Monthly Archives: January 2016

Are you the same ‘you’ everywhere – what’s your business identity?

By Margaret Hunter

There’s an interesting discussion at the moment on the SfEP forums about choosing a name for your editing or proofreading business. Should you use your own name to emphasise that your business = you + your particular skills, choose a clever play on editing-related words, or perhaps go for something creative with no hint of what you do to pique interest and act as a conversation starter? Is it better to have a short name that’s easy to spell or go for something that people will remember? There’s a good checklist of things to consider when naming your business in a previous blog post.

That got me thinking though about the other nuggets of good practice when setting up your business that have been shared by fellow editors. What is clear is that it pays to spend some time thinking about your complete business identity – or brand. You may not have thought of yourself as needing a brand before but the businesses that look most professional, however small, are the ones with a consistent look, feel and message, wherever you encounter them.
blank notebook

A strategy for consistency

For starters, answer the following.

  • When did you last update all of your directory entries and social media profiles? Did you even remember that you had an entry in Freeindex or About.me or your local business listings?
  • Do all your profiles use the same photo or logo?
  • Did you perhaps experiment at one point with a quirky avatar that you’ve forgotten about but which still lingers out there on the web?
  • Is your ‘blurb’ consistent – perhaps just tweaked for different platforms?
  • Have you used the same branding on all your business documents – e.g. terms/contract, invoice, style sheet, information for authors?
  • When people visit your website (you do have one, don’t you?) will they recognise you as the same person/business that they’ve seen on Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn?

Housekeeping your online presence

When prospective clients search for you online, what will they find? Have you clearly separated your personal online presence from that of your business? Crucially, is there anything from your business or personal past that you’d rather people didn’t now see? Member of the SfEP Julie Marksteiner, who started the conversation on business names, has a good strategy:

‘The first thing I did when I decided to go freelance was to Google my name, which resulted in deleting a lot of old social media accounts and cringeworthy photographs. Would rather prospective clients take notice of my proofreading, not the Myspace account from my “emo phase”!’

Resources to help

Copy-editor and proofreader Mary McCauley has a wealth of tips and resources about branding and marketing yourself as a freelancer on her blog. And if you’re serious about revamping your business identity and marketing strategy you also could get hold of proofreader Louise Harnby’s book Marketing Your Editing & Proofreading Business.

Margaret HunterMargaret Hunter (daisyeditorial.co.uk) is a freelance copy-editor, proofreader and book formatter, and is also marketing and PR director of the SfEP.

Proofread by Advanced Professional Member Liz Jones

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the SfEP

Leather sofas and cakes – my first experience of the SfEP local groups

The SfEP has 39 local and regional networking groups where editorial professionals come together for support, knowledge sharing, visits to places of bookish interest… and quite often eating cake or having a glass or two of wine! David Smith has just attended his first SfEP group meeting in Glasgow and shares his experience with us here.

cakes at Glasgow SfEP local group

Photo © David Smith

Leather sofas, real coffee, home baking and an inviting ambient atmosphere all created an ideal setting for my first local SfEP meeting. This was the Glasgow group’s first meeting in its new location, the Singl-end café and bakehouse (@thesinglend).

I didn’t attend the old venue, but I would be surprised if it was as good as this one.

The 16 attendees sat on the sumptuous leather in a small room off the main area. The meeting was opened with introductions to welcome the newer members.

This was followed by an informative and entertaining report of a recent course on gaining work from non-publishers. The members who gave the report had travelled from Edinburgh, highlighting how the groups generously help each other.

Next up for discussion was how to make the monthly meeting more accessible to more members. A survey will be distributed to gauge preferences regarding times and location.

The majority are freelance and are more able to rearrange work to attend during the week; however, for employees, like me, the midweek daytime schedule prevents regular attendance.

An evening meeting would cause problems for those with childcare concerns, and the evenings are not always the best after a busy day at work. It is always a difficult balance to get right. It must suit those who shoulder the organisational burden, as without those heroes the meetings may not happen at all.

Next a member raised a question she had about a work issue. This prompted plenty of advice from those who knew, and added to the knowledge of those who didn’t.

There seemed to be a vast range of expertise in the group, and all were helpful in offering advice where required. The benefits of such a group are legion. From expertise on a variety of work-related problems to simple networking with your peers.

This point cannot be overstated for those in a predominately solitary profession. It is good to get out and to practise your social skills, and if those you practise with also understand your predicament, so much the better. It can be all too easy to suffer in isolation, but there is no reason to when you have an active local SfEP group like the Glasgow one.

