When you have time in between jobs, it can be pretty stressful. Money isn’t coming in, and you may feel some anxiety about not being busy. Of course you can spend the time marketing for other jobs, but there are some other options for how you can spend your time that are useful for you and your business. I’ll discuss some of those options here.
Yes, continuing education costs money. But think of it as an investment rather than an expense. You’re investing in becoming the best you can be and making sure your skills are up-to-date. That’s worth spending a little money.
Books are the cheapest option for being able to educate yourself. There are lots of good ones out there for all types of editing. It’s also useful to read books about writing, especially if its particular to the type of work you’re editing or proofreading. The more you know about the writing process, the better the advice you can offer to writers. Because they will ask. And they will expect you to know.
The Editorial Freelancers Association
The EFA has books available for sale, which are often pretty cheap and straight to the point, but they also have courses available. Courses may suit your learning style better, if they’re within your budget. If you are a member of the EFA, then you automatically get a discount on their courses. They offer asynchronous learning, either fully self-paced or with an instructor where you submit assignments and get feedback on them. I personally enjoy this type of course because, as a freeelancer, I don’t have much opportunity to receive hands-on feedback from a colleague. I always feel like I learn more about what I should or shouldn’t do and learn about myself through these types of courses. The EFA also offers some webinars at specific times, if that works for you.
There are also many independent providers of continuing education courses in many different formats. You may even be able to find some on free platforms like YouTube. The only one I can personally recommend is Club Ed, particularly for developmental editors. The training on this site comes from Jennifer Lawler, who is a gifted instructor and is wonderful at giving kind, but critical, feedback.
Another option is that you can take some time to work on business matters you may have been putting off.
Are you woefully behind on entering receipts for expenses and updating your software for your income? Now is a good time to do that. It’s always better to try to keep up with these things as they come along; it’s less onerous if you only have a couple of things to enter than if you have a lot, and you’ll have better records if things are fresh on your mind.
Or, perhaps your business is new and you’re not quite sure what you will need to do for taxes. Now is a great time to start researching. It’s better to have a good grasp on what you need for taxes up front rather than trying to gather a lot of information later. This will save you a lot of frustration when taxes are due.
I’m not a tax or legal adviser, but I am registered as a limited liability company (LLC) in my state and city, and I highly recommend it. Though there are some fees and taxes that go along with formalizing your business in this way, you are also potentially providing a way of protecting your personal assets should you find yourself in a legal situation. It will definitely provide some peace of mind. So, if you have some time on your hands, look into whether forming a LLC or other legal entity is right for you.
Contracts or written agreements are essential for making sure both the editor and the client or author understand their rights and responsibilities. If you don’t have a template contract set up, now’s a good time to do it.
It’s a good idea to specifically list what is and is not included in your work so that clients don’t make assumptions and so that you both understand what is to be done. Consider describing each type of work you do in a scope section, and when you use the template, you can delete the ones that aren’t applicable for the client.
We live in a digital age. A website tells clients that you’re serious about your work and lends some legitimacy to you. If a client can look you up, see a picture, see that you can write (via blogs, your About page, the copy on your site), they’re more likely to trust you with their precious writing.
Websites can be time consuming, so start working on one right away. Remember it doesn’t have to be perfect to go live. In fact, search engines like Google like when websites aren’t static. So don’t feel like you have to implement your grand plan right away. Just put some key elements on there: a description of your services, some information about you, and a way to contact you. After your website is up, you can keep adding to it and tweaking it as you have time.
If you don’t have business cards yet, work on getting some now. Once you get them, carry them with you wherever you go. The opportunity to talk about what you do often comes up in conversation with new people you meet, and those people may be interested in your services or know someone who is. If they ask for your card, you want to be ready to hand them one.
If you have a website, try to use the same logo, if you have one, and color scheme on your card so that there’s brand consistency. Don’t make it too busy; you just need the essentials such as your name, title (such as Editor or Proofreader), and a way to contact you. List your website too, so that the person can easily research you.
I hope this blog has given you some useful ideas on how to fill your time in a way that’s beneficial to your business. And here’s hoping the dry spell doesn’t last long!
Have work to send me? Let’s discuss. Contact me here.