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

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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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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.

strong arm

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How I Teach English

How I Teach English blog post

There is a lockdown. Schools have closed for all except the children of keyworkers, with a rota of teachers. Parents are home-schooling their children by teaching English, and all the other subjects.

The pupils who I used to teach face-to-face have moved over to online tuition. I have been learning how to use Zoom, and how to share resources using screenshare.

Tall Tartan Talks here … My feeling now is that the information I share in this post about how to teach English is just as important now in the current climate. You will become more aware of just how much there is to teaching English – and that’s just up to Year 6 (age 11) level – never mind GCSE or A level.

Teaching background

I write about my freelance business. I have been providing proofreading and tutoring  services since I left classroom teaching in 2016. This is part of my blog series on education, teaching and learning, and how educational publishers and children’s book publishers can benefit from my expertise.

English teaching

When I teach English to primary school children, I could be covering within these six skill areas:

  • reading decoding and comprehension
  • spelling
  • punctuation
  • grammar
  • handwriting
  • writing composition

Reading

The key skill in teaching English is the teaching of reading. Without having efficient reading skills, children find it more difficult to access other areas of the curriculum.

By the time children leave primary school, they should be able to read and understand what they are reading. There are those children (below average) who can decode (break down) the sounds in words to help them recognise and pronounce them.

More able children can read challenging texts fluently. When I taught in the classroom it was a pleasure to hear a child read with expression or have confidence performing with drama. It was equally pleasing to see the progress made by a child who was struggling with phonics. Those lightbulb moments are priceless.

books

Infer and deduce

It is intriguing to teach more able readers how to infer and deduce (read ‘between the lines’) by increasing their vocabulary, by prompting them to understand what that challenging vocabulary means,  by leading them to dig deeper into the text.

It is encouraging to watch reluctant readers laugh at the stories spun by authors such as Liz Pichon (Tom Gates). They want to read on … But it is also frustrating when they ignore an unfamiliar word, hoping it will just become invisible. I teach them to become inquisitive enough to want to find out why the author chose that word, investigating how that word adds to the story.

Spelling, punctuation and grammar (SPaG)

Three elements of English – Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar – have been turned into a variety of acronyms by the Department for Education over the years: their incarnations have been SPaG, GPS, … In the 2010s the government introduced intensive assessment of SPaG at the end of key stage 2 (Year 6), which resulted in children being taught far more about grammar than they need to know at that age.

Let’s begin with Spelling.

Spelling

you're

I find that children generally divide into two camps: either they can spell, or they can’t. Some children really worry about spelling. Some don’t know what the fuss is about – spelling isn’t important to them. Or there are those who are proud because correct spelling comes easily to them. They got perfect marks on the weekly spelling test.

When tutoring my pupils, I ask them to look at the spelling of a word they have written. Does it look right? Does it match spelling patterns they know?

Spelling can be taught in fun ways using games, e.g. Scrabble, wordsearch, to name just two. ZType is a typing app which reinforces spelling in a fun way. Try it!

Children with dyslexia are a different discussion. Thankfully they now get more recognition and help now than in the past.

Punctuation

It was so frustrating when, in upper primary, I experienced children forgetting to use capital letters and full stops to begin and end a sentence. Ironically, they could use more advanced forms of punctuation, but forgot the skills taught in Year 1.

By Year 2 (age 7) children are taught to add to their knowledge of punctuation by using a question mark or exclamation mark. By Year 5 (age 9) children are taught to use a wide range of punctation, including the semicolon (an elaborate comma) and colon (introduces further information).

When I wrote their ideas on the whiteboard or Learning Wall during Guided Writing, pupils were keen to point out punctuation errors (deliberate mistakes made by me) but they weren’t as observant in their own writing. Children had to be retaught to punctuate as they wrote, rather than put the punctuation in afterwards.

Which is why writers perhaps can’t see the wood for the trees and need a trained editor and/or proofreader to find errors.

eyes looking

Grammar

Here are some terms you may not have come across before. They are assessed in the SPaG SATs (Standard Assessment Tests) for Year 6 (age 11) at the end of Key Stage 2.

