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MNHQ - do you employ people to work from home at all?

(12 Posts)
Averille Mon 02-Oct-17 12:33:25

Hello, ever so sorry to ask like this but I wasn't sure where was a more appropriate place, having been away from MN for a year or so.

I'm currently working (intermittently! and actually for nothing, to get a CV together) as a copy editor - I've just done a fifth novel for a published author, and regularly stand in for a friend's proofreader when he's away - but it's hard to find anything reliable, because I'm not in London and as a single parent can't easily travel to London at present.

I've discussed work with someone at the Independent but that involves going to Town every evening, and coming back late, and though I could (and willingly would) do so, my parents childcare support system won't and can't. And my CV is not exactly bursting at the seams, with having been out of paid work for many years.

It struck me (without knowing all the ins and outs, so with due respect) much of it could be done on line - and I'm on the computer all day anyway - and honestly the articles I sub for friends in journalism, just because I'm bored, are quite numerous. But I am too terrified to make the leap into getting paid for freelance work without first being on a payroll.

So I wondered I suppose whether you ever have vacancies that people can do without travelling up every single day? Or if anyone knows of anyone else that might?

The Spectator story a few weeks ago about doing away with CVs, and their 48yo intern, made me weep, because even though it's wonderful, it's still like absolute gold dust, and I know I'm very, very unlikely to get such an opportunity.

I'm grateful for any advice at all from anyone. I've finally found a job I'm very good at, and love doing (I worked solidly for ten hours a day over four days to get the novel done - and almost forgot about my children).

Thank you very much for reading this if you got to the end.

Averille Mon 02-Oct-17 12:36:45

God that all sounds really cocky. I'm not: I just love the work. I love it so much that I can't really believe people get paid to do it.

And I've no idea how to get to do it all the time.

MaybeDoctor Wed 04-Oct-17 10:29:36

I'm a bit puzzled, because it sounds as if you are already doing it - you just need to ask for more money and more work!

Why are you sub-editing work for your friends for free? Surely that is only worth doing for a short time, then you use that experience to get you paid work.

MN used to employ local coordinators, but I am not sure if they still do. Most of their content work seems to be done from Kentish Town.

Have you tried People Per Hour or the other freelancing sites?

MaybeDoctor Wed 04-Oct-17 10:37:04

A few years ago I read 'How to Pitch and Sell a Freelance Feature'. I read Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 on how to pitch, then took a deep breath, phoned an editor and pitched him an article on a subject I was really passionate -angry- about. When he could get a word in edgeways he offered me a paid piece.

I then had to skip ahead to Chapter 7 or something to work out how to bill for my work!

I ended up with quite a nice run of 6 or 7 paid pieces, from different publications. I don't do it now, as I have an employed role.

I think it is all about a) being unafraid b) how you describe yourself.

Averille Wed 04-Oct-17 10:51:52

Thanks so much. That's very encouraging and I am impressed that you just did it.
The reason I'm reluctant to take on paid work is that I currently get benefit (my youngest is not yet five) and would need to declare anything to the DWP which means I could effectively halt our entire income for weeks, for a piece of work that would earn me £50 or less. It would be a nightmare - so while I've been offered money for the stand-in work, I couldn't accept it, and said I would do it for a reference.
It's a trap... until I know I've got a steady income I just can't risk it.
I did contact the agent of the person whose novel I edited, and she immediately wrote back saying 'yes, we have work proofing for established authors - please advise of your fee schedule' at which point I froze and told her I didn't have one yet, and asked what she would recommend.
I didn't hear back so I totally blew that.

Thanks very much for replying to my post and I hope I've explained what the problem is a bit more clearly.

MaybeDoctor Wed 04-Oct-17 13:01:26

Ask someone on here what they charge?

Write back:

Hi Jill,
I worked for you on X project. I have now clarified my fee structure (see attached) and would be keen to take on any proofreading work....etc

MaybeDoctor Wed 04-Oct-17 13:08:11

I think the solution is:

a) get a local job that can fit around childcare and reduces your reliance on tax-credits.

b) build up your editing work alongside this, especially as your children start school.

