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>I would be interested in hearing from those tech writers who work out of
>their home. How do you find it? Do you have difficulty finding work?
>Advantages? Disadvantages? How do you find potential business?
I work from my home and have for almost two years now. Finding work CAN
be difficult at times, so it's best if you're flexible in what you can do
-- opens up more potential jobs. I've done both Web development (from
HTML to graphics to CGI) and writing since going freelance. Contacts are
also important. I met my first freelance client while working at my last
full-time job. Later, someone from that company recommended me to
someone else, and I landed that job. (BTW, both these companies were in
California. I'm in Michigan!) I have also had surprisingly decent luck
with people who run across my Web site and hire me "cold." id Software
hired me that way, as did one of my current clients.
Web sites are an important promotional tool for the work-at-home
freelancer. One useful trick is to get traffic to your site by putting
up pages containing information useful to the kinds of people you want to
hire you, including a link at the bottom of those pages to a page
containing information about your services. Advertise the informative
page widely. I used this technique to attract cutting-edge Macintosh
users (many of whom were developers) using a page that tracked software
conflicts on the PCI-based Mac models released in the fall of 1995, and I
got a lot of traffic and several jobs out of it. Just as important is to
put in regular appearances in newsgroups where potential clients hang
out, post informatively, and include a link to your Web page in your
Advantages? You can work any time you like. You don't have to dress up
(or dress at all, depending on your preferences). You don't have to deal
with distractions and interruptions. You can throw your work on your
laptop and go work in a park or at the beach, or just on your couch with
the stereo blasting.
Disadvantages? Sometimes it's hard to stay motivated and on schedule.
You really have to be a self-starter, or learn to be one. It's easy to
snack too much on the wrong things and gain weight. <g> Your house gets
to be much more of a mess than if you didn't spend all day there.
Jerry Kindall <kindall -at- manual -dot- com>
Manual Labor <http://www.manual.com/>
Technical Writing; Internet & WWW Consulting
Author of the Web Motion Encyclopedia
The comprehensive animation and video reference for Web designers
Coming Summer '97 from Waite Group Press