How My Trip to the EFA Conference Paid for Itself

By Katie Barry

Photo of Empire State Building taken by Katie Barry at EFA ConferenceIn August, I attended the Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA) conference in New York City. There, I was able to network with colleagues, meet new friends, and learn how to improve my skills as both an editor and a business owner. Immediately upon returning, I successfully applied one of those business-owner lessons, which is paying big dividends!

The EFA conference was a rare opportunity for freelance editors at any stage of their careers to learn and develop new skills while meeting peers. Breakout sessions each day featured a range of topics, including

  • Get More than Money from Your Pricing
  • Inclusive Language
  • Copyediting Fiction
  • Brainstorming to Bring in Better Business
  • Editing for Self-Publishers

The first of those sessions, Get More than Money from Your Pricing, with Jake Poinier (aka Dr. Freelance) was the first breakout session I attended. It also contained the first nugget of wisdom I’ve put into practice since coming home.

Jake asked us to think beyond the rate sheets about four aspects of pricing:

  1. What you need to earn
  2. What you want to earn
  3. What’s the market willing to bear
  4. What’s the value that you deliver

The last point sunk into my brain. I have a long-standing client (Client A) who has been underpaying me for a while. When I started my own business, my need for a steady client (in terms of providing work and promptly paying) justified the lower rate. But as the years have gone by and I’ve gained other clients, my rate for Client A grew more out of line. It had bothered me for a while, but I’d been too timid to force a renegotiation.

Jake reminded me that although it’s fine to assess each client individually, it’s also important to keep in mind the value that you deliver. I know I’ve delivered a good product—for a long time—and that value needed to be recognized on my bottom line. Jake’s session empowered me to not only stand up for what I believed, but also be ready to face the consequences—I might end up with one less client.

The day after I got home from the conference, I drafted an email to Client A saying that although I was grateful for our relationship, I needed to bring my rate for them more in line with that of my other clients. I explained that I hoped we could discuss something that would satisfy both of us. Within the next 24 hours, I am happy to say, we agreed to a new rate (that included a significant bump for me), and we will continue to be partners.

I share this story for two reasons. One, yay me! It took a leap for me to send that email. The fact that I sent it and the story had a happy ending? Icing on the cake! Two, this may not have happened for quite some time had I not attended the conference.

Professional development is something that I believe strongly in. I take courses in writing, editing, marketing, etc. to keep my skillsets sharp. Attending this conference was another piece of my continuing education. In this case, a 1.5-hour session transformed a bitter-turning client relationship into a renewed relationship. My spirits are higher, my savings account will be happier, and that conference will pay for itself within the month.

The next time you’re wondering if that class or workshop is worth your time, stop wondering and GO! The payoffs may not always be as clear and immediate as this experience, but my guess is you’ll find your own piece of wisdom.

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2 comments

  • Diane Rush

    Oh, I’d feel the same way you did about sending that kind of e-mail! What a great outcome. Question for you about the conference—did EFA mention whether or not they will put on another conference next year?

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