Let’s try some … Can you identify the following? 

What is:

  1. an adjective
  2. an adverb
  3. a fronted adverbial
  4. a modal verb
  5. a conjunction
  6. a subordinate clause
  7. a relative clause
  8. active voice
  9. passive voice?

Here are the answers, if you are curious:

  1. adjective: describes the noun
  2. adverb: describes the verb (sometimes ending with ‘ly’)
  3. fronted adverbials: an adverb which starts a sentence pausing with a comma, e.g. ‘In the far distance, …’
  4. modal verbs: verbs which show possibility or likelihood
  5. conjunctions: used to be called connectives – links two clauses with ‘and’, ‘but, ‘or’, etc.
  6. subordinate clause: a clause which depends on the main clause to make sense
  7. relative clause: a subordinate clause introduced by a relative pronoun, e.g. who, which, whose
  8. active voice: the subject of the sentence is doing or being, e.g. The cooks burned the apple pie.
  9. passive voice: the subject is being acted on by the object, e.g. The apple pie was burned by the cooks.

However, this is not the place for a debate about which and why grammar rules should be taught to 7 – 11 year olds.

Right, moving straight on to something a little less controversial …

Handwriting

According to the national curriculum, children should be joining their handwriting from Year 2.

I get much satisfaction from showing children how to form their letters correctly. Tall letters have ascenders (lines going up, e.g. b, d, h, k, l, t) and others have descenders (lines going down, e.g. g, j, p, q, y). The letter f, when handwritten, should have both.

Each school usually has their own handwriting policy. Some schools advocate teaching cursive handwriting from EYFS Reception (Early Years Foundation Stage). That’s fine if the child demonstrates good fine motor control with the pencil, but I’m not convinced. Then again, I never taught in an EYFS classroom. (I was too tall to get my legs under the tiddly tables!)

Another tip I offer is to dot the i’s and cross the t’s after the whole word is written, rather than lift the pencil/pen and stop the flow of the word to finish those letters. Try it with the word ‘little’. Oh, and remember that those l’s are ascenders, so will be taller than those standard i’s and e’s.

Neatly joined handwriting has its place and does look absolutely exquisite in the right setting. But the quality of the handwriting should be appropriate to the audience. For a quick visit to the shops with a list just for one’s own viewing, a scribble is sufficient. On the other hand, perfecting the greeting on a card to Granny is the opportunity to be proud of neatly joined, cursive script.

handwriting paper

An example of a student handwriting sheet which encourages the use of ascenders and descenders.

Writing composition

quality content

There is nothing more thrilling than to have a child show their learning by incorporating features of writing you have taught into an unaided composition.

Whether the genre is myths, legends, historical, comedy or horror, their ability to show understanding of the features of that genre is a mark of their progress and success as writers.

Their skills at writing are enhanced if they are reading a wide variety of genres. If they can also build believable characters, with imaginative speech which moves the story on, and they can talk directly to the reader, their writing becomes a sheer joy to read.

By Year 6, most children can include a wide range of devices in their writing: plot structure; description of setting and characters using vivid adjectives and adverbs, similes and metaphors; action between characters; speech (using the rules of dialogue punctuation); and punctuation. Even showing contrast of types and lengths of sentences, e.g. ‘long / short / long’ or ‘short / long / short’ for dramatic effect.

The hardest concept for some children to grasp is how to lay out paragraphs. They are taught to start a new idea on a new line with a small indent. Each paragraph should have a new idea. One example of a model to help understanding is to show children fiction authors’ work where paragraphs have been jumbled. The task is to rearrange them so that the meaning of the overall text makes sense.

So, all these elements are taught in a module lasting several weeks over a half term, building up their skills, until the children get a chance to show that they can apply their learning.

At the end of an hour’s composition, the children are given the opportunity to read their work back to themselves. In the classroom, they would whisper aloud so they could hear it. Hearing it spoken is a tip for the checking of any errors. Editors and proofreaders do it as a proven strategy!

Hoping this helps

To finish, you will find some helpful websites below about the teaching of primary English. They will be especially useful if you are home-schooling.

all the best

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Emailing

Contact me by email to check my availability for proofreading non-fiction, education books and children’s books.

