Kateproof offers an affordable and efficient proofreading service

Summary and Q & A for mobile proofreading services

Posted on 10th December 2017; revised and updated 19th March 2018

Throughout the series, I've received a few queries so thought I would post those here in Q & A format. If you still have questions or want to know more, get in touch and I'll see if I can help.

I've moved abroad for three years on a spouse visa and am now worried about tax status. Do you have any advice?

I have removed identifiers from the question and will keep this vague but the key point with any tax or accounts issues is to be sure to check both your home country's rules on residency/liability to pay and also that of the country in which you're staying/visiting. I make sure I don't stay in a country long enough to need to register, but I would imagine three years would require a local work permit, though of course that might differ depending on circumstances. The reason I'm mentioning this here is to emphasise, on top of the post I did about the nitty-gritty of a remote proofreading service, that you need to check the situation for both countries. Hopefully there'll be a double taxation agreement and you won't have to pay tax twice, but getting advice from an experienced accountant in each country would be my approach.

What impact do time zone differences have on your proofreading service?

There are a few things to consider here, first and foremost the fact that my client base has always been global and though the bulk of my work comes from the UK and mainland Europe, I have worked for clients in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Mexico and many other far-flung places. This means that GMT is not always the default time zone for my clients anyway so the change now is not necessarily an issue.

If you email a client or someone asking for a quote or advice, how quickly do you expect a reply? Yes, an instant one is always nice but I think 24 to 48 hours is more than acceptable so if I am sleeping when someone emails and it takes a few hours before I wake up and reply, I don't think that will put a client off. Yes, it might affect my ability to do last-minute, urgent work but that's not the bulk of what I do anyway so it hasn't affected my day-to-day service.

I think time zone differences can also be worked to your advantage: if a client in the UK sends me a file at 5pm but it's 12 noon where I am, I can do the work and have it back in the client's inbox for first thing the next morning. And there's no extra charge for working outside of office hours because it's within my standard working day.

Don't get me wrong, it can prove more difficult if a client wants to chat or work on a file simultaneously, but if it's the right client/project, switching hours of work might not be a problem.

You have mentioned lots of positives in your blog series but are there any negatives?

I'll try and split this into two parts, one relating to negatives associated with running my proofreading and editing business while on the road and the other related to the personal elements.

From a business perspective, I have lost in-house clients, and though that didn't make up much of my client base, I did occasionally enjoy going to an office and being part of a team. Yes, putting a positive spin on it I could find in-house jobs in other parts of the world but that's unlikely (not to mention might have tax implications).

I have also stopped doing hard-copy work, though I rarely did that and much prefer onscreen proofreading and editing, but this will very much be a personal thing and if you really like working on paper, it will be trickier to do that on the road, unless you use coworking spaces with printing services or pay for printing and also tracked delivery, which will be expensive if you are travelling abroad.

I do miss some of the face-to-face networking, both with colleagues and with potential clients, and though I can find opportunities for that while travelling, it's not quite the same – my local SfEP group was a lovely little community and finding something like that is less likely. This brings me nicely into the personal negatives, the main one being that I do miss friends and family. We do meet and chat to lots of interesting people, but it's hard to find people with the same sense of humour, and constantly repeating one's life story or doing small-talk can get a little tedious. That said, we've thankfully met some lovely people and they are now considered friends, so I guess there is a positive within this.

Pete misses playing tennis and though he's played football with a few different groups in different places, it's quite clearly not tennis! I think if I had a location-dependent hobby I would miss that, though it's not been such an issue for me. I don't find all the kitchens are as well equipped for cooking as I'd like, and don't get me started on the state of some of the wine I've drunk while travelling... Sometimes I miss some of the oddest things, like a log fire in the winter, or even just a cold, crisp evening. I know, who'd have thought it's possible to miss cold weather?! I have taken up running so that is easy to do anywhere in the world (in theory, though the practice of that in hot/hilly/wet places is a little trickier) and I love using book swaps – I've discovered authors and books I'd probably never have noticed had I not been forced to choose from a very small selection.

