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I by no means intend to stop contributing what I can to TeX.SE, but a recent experience begs the question... After helping a friend designing a flyer for a telecom company (for which she got decent remuneration), I find myself wondering whether there is a market for freelance TeX-related jobs, on which I could perhaps make some extra bucks for rainy days.

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As an amateur TeXnician with limited general knowledge of graphic design, but with a growing portfolio of decent-looking documents produced with TeX & friends,

  1. Who, if anyone, should I attempt to sell my TeX skills to?
  2. Would, say, a publishing company be interested? Or do they generally seek people with a much stronger background in TeX & friends than mine?
  3. If you are directly getting paid on account of your TeX skills, how did you get started?

Note: I'm not sure whether this question is more appropriate on meta or on the main site. Feel free to migrate it, if necessary. It may be also be more suited as a community wiki, but I feel this isn't my call.

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    My answer is neither authoritative nor positive, so just a comment: the problem is that the major consumer of TeX, academia, consists of a lot of very proud, independent people who mostly don't value skill in it but wouldn't let anyone else do it for them. You will therefore not make any money from them. You might make money from their academic publishers but I doubt they need freelance work; since the authors all write their papers themselves they probably keep a TeX editor around to standardize them. I have never found a good answer to your question. – Ryan Reich Sep 27 '13 at 1:58
  • You could provide an email address in your profile so people can contact you, or email me (see my profile). – Peter Grill Sep 27 '13 at 5:14
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    I have friends who take papers that have been TeXed by the authors, and "augment" them to work with the journal's specific packages, etc. They make a good deal of money ($30/hr, 40+ hours per week). EDIT: I should mention they are employed by the journal. – Steve D Sep 27 '13 at 6:10
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    I'd say that wherever the end product needs to be a PDF, there's your market. Where TeX has an edge over competition, IMO, is automatic generation of documents. Think of catalogues generated from relational databases and stuff like that. – morbusg Sep 27 '13 at 7:22
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    @RyanReich I agree with you that one cannot make money from academic stuff, but at least in my case this is due to the fact there is in general no money in academic sphere. When there is lack of money in country, I bet that politicians start making cuts in such "unnecessary" stuff like science and education. And regarding the original question, I do think there is a market in crossover between designer and TeXer. There are lots of good (educated) designers and good TeXers, but no good (educated) designer using TeX. The market might be scientific or technical books, where TeX has its advantages – Pygmalion Sep 27 '13 at 7:48
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You can make much much money by providing LaTeX service as follows

Just advertise your service to many people and wait for calling. Everything done seriously will success, at worst case nothing to lose.

But I think the existence of this site will disrupt your business because some people get a nice solution free of charge. So advertising this site in your pamphlet will be a blunder.

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    Correction: You can make some money. Getting even the rates of a typical software freelancer is impossible. – Martin Schröder Sep 27 '13 at 7:04
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    I don't consider a blunder to advertise this site: It is not my concurrent. I'm not aiming at customers with more or less good latex knowledge and the skill and the time to ask single, well phrased questions with MWE which I can answer in 10 minutes: the overhead for bookkeeping etc would eat up the gain. My customers have a lot of errors, large (often faulty) templates, no clue where to start to solve their problems or to implement some requirements and time pressure. They want continuous support over days (and also for "dumb" or localized questions). – Ulrike Fischer Sep 27 '13 at 7:46
  • Making your source code inaccessible to your customers should also be considered to prevent others from using it free of charge. (one of my business strategies) – kiss my armpit Sep 27 '13 at 8:04
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    In the LaTeX-support business it is up to impossible to keep the code away from the customer. It is also impossible to avoid that they learn how to handle latex problems themselves: that's actually a vital part of my service. Also -- sorry -- my main aim is not to milk as much money as possible from other people. I have been helping people for free for a lot of years and I don't intend to stop. My customers get all the code - they can add it to the tons of free code floating around anyway and (re)use it if they have the skills to do it. – Ulrike Fischer Sep 27 '13 at 9:20
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    @UlrikeFischer Thanks for your very valuable comments. I think you should turn them in a full-fledged answer. – jub0bs Oct 2 '13 at 14:45
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I will answer in the order of the questions asked:

  1. Who, if anyone, should I attempt to sell my TeX skills to?

Consulting skills to people who have little background in LaTeX and typesetting. People who want to outsource typesetting and want it done nicely. Universities are a good environment for LaTeX because they have a large output in publications but most of the editors don't have any tranining doing so. Being able to get LaTeX-quality typesetting can increase the quality of their output and make them stand out from peers.

Would, say, a publishing company be interested? Or do they generally seek people with a much stronger background in TeX & friends than mine?

I think going directly for a publishing company might be rather difficult if you don't have any previous experience or credentials. Also, a publishing house usually has a pretty fixed way of doing things. If they use LaTeX already they probably already have their staff. If they don't, they might not care to try. I would suggest offering to work for free for, say, university staff, so you collect credentials and gain experience working with a real publisher. Once you have done that, you will probably have some contacts and a better understanding of your environment (is there a demand for the service I want to provide, etc).

If you are directly getting paid on account of your TeX skills, how did you get started?

I sometimes do paid work using LaTeX. But I also sometimes us it as part of my job which is mainly other work related to XML data. LaTeX is interesting for automatically creating PDF output from XML data, for example. It also is very useful for special typesetting needs in the Humanities. To get started, I just began telling people I like LaTeX and showing my work. When people needed help, I helped. And now, once they actually have some money for typesetting services, they ask me. It's probably not a way to make lots of money and get started quickly, but there isn't an extreme demand for LaTeX typesetting (I think). So it makes sense to slowly build a potential "customer base". Place yourself in an environment where there is a considerable need for typesetting and publishing, then advertise what you can offer. You won't get lots of jobs at first, but you can get some if you are patient.

I wrote a lengthy article on my blog on "Earning money with LaTeX". There I give a lot of additional information, including what I would advise you do, what skills I think you should have to get started and also some interviews with people from the TeXLaTeX community who actually make a living from LaTeX and kindly told me of their experiences.

  • Great answer. I will read your blog post closely. – jub0bs Feb 3 at 8:51
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Whatever the outcome, you can try your luck at the freelancer websites. https://www.freelancer.com Another I heard about is upwork.

  • True: there are plenty of freelance LaTeX jobs on both (consulted in April 2019...) but the first is not free while on the second your profile must be accepted before you can apply for any job. – MattAllegro Apr 10 at 9:02

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