tcuk 2013 - managing as a freelance technical communicator

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Managing as a freelance technical communicator

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  • 1. Managing as a freelance technical communicator Alison Peck

2. TAKING THE PLUNGE 3. When it all started Summer 2004 spate of redundancies October 2004 relocation not an option BUT Children had left home space in house No mortgage so less financial pressure Already had basic equipment November 2004 Clearly Stated was born the start of an adventure! 4. Did I do a business plan? A very basic one, yes No borrowing required Minimal capital outlay Free marketing (existing network) Calculated: Average earnings required to maintain standard of living How long till first job before panicking Was that enough? 5. Emergency fund What happens if you dont find work? The client goes bust? Youre ill? 6. Where do you want to be next year? in 5 years? in 10 years?There will be detours along the way but dont get lost! 7. GETTING WORK 8. First contact Ive had an enquiry! Do I have the skill-set? Do I have the capacity? Do I have the software? And also Is it interesting work? Have I worked with them before? How did they hear of me? 9. What do they want? High-level stuff: Are they looking for another pair of hands? Some suggestions? A fully managed project (consultancy)? And does everyone know! Low-level stuff: What are they going to get? What am I going to have to do to produce it? 10. Legal issues Legal status: Sole trader or limited company? Terms and conditions yours or theirs? If you dont like something, say so Insurance: Professional indemnity Public liability Business insurance 11. Estimating/quoting Be precise in your quote! Who pays for re-work? Under what circumstances? What about expenses? Costing options: Daily/hourly rate Fixed price my internal hourly rate Range with a cap security for both sides 12. Big issues for me What is this going to cost me Equipment Training Time with my family Reputation Stress Do I want this work? 13. Big issues for the client Are they ready for me? Are they giving me make work tasks? Do they know what their priorities are? How realistic are the timescales? Would they be better with a contractor? More expensive paid when not needed Readily available not doing anything else 14. What are the implications? I have: Many concurrent clients More than one project/product per client Numerous deadlines Can work flexibly, switching between projects usually more economical Changes and delays cause clashes not on the clients project plan! 15. The plan 150125 100 Project 3 Project 2 Project 175 50 25 0 Week 1Week 2Week 3Week 4 16. The reality 150125 100 Project 3 Project 2 Project 175 50 25 0 Week 1Week 2Week 3Week 4 17. Can we minimise the risk? Have incremental deadlines (drip-feed) Share when something is time-critical Dont assume that people are doing nothing else Co-ordinate/collate review comments when possible Ask what would help if deadlines are tight 18. Whos in charge? Named point of contact Responsibility can be delegated but not too far down the chain If its obviously wrong, question it 19. Why use freelances? Advantages Fill short-term need (skillgap, capacity)Disadvantages May not be aware of history with project Wide range of experience Initially not aware of corporate culture Fresh pair of eyes, new ideas Unsure of boundaries or status within project Enthusiastic not jaded Out-of-sight can equal out-of-mind 20. BUSINESS AS USUAL 21. Everyday issues Worklife balance Delegate when it makes sense Cash flow Motivation Learning curve can be steep 22. Getting bigger Became an employer on 9 July 2012 This has changed a lot: Type of projects we can undertake Capacity (not doubled, but increased) Complementary business skills Future of the business 23. What would I do differently? Set a more realistic rate for my services (need to keep working on this one!) Have a clear direction for my business from the beginning Always find out who has decision-making authority for my client Say no more often 24. Any questions? Contact alison@clearly-stated.co.uk www.clearly-stated.co.uk