I was made to feel very welcome, and the two hours passed far too quickly. It would be a regular date for me if I could manage it, but I may have to keep in touch via the second best option, the forum.

The meetings are thoroughly recommended, and if you are able to attend it is well worth the effort.

David SmithDavid Smith is currently employed as a technical author and works as a copy-editor, proofreader and article writer. He likes being outdoors, but dislikes British winters.

If you are not yet a member of the SfEP but would like to find out more by attending your local group (sfep.org.uk/networking/local/groups), you may go along to three meetings as a non-member. We hope you’ll be so impressed that you’ll sign up for membership straight away!

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the SfEP

Specialist Q&A – oceanography and medicine

Specialist Q&AOur editorial industry is made up of people carrying out a huge range of tasks across many different sectors. Although we are bound by common aims – to make text consistent, accurate and clear – our chosen areas of work can differ in fascinating ways.

Cathryn Primrose-Mathisen is an onscreen copy-editor. She has answered some questions on her main specialisms: oceanography and medicine.

  1. Briefly, what’s your work background?

Following university, I worked for Fugro GEOS/OCEANOR for 14 years. I was involved in metocean measurement and real-time monitoring projects, holding roles such as project/sales manager in Trondheim, operations manager in Houston, and senior oceanographer in Singapore. I also completed many fieldwork visits, installing and servicing instrumentation on moorings and offshore platforms, as well as reporting the results and presenting them at conferences. I worked with very different clients, such as oil and gas companies, governmental organisations and universities. In terms of medicine, when I was younger I used to work in the summer holidays at the health centre where my mother worked as a GP.

I have been freelance copy-editing/proofreading for about six years. I specialise in science, technology, business and medicine. I have copy-edited numerous scientific articles both pre- and post-submission to journals, and I have copy-edited books about, for example, climate change, marine ecology, earthquake engineering, international relations and clinical diabetes. Over the past five years I have worked with a local doctor providing English language review of his PhD thesis as well as articles that have been published in BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders and the BMJ.

  1. How long have you specialised in this particular kind of editorial work, and how did you get started?

I have specialised in these areas for most of my freelance career. Initially, I took The Publishing Training Centre’s ‘Basic proofreading by distance learning’ course and joined the Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP). I marketed myself as a proofreader, emphasising my academic qualifications (MSc Oceanography, BSc (Hons) Geography) and the subject areas I studied at university (climate change, palaeoceanography, geopolitics, culture etc.). It soon became clear that I was a more natural copy-editor and that I had a broad range of both academic and commercial experience. A couple of my proofreading clients asked whether I would like to do some onscreen copy-editing work and it grew from there. I studied Barbara Horn’s Copy-Editing and decided to supplement my knowledge of MS Word by taking the SfEP’s ‘Onscreen editing 1’ course. I plan to take the level 2 course when I can.

  1. What specific knowledge, experience or qualifications do you need?

A sufficient academic grounding enables you to know whether the flow of a text is correct for the fields in which you specialise, helps you to communicate with the authors, and helps you to spot obvious mistakes. My master’s degree has helped me to obtain projects, but it is not a prerequisite for all clients.

One of my best commercial clients contacted me specifically because I had spent a great deal of time working offshore on oil rigs. They knew that I was familiar with the stringent health, safety and environment procedures found there. Similarly, one of the PhD theses that I copy-edited last year was about project management, and the client contacted me because of my previous commercial experience.

A close family member has diabetes type 1 and uses an insulin pump. The system is similar in many ways to the real-time metocean monitoring systems that I installed for Fugro, and we troubleshoot it in the same way.

  1. How do you go about finding work in this area?

I started by approaching some of the larger academic publishers and replying to job announcements sent via the SfEP. Over the years I have built up my experience and have maintained a good relationship with my clients, leading to repeat work.

I upgraded my SfEP membership so that I could obtain a directory entry and have received some good leads from different types of clients in this way. I have also experimented with other directories, finding some more suitable than others.

My aim is to continue to expand my commercial base. I have attended the SfEP’s ‘Getting work with non-publishers’ course, which has helped me to clarify my goals. I will soon be working with a local business mentor to help me build my business network in the cities closest to where I live, and I have also joined my nearest chamber of commerce (Norwegian equivalent of). Last year I attended the Aqua Nor conference in Trondheim, Norway, and this year I will be attending the Oceanology conference in London. I am fortunate that our local business development organisation Bindal Utvikling AS is providing some financial support.