Education blog posts

See the links below to the other posts in my series on education:

Why I Tutor

How I Teach Maths

How Do You Learn?

Children’s Well-being and Mindfulness

Philosophy for Children

Further reading

Proofreading Training

training

Want to be a proofreader? Wondering about proofreading training? Are you a possible client wondering about my professional qualifications?

In this episode I go into more detail about my ongoing training to develop my proofreading business. In previous posts (How I Started, Business Plan and Training, Website Building and Social Media and To Business) I detailed my voyage towards becoming a freelance providing proofreading services after decades as a primary school teacher.

If you are confused about what proofreading training to do (and training is vital to show your professionalism) this blog may help you make up your mind. Especially if, like me, you have no background in publishing.

Learning something new

After three decades as a primary school teacher, I had succumbed to work-related stress and was on sick leave for five months. Then I had to come to terms with a dawning and daunting fact: a life I had known for 30 years was coming to an end. I was desperate to find a Plan B.

The medication for my newly discovered heart problem (atrial fibrillation) was taking time to embed, and I looked for something to take my mind off my worries. I saw an advert in a magazine for a proofreading course and thought – marking’s my thing, why don’t I try it?

Chapterhouse Publishing

The course was the Chapterhouse Correspondence Course in Proofreading and Copy-editing. I was eager to change direction. I pottered through the course while ‘lunching with ladies’, enjoying my recovery. It took me six months to undertake each section of the four modules. I was happy with what I learnt in the proofreading basics: the British Standards Institute proof correction marks, using shorter and longer exercises to practise using the symbols. The exercises are all done on hard copy with red and blue pen! However, copy-editing confused me.

This all happened before my business and website was a twinkle in my eye. But the thought was in the back of my mind. I registered as unemployed, and as detailed in the post ‘Business Plan and Training’, subsequently applied for the New Enterprise Allowance.

My Business Plan was as follows:

  1. Become a member of the SfEP (now CIEP).
  2. Start training …
  3. (And so on.)

Of course, if I had known then what I know now … Now I am aware that the Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP) and the Publishing Training Centre (PTC) offer some of the most reputable training in proofreading and copy-editing.

Courses

So, during the time I have owned my business Proofnow Proofreader (at this point in my third year), I have ticked off the following courses:

  • Proofreading Progress
  • References
  • Getting Work with Non-publishers
  • Educational Publishing Development Day

There follows a brief summary and my take on each course. These have contributed to my upgrade from Entry Member to Intermediate. For all the courses, you are appointed a tutor and given login details to a forum for students within the course section, to ask questions within a safe environment.

Here is the link to the Training page of the website.

Proofreading 2: Progress (Was P2 now P3)

As I had already got the basics in proofreading knowledge, I headed towards the online course Proofreading Progress. (Then P2. Now the final of three.) I learnt loads more, got confused many times, then thankfully reached surprising clarity and confidence. Grade: Pass!

I was now able to add my qualification to my website with pride.

References Course

My main motivation for doing this particular course was that up, until now, I had worked solely with students, proofreading theses and dissertations. I could justify charging more for services if I could offer more skills. As with all the courses, I found out that there was much more to references than I imagined.

It is an online self-assessment course which means that you learn the facts, take the test at the end of each exercise, check the answers, and move to the next exercise. The concepts covered include the author-date, short-title, and number systems. A useful tip I picked up was to use the software Edifix.

Finally, you print the certificate to confirm completion of the course. It was the hardest course I have ever done. I didn’t enjoy the experience at all. But I learnt a massive amount about a huge variety of references. My notes will be referred to when I need them.

Getting Work with Non-publishers

By February 2018, I wanted to take on a course run as a workshop, to enable networking and discussion with fellow students. I headed to the training building in London and met eight proofreaders/editors/project managers doing the course – all fellow members. Some of whom had been working for educational publishers. But who wanted out and onto other opportunites. Eagerly, I took their contact details as this was one of the routes into publishing I was looking for …

During the day’s workshop we learnt about considering other fields outside publishing, e.g. businesses, large charities, government; how to market ourselves; and how to approach potential clients.  The workshop made us think ‘outside the box’. (This course is no longer available.)

