April 14, 2011

Good advice. No, really.


Each of us begins freelancing surrounded by our own specific community of friends, colleagues, and loved ones—many of whom offer advice.

Some of it is good advice.

I thought I’d make a list of good advice I received when I began freelance editing. By “good advice,” I mean advice that I have tested out and am grateful for every day.

Also, I’d love to hear from other editors out there who remember the good advice they got from their friends and family. Share the wealth! There’s space in the comments, or you can email authoreditorclinic@gmail.com and I’ll compile another list down the line.

And here’s my short list of good advice:

·      Open your mouth and tell people what you do for a living.

I’m an introvert. Most of us editors are, I think. But I get almost all of my work by word-of-mouth, sometimes from friends I would never have guessed know people who need the kind of editing I do. I’ve also come to appreciate that telling people what I do is a daily reflection of the editing I do compared to the editing I want to be doing next year and ongoing. 
(Thank you, Amy.)

·      Write thank-you cards.

They’re pretty. They remind me to appreciate the clients I have and the worklife I’ve chosen. And they bring me more work.  At the end of 2009, I sent a thank-you card to a client I’d edited one article for, earlier that year. It reminded her to contact me about another project—and I’ve edited a project for her or her teammates just about every month since then. 
(Thank you, Ann.)

·      Buy a big desk calendar.

I know many people use electonic or online calendars these days. But I’m still grateful to the person who told me, at the very beginning, to buy a desk calendar big enough to write everything down, all in one place. I’m still using the same style of calendar that I searched for that first year. 
(Thank you, Susan.)

·      Get regular massage.

It sounded extravagant to me at the time. And it took me a while to start taking this advice seriously. But I sit at a desk all day—which is actually pretty hard on the body. Regular massage (for the past year and a half) has curbed my tendency toward tendonitis in the wrists and elbows, improved my comfort sitting at the computer … and is opening up my shoulders so I’m having more fun dancing on the weekends, too. This was good advice. 
(Thank you, Susan.)

·      Set apart a percentage of each check you receive, and use it to pay your taxes.

I did this religiously the first three years I freelanced—and paying taxes—first annually, and then quarterly—was a breeze. Then I got busier (hey, more money coming in! less need to worry!),  and I’ve fallen off the bandwagon. Now, despite being up to my ears in work, paying my first-quarter taxes this week is going to hurt.  I hereby resolve, at the beginning of this tax-paying year, to return to the good advice I got at the beginning of my career.

Do tell, what advice about editing or freelancing have you found most valuable?

—Kyra Freestar

1 comment:

  1. - When you are discussing a deadline with a client, be honest about what you can do and by when. I'll save you lots of stress, and will help you make (not miss) deadlines.

    - Invoice your clients as soon as you complete a project and provide the client with the work. Waiting for checks takes long enough without having to wait the extra time it took you to bill the client.
    (both: thank you to Jack, my journalism instructor)

    - Clarity is most important; if a reader does not understand what's being said, the writer will lose them. After clarity is achieved, then you can add in/concentrate on more personality through language choice, e.g. appropriate adjectives, etc. (thanks to Dave)

    - Remember to enjoy and appreciate the fact that you get to work with words for a living! (me, to myself, whenever I get burnt out)

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