How to market yourself (& where to find other great tips for freelance editors)

Post by Jill Broom

Despite being chained to our desks, dealing with looming deadlines most of the time, every so often Glasgow’s freelance editors like to get out to catch up with other like-minded beings. Consequently, many of us belong to the local Society for Editors and Proofreaders group which meets once a month at The Singl End café in Garnethill – where, by the way, the cakes are delicious.

But we’re not just there to guzzle great food and bemoan the misuse of apostrophes (there’s another dedicated society for that). We’re there to get support from our freelance colleagues and gather useful tips that will help us in our quest to become editorial ninjas.

Often, one of us will share our expertise on a particular topic – for example, using Word Styles or PerfectIt – or lead a discussion about how to improve or update our methodology. As freelancers, these meetings are an invaluable part of our ongoing professional development.

In March, it was time to find out more about how to market our services. And our resident expert, Chris Bryce, was there to help. Chris holds a Masters in Business Administration and has spent the best part of a year refreshing her marketing mojo in preparation for ramping up her editorial business. Here are her eight top tips …

8 steps to marketing magic

1. Get a marketing plan

The very nature of freelancing means that marketing yourself often ends up being bumped down the to-do list in favour of getting actual paid work done. But it should really be treated with the respect it deserves – especially if you want to ensure your quieter times are no longer quiet.

Good information about building a marketing plan specific to our kind of business can be found in the SfEP guide by Sara Hulse, Marketing Yourself: Strategies to promote your editorial business, and Louise Harnby’s Marketing your Editing and Proofreading Business.

2. Prepare a CV

You need something written down that tells people about your experience and what you can do for them. This could be in the form of a CV that’s informative but concise and easily adaptable to each target client. Or, if a traditional CV seems a bit stuffy, change it into a smart, compelling flyer instead – sell your skills! And, when you know exactly what services you’re going to provide, get yourself listed on as many free online directories as possible.

3. Nail your direct marketing

Even though you’re just a little-ol’ sole trader, you should be thinking of yourself as a brand. And to help ‘build your brand’, you must have a consistent style across your communication formats. Your website, flyers, social media profiles and business cards must all look, sound and ‘feel’ the same. This makes you more memorable, and ­– hey ­– you’re an editor, so consistency’s kind of important anyway.

But when it comes to targeting the right people, you’re also going to have to be prepared to engage with them for the long haul. And this means gathering and storing knowledge about them. Build a database detailing conversations you’ve had with individuals in organisations you’d like to work for … Remembering someone’s birthday or asking about their holiday in Greece might just swing a job in your favour.

4. Network, network, network

I know, I know … I give an involuntary shudder at the thought of this, too. But, as Chris points out, networking is really just making the most of human connections.

In Glasgow there are loads of networking opportunities, for example, Jobs and Business Glasgow and Business Gateway hold regular events. And (the one we all can’t wait to try) Weegie Wednesdays is a regular meeting of people interested in all aspects of publishing. So, why not give it a whirl? You never know what might turn up as a result of simply getting to know more people.

5. Get any financial help going!

Setting up as a sole trader and new business? There IS funding out there! You may be able to apply for a New Enterprise Allowance (approx. £1200), which will give you access to advice and support as well as money. Or try Jobs and Business Glasgow for help with your plans and access to a £200 start-up grant. This funding can help cover the costs of training, equipment and professional development as well as marketing.

6. Take advantage of free marketing courses

Did you know that you don’t even have to pay a fortune to learn the basics of marketing? Scotland’s Local Authorities run free training courses in things like Digital Marketing and Search Engine Optimisation. You don’t even have to live in a specific authority to access its events!

7. Head to your local library

If you can trust yourself not to get distracted by all those fabulous books you’ve been meaning to read, Glasgow’s libraries provide resources that can help you target your direct marketing. For example, you can search for the contact details of up to 1000 businesses each year. And, the good news is, you don’t have to pay a penny.

8. Always ask for client feedback

This is for three reasons. One, you can find out where a new client got your details from (i.e. ‘Yes! That flyer was a winner’) and use this information to inform your marketing plan. Two, you can address any concerns that may not lead to repeat business. And, three, if your client is delighted with your work, you can ask them for a testimonial – one of the best marketing tools out there.

To find out more about Chris Bryce, head to her website at www.spotlighteditorial.com

Like to learn more about how to run your freelance editorial business, or how to improve your editing/proofreading skills? Come along to the next Glasgow SfEP meeting on Wednesday 18th May. For more information, contact Group Coordinator Denise Cowle.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jill is a copywriter, proofreader and copy-editor, but her biggest job is being mum to three small children, which has helped her to sharpen one of her key writing and editorial skills … adaptability! Check out her LinkedIn page or follow her on Twitter @honeybroom.

The ups and downs of working from home

Post by Carolyn Fox

Before I get started, I should probably explain that I say working ‘from home’ because that’s the phrase to which we are all accustomed. Strictly though, I think that applies to the increasing number of employees who work a day or two a week at home instead of the office, rather than someone like me who is self-employed – I work ‘at home’. And, of course, we mustn’t forget people who work ‘in the home’, as I did when I gave up my full-time job as a solicitor to care for my children … But, semantics aside, let’s get to the point.

Whenever I tell anyone that I work from home I’m usually asked two questions:
1. Don’t you get distracted/find it difficult to concentrate?2. Don’t you get lonely? (Particularly pertinent as I’m now officially an ‘empty-nester’ – my youngest son has just gone off to university!)

