You’ve been dreaming about becoming a freelance editor for years, and yet it never feels like the right time to make the move.
A new year has rolled round, and you’ve told yourself that this, this is the year you finally launch your editing business … but that’s what you told yourself last year, too.
It’s totally normal to feel nervous about launching a business or offering a professional service. When you work for other people, you’re vetted. You have faith that whoever hired you believes you can fulfil the role. On top of that, you have people to turn to if you need help doing your job.
When you work for yourself, you don’t have that reassurance. And if you’re a decent person, which you probably are, you really want to feel as though you’re doing a good job and providing value to your clients. Without someone more senior being responsible for you, how can you be sure you’re doing the best job? It makes sense that you’d feel nervous about branching out on your own.
Keep in mind, though, that you don’t have to do everything overnight. Learning a new skill and setting up a business takes time.
As well as that, you will always be learning, always be tweaking and improving your business and your services. It’s not a case of done and dusted; it’s a continual endeavour. So don’t think too far ahead. Break things down into small, easy, manageable steps, as you would any big task.
Secondly, remember that what you’re offering is an exchange.
Your clients want your services. It’s a fair exchange, and no one is forcing anyone to hire you. People will choose to hire you because they want to work with you and want what you have to offer.
If you’re upfront about your skills and abilities, the client knows what they’re getting. Trust me when I say it gets easier the more you realise people are happy to pay for your services and are happy with the results. Experience builds confidence.
How do you know you’re good enough to have people pay for your services when you’re just starting out?
You train, you read, you learn, you practice … then you have to take a leap of faith. You might never really feel ‘ready’ to start offering your services, but the more projects you complete, the more you’ll prove to yourself that you can do this thing called editing.
You can offer introductory rates or free edits to a few people if you feel as though you need some real-world experience before asking for your full rates, though, if that makes you feel more comfortable.
Lastly, you might feel alone in your business – but you aren’t. There’s a global community of freelance editors out there, and we’re a friendly bunch.
Join Facebook groups (like the Editors’ Association of Earth) and an editorial society or two (I love the Society for Editors and Proofreaders) and make friends. You can ask questions in private forums, and I guarantee no one will judge you for it and lots of people will be willing to help – because most editors I know seem to understand that a rising tide lifts all ships in the industry they love.
You’ve got this. And we’ve got you.