Balance the Freelancing See-saw

Balance the freelancing see-saw blog post

Balancing the ups and downs of your freelancing see-saw can be a challenge.

Tall Tartan Talks here … I’ve listed 12 ways in which freelancing is like life on a see-saw with ups and downs, how to maintain control and balance, and how to cope with swings that make us panic.

Scheduling time for each aspect helps give a sense of control. As a freelance proofreader, I try to manage the swings so that I have more control. A tip I have learnt: things may not get done unless they are scheduled. Included are suggested reminders for fun.

12 Elements to balance

1. Managing clients

Freelancers need to balance client expectations, contend with deadlines and project requirements, while ensuring you are not overextending yourself or compromising on quality. Some clients raise ‘red flags’ in our minds with their requests. Ask yourself, is this client is a good fit?

2. Managing time

Freelancers need to manage their time efficiently to juggle multiple projects, meet deadlines, and allocate time for administrative tasks, such as invoicing and client communication. Develop the habit of, firstly, scheduling projects to allow ‘wiggle room’ and secondly, working on a job in manageable stages, perhaps easiest part first (or do you prefer to get the hardest part over with?). Try time blocking. Avoid daily overwhelm by taking regular breaks.

Schedule time: #TreatTime (eg do a hobby for 15 minutes.)

3. Managing finances

Freelancers need to manage their income and expenses effectively. There are times when you’ll earn more than expected (fantastic!). Boost your savings. Other times your income may be more limited than usual. Balancing your financial stability is crucial.

Whenever I buy something for my business, eg equipment, software, a course, and receive the receipt, I open my Excel Expenses spreadsheet and list the date and expense. I feel more efficient and in control. This means I am up to date with my evidence by 6 April for filing my HMRC Self Assessment Tax Return.

When I return the completed proofread I attach my invoice – this time opening my pinned Excel Invoices spreadsheet to enter the details promptly. Go so far as preparing the invoice before completing the job so that just the final details need to be entered.

Schedule time: #AdminMonday #FinanceFriday

4. Using time efficiently in times of famine

Freelancers can experience periods of busy work schedules and high demand (feast) followed by slower times with fewer clients and projects (famine). Balancing those extremes can be challenging (see point 3). When a client cancels or postpones work, perhaps another client can be brought forward? Or ask a colleague if they could refer work. Or is it time to book some CPD – that training course you’ve had your mind on?

5. Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

Freelancers need to keep their skills up to date to stay knowledgeable and instil trust. Scheduling time for ongoing training and skill improvement with client work is essential for future-proofing your business. I have completed many training courses run by the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP); if you’re a member you get a discount.

Schedule time: #TrainingTuesday

6. Balancing health and well-being

Freelancers need to maintain their physical and mental health. The demands of freelancing can lead to neglecting self-care, so finding the right balance is crucial. At least get out for some fresh air and look up at the clouds. My examples of exercise below use the hashtag popular on the socials (‘stet’ is an editing term meaning ‘Leave the marked word as it is’).

Schedule time: #StetWalk #StetRun #StetCycle #StetSwim

Or stroke a #StetPet

balance freelancing see-saw blog post

7. Networking

Building and maintaining professional relationships and networks are crucial for freelancers. Balancing that time and effort with doing paid client work is vital.

For me networking happens on a particular day when I attend two online groups on Zoom – one in the morning and one in the afternoon. One group is for all breeds of freelancers; the other is run by my Institute and is editor-specific (the CIEP).

Schedule time: #NetworkThursday

8. Marketing

Freelancers may need to promote their services to maintain a steady stream of clients. This can require a delicate balance of marketing efforts. Use social media to show up and show people your services. They won’t know what you do unless you tell them.

But, when work is challenging with a tight deadline, how do you find your next client if you have no time to do any marketing? Scheduling tools for social media posts can be your friend.

Schedule time: #MarketingMonday

9. Work–life balance

Achieving a healthy work–life balance is often a struggle for freelancers. The flexibility of freelancing can sometimes blur the lines between work and personal life, making it challenging to maintain boundaries. Anyone else work at the weekends? Sure, when necessary.

I used to resent it when I was a teacher and using my weekend for marking, assessment, and planning. There just wasn’t enough time during the week. My family suffered. I never saw them. I felt guilty. If you do feel the need to work at the weekend, make sure you balance it by taking one or two days off during the week to maintain control of your freelancing see-saw. And make time to see the people in your life who are important.

Schedule time: #FamilyFriday

10. Do a variety of projects

Freelancers often work on a variety of projects with different requirements and clients. Balancing diverse tasks and meeting client expectations is like adjusting weight on a see-saw.

I prefer to book an easy project after the challenges of a long, complicated project as a way of changing gears. Of course, what is easy to one freelancer is not easy to another; it depends on our strengths and interests. How about treats or rewards? Do you reward yourself when a task or stage or project is complete?

Schedule time: #TreatTime (This hashtag also appeared in point 2 but treats are important to me as a great motivator!)

11. To specialise or generalise?

Freelancers can take the opportunity to specialise by providing editing or proofreading services in their niche. Editors that generalise say they can edit both fiction and non-fiction. Specialists offer editing in specific genres of fiction or non-fiction. The choice is yours. Using a previous career is a good starting point for a specialism as you already have more knowledge in that field than others, eg education, law, medicine, music. Or, you may want to move into a new area.

12. Flexibility versus stability

Freelancing offers flexibility but can lack the stability of a traditional job with an employer. Balancing the desire for freedom and autonomy with the need for financial security is an ongoing challenge. Flexibility of work hours and choice of clients is preferable, but the temptation of a regular income can be strong.

Balancing

Overall, freelancing, like being on a see-saw, involves constant adjustments and careful balancing and control to ensure a successful and fulfilling freelance life.

Up and down, up and down … How do you ride the peaks and troughs? How do you stay calm? Finding the right balance for each of these aspects is a key challenge for freelancers. But so rewarding when it works!

balancing the freelancing seesaw
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5 Most Read Blog Posts

5 most read blog posts

As it’s the start of a new year I have been using Google Analytics to investigate the statistics of my website.

Tall Tartan Talks here … What did Google Search Console tell me are the most popular blog posts and pages on my website?

Content marketing

I was interested to see which posts are the most popular and how my content is helping others, whether that’s fellow freelance editorial colleagues or clients (including self-publishing authors).

This analysis is aiding me in planning content; I’m spending some admin time planning blog posts for the next six months, thinking of ways to show my expertise. How to answer questions that I see being asked on social media or in online support groups. Or, indeed, am asked directly by email. Writing blog posts is an effective way to answer those questions.