The answer to number one is easy: there is nothing like a looming deadline to concentrate the mind! I know that if I miss a return date my client is not going to employ me again. Experience tells me that reliability is one of the qualities that clients value most in a freelancer so, if I want that all-important repeat business, I must get the job back on time.

Do I get lonely? Yes, of course one can feel a little isolated at times, but there are ways round this. As a freelancer, it’s up to me when I do my work and so a few times a week I will make sure I go out for a walk or have coffee with a friend, either at lunchtime or perhaps first thing in the morning. And because I don’t have to spend hours commuting, I have time in the evenings to pursue my other interests.

Also not to be forgotten are professional contacts – not least our Glasgow SfEP local group. It’s amazing how quickly our monthly meetings come around! It’s a real tonic to meet other people in the same line of work and to have the opportunity to discuss issues we’ve encountered in the weeks between meetings. In short, I choose who to spend my time with (and when) rather than becoming embroiled in office politics.

Freelancing is not for everyone: you have to be self-motivated and self-sufficient, but I for one would not swap it with my old life in the office.

Want to give freelancing a go? Have a look at the SfEP guide Starting Out: Setting up a small business available at http://www.sfep.org.uk/resources/guides/#SO.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carolyn is an advanced professional member of the SfEP and specialises in law. A number of years ago she left her job as a solicitor in the south of England for working at home in the beautiful East Lothian countryside and has never looked back. Find out more about Carolyn here: www.carolynfox.co.uk.

How to avoid ‘author query rage’

Post by Stephen Cashmore

There is plenty of advice in the textbooks and elsewhere about how to deal with queries you have for the author. Most of it is common sense:
  • Don’t write, ‘Dear author. This sentence is gobbledygook. Please supply something that is comprehensible,’ no matter how tempted you might be to do so.
  • Do write, ‘Dear author. I don’t quite follow [insert sentence here]. Can you clarify it for me?’

Oh yes, a copy-editor or proofreader’s shoulders need to be broad. (That’s not in the job description, is it?)

What else do the textbooks say?

Give an alternative where you can. Don’t just say, ‘I’m not sure that “serendipity” is quite the right word here,’ but add, ‘What about “luck”?’ More common sense, and often tedious to put into practice, but authors will thank you for anything that saves them some work.

Make sure they know where to look. ‘Dear author. I don’t think you can start this sentence with “Therefore” as there is no causality implied,’ might just get you the response, ‘Where is this?’ Much better to put a detailed reference in the query [‘Dear author: p6 l5’] or make inline queries in the document itself, depending on your preferred style.

You’ve heard all this before, and even if you haven’t seen it set out explicitly, you’d have the common sense to do all these things anyway, wouldn’t you?

But one piece of advice I don’t often see in print is to make sure that the query is actually a query, and that it is as closed as possible:

  • ‘Dear author. Should there be a sentence in between “… Armageddon.” and “The next day…”?’ Answer: ‘Yes.’
  • ‘Dear author. Is the Bloggs (forthcoming) reference still forthcoming?’ Answer: ‘No, it was published last year.’
  • Or even, ‘Dear author. Shall we use “serendipity” or “luck” here?’ Answer: ‘OK.’ Urgh.

There’s nothing worse than having to go back to clarify one of your own queries. Even if you are actually conveying more of a decision than a query, make sure the author can make a simple response:

  • ‘Dear author. I notice you capitalise Gamma more often than not, so I propose to standardise on Gamma rather than gamma. OK?’

Adding that simple ‘OK?’ can save you a lot of grief.

So next time you write out your author queries, by all means follow the textbook advice, but also make sure that your author knows exactly what is being asked and has a simple way to respond. If you don’t, you might find yourself subject to an intense bout of author query rage, for which there is no simple cure.

OK?

For a list of easy-to-work-with editors and proofreaders, head to our Directory now.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Stephen Cashmore is an advanced member of the SfEP who lives in Ayr on the west coast of Scotland. He is an ex-teacher, ex-accountant, ex-bridge player and ex-auditor, but threw all that over to become an editor after taking early retirement. Check out cashmoreeditorial.com

What’s so good about THIS blog?

post by GEN

As slaves to ‘the deadline’, we editor-types know that time is precious. And, as a result, most of us don’t have time to peruse all the editorial blogs we’d like. So we’re using this inaugural post to tell you why our blog is worth taking the time to read. Here goes …

Who writes the posts?

Members of the Glasgow Editors’ Network take it in turn to write these little gems of wisdom. This means you’ll find information and experience from an array of editorial professionals who work with a variety of clients, including authors, publishers, large companies, charities and SMEs.

Who will find this blog useful?

Lots of people! (Because we blog about a whole host of stuff that’s good to know.) But, specifically, our posts are designed to be interesting and informative for:

  1. Editorial professionals – our members are generous with their knowledge and regularly share their on-the-job experiences (& some nice handy tips) to help others in their work.
  2. Those wishing to use the services of an editorial professional – this blog is also for individuals, businesses and organisations looking to improve the quality of their online and paper publications – and, consequently, the reputation of their brand. (You’ll even glean little titbits worth knowing – the ‘whys’ and ‘hows’ – before employing one!)

So, go on. Take five minutes and dive in. You never know what you might find out about Glasgow’s editors and what we can do for you.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Glasgow Editors’ Network  – GEN – is a group of independent professional editors and proofreaders with a wide range of skills and extensive experience.