How do you find working in hotel rooms?

Since being a student, I have always liked a separation between where I sleep and where I work/study, so I have to admit I don't proofread or edit in hotel rooms unless I really have to. If I know I have proofreading or editing work booked in, I try to stay in an apartment or house with a suitable desk and chair. In one city, I was planning on time off but a regular client asked if I could do something and I agreed, though our hotel wasn't really set up for it. I did a quick online search and found a local coworking space, got a free day pass for there (most places will offer this) and went and used their very nice space for the day.

I hope this also answers another question I received, which was whether I ever slum it or if I am always looking for a certain quality of accommodation so that I can fulfil my work obligations. I did a lot of backpacking and budget travelling in my twenties and though I loved it, I am now a bit too picky about pillows and a good night's sleep. I do assign time to holidays as opposed to work time and the accommodation requirements then might be different (less emphasis on wifi, work space, etc.) but I still wouldn't say I slum it. Of course, it's all relative though – in Finland, we stayed in apartments with saunas in the bathroom and I thought that was luxury, but that's probably just standard for a Finn.

Do you miss having stuff? Lots of clothes, toiletries, home knick-knacks?

As I mentioned in my post about planning to take my proofreading service on the road, I found the process of getting rid of everything really cathartic and enjoyable. But I do miss having books readily available, certain clothes and, as mentioned above, some good kitchen equipment. I have never worn make-up so that wasn't an issue, and I am thankfully not fussy about my other toiletries – I just buy stuff locally and hope it smells nice.

One thing to consider is that if I choose to stay somewhere a bit longer, say two or three months, if I really miss something or want something, I can just buy it (assuming I can find the item locally). Most things that make it into my rucksack have to deserve their place, but that doesn't mean I can't buy things on my travels and then donate them. That's what I've done with books, some clothes and shoes, and also random kitchen items I just really wanted for a certain period of time – we carried a potato masher around Europe with us because, well, sometimes you just want mashed potatoes!

Do you think you'll ever settle, and if so when and where?

This is the sort of question I always struggle to answer; I don't ask other people how long they plan to live where they currently live, but obviously sometimes there are push factors or things change that are outside one's control. I don't want to get political here but the current Brexit situation has affected our thinking, and we more or less decided to not think about settling anywhere until the future on Brexit and the UK/EU relationship is clearer. I do miss certain things that having a home satisfies (e.g. tending one's garden) and will eventually buy somewhere so I can rejoin the consumer world and restart my own library and buy all those kitchen implements I probably won't use, but for now we're happy with the nomadic lifestyle, and even when we do settle, I think we'll still travel and work quite a lot.

Summary of the blog series on taking my editing and proofreading service on the road

I hope this series has been informative and helpful if you're thinking of becoming a digital nomad, and/or that it's been interesting and entertaining if you're just being nosey about what I do with my current life.

Regarding travelling and working, compared with running a freelance proofreading and editing business in the UK, to steal a phrase from those T-shirts everyone seemed to wear in the 90s, I'd say that life is 'Same same, but different!' What I mean by this is that I have more or less the same business considerations and work/life balance to juggle, but I just do this in different places. Yes, there are extra things to think about, mainly related to booking suitable accommodation and work space, but often I just have similar chores or things to consider that I might have had in the UK, such as travel insurance instead of home insurance. I think one of the most important things to bear in mind is that you remain more or less the same person when travelling. If you have no get up and go when living and working in a fixed location, going off travelling might not change this.

I really enjoy my work and have taken this change in lifestyle as impetus to focus on clients and work types that I really enjoy, and I only wish I'd made some of the changes discussed in this series sooner. As and when I do settle, I hope to carry my current approach to work into that more settled lifestyle, and for now, with another cultural reference theft, 'Maybe tomorrow, I'll want to settle down, until tomorrow, I'll just keep on moving on...'

Written by Kate Haigh.