Questions asked

Questions I’ve been asked frequently are concerned with running a business as a freelancer:

  • How do I become a freelance proofreader or copyeditor? What training should I do? Where can I get support? Clue: join a professional body like the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP) which gives discounts to members for training courses, as well as supportive forums and local groups, etc …
  • How do I set up a website?
  • How do I cope with feelings of overwhelm when setting up a new business?
  • How do I keep my inbox manageable?

5 Most read blog posts

I investigated the Google Analysis results and the 5 most read are seen below with links to each post. It also acts as a prompt in case you missed one and want a chance to visit the post.

  1. Review of 2022
  2. CIEP2022 conference
  3. Gardening Your Business
  4. 6 Website features you should check
  5. Manage emails

4 Most popular website pages

These pages of my website are ranked as having the most visitors:

3 Favourite blog posts to write

The following posts were my favourite to write over the last few years because they show my expertise to prospective clients:

For publishing confidence

Why blog? Having a blog post ready when a query pops into my email box makes it much easier and quicker to answer questions that are asked by fellow freelancers and clients, particularly independent authors. In short, giving the link to the post is more efficient and effective. And gives them confidence that I can help.

If you don’t have a website, sending a prospective client a link to your up-to-date LinkedIn profile will inspire confidence in that client that you have the training and expertise they need.

Two related questions I’ve been asked (to be turned into a blog post) are: What does a proofreader do/not do? And: Do you have any tips on how can I proofread my own marketing materials/writing?

If there is any topic you would like me to write a blog post about, let me know. I’m listening.

listening

CIEP 2022 conference

CIEP conference title design

I travelled to Kents Hill Park in Milton Keynes for the 2022 annual conference of the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP).

As a hybrid event (also available to on-line delegates on Zoom) not only could delegates meet in person, but those with access issues as well as our international membership (over 20%) could ‘conference’ too. This brought extra meaning to our theme this year Editing in a diverse world which focused on the diversity aspect of editorial work.

kents hill park
Image credit: Kents Hill Park Training and Conference Centre website

 

The conference page of the CIEP website says:

The CIEP conference is held in September every year. The conference provides a range of interesting, relevant and stimulating workshops and seminars, as well as plenty of opportunities for networking with other delegates.

 

My sixth conference was certainly this. It provided great company with fellow editorial colleagues, learning in the form of continuous professional development (CPD), and laughing … so much laughing!

 

Pre-conference tour

I arrived on the Saturday afternoon to join the pre-conference tour to The National Museum of Computing (TNMOC) next to Bletchley Park. According to its website, it is home to the world’s largest collection of working historic computers. A mind-blowing selection from the very first to the very modern … and everything in between. To see Colossus in action was truly impressive.

 

Katherine May – author

The conference began with an impressive first speaker. Katherine May wrote The Electricity of Every Living thing about her experience of finding out she was autistic at the age of 39. She explained how she decides whether to tell people she meets … It depends. It can cause unnecessary angst and stress, which was sad to hear. An inspiring talk about someone adapting their life to cope with being neurodiverse.

 

My conference session choices

I chose which sessions to attend based on my career needs at this present time.

 

The sessions I chose

  • Live Proofreading
  • Creating accessible PDFs: Discoveries, pain points and practical steps
  • Websites that win clients: How to create or update your online home
  • Using referencing tools
  • What to expect when working with educational materials.

 

Live Proofreading

It was interesting to be in the Live Proofreading session to proofread real manuscripts and discuss what should be corrected or queried. We discussed using ‘pre-flight’ tools, or tools we use to clean up text in Microsoft Word (the industry standard) before the real scrutiny of the text begins. Tools such as PerfectIt and macros. One shortcut I’d not come across before – Shift F3 – is a quick fix for capitalising and uncapping letters.

 

Creating accessible PDFs: Discoveries, pain points and practical steps

We learnt of features to let all have equal access to PDFs. Factors to bear in mind were structure and navigation of PDFs, including alt text on images, recording using voice recognition, colour contrast on images and websites, reading order and correct linking of website hyperlinks. The majority of my work is in PDF format. It helps if styles are formatted correctly before the document is converted to a PDF.

 

Websites that win clients: How to create or update your online home

My website (proofnow.co.uk) has been searchable since I built it over five years. I rebranded three years ago to update my branding image. Clients do find me so I know my website works and is seen. I’ve even written a couple of blog posts about how to make sure your website works for you.

However, I felt it was time to modernise it as I direct publishers towards Proofnow, my shop window, to show my availability for proofreading projects.

The session reminded me of the impact my website must make and how I can influence that impact. For example, declutter by reducing word count, use quality images, design call to action (CTA) buttons with branding colours instead of using hyperlinks, and … make best use of space. Tweaking my website will be my first business priority after conference.

 

Using referencing tools

Having carried out proofreading for students in the past, being reminded about referencing tools and software to increase speed in finding errors and inconsistencies was very useful. I was reminded of Word formatting tools and software for reference completeness and correctness.

 

What to expect when working with educational materials

As a former teacher, I was aware of all the elements that make up the material for educational packages for schools and colleges. From student books to pedagogy CPD, not forgetting the cultural considerations of … PARSNIPS. Two of my specialisms are Education and ELT so my second business priority is to investigate opportunities for freelance proofreading in these areas.

 

 

CIEP delegate pack
CIEP delegate pack

Gala dinner and guest speaker

The food at the conference was delicious and in plenty. The gala dinner 3-course meal was exceptional and was rounded off by a speech by Rev Richard Coles of BBC fame. He was entertaining, as you’d expect, and he giggled with glee after telling each anecdote. He preferred not to talk about his first novel Murder Before Evensong with editors in the room.

 

Recorded sessions

Spare time after conference will be spent catching up with recordings of the sessions running concurrently.

That’s the huge benefit of a hybrid conference: all sessions are available after conference has ended! My thanks to all the conference team, the speakers, and especially to Ben Dare and his assistants for handling the visual and audio technology, including relaying the comments and questions from the online delegates to the in-person room. Watching them in action was awesome.

 

My main takeaways

My background for context: my proofreading clients are educational publishers, English Language Teaching (ELT) publishers, children’s book publishers, and self-publishing authors of children’s books. I also proofread non-fiction for adults, such as business books.

This conference has added to my learning and awareness that we should be sensitive in our use of language in areas of diversity.

