Getting work!

Sometimes it drops into your lap and other times it seems as though the world is conspiring against you...

I thought it might be helpful if we shared our experiences of other sites - good or bad - so for starters, here is a press release that I got sent a few days back ( see below) about a new proof reading job site. Has anyone else had any dealings with them?

Good afternoon,

My name's Nick and I run Find A Proofreader, a UK directory for proofreaders, editors, copywriters and anyone else who works with words. I found your details online and wanted to make you aware of our site in case you'd like to become a member.

Find A Proofreader is a niche business directory aimed at proofreaders, editors, copywriters, indexers and other professionals working with words. We enjoy high Google rankings and we receive requests for quotes from visitors on a regular basis. The price to join our site? Just £20 per year.

So what makes us different from the other freelancer directories out there?

Well, in addition to increasing your online presence through your listing, you can get your customers to write reviews of your service, adding credibility to your profile and giving you further exposure (the latest reviews feature in the sidebar of each page of the site).

You can also write articles for our Articles page. This will give you even greater exposure in the search engines as our site ranks highly and, because it's built in WordPress, the articles are indexed quickly.

Please take a look at the site when you have a few minutes and let me know if you're interested in growing your online presence with our directory. If you have any queries, please email me and I'll be happy to help.

Many thanks for your time and have a lovely weekend!

Kind regards,

Nick Jones

I have a series of unmentionable swear words for people who do that to me Catharine!

Yesterday morning I was jumping for joy having been offered a large, juicy and lucrative editing job for a company I enjoy working with.

Ten minutes later, I got a second email. "Really sorry but we made a mistake, it is Eng to Fr not Fr to Eng"


Catharine's opening sentence sums it up for me. Three years ago I used the word 'No' often and emphatically, now the cloth on the knees of my jeans is getting thin from go down on the proverbial joints and all but begging for work.

What is infuriating is that I can actually work 24 hours a day easily. Of my own choosing I write articles, often with my OH but frequently alone, academic journals do not pay for them. It is not as though I need them for my CV, in fact my publications are probably well overdue for a cull. I am also on a handful of editorial boards/committees and get variable amounts to do though those - unpaid again, of course. Indeed, one board consists of about a dozen of us, allowing for resignations, retirement, mortality and replacement it may fluctuate a little, whereby each one of us does a turn as top bonzo editor (editor in chief) and has to get an edition of the journal that is related to his/her special areas of interest organised, then sort out the rest of the board, find peer reviewers and so on. I did it earlier this year and had 14 duff submissions out of 14, so had to start all over again. Unpaid it means a terrible amount of work at times.

Then there are the books I get to review. 200+ pages is quite normal. £50-60 and a free copy of the (expensive) book - if they remember to send it and then, naturally, depending on the cumulative outcome of reviewers' comments. I can do that in four languages as well, two of which are at a plodding pace so take double the time at least. So, a lot of time for very little and often no 'free' book either. OK, I have discounts with the publishers, but no money to buy books, so fat lot of good they are.

It ultimately makes me an experienced, if somewhat specialised, editor. Right now I am reducing an overwritten annotated bibliography by 50%, entirely my fault - but what a grind. Then we/I have another one to do for next year, several articles lined up and should my 300,000+ word book get through the reviewers, will have editors' comments to work on myself. So on Josephine's point, mon dieu, I wish I had time to do what she is writing about there and also get a few bob for the work involved.

As everybody who writes knows it is often speculative work, even when one has a job at times. When I was on fixed contracts with UN agencies some of my publishable reports disappeared into the ether. Not because they were bad, but simply because lists of things to publish were so endlessly long some were left behind. How much time does one invest in speculation? I reckon all told to have probably written away the equivalent of 12 to 14 years, 24 hours a day out of my life in essays, articles, theses, books, reports and so on. Seven eighths of that was unpaid, the rest badly reimbursed. Oh yes, I get a payment from ALCS every year without fail, but this year about £24. I rest my case.

I guess I have enough experience to do editorial work and probably reading but do I have the time between what I should be doing and that? Would I get it being as specialised as I am? It is mentally tiring work, which is exactly why I switch back and forth between the work, emails, SFN and other things like online newspapers. So, do I really want it? I could do with the money for sure...

Yes, I have a website. I am offering translations and office services. I am going to try translation companies, have to sort out the resumé

I definitely would not pay to go on - there's no guarantee of anything. I take it you've got your website up and running etc etc. What's your main expertise - translations? Have you tried passing on your details to some of the translation companies in case they outsource?

Some of them you have to pay to go on, which I don't think is worth it if you don't know that you will get any work out of it. I am just thinking of ways of getting started.

I've not tried ProZ (hadn't heard of it actually, doh) so am going to have a look-see. A lot of the 'auction' sites (Elance, Freelancer, PeoplePerHour) seem to be set up along similar lines.

I just wondered if it would be good to get started, but when I went on the site and clicked on looking for jobs, I got the red line through the https and was told it was not a secure connection, so am doubtful whether to pursue it.

I registered with Elance a year or more ago but didn't pursue it. The preference seemed to be for US based freelancers and many projects asked for a lot of qualifications/experience in return for peanuts. It may have improved since then.

Has anyone used ProZ or Elance?

Thanks for that Josephine. Do they take stuff for syndication? I have a huge back catalogue....

I do a bit of freelance writing, fortunately not as a full time job as it's very difficult to earn regular money from it, as I'm sure all you freelancers out there are only too aware.

I have been with Constant Content for three or four years now and I have sold quite a lot of articles via their site. But like all in life - it ain't perfect.

The pros are:

I can write what I like

I can set my own price

I reach markets I would never find otherwise

Eventually even the most obscure article will sell.... there will be someone looking for an article on gardening by the moon one day!

The cons. are:

The site is Canada-based, so I have endless disputes with the editors about UK grammar and spelling (I'm still waging war with them over 'proved' versus 'proven' ... as in, 'it has been proved'). And don't even start me on 'gotten' !

The rules are very inflexible..... no 1st person POV, and humour, particularly dry Brit , is definitely frowned on.

The real bummer is they take 30% of the sale price as commission. As the sales prices are set in dollars, converting the 2/3 left to euros seems sometimes, as Naomi Campbell famously said -'Not worth getting out of bed for.'

However having weighed all this up I have got some good contracts out of the site after an initial sale ... at the moment I'm writing on a regular basis for an Australian 'glossy' mag on life in France. I wouldn't have found this (and they wouldn't have found me)without C-C. On bad days .... when I've had an article sent back for review for the most piddling thing I vow never to bother with the ****** site again, then I sell something I wrote so long ago I'd forgotten about it and all is forgiven.

If anyone is interested in submitting articles for sale the website is

OK, they are second on the list. That's pretty good.

I don't know this site but I might consider it. Strangely enough for a writer, the author has not (that I can see) put the website address in the text. I would have thought that was the most important bit of communication. Readers shouldn't have to make an effort to find what you're on about. I supposed we must Google it? We'll see if it ranks highly as they say.

This is just a quickie as I'm getting maithered here by a Twerp and a puppy, conspiring to set my nerves jangling. I've heard of this site before - a proofreading friend of mine (solicitor and TEFL teacher) wrote an article for them. They seem legit but I'm not sure how well known they are yet. I've not checked the rates they pay but as long as it's not based on 'bidding wars' as too many sites are, it could be worth registering just to see if anything comes of it. Covering bases, and all that.