There are 3 telecommuting tips for writers which can make your daily work flow easily. Telecommuting is one of those jobs which can be an absolutely heavenly or a “tear-out-your-hair” position. There seems to be a very small middle ground between the two extremes. We writers tend to work in a solitary environment, so actually most of us are probably attuned to the isolation of telecommuting.
Here are some telecommuting tips which just might shift your workday toward that vision of an absolutely heavenly job.
1. Communicate your ideas clearly. By the very nature of your job, you are going to have to communicate with someone—your client, an interviewee, a tech guru, your reader. We are, as writers, communicators, but also remember that virtually, no one can see your body language.
Re-read everything you write before you send it, especially emails and instant messages. Consider your words from the viewpoint of the receiver. Your readers won’t realize that you are just teasing and not being snarky if you make comments off topic. It is very easy for others to misinterpret the intent of the writer.
2. Create a workspace that lends itself to effective telecommuting. As a writer, you probably already have a home office or dedicated space, so making some small adaptations should be easy. Your office should include the basics of standard office furnishings (comfortable chair, scanner, printer, and so on), and be conducive to working.
Occasionally, you might really enjoy going down to the coffee shop and working amid the movement and background noise. It adds people to your world, even though you don’t have to interact with them. That seems to be what most writers miss in their lives.
Wherever you choose to work, make sure that you have a more than adequate computer system and great high-speed internet. Your software should be up-to-date and you should know how to use it (Don’t laugh! I can’t tell you how many people I have worked with who have no clue as to how to move around in some of their most basic programs—like Word. Learn your software!).
Internet is absolutely essential to good telecommuting, so purchase the best service that you can find in your area. At home, create a secure network.
When you work outside of your home using public networks, realize that most of those networks are not secure. Anyone has access to them, and hackers can find you or your work easily. That lack of security has the potential to create some huge problems for you, especially with your clients’ work.
3. Become proficient with collaboration software. Since we writers work hard for every penny, I am only going to list good, free software which is available to everyone.
The Google family of software is readily available and covers almost every area that a writer working virtually needs.
Google + is a social site which includes multiple services for you, including search, gmail, calendar, hangouts, and so on. Martin Shervington (What is Google +?) has created a series of articles explaining how to use Google and all of its layers. This is the most powerful of softwares and as a writer, you should be familiar with how to use it for your and your client’s benefit.
Search and Gmail have immediate, obvious applications, but continue to look deeper into the group.
Calendar will not only keep track of your daily appointments, but it can also help you to schedule blogs, deadlines, meetings, and other duties of a professional writer.
Hangouts is a type of Skype on steroids, for you can meet with up to 100 people in the text chat hangout and up to 10 on a video call.
Then there is Google Drive (Google Drive support)—a cloud storage application which allows you to park text and image files in your account, but also share work with others. You can even edit within this application, then share it in real time. As with any cloud service, you can access this from anywhere, if you can access your account. Valuable, especially when you are working offsite.
Skype (https://www.skype.com/en/ ) : You are probably familiar with this video chat service which is basically free. I have had many clients, especially when we first start working together, want to meet on Skype. It is always nice to put a face to the name. When using Skype, be sure that you have adjusted your privacy settings (under Options) to your comfort level.
Dropbox, https://www.dropbox.com/ , another cloud storage service, allows you to upload files, then share them. It is an easy program to use, but somewhat invasive when you are downloading things to your computer. Manage that and you have another good place to store and share things.
Join.me, https://www.join.me/ , to be able to screen share as well as video conference. Their directions are easy to follow, and have a number of possibilities for you.
Trello, https://trello.com/ great system for organizing projects, especially with other people. You could even use this on a daily basis to keep you on task for writing that novel.
These 3 telecommuting tips for writers show just a few of the free programs that I find essential when working with my clients. (Another program I really like and use frequently is Skitch. However, Evergreen has discontinued it sadly, but it is still great for screen shots.) I think in your virtual workplace, you will find the software which works best for what you specifically do.
In addition to these free software programs, there are also hundreds of other programs with minimal to large price tags in which you might be interested. As with any business, though, keep your overhead to a minimum and only buy what you need and can’t get free.