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The value of connecting with other proofreaders

Posted on 8th October 2012

The Best of Enemies Part II (where sometimes the enemy is yourself)

As discussed in Part I of my blog on Find a Proofreader, I believe that freelance proofreaders and copy editors should look at each other as colleagues and friends and not as the enemy or competition. Yes, we may occasionally bid against each other but, more often than not, we can help and support each other, not to mention sometimes work together or pass on leads when we can't take the work on ourselves.

I have made a great network of friends through my local SfEP groups, and via Twitter and Facebook I have also got to know a few other proofreaders and copy editors, thus expanding the pool of knowledge, advice and support.

Through this network, I have 'met' Louise Harnby, whose blog for people looking to start out in the industry is fantastic. In fact, and I know she doesn't mind me saying this, I proofread her recent blog, a fictive case study about starting out if your background is in finance (which part of mine is). This sort of advice can be invaluable if you're starting out in the freelance world because, as we all know, running a successful proofreading business isn't just about checking the spelling and grammar - it's about doing the admin and accounts and, most importantly, it's about marketing and selling yourself.

But this advice is great even if you're not starting out. All businesses need to evolve and grow, so taking a different view will often bear fruit. Sometimes it's easy to get stuck in the belief that what one is doing is the only way, but by opening up to ideas from other people in the industry, it can be possible to move on.

Louise's blog about the term 'freelance' is, for me, a case in point. I was (note past tense) the only person at my local networking group to stand up and say, "I am a freelancer." People look at you differently when you say, "I run my own proofreading and copy editing business", and this has worked in my favour. Would I have realised that on my own? Who knows? But by being open to the ideas of others in the business, I have benefited.

I'm not suggesting we all price-fix or create a union to boycott late payers (though the latter has a certain renegade excitement to it despite my being lucky with most clients paying early!) but by seeing each other as friends and colleagues in a supportive environment, rather than as competition and enemies, it's a much nicer place to be.

After writing the first blog on Find a Proofreader, I was made aware of a similar blog by Kate Toon, an Australian-based copywriter, but the sentiment is the same for freelancers of most disciplines. Check it out for another view on seeing your competition as friends.

If you're a proofreader or copy editor in the West Midlands/South Warwickshire area (or are looking to become one/move here), why not come along to one of the SfEP meetings? Contact me for more details. You don't need to be a member of the SfEP to attend; you can be a guest for your first three meetings.

Also, feel free to like my Facebook page or follow me on Twitter (@Kateproof) and then I can 'introduce' you to my network of friends and colleagues.

Written by Kate Haigh.