I chose sessions that will benefit me and my clients at this point in my freelance business. Working with me will give my clients publishing confidence. Being a CIEP member means that I am a safe pair of hands.

Attending the annual conference reminds me that I’m proud to be part of a collaborative community who learns and laughs together. Conversations with edibuddies, both established and new (especially recent career-changers), are always valuable.

 

Next year

Next year we meet in Glasgow – the home of my birth. Tall Tartan hopes to see you there. And, yes, someone did greet me this year with, “It’s Tall Tartan!” So my branding is working.

 

For my previous conference blog posts, follow these links: 2021 (online), no 2020 blog post, 2019 (Birmingham), and my first blog post about the second conference I attended in 2018 in Lancaster: Why SfEP conference is cool

 

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Here are my hashtags if you haven’t seen them and want to find my content on LinkedIn or Twitter. Simply type them into Search in your favoured social media channel, then follow or save.

#TallTartanTips: My tips on owning and running a freelance business

#TallTartanTalks: My blog posts

 

 

 

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CIEP2021 Conference

 

CIEP2021 conference

 

The annual online CIEP conference of 2021, organised by the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading, was a great success.

As in 2020 the conference was online again rather than at a venue in real life. This is an advantage for our international members and for those with access issues.

I have been a member of the CIEP for five years. This is the fifth conference I have attended.

There were some delicious highlights which I describe in this blog post.

Headline speakers

The two headline speakers I was most excited about were:

  1. Ian McMillan of The Verb fame on Radio 3. He is an English poet, journalist, playwright, and broadcaster. Known for his strong and distinctive Yorkshire accent, he has a friendly interview style. He spoke about ‘My unedited and unproofread life’, things he has spotted while touring village halls, and, what he thinks about signs on doors …
  2. Benjamin Dreyer, author of Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style. He is copy chief at Random House in New York. A great conversation led by Denise Cowle highlighted his experience and wisdom. And that he can laugh at himself and with others.

Session highlights

I’m a freelance non-fiction proofreader, so conference session highlights for me were:

  • Crystal Shelley’s ‘Authenticity reading: Helping writers craft accurate and respectful representation’; also ‘Conscious and inclusive editing: understanding conscious language and the editorial role’

I was aware of authenticity reading, and conscious and inclusive editing from what other editors have shared online. But when Crystal gave concrete examples in her webinars of what is not acceptable in writing because of issues of sensitivity, I could understand how both fiction and non-fiction writers should show more conscious and inclusive language.

  • John Espirian’s ‘How to be a LinkedIn leader’

I have heard John speak about how to use LinkedIn effectively every year for the past 5 years at various conferences. I knew him as the internet director at the CIEP. Because I prefer LinkedIn as a social media channel, I lap up any advice he gives about how to take full advantage of it. I always learn something new. His book Content DNA is on my bookshelf along with other reference and business books.

  • Jill French’s ‘Using Word styles’

I have recently completed the CIEP course ‘Word for Practical Editing’. Jill presents the screencasts on the course. Her session on Word styles was a good reminder of tips I had retained, and skills that are still new and that I need to practice.

  • Suzanne Collier’s ‘Don’t get left behind: Career development for freelancers’

Suzanne shared excellent advice and resources about how to stay current in the world of publishers and publishing.

Lightning talks

The Lightning talks were great, as always. These are short presentations (5 minutes), on any subject, by any member, which are a pleasure to watch. Sometimes humorous, and always something new is learnt.

Networking

I attended the Speed networking on Sunday evening. This comprised of 15 minutes in Zoom breakout rooms, changing every 15 minutes, for two hours! My experience of attending the weekly Cloud Club West meant that  I could keep my introduction to the required 10 seconds. What a buzz!

This year, the attraction of themed networking in breakout rooms was very tempting. I wondered if I would meet edibuddies who had interests in the same field – educational publishing and marketing your business being two examples.

Quiz

The quiz is always fun and very competitive. The Zoom breakout rooms were invaluable for the quiz teams on Monday evening. I’m not hugely knowledgeable on anything, rather more a ‘jill of all trades’. The most amusing part for me was when members started changing their screen names from their official names to those reflecting quiz questions, or sessions held that day.

Wonder

For the café/bar experience there was the Wonder room. Wonder is an app which replicates real life, where you can meet other delegates and move around freely.

Conversations are activated by bumping your avatar into someone. Video and audio are then opened.

Sessions in Wonder were particularly effective after a webinar had taken place. Then they could be discussed with the speaker. Or a member would tweet on Twitter that they were in Wonder, if anyone was free to join them?

wonder room

Thank you

The chair of CIEP, Hugh Jackson, opened and closed conference with touching and heartfelt words. He spoke about the effects of Covid, our community and collaboration, and what comes next …

A grateful thank you to the #CIEP2021 conference team for another successful event of learning, networking and fun.

To read my blog posts about previous conferences (when the institute was the Society for Editors and Proofreaders) see these links:

SfEP2019 and Why SfEP Conference is Cool in which I write about SfEP2018.

The future

Hopefully I’ll see my fellow edibuddies at the next conference in Milton Keynes for #CIEP2022.

If real life isn’t possible, I’ll be just as pleased to see you all online.

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One Day in My Life as a Proofreader

One Day in my Life as a Proofreader blog

We all need a routine and a structure.  Here I describe one day in my life as a proofreader, editor and primary tutor.

Having a business mindset will help structure your daily routine.

Tall Tartan Talks here … Think of yourself as a business owner rather than ‘just’ a freelancer. Knowing your value and worth will help.

Morning

In winter, my routine starts at 7 am; in summer it starts at 6 am. I used to be an owl and stay up late. As I hit middle age I turned into a lark with my day starting earlier and earlier.

It also depends on when my husband gets up. He sits at the dining table eating breakfast and reading a book. I mix a mug of hot water and lemon juice, sit at the other end of the table (the end that is my ‘office’), and switch on my laptop.

He often spends the day gardening for clients and leaves the house early to cycle to work.

Emails

I find that the morning is the best time for me to respond to emails. Mostly I wake up thinking about phrasing a reply to a received email. Or, I have had a lightbulb moment about who to contact for a possible proofreading job.

I leave the emails in my draft folder, making a note to send them at 9am, which is the start of standard business hours.

Freelancers are as varied as the routines and schedules they follow. Flexibility is key as deadlines can determine the hours worked.

Tasks

At this time of the day, I may also get on with one of these tasks:

  • work on a proofreading or editing project
  • research facts for a proofreading project or blog post
  • complete a stage of a CPD training course
  • prepare a primary tuition lesson.