Educational Publishing Development Day

When I saw this advertised, I couldn’t resist – Education – it was right up my street! It was booked months in advance, such was its popularity and the calibre of speakers. Again, I headed up to the training building and found myself in a large room with upwards of 80 delegates. But I recognised some faces, thank goodness, and it was lovely to reconnect with members from around the UK.  (Organised by Anya Hastwell – then the professional development director.)

Two speakers who stood out were:

  • Sophie O’Rourke – Managing Director at EMC Design. She covered what freelancers need to know about the current requirements of educational publishers.
  • Astrid deRidder – Head of Global Custom Publishing at Macmillan Education [international/ELT focus]. Very entertaining and knowledgeable about making educational textbooks relevant to international and particular cultures.

Technology

As someone who has used textbooks in the Primary classroom for decades, I find the development of e-learning materials most interesting. For at least the last 10 years, starting with the installation of interactive whiteboards and projectors, and each teacher being given a laptop, the developing complexity of technology has been exciting. This, coupled with the changing national curriculums from the government of the day, has led to startling, but inevitable, changes in the way teaching and learning happens in the classroom.

E-learning

The arrival in schools of banks of iPads added a new layer of excitement when used as a resource in subjects like ICT (Information and Communication Technology). Though now I think it’s just called Computing (Primary Curriculum 2018). The devices made Guided Reading group sessions very popular, using the Pearson scheme called Bug Club.

My favourite new technology is augmented reality, e.g. pictures in books being brought to life by an app. I think. I first saw this in practice in an Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS, or Reception) class of 4-5 year olds. It really got their attention!

Mentoring and being mentored

I have been fortunate that I have been able to invest in my Continuing Professional Development (CPD) with the SfEP over the last three years. What’s the expression? ‘Speculate to accumulate.’

My hope is to save enough over the next few months to take part in the mentoring scheme as a mentee. Plus attend the SfEP 2019 Conference. Booking is nearly open! We’ll all be asking questions. How about a blog about my last two conferences? Alright, if you insist.

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Proofread by Lisa de Caux, https://www.ldceditorial.co.uk

To Business

business

This fourth episode details the business of preparing for proofreading jobs, and the administrative and accounting side of my proofreading business.

In previous episodes (How I Started, Business Plan and Training, and Website and Social Media) I detailed my voyage towards becoming a freelancer providing proofreading services after decades as a primary school teacher.

Paperwork

Who admits that they actually like paperwork?!

Me!

One of my strengths, I have found through the years, is that I am efficient at paperwork and recording. One of my roles in our household is handling the finances. So I was keen to start things properly as a business owner, and have legally binding templates in place. Three of the following I found on the SfEP website or recommended on forums:

  • Terms and Conditions (T&Cs; no longer available)
  • Invoices
  • Feedback form to prompt a testimonial from a happy client
  • A recording system for paid invoices.

If you read this blog all the way to the end, you will find the link to free resource templates on my website, which you are welcome to tweak.

You soon discover, as a freelance, that you wear many *hats*. My job as a teacher was very similar – time had to be managed efficiently to fit it all in. One of the many *hats* you wear as a freelance sole-trader is that of business admin.

Once I had built a basic form of my website, I registered as self-employed for self-assessment with HMRC, then prepared the documents. Now I was ready for my first client … eek!

Where to find freelance jobs?

I see this question asked many times on Facebook freelancer groups and on the SfEP forums. “Where do you find opportunities for paid work?”

I signed up for Find a Proofreader. This was the directory I preferred to use to register my services. There is a wide selection of directories out there. There are also strong views about the poor rates offered. They are good to start with for experience. But that topic is not for now.

Initially, I targeted students, as education is my specialism. I followed the advice of Nick Jones (owner of FAP), from his session at the SfEP 2017 Conference, to make my profile as relevant as possible. Sadly, I have never been quick enough to land a proofreading job with this site. Your application has to be very quick off the mark – as soon as a query is sent out!

Universities are another source of work from students. I googled many universities and, in some cases, found the relevant proofreading guidelines page with their policy. I could, therefore, gauge the advice students were being offered.

