Kateproof offers an affordable and efficient proofreading service

The middle years - Kate Haigh

Posted on 29th June 2016

What are you doing now?

I am still running Kateproof, my freelance proofreading and copy-editing business.

Do you think the industry has changed in the last few years and if so, how?

It feels like the number of proofreaders/editors has increased but so too has the market. More and more businesses outside the publishing industry seem to be realising the importance of good copy, not to mention the further growth of epublishing and self-publishing, meaning there are more authors looking for assistance with their manuscripts.

Has your approach to your work changed?

Not massively. though as my client base and business has grown, I've been able to focus more on the clients and work that I want to do. When I first started out, I felt I needed to take on work if I was offered it but now I feel more able to pick and choose, even if I'm not fully booked when a query comes in.

What CPD have you done, if any, to stay up to date?

The main training I've done has been with other editors and proofreaders to really get to grips with the technology that helps me do a more thorough job. For example, I went to a training session about macros and I organised a skills swap session with colleagues so we could all share notes and ideas on using PerfectIt and to further understand the macros. I think reading blogs and keeping an eye on relevant forums also helps as it can be easy to think how I'm doing something is a good way but then someone might mention a new tool or another way of approaching something and that might be a good option for me too. I have also recently enrolled on a grammar course because though I feel confident about my grammar knowledge (as you'd hope from a proofreader/editor), I think it's always good to build on these skills. I'm also very excited because I've paid to attend the Mediterranean Editors and Translators' conference in October 2016. The joy of my current lifestyle means I can choose to go to Spain to this conference. I'm looking forward to the conference sessions but also to meeting new people.

What do you think has been important in helping you maintain/build your business?

Each January, though often in that period between Christmas and New Year, I make a conscious effort to sit down and think about what's happened in the previous year and what I want to happen in the following year. This has helped me focus on what I want from the business and also try to plan for what I want to happen. I've also recently made a massive life change, selling my house and becoming 'location-independent' (though I still pay my taxes in the UK, get paid to my UK bank account and have a UK address for admin purposes). I've perhaps not advertised this that much but I'm writing this blog while staying in Berlin for a bit and then I'm off to Poland for two months. My husband, now also an editor but specialising in the technical/engineering field, is doing the same, and this has meant my private life is much more interesting than it had been (Coventry was nice but not that inspiring) and I've really been able to rebalance the work/life conundrum far more in my favour.

Do you have any advice for people who have been in the industry a while who might be feeling flat/stagnating?

Short of selling up and going location-independent (!), I'd say to look at where you've been and what you've enjoyed and try to focus on that. Learning to say no is an important part of the process of really becoming your own boss – it's not just about running the business but about running the business you want it to be. I think many people try and fail within the first year or two so if you've made it beyond that and aren't living from hand to mouth, it's worth focusing on what you want and really going for it with that.

Do you have any specific plans for where you see yourself/your business going in future?

I am really happy with how things currently are, with a fantastic set of repeat clients as well as a steady flow of new queries and one-off clients. I just hope to be able to carry on working with these people on the same variety of projects and no longer worry about trying to branch into other parts of the industry or whether I should be working for X because of my CV, for example. I'm happy where I am now and hope that continues.

Do you have any regrets about how the last X years of your business have gone?

Aside from selling up sooner (!), no. I have had a few experiences that definitely registered on the learning curve and I've realised what my personal limits are on hours worked per day/week and how I like my business to function, but if I'd not been through that, I'd not be where I am today. If I could go back and give advice to myself when I was starting out, I'd say to be thorough when checking samples of work to determine what's required and what to charge, and also to feel confident when saying no.

Kate's views on the past three years in the proofreading/copy-editing industry.

Louise's views on the past three years in the proofreading/copy-editing industry.

Richard's views on the past three years in the proofreading/copy-editing industry.

Nick's views on the past three years in the proofreading/copy-editing industry.

Charlie's views on the past three years in the proofreading/copy-editing industry.

Written by Kate Haigh.