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The joys of SfEP

Posted on 31st January 2012

OK, so it's been ages (again) since I wrote my last blog and definitely just as well that I didn't make a resolution to write more in 2012 otherwise that would be a failure before February has even started.

Anyway, as I get quite a few queries from newly starting out proofreaders about the value of joining the SfEP, I thought I would put across my own views. These views are my own, I have not been asked to write this on behalf of the SfEP 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.

In brief: join!

So you want the details...

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

On the other hand, if you don't tick all the above, 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 or sole trader businesses 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 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. Furthermore, I have met a great group of people through the West Midlands' SfEP group, some of whom I have worked on big projects with. Not only have I met people who can advise and support me if I have proofreading queries, but I have got a decent amount of work out of it.

I also recently setup and now co-run a group for South Warwickshire, meeting every month in Leamington Spa, so if you're in the area and want to meet some of us 'SfEPers' to find out more before deciding to join then get in touch and I will send you the details for the next group.

Once I managed to upgrade to full membership (officially called 'ordinary' membership but who wants to claim to be ordinary?), I was able to put a listing in the SfEP directory. On the day my listing went live, I got a new client from it. That more than covered the cost (an annual directory listing is about £64) and I have continued to get a steady stream of queries and work as a result.

Finally, via social media and the SfEP forum, I have made more connections and 'virtual friends', helping fill the quiet days with random editing-based (and sometimes non-editing) trivia, help with queries where a dictionary just won't do and generally making working alone seem a little less lonely...

So, if you're new to freelancing, and especially if you're new to proofreading in general, I really can't think of any reasons not to join. Speculate to accumulate, both with cash and contacts...

Written by Kate Haigh.