I'll never understand the posts I see online that go something like this: "I've just started my editorial services business. Does anyone have any advice on [how to run it]? Any tips greatly appreciated!" Cart before the horse, and in the age of Google especially flummoxing. Sure, we all ask for advice. But to start there? I wish I had had access to the wealth of information that's available now back when I started my business. I did most of my information gathering the old-fashioned way. I was barely using e-mail at the time. If you're going to be a self-employed editor (or, for that matter, self-employed in any field), your number one skill needs to be ... finding information on your own.
After you've done your research, there's a way to ask and get the information you want: Ask very specific questions, not the general "Any advice?" But when you give the impression that you haven't done any research yourself and want to learn, in a half hour, what it has taken a veteran years to learn (hat tip to my colleague Enid Rosenstiel for that description), that doesn't sit well. When I mentor people, I want them to be go-getters and show plenty of initiative. I don't want to spoon-feed them. If you don't develop the skill of doing your own legwork, you may be better suited to being an employee than to being a solopreneur.
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