My first proofreading job

I confess I didn’t know much about marketing when I first started my business. So, imagine my joy, three months after I had applied to be on the Register of Proofreaders at a major university in East Anglia, to receive a query from a student.

Once I had seen a sample, we agreed a rate per 1,000 words and the deadline for the return of the dissertation. She agreed to my T&Cs. I conscientiously got on with the job with fervour.

I finished the job in good time. When I returned her checked writing, I attached a copy of my invoice. I was lucky that she was a prompt payer; and that she was happy to give me a good testimonial about my thorough approach. An excellent first job. Phew!

Since then I have done proofreading for about 10 students, checking for errors and inconsistencies in spelling, punctuation, grammar and context.

Working with students

Of course there are issues around proofreading for students … How much of the writing do you change?

One non-English speaking student wasn’t happy with my proofreading when I sent the proofed dissertation chapter. He pointed out the *errors* I had *missed*. After enquiring, it transpired that he wanted his English to be improved. I recommended that he look for an editor with the permission of his supervisor.

As a result of the misunderstanding on his part, I tweaked the wording on the website page for student clients. To make my terms absolutely clear. I emphasised my role: to indicate errors only and with the permission of the supervisor. The SfEP have an excellent guide called Proofreading Theses and Dissertations’.

Payments, deposits and late payments

A question many people ask is “Will I earn enough to pay the bills?” The answer: It depends …

You probably won’t earn enough to begin with, as, on average, it can take up to two years to grow your business to something sustainable. In fact, many people have a part-time job alongside editing or proofreading. I go out every afternoon to tutor primary children – the change of scene does me good. Two other members of my family also have a *portfolio* of jobs: my husband, for example, has a gardening business to pay the bills alongside art, his other vocation. His week is a mixture of both.

Bank transfer is the usual preference as a payment method by freelancers. Some freelancers prefer clients to use Paypal or Stripe, among others. Again I have observed many views on this subject.

A tip I have picked up from fellow SfEP-ers is to charge a deposit if the project is large, or going to be split over a few weeks. For one student client, I have charged 50%. But it depends on the freelancer and client. For example, that student wanted to send me module 1 to proofread immediately, then, a month later, module 2.

A growing problem which freelancers experience is those clients who pay late or, worse, not at all. A solution is to include a clause on your invoice explaining the Late Payment Fees. Another method is to request settlement of the balance payment before releasing the completed files. This strategy refers to independent clients rather than companies / publishers.

I have got used to spreadsheets. I record the invoice number next to the client name, the amount paid and when. This way my accounts are accurate and up-to-date for tax purposes.

Creative paperwork – no, not that kind!

When you are busy being creative with the images and banner (maybe even a logo?) on your company branding for your website and social media. Here’s another tip: remember to carry it through onto your business templates. It continues your personality and makes it consistent.

My to-do list

Now (two years later) I have evolved with my business. More SfEP training and a wide range of networking has encouraged me to psych myself up to try a variety of marketing strategies. Imposter syndrome has a lot to answer for.

  • Cold email local businesses, such as Chambers of Commerce, to advertise my availability.
  • Advertise myself to more educational publishers to proofread Primary textbooks, now that I feel competent enough.
  • Provide proofreading specialisms to publishers of children’s fiction and non-fiction. I have discovered that this really excites me!

Therefore, my next job is to add to my spreadsheet of publishers to contact.

This involves listing the publisher/packager name, project manager/editor contact email, date of my introductory email sent, date of reply (if any). I am pleased to say that, out of the first 15 publishers I emailed, I had a positive reply from two! So have a 13% success rate. Which I’m told is good!

But it does mean investing a huge amount of emotional energy, which most of the time isn’t rewarded. But so worth it for the 10%. Learn to develop patience, persistence and perseverance. Or, put another way, ‘a dropped pebble starts ripples’.

Find free resources on my website. It can be very daunting starting your own business. If you want to ask questions or to share experiences, I’m here.

 

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Proofread by Lisa de Caux,  https://www.ldceditorial.co.uk

Credit: My resources are tweaked from the resources available on the website for the CIEP (formerly the Society of Editors and Proofreaders).