  1. What do you most enjoy about the work?

I enjoy being able to make use of my university and work experience to help clients from around the world. I particularly enjoy copy-editing articles about data collection during fieldwork and the subsequent presentation and analysis of results.

  1. What are the particular challenges?

Cross-referencing many pages of tag numbers proved ‘interesting’, but I found that the key was to develop and apply a clear and logical sequence of actions.

  1. What’s the worst job you’ve had – and/or the best?

The worst job I had was really two and this was very early on in my freelance career. I naively accepted two large proofreads that overlapped and I did not anticipate delays with the first one. This led to very long days and nights.

  1. What tips would you give to someone wanting to work in this field?

Do not overestimate your potential earnings. Also remember that you may not be able to focus properly for more than about four to five hours a day on a long-term basis.

  1. What is the pay like – and are there any other perks?

Pay from my commercial clients is generally higher than from my publishing clients. I aim for balance in my work and family life, and I enjoy going for a walk in the hills at lunchtime.

  1. What other opportunities do you think editorial work in this area might lead to?

Over the next few years I will increase the marketing of my rewriting and website copy-editing skills. I shall also continue to reach out towards the aquaculture industry, where my skills and experience can also be used.

I have recently completed my own print-on-demand book of landscape photographs and have used design software to compile a recipe booklet for fundraising for a school class.

Cathryn Primrose-MathisenCathryn Primrose-Mathisen is an Advanced Professional Member of the SfEP, specialising in science, technology, business and medicine for everyone from individuals to multinationals. Following a successful commercial oceanographic career around the world she now lives in Norway and helps others to acquire more customers, sell more products and services and/or present clear safety and technical information or scientific results. She walks wherever and whenever possible. Find out more at: www.cathrynprimrose.com, www.sfep.org.uk/directory/cathryn-primrose-mathisen and www.linkedin.com/in/cathrynprimrose

Proofread by SfEP Professional Member Christina Harkness

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the SfEP

10 things you didn’t know about the SfEP social media teams

By Julia Sandford-Cooke

With more than 13,500 Facebook ‘Likes’ and 5,000 Twitter followers, the SfEP social media accounts are a popular way of promoting the Society to a wider audience.

But do you know what goes on behind the scenes of our Facebook and Twitter accounts? Have you ever wondered who the digital ninjas anonymously posting links are? Well, social media team members have kindly allowed me to expose their true identities and reveal a few social secrets.
social media

  1. Members of the Twitter team each post on a particular day of the week

The team is Cheryl Brant, Richard Sheehan, Sarah Perkins, Alison Walters and Anna Nolan, who are committed to a particular day every week. They will also respond to any direct Twitter communications on the day they are on duty.

  1. Members of the Facebook team each post for a week, on a rota

This means we are responsible for posting each working day for a week, every five or six weeks. The team is Dan Harding, Jayne MacArthur, Becca Wells and me. There is currently a vacancy for a fifth person.

Margaret Hunter, marketing and PR director, ably and patiently oversees both teams.

  1. We’re all volunteers

We’re not elected to a committee or paid for our time. We are all at different stages of our editorial careers but we feel it is important to actively support the work of the SfEP.

Anna says, “When I first got involved with the team, I had not long before joined the SfEP and had not started work as a proofreader or copy-editor, whatsoever. I was an absolute newbie, coming from a non-publishing background and in need of training. I did know how to use social media and loved the idea of helping out the SfEP and keeping updated with the latest ideas and developments in the editing/publishing world.”

Dan and Jayne agree. Dan says, “This is the best way for me to keep engaged with SfEP on a regular basis.”

I’ve been in the team for a few years now and think of it as an enjoyable bit of community service that fits in well with my other commitments. My nearest local SfEP group is at an inconvenient place and time but being on the Facebook admin team means I can help my professional society and share ideas with other editors without even leaving my desk!

  1. We usually share posts beforehand

We use a closed Facebook group to post suggested links or ask questions. Like the rest of the team, if a link catches my eye, I’ll post it to the group even if it’s not my week, in case the person on duty can make use of it. We choose our favourite links from here and either post them live or (more likely) schedule them each day.

The function of the SfEP’s social media pages is to provide links to useful or entertaining posts about books, language, editing and proofreading while acknowledging the achievements of our members and, of course, promoting the work of the SfEP. External links are interspersed with links to the SfEP website and blog, so that those who have discovered us only via our social media streams can find out more about the SfEP and perhaps even become members.

We try to post a range of different subjects, styles and sources but you may notice links from certain sites coming up regularly – that’s because they are so good (for example, we might as well link to every post written by Rich Adin and his network of contributors on the An American Editor blog!).

