Preparing for freelance take-off
Updated: Mar 24, 2020
Hello and welcome to the first Shine Editorial blog post. I’m Lindsey Roffe and I work with businesses, community organisations, charities and writers to provide editorial communications support. My specialist areas are proofreading, editing, copywriting and research.
I quietly started my freelance business, Shine Editorial, in 2019. At that time I didn’t have much more than my business name – branding and a website were a way off and without those I wasn’t being particularly active on social media.
Coming from a marketing and communications background I know that’s no way to launch a business! But I was quite deliberate about taking the quiet, slow and steady approach. Behind the scenes I was training and developing new skills, networking and getting to grips with all the admin that comes with running a freelance business. Tax, IT, insurance, finance, design – argh – all specialist skills taken care of by experienced and qualified colleagues in my previous roles.
Taking some time out to upskill and get ‘business ready’ was a luxury, but it turned out to be the best thing for me. After twenty years of work I needed a bit of time to take stock and get myself ready for the next twenty years.
Taking the plunge
At around the 20 year mark of my career in marketing and communications, the internal “Go Freelance” voices in my head were getting harder to ignore. I had spent the last ten years specialising in editorial communications and it seemed the logical direction for my freelance business.
I did lots of research, had big chats with family and friends and had a fair bit of saving up to do ahead of eventually waving goodbye to a secure job, supportive team and a regular income.
As expected, my earnings and savings took a hit. But freelancing offers other amazing benefits; flexibility, extra family time, a better work-life balance and some space for specialist training and skills development.
In time and with hard work, I’m hoping the financial benefits will come too – fellow freelancers have suggested it might take a year or two but that’s fine as I’m in this for the long game.
‘You don’t know what you don’t know’
I have always loved working with words; whether it’s reading, speaking, writing or editing them. Words are persuasive and powerful and the way in which they are presented can make or break a personal or professional reputation. That sounds pretty heavy, but it’s true and it’s what keeps my job so interesting.
I’ve written, edited and proofread numerous brochures, guides, books, websites, press releases, exhibitions and reports. And whilst that hands-on experience is of huge value, I really wanted to undertake further professional training ahead of setting up as an editorial freelancer.
I researched reputable editorial training providers and booked myself onto industry-recognised courses. Some of the training consolidated what I already knew and that’s always good for your confidence… but the saying ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’ rang true as I quickly filled gaps in my knowledge and learnt a whole new set of skills from the following courses:
A comprehensive tutor-guided Proofreading training course with the Publishing Training Centre. I was awarded a Merit from the Publishing Qualifications Board
A ‘Brush up your Grammar’ course with the Publishing Training Centre
A Copyediting course with the Chartered Institute of Editing & Proofreading
Various workshops and training sessions at the two-day Chartered Institute of Editing & Proofreading annual conference
A ‘Social Media Strategy and Blogging’ course with a local training provider
I became a member of the Chartered Institute of Editing & Proofreading and I’m currently working to achieve Professional Membership status.
I read a lot during my setting up phase. There are plenty of free resources and blogs online, but I also invested in some fantastic business and editing reference books (I’ll save those for a future blog post). And I listened to plenty of freelance-themed podcasts on long walks with the dog.
The Internet is bursting with specialist groups, online communities and relevant experts who are nothing but generous with their time, knowledge and advice. I joined industry Facebook groups and forums and I followed fellow freelancers, experts and businesses on social media. All of which continues to help and inspire me massively.
Braving the real world
While the Internet is an amazing resource and great for online support, it’s also imperative to venture out into the real world every now and then. I don’t find networking events easy, but I have made some progress on that front.
I joined the Norfolk branch of the Chartered Institute of Editing & Proofreading which has been fantastic for meeting fellow professionals, learning, sharing knowledge and receiving industry updates.
I attended two national conferences in 2019 organised by the Museum Freelance Network and the Chartered Institute of Editing & Proofreading. Each of these conferences involved away stays in Manchester and Birmingham where I found myself having to network, initiate conversations and deal with my appalling sense of direction.
But I did it and I learned a lot. I made new connections and came away feeling inspired, energised and more confident for putting myself out there. It was an investment on my time, finances and nerves, but totally worth it.
I also have a small network of local freelance friends who I meet for occasional coffee, cake and chats. As well as sharing experiences and knowledge, it’s also good for motivation and encouragement.
I’m gearing myself up to attend some local business networking events in 2020. Eeek. A few months ago just the thought of it would have me running for the hills, but I now feel ready to start marketing Shine Editorial; both in the real world and online.
I have meetings in the diary with contacts and work colleagues of old to update them on my new venture and who knows what will come of those chats?
I have signed up for more online editorial courses to develop and grow my skill set further and I’m looking forward to two industry conferences later in the year which will be great for CPD.
As I write this it’s all starting to look and feel rather different at Shine Editorial. My branding is in place and the website is finally live. So I’m off to crack open the fizz – Shine Editorial finally feels well and truly ready for business.