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Careers in Desktop Publishing: Freelance DTP Jobs

written by: Joe Taylor Jr.•edited by: Daniel P. McGoldrick•updated: 2/24/2009

With energy prices soaring and with many Americans looking for a stronger work/life balance, a growing number of careers in desktop publishing include freelance projects.

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    Freelancing Full or Part Time

    According to most career experts, freelancing as a part-time desktop publishing specialist can help build a strong portfolio without sacrificing income from a steady “day job." Health benefits also play a role in determining whether or not to dive into full-time freelance work. For some desktop publishing freelancers, an unrelated job that offers health care can provide a respite from client concerns while securing a family’s basic needs. Upon achieving a full schedule, a freelancer can start to consider the benefits of dropping the day job and going full time.

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    Creating the Right Work Environment for Full Time DTP Freelancing

    Some desktop publishing specialists become attracted to freelancing because it provides an opportunity to work at home. Working from home isn’t usually an end unto itself – it represents a deeper desire to spend more time with family, to eliminate a morning commute, or to avoid pesky office co-workers.

    However, veteran freelancers warn newcomers to the work from home phenomenon to set clear boundaries around work and personal life. For instance, even though modern desktop publishing tools work on many notebook computers, the IRS still requires freelancers to maintain a dedicated office space to qualify for tax write-offs. In addition, children and pets may cause even more distractions than hallway conversations about last night’s hot television show. Successful freelancers create the appropriate time and space for their careers, even if that means securing a separate office space or arranging for occasional child care.

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    Finding Steady Freelance Work in an Offshore-Friendly Industry

    According to many career experts, if your job doesn’t need to be done in person, it’s likely to be shipped overseas. Indeed, many careers in desktop publishing have washed away by the tide of offshoring. Newspapers and directory services frequently employ desktop publishing firms from Malaysia, India, and the Philippines to handle basic advertising layouts. The offshoring trend combined with easy access to freelance job auctions like Elance can make it hard for a beginning freelance desktop publishing professional to earn a strong hourly rate.

    Freelance advisors suggest that desktop publishing professionals can earn far more money with less hassle by getting off the web and focusing on local clients. Again, this practice may seem counter-intuitive to the dream of working from home in a pair of pajamas. However, meeting with clients in person is the important element that offshore DTP firms can never provide. Freelancers with strong interpersonal skills can develop powerful client relationships that lead to higher hourly rates and higher quality projects.

Careers in Desktop Publishing

Though desktop publishing professionals tend to use similar tools, their jobs can involve a wide range of activities in a variety of fields. This six part series explores five of the most common industries employing DTP experts, along with tips for students who want to find desktop publishing jobs.
  1. Careers in Desktop Publishing: Exploring Job Opportunities for Publishers
  2. Careers in Desktop Publishing: Printing Jobs
  3. Careers in Desktop Publishing: Sign-Making Jobs
  4. Careers in Desktop Publishing: Web Developer Jobs
  5. Careers in Desktop Publishing: Freelance DTP Jobs
  6. Careers in Desktop Publishing: Getting Training