Freelancer of the Month December 2012 – Alan O’Brien0
Welcome to our new feature! Every month we’ll be asking one of our advertisers a few questions about themselves and their business. First to sit in the FaP hot seat is Alan O’Brien of AOB Proofreading.
Hi Alan! First of all, tell us about your journey to becoming a freelancer.
In 2005 I read an advert for a proofreader. Up until then it hadn’t occurred to me that this could be done for a living! I found out more about what proofreading was, and started on the Publishing Training Centre’s excellent distance learning course, later that year. And I’ve never looked back really. Finally a job I enjoy doing!
What do you enjoy most about running your own business?
Jobs I receive vary hugely in subject matter, even from clients who are similar, e.g. students with academic assignments. The variety makes it exciting because now and then you read fascinating material.
Have you got any advice for aspiring freelancers?
Getting a website is a must, and shows you are serious about what you do. If you can specialise in certain areas, e.g. you’re a proofreader or copy-editor and you have a physics background, then you are likely to have a niche in which to operate. From that you can target specific clients who will value your subject knowledge above competitors who don’t have your specialist subject knowledge.
What are the downsides to working for yourself, if any, and how do you overcome them?
There is that perceived lack of predictability regarding regular or sufficient income, which is a constant dynamic even for many established freelancers. But more and more in these austere times, ‘normal’ jobs, i.e. those where you’re on the payroll, are being made redundant. So, for me, that advantage of a 9–5 payrolled office job providing a safe, guaranteed income is now somewhat of an illusion.
How do you go about promoting your business/finding clients?
I email specific publishers who produce the subject matter that I am experienced in. I also have listings in paid and free directories and websites.
What is your most treasured work-related possession?
My Mountain Dew energy drink :-)
What do you enjoy reading when you’re not working with words?
Sitcom scripts (I have written a few myself); Liverpool Echo; books on the paranormal/unexplained, and spirituality; Facebook.
What’s your favourite book?
Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk.
What’s the funniest typo you have corrected?
Pubic sector, when it should have been public sector. I like situations like this where you’re one letter from disaster ;-)
What qualities would you say are required when proofreading?
Attention to detail is an obvious answer, but I’ve learned you really must be attentive in a methodical way! With medium to long jobs I will often need to write a list of tasks separate from regular proofreading that need to be done, e.g. checking the headings, cross-references and contents’ correlation with the contents page. Good time management is key to charging the right amount for your services.