9:00 am: By the time Mr D has cycled off to work, I have usually done several sets of the Pomodoro timing technique. I have completed a couple of hours of work or admin. I realise that I am hungry and should eat some breakfast. A break and a change of view is needed.

I take my Android tablet through to the living room, to a soft chair, where I can sit at the window and look out into the main street. I peruse the comings and goings outside my house, as well as those onscreen in the online newspaper reviews.

9:30 am: My sons (both in their 20s) have gone about their business. They are old enough to be independent, thank goodness. I get on with the next part of the morning routine.

structure of day

10:30 am: Oldest son switches on the coffee machine for elevenses. By now, I have usually logged on to the CIEP (Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading) forums to view discussions. Since I joined the CIEP in 2017, the forums have become my online staffroom.

Social media

After coffee, I check social media and may post some content marketing, especially on Linkedin, whether that be freelancer business tips or a blog post.

If you don’t already, search for and follow my hashtags on Linkedin: #TallTartanTips and #TallTartanTalks (previously called #TallTartanTells). Then you won’t miss any of my tips.

Getting on with the day

For the next two hours, my routine continues. I may answer an email proofreading enquiry. The reply conversation goes like this:

  1. Receive an email through the contact form on my website. Currently I am getting enquiries from new, independent children’s authors. They ask if I’m available and how much I charge.
  2. I direct them towards the appropriate page of my website and give them my availability.
  3. I ask them to send the document so I can give a personalised quote. Or send, at the very least,  a 1,000 word sample from the middle of their text so I can judge how long it will take me to proofread. (The beginning and ends of the text are usually much better.)
  4. From that sample I can give them a quote. If the project needs my educational specialism, I will also factor in my 30 years of experience as a teacher. I know the value and knowledge I bring to a project.
  5. If the timing and rate suits them, I book them in by sending them a copy of my Terms & Conditions. (See templates in the Resources on my website). If the job is large (over 15,000 words) and is going to take a few days, I send an invoice for the deposit for them to secure a slot in my schedule.

Afternoon

1:00 pm: Lunch – joined by Mr D (if he is having a painting day in his garden studio). We have been enjoying some comforting homemade soup. A perk of being freelance means I can take as much or as little time for lunch as needed.

2:00 pm: Desperate for some exercise and fresh air by now, I realise that it is time to take my eyes away from the screen.

For 30 minutes, I either head to the shops in town, or I take a brisk walk in the opposite direction, propelled by my walking poles, towards the nearby countryside.

Break time with a cup of tea

3:30 pm: Time for a break to move around after another spell on the laptop, and to make a pot of tea. Fruit is the preferred snack if I’m being good. Cake on a Friday …

4:00 pm: Take part in a Zoom networking meeting. It could be CIEP Cloud Club West, or my accountability group, or another. Or it may be a tuition day when I tutor a primary-age child on Zoom.

5:00 pm: Time to wind down. I consider the achievements and the work I haven’t fitted in today. Notes are made for tomorrow, added to the e-list on my smartphone. I like the Evernote app.

Next, cooking the family dinner is a welcome distraction.

Past habits

When I was teaching primary children full-time (I Ieft the classroom in 2016), I left home at 7:30 am to be at school to prepare my classroom.

I left school each day at 6pm with a trolley-box full of the workbooks I hadn’t had time to mark after 3.15 pm.

I would continue to mark for at least a couple of hours in the evening. It became relentless after doing it for 30 years. I didn’t see much of my own children while I was busy educating the children of others.

Being the boss

When you own your business, you are your own boss. The responsibility is on you to do everything. This will either terrify you or excite you.

You and you alone are in charge of tasks like email admin, IT support (computer and website, and knowing what to do if something goes wrong or know who to ask); accounting (keeping track of income and expenses). Remember to plan time for networking, CPD and marketing. It helps if you know what to do if something goes wrong, or you know who to ask.

But I get a thrill from running my business efficiently and by doing some of the required tasks each day.

If chores get too overwhelming, break down each element of your big task into smaller chunks.

Relaxing in the evening

7:30 pm: I have a last check of my emails and social media. Then they all get switched off, and I turn to something else. Maybe a book. As I got up so early in the morning, I’m usually running out of steam by this point.

I only work evenings or weekends if I have an urgent deadline or there is a rush job. I charge accordingly for working overtime.

After decades of working an infinite number of unsociable hours, I realise the major importance of having a work–life balance. Having a sense of my self-worth is vital.

Here is the link to my blog page if you want to catch up with previous posts.

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5 Highlights From 2020

5 highlights from 2020

As weird as 2020 was, I have a few highlights from the year.

Tall Tartan Talks here … As I mentioned last year in my review of 2019, life as a freelancer has its ups and downs. This year has been, for some people, an extreme of that precarious situation.

Luckily, my freelance work life is mainly online, so I count myself blessed that I haven’t been affected too much.

I want to tell you about highlights in five areas. Well, more really, but five is a factor of 2020, so it sounded better.

Highlights

  1. Training
  2. Networking
  3. Rebranding
  4. Tutoring
  5. Cold emailing

1. Training

This year has been for me principally a year of learning and adding to my Continuous Professional Development (CPD) with the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP).

  • In December last year I began the proofreading mentoring scheme. By May I had completed it. It was a unique opportunity to have experience of  a wide range of real jobs with guidance and virtual hand holding from a highly experienced Advanced Professional CIEP member. I wrote about it in the blog post Editing Training Part 2.
  • A group of us formed an informal Accountability Group. Consisting of other CIEP members, it prompted me to achieve many CPD goals.
  • I attended the CIEP online conference in November. A huge highlight!
  • I completed the CIEP Copyediting 1: Introduction course.

2. Networking

Along with everyone else in the world in 2020, since March, all my networking has been carried out on Zoom. It’s a necessary evil.

A particular networking highlight this year was that I, along with other international members of CIEP, formed our Accountability Group. (Yes, I am mentioning this again …)

We share our goals fortnightly on a Zoom call. We use the messaging app Slack to have daily chats about wins and rants. It is our safe space.

Without their encouragement I wouldn’t have achieved half of what I have done this year.

3. Rebranding

This time last year, I aimed to research how I wanted the branding on my website and social media profiles to appear. I considered branding, my brand identity, values and colours. This is described in the My Branding Process blog post. I am particularly proud of this 2020 highlight.

I tweaked my website; made sure the Contact form worked; added an Upload file widget so that potential clients can add a sample of what they want me to proofread to their query.

