Contracting Questions and Resources

A supplementary list of questions and online resources related to the lead article in the spring 2001 issue of Solitary Scrivener


Before setting up as an independent contractor, you should seriously consider at least the following questions - and answer them honestly:
  • Can I work without knowing how long that work will last?
  • Can I survive (financially, emotionally) for three to six months without work?
  • Am I prepared to accept that I’ll often never know what I’ll be doing in a few months/weeks time?
  • Am I good at marketing and promoting myself? (It really helps if you are an extrovert!)
  • Do I have an established network of people with whom I have maintained contact?
  • Am I prepared to relocate if the opportunity arose?
  • Am I prepared and able to run my own business? (Remember, this takes a number of hours per week on top of any paid work you are doing)
  • Am I able to become part of a team for a short period of time, then leave? (If you really enjoy regular social contact with the same work colleagues, then independent contracting may not be for you. On the other hand, if you are an extrovert who makes friends wherever you go, it is a great way to extend your social and business network.)
  • Do I love learning new things?
If your answers are mostly “yes”, then consider independent contracting as the next stage in your life.

Freelancing and Contracting Sites

  • 1099 - E-magazine for Independent Professionals (IP); provides lots of practical articles and assistance in being or becoming an IP.
  • The Guide to Entrepreneurs - Another collection of useful articles and links.

Small Business/Home Business Sites

  • - E-magazine on setting up and managing a business.
  • “Whom you know and how to use them” - Article with some sound advice on networking.
  • Small Office, Home Office - Lots of articles on marketing, legal, finance, starting up, and technology.
  • SBA - US federal agency for small business; excellent for regulations, tax information, and so on, as well as general articles on starting and running a small business.

Job Sites

  • - Has a particular focus on IT jobs; regularly lists thousands of technical writer positions; search on “technical writer”.
  • - Lists all types of jobs; search on “technical writer”.

Tutorial Sites

  • W3Schools - Free tutorials, quizzes, and so on, for computing and Web skills (e.g., JavaScript, XML, HTML, SQL).
  • HTML Goodies - Free tutorials on Web skills, written in a conversational tone.
  • Web Monkey - More Web development tutorials.
  • HTML Writer’s Guild - Offers scads of classes in HTML, JavaScript, beginning programming in a number of languages, and business writing. Classes run for several weeks, and there are per-class fees and required texts. The full per-class fee for non-members (around $70 U.S.) is still cheaper than what community colleges charge; signing up for a low-cost annual membership will save you tremendously on “tuition.”
  • Tutorial Find and Find Tutorials - Find all sorts of tutorials, many Internet- and software-oriented.
  • So You Wanna? - All sorts of tutorials, instructions on how to almost anything.
  • Microsoft Office - From Microsoft; all sorts of tips and tricks for using the various office products, and some great self-paced training material.