Editing or Writing Business: Tips on How to Start
There is a great number of editors or writers who have a lot of energy and inspiration for helping others and making people’s writing better. What is more important, there is a huge number of people in need of such services. Nevertheless, the talented writers and editors struggle to find some work. Either they are incapable of identifying a suitable opening or unable to promote themselves effectively. I cannot help with the former issue since I am an independent contractor and do not hire employees. Yet, I can give a hand to those writers and editors who are willing to work independently but have troubles finding clients.
It is a well-known fact that creative people are unusual ones. They can compose an engaging story even about the dullest and the most boring topic and spot the slightest inconsistency or a minor mistake in a text. It seems they are invincible and are capable of doing amazing things. However, there is one thing that that they are usually cannot to do, namely, ask for money. Fortunately, there is a solution. Creative people should approach the difficulties with starting business or increasing a client base in a creative manner. In this article, I will try to assist in this endeavor by indicating points to pay attention to, suggesting some ideas for promotion, and recommending useful resources. We will have a look at the ways to:
- Increase the network of casual and business acquaintances;
- Promote own services subtly and successfully;
- Find and dare to undertake work in an unusual industry or environment;
- Show people why your services matter and should be opted for.
Step 1. Become Credible
In order to hire you to do some writing or editing for them, people should know that you can cope with the task. They are worried about their money and the quality of the final product. Therefore, you should convince them of own ability to edit or write in a way they need it. Knowing that you are gifted enough to write an article is not sufficient. You should make clients aware of this fact, build the trust, and let them know what you are capable of. The easy way to become trustful is to join a professional organization. However, there is no guarantee that it will give you the desired results. Besides, the membership fee might be too high. That is why I think that the best avenue to reach this goal is to create a WordPress website.
First, a website can serve as a canvas for you to demonstrate your skills, talent, energy, ingenious ideas, and innovative approaches to writing. You will obviously write the content for it by yourself. In such a way, potential clients will see and evaluate your writing style right away. Therefore, whatever you post and include on the website, do it with customers in mind. Second, the website will be the place to show that professionalism is not only a degree but also extensive experience. In case you are a newbie in the industry, you will be able to illustrate that the absence of experience is not a problem since the it is fully compensated with a talent.
Third, your clients might be acquainted with you not only as a writer but a person as well. That fact that you have a golden retriever and kids, visit church, work as a volunteer, like Radiohead, or own Harley Davidson, etc., might be the reason why people what to work with you. They will discover who is behind those words and will be glad to have such a person at their side. Finally, a website is a great place to gather and exhibit feedback of the clients. Positive reviews possess an immense power of attracting new customers.
Step 2. Analyze the Industry and Yourself
You should know for sure what you want and are capable of offering to other people. In other words, you should select a niche you would like to fill in the industry of writing and editing. Nevertheless, there might be many others who provide such kind of services and demand a price that is lower than yours. The analysis of the industry and market will allow to make a decision regarding the direction in which your business should develop and the approach you should adopt to reach the desired goals. Therefore, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is there demand for what I offer?
- How many businesses/independent contractors provide the same service?
- Can I endure the competition in terms of prices, quality, and delivery of services?
- Can I increase the demand for my work?
- Is the venture likely to be profitable and bring the expected sums of money?
On the same note, you should analyze yourself. You should know exactly what you are good at and what you are interested in. It allows determining the audience you should target and the services that are likely to generate most of the revenue. Without being sure about your target audience and awareness of its needs, you will not be able to plan the development of your business or any promotional campaigns, which are an inseparable element of any entrepreneurial activity. With this knowledge, you should create a well-thought-out plan of action. Moreover, at this point, using a help of a professional in the sphere of marketing would serve good to your business. However, before you start implementing any kind of marketing strategies, you should decide what you want to offer and do. Therefore, ask yourself the following questions:
- What do I prefer doing? Is it writing or editing?
- Would I like to work with people from the local community only or with the broader audience?
- How am I going to discuss projects, e.g., inviting clients home for a private conversation, meeting them in public places, limiting the communication to Skype discussions or written correspondence, etc.?
- How much time do I want to devote to the work? How many hours a day exactly?
- What kind of text do I prefer writing?
- What software will I use to complete projects? Who will pay for mastering new software if there is a need?
- Do I need professionals who offer services that complement those that I provide?
- How can I reach people and/or business that constitute target audience?
- How much time is it likely me to take to turn my business profitable?
Step 3. Think Money
Being a successful independent writer or editor might have been your dream for a long time. However, if you want to make it come true, you should stop thinking of it as an ambition or your deepest desire. You should treat it as a business idea and create business and marketing plans in order to realize it. First of all, calculate your expenditure carefully. Of course, you will have to spend money on tools for work, advertising, insurance, and other things. Yet, remember that you should be careful with the available resources as they are limited at the initial stages of business development. Besides, it will take time before it starts bringing sufficient profit.