I subtly changed the titles of my blog posts. Originally tagged #TallTartanTells, this was changed to #TallTartanTalks.

To help with tips for general efficiency, I wrote this blog post called Managing Emails after I read a book on productivity. Clearing your emails once a day by ensuring you have an inbox-zero situation can clear the head and prevent worry.

Sadly, I am not as strict with myself as I was when I wrote that blog post. Workload weight means that I tend to have a clear-out once a week these days … It has become a Friday job.

4. Tutoring

After such a busy couple of years of tutoring in 2018–19, I was worn out by the beginning of the year.

review of the year

By March, tuition had moved online using Zoom and interactive teaching software. Boy, was that a challenge! How to get the work to parents? How to ensure interactive learning?

More than half a year on, the online tuition routines are well established: work is emailed before the lesson, a variety of resources are enjoyed, and pupils can even share their screens.

The main highlight? Not travelling to their homes. The extra time taken to plan an interactive and challenging lesson, then email the parents with the information; versus the time saved by not commuting …

I wrote two blog posts with teaching tips this year: How I Teach English and How Do You Learn?

In July, one of my pupils left Year 6 (age 11) thereby finishing primary school. The two sessions of tuition per week I had done with them for two years became available.

The main reason I became freelance was to be in control of my work–life balance. Consequently, I took the decision not to fill those spaces with more pupils because I was losing that balance. Saying no to work is never easy, but preserving mental health is a priority.

Instead I did more editing and proofreading CPD using the extra time I had gained.

5. Cold-emailing

With my updated training skills and new branding, I was ready to offer my further proofreading skills to educational publishers and publishers of children’s books.

The last time I cold-emailed publishers (about 18 months ago) I invested a tremendous amount of emotional energy in the process. I thought about it far too much – not good.

This time I was wiser. I bought the Children’s Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook 2020. I made a list of websites, contact names and email addresses. Once I had researched a publisher, certain that they published what I was interested in proofreading, the cold emailing began.

I found TextExpander very useful for giving me shortcuts for repeated phrases, so that they were much quicker to type, e.g. my email address, phrases like proofreader available, etc … Even a whole email was saved in my snippets so that it appeared when a simple shortcut “//query” was typed!

My CV was updated with my new branding, training and most recent experience. and I attached it, with the body of each short email acting as a covering letter.

However, it is important to bear in mind that the return reply rate is statistically low – a minimum of one in ten. This time I put emotion and desperation to one side in order to become businesslike and pragmatic.

Since then I have learnt that publishers aren’t keen on receiving email attachments. Therefore I now add a P.S. stating that my C.V. is available.

Once the batch of emails was sent for the day, I put them to the back of my mind, and got on with other jobs.

I am grateful to have received a couple of positive replies from publishers responding that they would add me to their books.

review of the year

Children’s book authors

Having re-vamped my website, I pushed the SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) on the page which advertises to children’s book authors.

It shouldn’t have been a surprise then when I had several enquiries from independent children’s authors (self-publishing). When I asked them how they had found me (I’m in several directories), their answer was always “Google”.

A proof-editing job I enjoyed was a series of 9 stories for young children. They featured the adventures of the same small character. I suggested tips for consistency across the series.  The author asked for advice on self-publishing. They weren’t the first to enquire.

I searched the hive mind that is the CIEP forums and found some gems of advice to pass on. I really hope the author publishes next year. Fingers crossed!

Perhaps I should add self-publishing advice for authors to my list of aims for next year …

Next year

So, to 2021 … plans need to be considered and formed, no matter what is going on in the world.

For the readers who haven’t seen them, look out for my hashtags #TallTartanTips and #TallTartanTalks on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. They link to the blog posts which promote my editing and educational skills, as well as giving advice and tips.

Whatever your circumstances, here’s to the future, hoping 2021 is better.

review of the year

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Manage Emails

 

Manage emails

Would you like to get your email inbox down to zero by the end of each day? I didn’t know such a thing was possible.  You may wonder, “Inbox zero? What magic is this?

Tall Tartan Talks here … I have discovered a non-fiction business book called Productivity Ninja by Graham Allcott.

One particular chapter which struck me immediately was about managing your emails. His strategies were revolutionary for me. This blog post is a review of that chapter.

I was one of those people who had over 200 emails in each of my three inboxes. I sorted them occasionally. They were mainly newsletters I subscibe to. Inevitably, if I include my smartphone, I was prone to checking them far too often. But the important emails got lost too easily.

Scrolling through social media didn’t help my efficiency either.

slow hamster wheel

Cluttered inbox

I starred or flagged some important or urgent emails for easy reference, but my inbox was becoming unmanageable. My professional email, annie@proofnow.co.uk was the fullest.

Then I found, in his chapter Ninja Email Processing, where Graham says, “Be a Ninja – take a ruthless approach to emails!” Now I adopt his strategy daily.

Interested? This is how you do it.

Reduce your inbox to zero daily

The bare bones of how to get started are:

  1. Open emails
  2. Create three new files: Action, Read, Waiting
  3. Scan the first couple of lines of each email. If it needs to be dealt with by you immediately, move it into Action. If it isn’t important, move it to Read. If you are waiting for someone else to action, move it to Waiting.

I used to look at my growing email notifications, groan inwardly, feel fear and overwhelm, avoid then stress about what might be in my inbox. When I was waiting for a particular email from a client, I would pause a job whenever a notification sounded, whether that job was proofreading, or tuition preparation. I had to check then and there who it was from, especially if I was expecting an email.

Stop!

Graham suggests that the problem needs to be viewed in a different way: your email inbox is just where your emails land; don’t check your emails, process your emails; and don’t let your emails nag you all day.

Strategy

Firstly, look at your inbox as a landing page, not a to-do list. We tend to keep the emails in that inbox so we don’t lose them. The answer? New folders need to be created to hold actionable emails, and those emails which can be deferred.

Secondly, restrict checking emails to, at most, three times a day.

  • First thing in the morning, or 9am (or whenever your business day starts).
  • Second around 4:30pm to give you 30 minutes of reducing your email list to zero. Or later, if you don’t stop on the dot of 5pm.
  • Third, you may also want to check emails at lunchtime.

Me? … I am slowly weaning myself off reading of emails after 8pm … in an attempt to maintain work boundaries. The same goes for checking social media or message channels. (My excuse is that some of my editor colleagues are in a different time zone.)

