KOK Edit: Your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM)
KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf

Friday, July 22, 2016

Busting the Myth of the Feast-or-Famine Cycle

Dear self-employed editorial colleagues:

It's a myth that our workflow must be in a perpetual feast-or-famine cycle.

If you do at least a few small marketing activities every day (or every business day), even when you have enough work and even when you feel panicky about lack of work, you can eventually get to the point where work finds you instead of the case always being that you must find the work. I’ve been self-employed for 21 years now, and this has happened for me. It has happened for other freelancers I know who have been in the game for a long time.

No, marketing doesn’t mean going around plastering messages everywhere like “I’m the best [editor, proofreader, indexer, designer, etc.] ever” or “Please send me a project so that I can pay my mortgage [or rent].” So many freelancers say things like “I don’t want to blow my own horn.” But that’s not what marketing is.

All that marketing means is doing things so that you’re visible online where your target clients can find you. It means sharing knowledge, not bragging. It can involve teaching courses (to potential clients to show your expertise), writing blog posts, being active in professional associations so that colleagues see what you can do and will think of you for referrals, being active on professional email lists (such as Copyediting-L) and in Facebook editors' groups, posting articles and status updates to LinkedIn, writing articles for professional newsletters and journals, and tweeting about your profession without saying, “Please contract with me now!” It doesn’t have to be done in every possible venue either; choose a few that feel natural to you and start talking.

It’s not going to happen within just a couple of weeks, and you’ll have to be dedicated to marketing your business. Also, not every marketing activity has to be a huge, time-consuming project. There are lots of little things you can do.

You might find these blog posts of mine helpful:

If you’re an introvert, don’t let that stop you. I’m one, and I’m all over the Internet.


Terence said...

So true, Katharine – great post.

I'm making the career move from writer to copyeditor, but marketing is marketing.

I'm currently on a nine-month contract with a very large IT client in Shenzhen, China. I know my end date – interestingly enough, my 69th birthday – and am already amping up the activity to make sure I have plenty of work waiting on October 1.

A big part of that activity is networking WITH my current client. They're a $65 billion company, and I'm working for just a sliver of it. I've worked hard here, gone beyond expectations and favorably impressed many internal clients. As a result, I may well have freelance opportunities from these folks when I walk out the door - as well as good references.

I especially liked your advice to make marketing a daily habit. It may well result in having more work than you can handle. But, guess what? That's a perfect time to pass on those opportunities to some of the incredible fellow editors you'll inevitably meet as you network, a favor which will be amply returned many times over, in my experience.

Averill Buchanan said...

Great post, Katharine.

I think freelance editors can learn a great deal from self-publishing authors about marketing and the concept of building a platform (both about what to do and what NOT to do). I came across this post by Jane Friedman about author platform that could just as easily apply to freelancers of all types: https://janefriedman.com/author-platform-definition/

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