By Andrea Susan Glass
When I teach “Marketing for Copyeditors” at UCSD Extension, I instill in my students that if you’re working as an independent editor and not for a company, you are in business! I also prefer to call myself a professional editor rather than a freelance editor. It has more of a business ring to it!
I’ve found that in order to run a successful business, one way you can view the essentials is to look at them as your tools, tactics, tasks, and team. I see these as the basics needed to set up and manage a copyediting business successfully.
So let’s see what these terms refer to. They’ll differ by person, goals, focus, and other variables. Some of what I suggest may fit your situation, and some may not. At least if you think in terms of these four, you have a great shot at running an effective copy editing business.
Tools I refer to are forms, contracts, books, software, or anything material that helps start, run, and maintain a business. You need to check with your city and bank if you’re required to get a business license, sales tax permit, fictitious name statement, business checking account, or other typical business tools. Some of the most essential tools are a business plan, business model, and ongoing education. The business plan can be as simple as one page, or a longer form. By modeling other successful editors, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. You can network with others or explore their websites to see what kind of editing business you want. As for education, you can read books and take seminars, and SD/PEN provides plenty of learning in their meetings, workshops, and newsletter.
Tactics are the strategies that utilize the tools to get you where you want to go. They’re the policies and procedures you put in place to set up business operations so you don’t have to start from scratch with each new client. These include setting goals, establishing systems, and measuring results. You might want to set goals based on income or number of clients. Your systems could include how you interview prospects, negotiate bids, and close a sale. Systems are also about how you market your business, track income and expense, and manage paper flow. All the operations you outline in your business plan will become the tactics you use to operate your business.
Tasks are the action steps you take that you’ve set up in your plans and strategies. Plans must be implemented to get results! One task might be to set up a LinkedIn profile if you’ve listed it as one of your marketing methods. Another action step would be to choose a bookkeeping system and update it weekly or monthly. Add action steps from your systems into your calendar to stay on course.
Team consists of those who will help you reach your goals. As an independent business owner, you don’t have to do it all yourself. You may want a partner, coach, or mentor. These are people who will help you start and/or manage your business ongoing and keep you accountable. You might want to contract out marketing to a virtual assistant who can update your social media. And you might add a web developer and graphic designer to your team. Additionally, creating relationships with other editors for referrals or other business owners for alliances can be a boon to acquiring new business, and they too become part of your team.
Determine the tools, tactics, tasks, and team you require to manage your copy editing business. Then you’ll find your business will flow more smoothly, effectively, and successfully.
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