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The joy of SfEP (now CIEP)

Posted on 31st January 2012; edited in June 2020

In my bid to keep these blog posts relatively up to date, this is a heavily edited blog post from 2012. The SfEP has now become the CIEP: Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading. The Joy of CIEP doesn't quite have the same ring to it as the Joy of SfEP, but perhaps that word play was a bit too vague in the first place.

I get quite a few queries from proofreaders new to freelancing or people looking to get into the editing and proofreading industry and they often ask about the value of joining the CIEP. These views are my own, I have not been asked to write this on behalf of the CIEP, and I am not gaining anything from them as a result. I just know it's a common query for proofreaders going freelance or entering the business, so thought I would give my perspective.

If you already have lots of clients, support from other freelancers (be it general or proofreading/editorial related), are happy with how things are going for you and your client base, and want to save on expenses, then perhaps it's not worth joining.

However, if you don't tick all the above (and even if you do but you want to expand your business connections and have access to great CPD, some of it informal), I truly believe it's worth the fees. Every business has overheads, and as a proofreader, I find mine are quite low in comparison to other freelancers so there's definitely room in my budget to cover the annual fee.

I joined a few years ago as an Associate for about £120 (it's still about that price in 2020) and though I didn't get any work as a result of listing on the Associates Available emails, I did make one or two great contacts who have really helped and supported me, as well as mutual passing on of suitable work. The CIEP has changed the membership structure, so what was the Associate level is now split between Entry Level Member and Intermediate Member (IM). The Associates Available list is now the IM Available list, so again this is a potentially useful resource for people new to the industry but with some experience. More details about the membership structure and upgrading are available on the CIEP website.

I managed to upgrade, first to Professional Member (previously called Ordinary Member, but who wants to be called Ordinary?!) and then to Advanced Professional Member. I pay more for this membership level, but it gives me external credibility for my experience and business and also allows me to list on the the CIEP directory.I have written a blog post all about the advantages of being an APM so I won't repeat the details here.

When I was based in the West Midlands, I set up and co-ran a local group for South Warwickshire, meeting every month in Leamington Spa. This group continues to function, and in the current Covid time is meeting via Zoom. This was a great way to get out of the office and meet people IN REAL LIFE (the capitals will seem relevant if you've been freelancing on your own for a while), and I made life-long friends as well as great colleagues through it. I also got involved in a large work project through one of the local groups and have subsequently shared leads with editors and proofreaders I've met through the groups. This is not to say it's a sure-fire way to find clients and earn money, but most proofreaders I know are a friendly and helpful bunch; as we can only work on so many projects at a time, helping potential clients find a suitable editor or proofreader is often part of the job.

A few years ago, Cloud Club was set up (there are now two, covering different time zones), so when I was travelling the world as a nomadic editor and proofreader, I could attend online local groups, meaning I still felt part of the community and had the support of other professionals. Although I think the CIEP's focus is on the UK, international members can really feel part of it too.

Guests can attend up to three meetings so if you are unsure whether joining is right for you, I think attending a meeting or two to get a feel for what you can access through the CIEP is well worth your time.

The CIEP forum, available to members of all levels, is a great resource. It's a safe space to ask questions, with numerous threads looking at the finer details of proofreading and others more at the bigger picture of running a business. There are also off-topic threads for a (usually) more light-hearted conversation. The CIEP also has a presence on Twitter and Facebook, including a Facebook Group just for CIEP members who like to run, and there's a popular hashtag for editors and proofreaders who like to walk: #stetwalk.

In summary, if you're new to freelancing, and especially if you're new to proofreading in general, I think it is definitely worth the money. But as with most things, you get out what you put in. Get involved, be it on social media, the forums or perhaps with the council, and I believe you will reap the rewards.

Written by Kate Haigh.