That said, linking to an external post does not necessarily endorse it. Although we try to promote only good-quality posts that uphold the SfEP’s values, some readers may disagree. Quality is subjective and we can’t take responsibility for others’ mistakes. In any case, sometimes we link to posts that we simply enjoy and think our readers will also appreciate, and hope that they will forgive the occasional typo in content we cannot amend.

While we do our best to help anyone who contacts us, we are not a job board. We direct people asking for quotes for work or proofreader recommendations to the SfEP website and/or directory.

  1. We are truly international

Perhaps surprisingly, about a third (4,600) of our Facebook fans are from the USA, with about 3,000 from the UK. Next come India, Canada, Australia and South Africa, with Brazil and the Philippines close behind in terms of numbers. Spanish and Portuguese speakers are our biggest non-English language audience. Although we are a British-based society, we try to bear this cultural variety in mind, for example by posting links that may be of particular interest to Canadians and Americans later in the day.

  1. We agonise over errors – and alleged errors

When we write a post, we check and check again… and check again. We’re painfully aware of how it appears to readers if the SfEP’s posts have typos. But sometimes, as with any project, errors slip through when we are juggling paid work and other commitments with our admin roles. Believe us when we say we cringe and put it right as soon as we realise.

Anna says (and I agree): “I am mortified when I realise too late I’ve made an error – and feel even worse when someone points it out.” We beg a little patience from those who are quick to point out mistakes. We’re only human and we’d prefer comments to focus on the content of the links, not the introductory copy.

And sometimes, as we know, errors are in the eye of the beholder.

What’s more, on Twitter in particular, we have only a few characters to get over a sense of a link – sometimes this necessitates a simpler introduction than we’d like. If the post isn’t to your taste, move on – we’ll be posting another very soon.

  1. We don’t have a stylesheet – gasp!

Yes, we’re editorial rebels. While we use standard British punctuation and spelling, it was decided early on that to impose a style sheet on all the posts would be too arduous for posts that are essentially intended to be fleeting and for editors and proofreaders in the team who already have enough stylesheets to follow.

I have to admit, however, that I sometimes rephrase introductions to avoid en rules (which are difficult to use on a web interface) or complex punctuation.

And, for the record, I hyphenate ‘copy-editing’ after the style of Judith Butcher’s handbook but other team members may use ‘copyediting’ or ‘copy editing’ – all are correct.

  1. We take the Friday funny very seriously

Regular followers of our Facebook page may enjoy our Friday afternoon tradition of posting an editorial cartoon or meme. I really struggle to find appropriate funnies that haven’t been all over the web already but luckily my colleagues are always on hand to provide suggestions. Recent popular posts (not posted by me) include Snoopy’s attempts to write a novel and tips for procrastination.

laughingOver on Twitter, if you’ve engaged with the SfEP over the week, perhaps by retweeting or responding to a post, or if you’re a member of the SfEP, you may find yourself featured in a #FF (Friday Follow).

  1. We learn a lot

We don’t volunteer purely out of the goodness of our hearts – an element of continuing professional development is key.

Richard says, “It feels good doing something to contribute and it also keeps me up to date with what’s being posted online around the internet.”

Sarah says, “I reckon being on the team makes me keep reading blogs and finding out new things. If I didn’t have to find something each week, I wouldn’t get round to keeping up to date.”

Dan adds, “Being involved in sourcing and posting content is a great motivator and helps me to keep up to date with articles that I wouldn’t otherwise read.”

And, obviously, it’s a great excuse to browse the web.

As Cheryl says, “It’s a good way to take a break from a project without feeling guilty about web browsing when you should be working.”

  1. We’re always looking for more volunteers

The formula of posting links to external content and to the SfEP website and blog works well. A few people have even told us that our social media feeds are among the best they’ve seen from an organisation like ours. We’re delighted to receive such positive feedback and are proud of what we achieve as a team.

Anna says, “I love being part of a friendly, helpful and communicative team. I think we all work well together and there is a really strong sense of cohesion among us!”

Sounds like fun? Contact Margaret Hunter on marketingpr@sfep.org.uk if you are a member of the SfEP and would like to volunteer for the social media team or find out more.

Julia Sandford-CookeJulia Sandford-Cooke of WordFire Communications (www.wordfire.co.uk) is an Advanced Professional Member of the SfEP. When she’s not hanging out with other editors (on Facebook and in real life), she authors and edits textbooks, writes digital copy, proofreads anything that’s put in front of her and posts short book reviews on her blog, Ju’s Reviews.

 

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the SfEP.