Averille Wed 04-Oct-17 13:45:38

Your last reply is sort of what I'd thought of doing, but seeing someone else write it makes it clearer. Thank you.

Excellent idea about writing to the agent again; I'm going to need to work out, though, what I ought to be paid - last time I looked it up on an editors' website it seemed to be minimum £23 per hour which to me sounds utterly fanciful!

If I'd charged that for the novel, I'd have charged him over £900. As it is I was delighted that he sent me a £50 gift card. But then I'm not sure whether the rate at which I work is satisfactory.

I'm going to need to do some more research about it I think, but in the meantime, thank you very very much for taking the time to think about my situation and to make such helpful suggestions. I'm really grateful.

thereallochnessmonster Fri 06-Oct-17 09:30:56

Join the SfEP - the UK's professional editing organisation. Do some research around editing - most are freelance. There are very few in-house proofreaders these days. So you need to be able to run your own business and market yourself too. You have to be an editorial professional - and it's a very competitive field.

I'm amazed that you've been able to get work with a published author with no editing background or training. How do you know you're doing the right things??

So for God's sake get some training. Then you can charge a proper fee for your work.

People editing/proofreading for free make it harder for other editors to earn a living - if authors get something for free, they tend to value it less, and if you've worked for someone for free, how likely are they to want to start paying you?

There are loads of benefits to joining the SfEP - editors' forums, local groups, discounts on training, CPD, etc. Browse their website to find out more. It's worth joining just for the member discount on courses!

Sounds unusual for an agent to say they can offer you proofreading. Agents don't normally get involved in that. That's the publisher's job.

thereallochnessmonster Fri 06-Oct-17 09:32:58

And also, £23 per hour is not a lot. Factor in the qualifications that many editors/proofreaders have - degrees, editorial training, experience - and then work out how much you need to earn each year.

You won't earn every hour you work because you have to send invoices, do admin, do marketing, reply to emails, etc, and you also won't get paid for annual leave/sick leave so your hourly rate has to be enough to live on.

pimmsy Fri 06-Oct-17 09:53:25

I think you need to work on your fee schedule first.

I'm not in the UK so things may be different but I would advise against asking people you are working for their price. I so hate this phrase but I really do think that if you are competent in what you're doing you need to "fake it till you make it".

When you work out your rate be sure you have factored all your deductions and costs into it. ( Taxes, software, extra heating for being at home, postage costs? etc etc)

Sometimes when you look at freelance rates you can think they are high, but don't forget the costs, it's not equivalent to "take-home pay" per hour.

I did a little bit of freelancing at the start of my career and will be forever grateful to the first woman I worked with as a freelancer ( I had interned with her some years before) who after I sent my first quote wrote back saying "If you do something well, you shouldn't do it for free or nearly free"

Update your C.V. (there are good online free sites that can help you do this, for example, cvmkr.com/) You don't have to include that you have done what you have done for free.

Also a good thing to remember is what is called here "the magic triangle" I've added an image.

People tend to know this - you can only have 1 line of the triangle at a time, so you can get something "cheap and good but not as fast" something "fast and cheap but not as good" or 'fast and good but not as cheap" if you see what that means.

You should also factor this into your quotes, if the deadline is shorter, you can charge ( within reason ) more.

VeganCow Thu 12-Oct-17 17:39:52

this is the way to do it. Start up your own 'named' business. You go to the jobcentre, ask to be placed on the New Enterprise Allowance scheme, where they will allow you to still claim benefits for several weeks, including housing benefit and income support/jobseekers etc. while you start to get work coming in. They will then pay you a weekly rate (£60 odd per week for 13 weeks, then £30 odd for 13 weeks) for 6 months while you build your business. After 6 months, you're on your own. They can also give you a small grant if you have any costs such as new clothes for your job.

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