How to process (not check) emails:

  1. Scan the first email for a couple of seconds. Don’t hang about. Ask yourself, is it vital I action this? If yes, move it to Action.
  2. Scan the next email. If someone is acknowledging they will action something you have delegated, move it to Waiting. This guarantees that you will have a reminder to follow this up.
  3. If the next email is something not at all urgent but for perusing, say, a subscription which you want to read at your leisure, move it to Read. Don’t start reading it now.
  4. Repeat steps 1–3.
  5. By the end of 30 minutes, there should be zero emails in your inbox.
  6. Repeat three times a day.

management

Subject folders

You may be like me and organise your emails into many subject, client-baased, or archive folders. Again, this can get out of hand. My next job is to whittle those down to more efficient labels. So that when I have gone through my burgeoning Read folder, I will move each email to a re-named folder, or delete it.

Graham’s theory is that if you have only three folders to move the incoming emails into, it makes decision-making and sorting much easier. Agonising will be reduced to a manageable level.

If, say after a week, you look in the Read folder and email subject is no longer current or valid, then delete it. Or move it to an archive folder.

One of Graham’s tips is to think of a set of Ds: Decide, Do, Delegate, Defer, Delete.

Cut the dead wood

Perhaps you subscribe to newsletters by email. For example, if you follow particular people for their business or subject knowledge … There are many out there. It may be time to review them and prune who you subscribe to.

Try subscribing to one for six months. Count how many of their newsletters you actually read (and follow the advice suggested) in those six months. Be honest. Be brutal. Cut out the dead wood and unsubscribe if the answer is only one or two. That is one way to reduce the number of emails you get.

If you are successful with this method, you have more control over those incoming emails.

Information overload

Information overload is a threat to our productivity, so I recommend Graham’s book if you want to be proactive about reducing that overload. By managing your emails – and your time, by procrastinating less – you can focus on your priorities.

I look forward to finishing Graham’s book. Guess what? I have signed up for his newsletter. Oh the irony!

There you have it. If you learnt something from this post, head over to my Blog page.

Author background: Graham Allcott

Founder of Think Productive (@thinkproductive), Graham Allcott is an entrepreneur, author, speaker and podcaster, offering coaching strategies for business and time management. He is host of the podcast Beyond Busy. His book was first published by Icon Books in 2014, and totally revised in 2019 because of the advances in technology.

Other great chapters in Graham’s book include:

  • The Organize Habit
  • The Review Habit
  • The Do Habit
  • Stop Messing About on Your Phone.

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Editing Training Part 2

training

Training is one of the hot topics during this Coronavirus pandemic.  You may have more time on your hands than usual. You may be thinking about using that time to do some training, also known as CPD (Continuing Professional Development).

In my original blog post about training (Proofreading Training), I mentioned that my next aim was to apply for the CIEP Proofreading mentoring scheme. In this episode I update you on my progress.

Tall Tartan Talks here … I  see a lot of questions on social media asking about training. If you are confused about the when, which, how and why of proofreading training, this post may help you make up your mind.

Training is vital to reflect that you take the owning of your editing business seriously. Especially if, like me, you have no background in publishing.

So … are you wondering about proofreading training? Or are you a prospective client wondering about my professional qualifications?

Change of path

After three decades as a primary school teacher, I had succumbed to work-related stress and was on sick leave. I was slowly coming to terms with a daunting fact: a life I had known for 30 years was changing. I needed to find a Plan B.

Marking’s my thing, I thought. Why don’t I apply my skills to a new business?

The thought of working from home as a freelancer was in the back of my mind and very tempting.  (Read Business Plan and Training to find out what I did …)

If you are looking at training providers, the CIEP  and the PTC (Publishing Training Centre) offer the most creditable training in proofreading and copyediting.

Courses

So, during the time I have owned my business Proofnow Proofreader (now in my fourth year), I have completed the following CIEP (formerly Society for Editors and Proofreaders) courses and CPD:

  1. Proofreading 3: Progress (2016)
  2. References (2016)
  3. Getting work with Non-publishers (2017)
  4. Educational Publishing Development Day (2018)
  5. Mini conference in Newcastle (May 2019)
  6. Proofreading mentoring scheme (completed May 2020)
  7. Every CIEP annual conference since 2017

These have contributed to my upgrade from Entry Member to Intermediate Member. You can find a list of all the courses the CIEP offers on the Training page of their website.

In addition, you can keep an ongoing record of your formal CPD in the section called Upgrading your membership. There you can add courses as you complete them. The system saves them, so that you can keep returning to add more information. If you are a CIEP member and haven’t explored this benefit, it’s well worth it.

Mini conference in Newcastle

Since I wrote my last blog post about training, I realised that it’s just over a year since I got the train to Newcastle for this mini one-day conference in May 2019. It was very well organised by the NE Editors group. See my blog post about the event here.

Proofreading mentoring

This post brings my training up to date – I have completed the proofreading mentoring scheme as a mentee.

So what is this scheme? The following guidance is taken from the Mentoring page (currently paused) of the CIEP website.

Successful mentees can gain up to 10 points towards upgrading their membership. The number of points gained depends on the mentor’s answers to five questions about the mentee:

  1. Are they literate? (grammar, sentence structure, vocabulary, spelling, punctuation)
  2. Are they businesslike? (prompt, clear, efficient, follow brief, communicate well)
  3. Are they accurate? (spot and deal with editorial errors)
  4. Do they use appropriate mark-up? (BS 5261:2005, plus PDFs or Track Changes if used)
  5. Do they use good judgement? (level of queries, frequency and extent of intervention).

The mentor sends a variety of real jobs they have done for clients. These range in subject area and complexity. You are encouraged and supported in a one-to-one partnership. Communication and questioning are recommended.

I found that carrying out the work, following each specific brief, in a safe environment, is a good way to learn.

My knowledge vastly increased, including how to query. I learnt how different clients would expect you to deal with projects and relationships in different ways.

Of course, my confidence wavered considerably through the six months with highs and lows, as it does on any course. But you don’t learn if it is easy. You don’t learn if you don’t make mistakes. I say that to my primary students all the time, especially when they are upset if they got something wrong. Showing you are learning from your mistakes, by applying the lessons learnt, is one of the key points.

As total commitment is necessary, there was a huge wash of positive relief when the last mentoring feedback was returned.

Why training is vital

I am fortunate that I have been able to invest in my ongoing CPD with the CIEP over the last four years of my freelancing career.

Evidence of CPD on your website and CV gives your prospective clients confidence in your skills; your professionalism, expertise and integrity will be evident. Highlighting these is imperative.

