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Being a location-independent proofreader

Posted on 28th July 2016

As some of you might know, I am no longer living in Coventry. My husband and I sold up and moved out, but we are now location-independent, travelling where we choose and working at the same time; this is also often termed being a 'digital nomad'. I know quite a few other freelance proofreaders and editors interested in this so I thought I'd write a blog. I also wanted to look at the situation from a client's perspective.

Key points for being a location-independent proofreader or copy-editor:

  • I ditched all my books and paid for online subscriptions. This means I still have access to all the books I had on my shelves but they don't weigh anything. It also means I now have the most up-to-date versions and some of the online search functions are much easier than finding the right part in the hard copies.
  • I upgraded my laptop to save on weight and get the best resolution I could. The most important tech purchase though was a Roost laptop stand. It means that whatever desk I sit at, I can get the monitor at the right height for me, with an external keyboard and mouse.
  • I have a paid-for cloud storage account meaning my business can carry on if my laptop gets lost or stolen.
  • I keep in touch with proofreaders via the same forums as before and I am now a member of the SfEP's Skype club. When I was in Berlin, I met up with a proofreader there and am hoping to connect with others as I travel around.
  • When booking accommodation, I make sure the table and chair look decent and check that the internet will be up to the required standard. Roaming is getting cheaper and mobile data packages aren't too bad either so if I want to stay in a rural hideaway, I can still get internet, albeit perhaps not up to Skype video calls.
  • I haven't done this yet but I know that some people use co-working spaces as this usually means you get a desk and chair, decent internet and often the chance to meet new people. It's on my to-do list to give it a go some time, but so far my apartments have provided all that I need.

Key points for a client employing a location-independent proofreader or copy-editor:

  • In six years of freelancing, I've been in-house for one client. I have met one or two other clients but this is most definitely the exception and not the norm. My UK mobile still works and I have Skype so I am just as available as I was when I was based in the UK.
  • I'm currently in Europe so my time zone hasn't really changed, but if and when it does, there can be positives: if you need work doing overnight while you sleep, that might be my daytime, meaning there won't be extra costs for working unsociable hours.
  • In a similar vein, I still work my standard office hours so I have just as much availability as before.
  • I'm still registered in the UK, pay tax in the UK and need to be paid in GBP to my UK bank account. To be quite honest, if I didn't tell you I was abroad and you didn't phone and hear the international dial tone, I don't think you'd know I wasn't in the UK.

Written by Kate Haigh.