wk #5: Starting a proofreading business is the easy part.

Getting that first editing client… not so much.

Months passed with more sleepless nights, boxes of Kleenex, knocking out the imposter monster, and the constant worrying if I had made the wrong decision to start this editing business. Clients weren’t exactly standing in line.

Reach out to others through your choice of social media. Experiment and see which platforms are most comfortable for you. Whether FB, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc., you are making connections and supporting and encouraging others in your new line of work. They are your people! Never feel like you can’t reach out to them when you’ve hit a low point. Ask for their support. Be genuine with them by saying that you are overwhelmed or unsure of what to do. Have patience and keep moving forward. They’ve been where you are and completely understand when the pressure hits hard.

Okay. But, how do I find that first client?

I researched: Where to find potential clients, how to speak to their needs, should I offer my services for free, and where to set my prices. There’s loads of info out there. Okay, but no one responds to my ads on social media. Do they sound stupid? Is the content on my website right or wrong? Is anyone looking at my website? The imposter monster was back and had me second guessing everything. But I kept telling myself… “I can do this.”

In the beginning, I volunteered my services to writers as a beta reader. This means I offered insight to the writer as a reader and made suggestions to help them improve their story. This is an excellent way to show your value. ALWAYS ask for feedback, a testimonial, and also if they would be willing to recommend you to others. I gained experience, feedback to improve my skills, and several testimonials to use when I started out. Experiment with different things. It’s a process to find what will work for you.

Then it happened—my first client. I was thrilled! He offered a glowing testimonial after I completed a beta read, and asked me to proofread one of his manuscripts. It was a great feeling and the boost to keep going. I was still nervous, but more determined than ever. But how did I get that first client? Maybe a bit of luck? Was I in the right place at the right time? I think it was because I had patience, didn’t quit, kept putting myself out there, and celebrated my wins—no matter how small. Building your business and clientele takes time. It won’t happen overnight. But you can’t sit back and expect clients to come to you. Join editing and writing groups. Write a FB post to announce a new skill you’ve learned. Build your authority by offering writing, editing, or publishing resources to writers.

But if you want to offer the best possible editing service, you need to know where to FIND the answers for your clients. You can’t learn and memorize every editing, grammar, and punctuation rule. It’s not possible. Through your training, you learned to use online tools like CMOS and possibly purchased editing books or manuals. The Copyeditor’s Handbook by Amy Einsohn and Marilyn Schwartz, and English Grammar & Usage by Mark Lester and Larry Beason are in my library, along with Dreyer’s English by Benjamin Dreyer and other excellent resources by June Casagrande. The writer is counting on you to recognize when something just doesn’t seem right. You are the writer’s assistant—able to detect a problem, bring it to their attention, and find the answer for how to fix it. Editors help writers make their words the best they can be.

All work and no play… right? We’ve all heard that. Something fun coming up next week! Then we’ll talk more about social media and what happens WHEN you get your first client. (See what I did there?)





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