Next training opportunity?

The annual September CIEP conference attracts 3 CPD points towards upgrade. I have written some blog posts on this subject too!

In this year of the pandemic, the September 2020 conference in Milton Keynes is cancelled. However, there are plans to move it online in some form. Check with the CIEP for details.

I know I am not alone in looking forward to the alternative conference. Here’s to #CIEP2020!

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Websites and Marketing

marketing

Much has happened since I first wrote (a year ago) about marketing my proofreading business, so this is the update:  how I told the world I was open for business.

Building a website, social media and content marketing were the essential strategies I used, back in 2017, to proclaim my new services as a proofreader.

In a previous episode Business Plan and Training, I detailed how I became a freelancer offering proofreading services after three decades as a primary school teacher. In this tweaked blog post, I describe how I decided on my marketing strategy and how it has evolved.

I know some freelance business owners who still cringe at the thought of putting any details ‘out there’. Or haven’t got the interest or skills to build a website. But how else are you going to advertise your services or get business unless you are a presence online? There is also plenty of support out there if you need guidance or to outsource.

Displaying your ‘shop window’

A website is essential: you need a ‘shop window’ to display your business.” These were the words of my Business Mentor at my local Job Centre when they helped me set up as a self-employed proofreader.

The process of choosing a website domain, a host, designing my website, plus researching the content marketing world of social media was a steep learning curve.

But I have come far over the last two years!

Also, I have seen many people, including career-changers, entering the world of editing and proofreading who are asking all the questions I asked then.  So this blog post might help you. What follows is what I did to market my business.

Building a website

By January 2017, my New Enterprise Allowance (NEA) Business Plan (with People Plus) had been approved, and I was told by my mentor to go and build a website. The only domain name which was available and that I liked the sound of was Proofnow. That was the easy part. Proofnow Proofreader was born.

“How do I build a website?” My only experience had been editing my class page on the website of the school where I taught.

I chose my first website host. The building of each page was fairly straightforward: I added Services, Pricing and About pages, with a few photographs for variety; I emphasised my previous career as a teacher with efficient marking skills – this would be my Unique Selling Point (USP). I could add a couple of testimonials after getting some proofreading work.

Finding the website host for you

Although I was pleased with the look of the site on the desktop of the PC, it looked dreadful on my mobile. One tip I had read was that your website must be viewable on all devices.

At the end of my first year of business, I knew I had to find a different host as I found the backend clunky. I did some fairly intense research to find my next website host.

Creating a new website

I copied everything over to my new website … then I was up and active with my new host. What a relief!

Over time I read and researched more about how your website should be less about you and more about how you can solve problems for your potential client. This gave me the courage to tweak the theme and wording. Here are some tips I learnt.

Basic website tips

  • easy to read, clear font
  • your headshot and/or logo
  • your services – what you can do for your client
  • contact details – how does a new client get in touch with you?
  • Say less of what ‘I’ can do but what ‘you’, the client, needs. How you (the freelancer) can solve their (client) problem.
  • match the branding on your website with that on your social media sites where you will publish and market your website. In other words: same headshot, same banner, same headline/tagline for consistent marketing.
  • Designing your brand is made easier by choosing prepared designs from a free app.  Canva is a design programme for those who have basic technical skills. I found it really useful when ensuring consistency in designing the banners for marketing my website and social media profile pages. This represents ‘joined-up’ marketing.

Everything I tried with my website involved trial and error, with the undo button at hand. Also, with sheer surprise if something worked first time!

Visibility

Now, having been with WordPress for a while, I am now happy with my website and proud of what I have achieved so far. It is easy to manage and looks consistently good on a desktop, tablet and smartphone. Statistics show that mobile devices are used more for browsing websites than any other. Indeed, smartphones mean that websites can be viewed immediately when a link is shared. So it is essential that your website works and looks good. Everywhere.

Social media

LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, …? What kind of social media do you prefer? Where do you share the link to your website? What kind of content marketer are you? I know some folk who steer well clear. They’re just not interested. I know some folks who do it ALL. Is that a good idea? Does it work? Does it GET you work?

Facebook

The first thing I did on Facebook when I started my business was to advertise Proofnow Proofreader as a business Facebook page because I understood it.

I have joined Facebook support groups. Anything you need reassurance for, it’s there, whether you are a freelancer, editor, proofreader or tutor like me.

LinkedIn

I attended a workshop on LinkedIn run by fellow SfEP-er John Espirian at the annual conference of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders in 2018: ‘How not to be a LinkedIn Loser’. I learnt A LOT. He gives results of methods he has tried to make the algorithm work for him, then passes on the tips. Then I saw John talk on LinkedIn at the Cambridge Social Media Day (#CSMDay2019) in November, when I topped up my LinkedIn skills.

LinkedIn tips

He recommends liking and commenting on the posts of others to engage in conversation, rather than sharing. This raises the visibility of your profile. To some, LinkedIn is where important contacts can be followed, and business connections can be made. Work may even follow. This is my favourite way to post my blog posts where colleagues  can engage. Here is my LinkedIn page. Judge for yourself. Why don’t you try personalising your invite to connect? Then I will understand how we can help each other.

LinkedIn is also beneficial as recommendations can be made. After doing a proofreading job on a punctuation book for children, I was able to send the author a link where she could write a testimonial. It’s impactful because the focus is on the client to write it for you.

Twitter

On Twitter, retweeting (sharing) posts of those you follow, and your own posts improves engagement. I engage on Twitter because a lot of SfEP members are there. An educational author even got in touch and offered me a proofreading job!

Like, comment, share

 

Having read a HUGE array of tips about content marketing, everything I have learnt has been by osmosis, by watching how others do it. However, it IS an effort to stay on top of content on social media.

When following newsletters  you subscribe to for tips and advice, it is imperative to be selective. Take control and make your inbox manageable. Or you’d never get any work done.

Content marketing

If you want to share content, planning is vital. Blogging, for instance, is far more effective if subjects are planned over the longterm. Then fit in spontaneous posts when giving a reaction to situations. I try to publish a blog post monthly – it’s scary how quickly those months go.

When I share a #TallTartanTalks blog post, I aim to do it on a day when I don’t have a work deadline and have the time to like and comment on the engagement. This is timetabled in my diary.  As a result, when I engage, my website viewing statistics increase dramatically. That’s one of the reaons why blogging is effective: for website visibility.

Others prefer to use scheduling tools, like Buffer, so that the timings of content posting are automatic. The worry of manual posting is removed.

