In this series, experienced editors reflect on their Top 3 tools, rules and suggestions for clients and colleagues.
Erin Brenner is an author and an award-winning copywriter who has been running her own business, Right Touch Editing, for more than a decade. Her company specializes in business publishing and indie books related to marketing and local history. She has shared her expertise in publishing and communications by speaking at Editors Canada, ACES and MagsBC conferences. Erin is the author of Copyediting’s Grammar Tune-Up Workbook and 1001 Words for Success. She has also written for Copyediting.com, Visual Thesaurus, and her own blog.
Top 3 professional tools you can’t work without
- A robust task list/calendar. I use Coda and Google Calendar to map out and track projects and meeting details. However, I still use a paper list to keep me on task during the workday.
- A timer. No matter how you charge for your services, you’re selling your time. Without monitoring how you spend your time, you can’t ensure you’re spending it wisely (i.e., at a profit). I use the timer built in to Zoho Invoice.
- Invoicing software. Zoho Invoice saves me a lot of time on invoice creation and helps ensure I don’t miss billing a client. I can also create recurring invoices and estimates that can be turned into invoices; run reports on my time, projects and income; and collect payments via PayPal and other online services.
Top 3 marketing channels you enjoy using
- My website/blog. I really like writing articles and creating resources for clients and editors. I get to help other professionals while being creative. My audience has been very receptive to it, too!
- LinkedIn. A lot of editors don’t find value in LinkedIn, but lately it’s where I find potential clients through connections and socializing. I enjoy reading about innovative business ideas, which helps me stay up to date on one of my biggest niches.
- Client conferences. This is where your potential clients are openly engaged in talking about business, so why not meet them there? I also get the opportunity to learn by attending sessions and to share my expertise by presenting sessions. Plus, I get to travel!
Top 3 life-work balance rules
- Start each day with self-care. Start from a good place each day. Working out, meditating/praying or journaling can all help you anchor yourself for the day.
- Schedule time off. As freelancers we can work whenever we want as long as we meet deadlines. But when we neglect ourselves, we can’t do our best work. In addition to breaks during holidays and vacations, I take time off during the week. No one can work 24/7.
- Defend your boundaries. Editors are helpers and freelancers focus on pleasing the client, so it can be easy to excuse actions that push our boundaries and ask too much of us. Know where your boundaries lie and address issues that threaten them as early as you can.
Top 3 suggestions for authors/clients you work with
- Explain it to me any way you can; I’ll figure out how to clarify.
- Walk away from your writing for a bit to gain perspective on it.
- Don’t worry about commas and dashes; that’s my job.
Top 3 suggestions for new editors/freelancers
- Get training. Having a natural talent is not enough.
- Be patient. It takes years to become a good editor and to build a business.
- Don’t ask other editors for “overflow” work. You’re asking for a handout from people who worked hard to be in demand. Instead, ask them if you can help them in their business.
One recent industry trend that inspires you: I love that editors are creating training for other editors! With the loss of so many in-house jobs, we also lost the most popular training for editors: learning from senior editors on the job. There are many great programs worth doing, but seeing editors share their individual, specialized knowledge is inspiring and retains some of the specialty training that was once available in-house.
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