. Few companies
are using true telecommuting. Microsoft, for instance, has very few
telecommuters. And I can think of one high-tech company that used to telecommute
but put a stop to it a couple of years ago. However, that doesn't mean it can't
be done. You just have to realize that, all things being equal, your prospects
would rather work with someone close by than someone the other side of the

So you have to have something special to sell; you must have a skill that is not
easily found. The jobs I did for Amgen and MasterCard were WinHelp jobs. I don't
know what the situation is now, but a couple of years ago it was difficult to
find writers who knew how to create WinHelp files. In the case of MasterCard
they already had a writer doing their paper documents. When they said they
wanted WinHelp he said he couldn't do it, so I got the WinHelp work...and the
paper docs too!

Both Amgen and MasterCard were having trouble finding writers who could do
WinHelp, so they were easy marks for a bit of online marketing. I found them
both through CompuServe, in the CONSULT forum. In the case of Amgen a programmer
put a msg up asking for WinHelp help. In the case of MasterCard I put a msg
there offering WinHelp help.

It also helps if you can persuade them that you'll do a really good job. They
don't know who you are, remember, you're just a series of words in an e-mail
msg. Sending references might help. Follow up with samples. In my case I can
list all the books I've written sitting in their local bookstore, which really
helps (and is one reason that I advise all technical writers to do at least one
or two books for publication).

Good luck,

Peter Kent

Peter Kent: 71601 -dot- 1266 -at- compuserve -dot- com, 303-989-1869
Coming soon, an updated and revised Technical Writer's Freelancing
Guide. E-mail for more information.

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