Next blogging …

In my next blog post I will return to the subject of primary tuition and educational publishers as clients.

You can read my introduction to my education series in Why I Tutor.

 

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SfEP2019 Conference

Several highlights from my time in Birmingham at Conference Aston in 2019 with the Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP) include great company with colleagues, lots to learn, and laughs galore.

conference

The theme of the conference was ‘In the beginning was the word’. My chosen sessions were:

  • Speed networking
  • The art of querying
  • Mindfulness
  • Lightning talks
  • Microsoft Word styles into Adobe InDesign
  • A training toolbox for editors
  • The six habits of highly effective editors
  • Grammar amnesty (bring your grammar questions)

Speed networking

This is the first conference (out of three so far) when I have had the courage to attend the speed networking session. Fellow editors and proofreaders have five minutes to talk to the person opposite about business, ask questions, pick up tips, and share business cards. Then delegates on one side rotate, while those on the other stay where they are. I was able to promote my website blog #TallTartanTalks and my weekly LinkedIn tips #TallTartanTips for freelancers. This was one of my favourite sessions.

Quiz: #TeamKevin

Saturday ended with dinner and THE Quiz. I sat next to Matt Pinnock, a friend from Essex, and Sophie Playle (fellow Herts & Essex local group member). Team Kevin was decided as a *memorable* name. Matt and others were superb with their general knowledge and song first-liner facts. We won Heroes chocolates. (See photo. Nikki Brice is in the background.)

Sunday: Whitcombe lecture

The first prestigious speaker of #sfep2019 was Chris Brookmyre, a Scottish crime thriller writer who was hilariously interesting and entertainingly sweary. Especially about his sub-editor days and the Amazon reviews of over 20 books he has written with the ‘tartan noir’ theme.

I’m ashamed to say this is the first time I have come across this term. So, I have ‘bookmarked’ a couple of his less bloody books to acquire.

The art of querying

Gerard Hill led a superb workshop on how to phrase queries to clients. He presented a series of real-life texts he has copy-edited and proofread.

We questioned, discussed, analysed, and decided whether to ‘stet’ (leave alone), correct, query, check/suggest/query, or ‘flag’ as a concern.

He encouraged, supported and justified in a sensitive way. I can understand why he is the chartership director and why we were successful in our bid.

Mindfulness: becoming mindful with words, work and the whole of your life

I have never felt so much like I needed a session on being still and quiet.

We were encouraged to sit comfortably. With our eyes closed, we concentrated on the leader’s voice giving calm instructions on how … to … be …

She emphasised focusing on our breath, on clearing our heads and gently pushing against our problems or worries.

One helpful tip to relieve stress: take a mindful walk outside admiring the beauty of nature. This is something I’m already aware of through the #StetWalk. But it always slips to the bottom of my to-do pile. Unwise.

Lightning talks

The feeling among SfEP members is that the Lightning talks are the most popular session, as they are so light-hearted. They also cover a wide range of topics.

For those who aren’t aware, six sfep-ers talk for five minutes each about a topic close to their heart, accompanied by their Powerpoint presentation. The topics that spoke most to me were Pam Smith’s editing music, and Liz Jones on finding a good work/life balance.

Microsoft Word styles into Adobe InDesign

Here is some background into my interest in InDesign: I edit a magazine for a charity. I was taught to use Microsoft Publisher for editing purposes. I’m aware that InDesign is the modern equivalent, so I wanted to find out more.

Two designers from Oxford University Press (OUP) explained how the text and images are put together on designed pages for English language teaching resources – teacher guides, children’s workbooks, indeed anything education based.

The implications of how the styles in Word documents transfer and appear in InDesign were discussed by experienced colleagues. Next step for me: training in InDesign.

Gala dinner

It was my third conference, so the nerves about what to wear to the Gala dinner were a little less. Listening to the Linnets (see photo) always calms the nerves as they are impressive singers and entertain us with clever lyrics about editing! This year they sang to the tune of ‘He who would valiant be’.

Rob Drummond, Reader in Linguistics at Manchester University, and our after-dinner speaker, had us laughing about our use of language versus our pedantry in the application of the rules.

A training toolbox for editors

Hilary Cadman, an Australian science editor, is a visitor to our local SfEP group in Bishops Stortford, Herts, when she is visiting her family. Her session was how to use our knowledge to train others. I was intrigued.

As a teacher, I knew I could be a trainer. As a freelancer of three years, I knew I had free resources available on my website. So how to link the two …?

Hilary demonstrated how to make a screencast by recording her voice-over the modelling of a skill on screen. There was an audible gasp of wonder when she played back the sample training video.

She presents her PerfectIt courses in this way. If you haven’t discovered them yet, there is Introduction to PerfectIt and Advanced PerfectIt. Discounts are available for SfEP members on the Benefits page of the website.

Next step: learning how to make training videos for newbie proofreaders.

The six habits of highly effective editors

To be effective, the habits of good editing are to be a detective, spy and linguist; and to have empathy and intuition.

Our presenter, Matthew Batchelor, advocated using NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) methods. In other words, learn the language of your mind.

Developing a healthy work/life balance to carry out our work effectively includes appropriate sleep, timing/timetabling, repetition of skills, and exercise.

Next step for me: To practice a more effective work/life balance. Even more important when I seem to have a whole year of CPD ahead of me!

Grammar amnesty

Lucy Metzger (SfEP Vice-Chair) chaired a grammar panel with Luke Finley, Annie Walker and Cathy Tingle. Bring your grammar questions was the mission: questions about grammar you have always wondered about … For example, when to use ‘that v which’ which catches me out when I am proofreading.

There was an excellent discussion and exploration of language, with recommended books  on display.

Closing speaker: David Crystal

Conference came to its glorious conclusion with the fascinating plenary session by David Crystal. He shared his experiences editing the Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Language.

Before undertaking the three hour drive back to Essex, I decided to stretch my legs and had a pleasant walk into the centre of Birmingham in the company of colleagues heading to New Street Station.

It looks so different to what my mother would have seen when she left Birmingham in the early 1960s, when she married my Scottish father and moved to Glasgow.

Here’s to next year

As the post-conference blues set in, here’s to next September and #sfep2020 (or #ciep2020) in Milton Keynes. Here’s my link to my blog post about last year’s conference – Why SfEP Conference is Cool (#sfep2018).

Thank you to Beth Hamer and the conference team!

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Proofread by Lisa de Caux, CIEP (was Intermediate Member then) now Professional Member, https://www.ldceditorial.co.uk