Furthermore, it is likely that you will start receiving offers from different organizations and enterprises willing to take advantage of your skills and services. Evaluate their suggestions and decide whether such cooperation could be useful for you. If it helps to enrich your knowledge, gain new experience, get extensive exposure in a specific milieu, and built your network of clients and acquaintances, the offer is worth mulling over. Nevertheless, analyze critically everything that the representatives of such companies want you to agree upon. They may deceive you into a deal that will result in your money being stolen from you.
As you start marketing your business, do not stake all your efforts, time, and money on advertising. For beginners, it does not work. People are more likely to opt for your services through the referral from friends or positive feedback from other clients. You may also use direct mailing as the means of letting people know about you. Do not send coupons or discounts. In such a case, people are likely to be more suspicious than encouraged to use your writing or editing services. Instead, send postcards or letters to those who you consider to be your target audience. You may also contact businesses that might be in need of such professionals as you are.
Whatever way of promoting you choose, remember that you have to do everything with clients’ needs in mind. You should offer not mere writing or editing services but rather solutions to their issues. Use this principle when creating letters to potential clients and business cards. Be sure to make your writing effective, straight-to-the-point, professional, and specific. Do not make vague promises if you want your sales to grow. In addition, do not underestimate the importance of the word “you” in your marketing texts, offers, or any other business-related correspondence. It spurs people to get involved. Finally, mind the presentation of the information. It should facilitate easy perception; thus, use bullet point instead of narrative where possible. Always indicate your phone number and/or email in a conspicuous manner.
Step 4. Build up Networks
If you are one of those who are willing to work as independent contractors, you should be ready to being the key to own success. That is why the capacity of the head of marketing department also belongs to you. For this reason, the more people you know the more effective your promotion will be. Therefore, be sure to expand the network of friends and acquaintances constantly. You may engage in networking activities both online and offline. Start with searching for organizations and groups of professionals who work in the field related to yours. However, before joining any social media communities or other organizations, do your homework and learn about them. You need to be sure that you will fit in with them. Otherwise, all your efforts may go in vain. Prepare mentally and physically that you will have to go out, leave your office, and mingle with people. It is the only way your business idea will work out.
Step 5. Develop Pricing Policy
You should devote much time to this aspect of your work and mull over all the factors that might influence the price for your services. A good place to start is to search for prices on writing and editing online in order to familiarize yourself with the peculiarities of the industry. Another important point is to take your time before making a final decision regarding the price whenever you are asked for a quote. There are many features and factors that may affect the price ranging from the complexity of the topic to the size of the font. Not to make a mistake that you might eventually regret, do not be in a hurry!
To be sure that every quote you provide is an informed decision, answer the following question before letting the client know the price:
- What is the deadline for draft(s) and a final version? What is the urgency of the work?
- What is the volume of the project?
- What is the quality of source material? Is it hand-written, typed, or available online?
- Is the usage of any special software required?
- Is it necessary to use Track Changes while editing?
- What is specifically required? What outcome is expected?
- How will you charge? Do you want a payment per hours worked or per amount of work done? Rely on your experience and the complexity of the task when opting for either of variants.
Furthermore, assess the credibility and reputation of a client. Ask for a prepayment to ensure that you will not be deceived and check the reliability of the customer. It might be relevant to create a proposal for clients in order to let them know how the process of cooperation should be organized and indicate the costs that he/she will incur. Include the terms of payment if you do not wait for months to receive the payment. Finally, make sure your proposal or agreement contains a condition that the final proofreading is what the customer should do.
- Keep your finance in an orderly manner. Create invoices and worksheets for each project or assignment so that later you could give them to the clients.
- Use proposals to ensure that your client and you are on the same page before actual cooperation begins.
- Start working on a project only if a non-refundable deposit was provided. If a client values you as a professional and cares about the text, which is to be entrusted to you, he/she will agree on such a condition. Even if a client is someone you know, do not make the exception to this rule. Value own effort, qualification, and experience.
- Ask your client for feedback and testimonials upon the completion of the project. Similarly, you may say that you would be extremely grateful for referrals. Do no force people to do these things. Asking for such kind of assistance is likely to bring some results only if the customer is satisfied with what you did. If the project was confidential, the request for testimonial or referral is irrelevant. Yet, if there is a chance to ask for a referral, use it! It is the best way to make people and businesses aware of your services.
- Make creative business card and leave it everywhere you go. You may also include it in billing letters. It might be useful if a client decides to keep a promise about a referral. Besides, those around your client might notice it and find your services necessary.
- Use professional and friendly tone in both writing and talking to clients. Furthermore, learn about the business or person before meeting. Such information might prove extremely useful.
In conclusion, mind that the process of becoming an independent contractor in the sphere of editing and writing is a time-consuming procedure that requires huge determination and a burning desire to embody this dream. If you are someone who seemingly has a decent typing skill, a person willing to work at home, or someone who just searches for the additional sources of revenue, you are to fail in this undertaking since either of these motivations is not sufficient. To succeed, one should have boldness and persistence to move forward even if something goes wrong. A person should be ready to the difficulties at the initial stages and have powers to overcome various barriers. If you feel like you lack motivation and desire, which is that strong, think twice before starting.