 

Website Building and Social Media

marketing

This episode describes the stage with my new proofreading business when I proclaimed my arrival! Building a website, social media and content marketing are skills I used to announce to the world my services as a proofreader.

In previous episodes, How I Started and Business Plan and Training, I detailed my voyage towards becoming a freelance offering proofreading services after decades as a primary school teacher. In this blog, I describe how I decided on my marketing strategy.

As a newbie freelance business owner, I know some folks who cringe at the thought of putting any personal details ‘out there’, on the interweb. But, in my opinion, how else are you going to advertise your services or get business unless you are a presence on-line?

“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 two years ago. The process of choosing a website domain, a host, and designing my website, plus researching the content marketing world of social media has been a steep learning curve. This is what I did.

Build a website

By January 2017, my NEA (New Enterprise Allowance) Business Plan (with People Plus) had been approved, and I was told 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?” I was heard to ponder. I asked around. My only experience had been editing my class page on the school website where I taught.

Godaddy was recommended. Fair enough, the building of each page was fairly straightforward: I added Services, Pricing and About pages, with a few photographs for variety. I could add a couple of testimonials after six months.

But, although I was pleased with the look of the site on the desktop of the PC, and on the screen of my Android tablet, it looked dreadful on my mobile.

By December 2017, I knew I wasn’t going to renew with Godaddy. So I did some fairly intense research on who would host my website next.

WordPress

I found Siteground for hosting website companies like WordPress.

I copied everything over from the soon-to-be-expired website, probably using old-fashioned techniques, and not how a designer would do it … But, after a couple of phone calls to Siteground customer service, who were very supportive, I was up and active with my new host. Phew!

I am now even  happier with my website and proud of what I have achieved so far. It is easy to manage, and looks great on a mobile! I mention this because statistics show that mobile devices are used more for browsing websites than any other. Folks want to look up a linked site spontaneously and even instantaneously. So, it is essential that your website works, and looks good. Anywhere. On any device.

Basic website tips

  • easy to read, clear font
  • your headshot and/or logo
  • your services – what you can do for your client
  • how does a new client get in touch with you?
  • Say less of what ‘I’ can do (me, me, me), but what ‘you’, the client, needs. How can you (the freelance) can solve their (client) problem? *1
  • 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.*2
  • Designing your brand is made easier by choosing prepared designs from a free app. *3

*1  This method of your ‘About me’ page not actually being ‘About me’ (ironically) has been repeated by many on social media. It has been a revelation in tweaking how my website is worded.

*2  Advice from John Espirian and other content marketing gurus.

*3  Canva, recommended by Louise Harnby, is a design programme for those who have basic technical skills. I found it really useful when ensuring consistency in the design for my banners for marketing my website and social media profile pages (covered next). This represents ‘joined-up thinking’.

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

Content marketing

LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, …? What a minefield of social media! So, what kind of content marketer are you? I know some folks who steer well clear. I know some folks who do it ALL, spread themselves EVERYWHERE. Is that a good idea? Does it work? Does it GET you work?

Facebook

I have had a personal Facebook page for 10 years: I use it to stay in touch with friends and family, as well as previous and new colleagues met through networking. The first thing I did on Facebook when I started my business was to advertise Proofnow Proofreader as a business Facebook page because that was the medium I understood.

LinkedIn

Then I met fellow freelancer John Espirian (former member of the SfEP, now the CIEP) and learnt A LOT more about how to use LinkedIn. For example, build a profile page using specific criteria as he describes here. He recommends liking and commenting on the posts of others to engage in conversation. This raises the visibility of your profile. To some, LinkedIn is seen as the conference side of social media, where important leads can be followed, and serious business connections are made. Work may even follow from said connections. This is my favourite way to share with colleagues as it feels more business-like. 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.

Twitter

To some Twitter is viewed as the cocktail party of social media. On Twitter, retweeting (sharing) your own posts improves engagement. I am least confident with the use of Twitter. But, because a lot of freelancers are on Twitter, and because I suffer from FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), here is my Twitter page …

The main advice I have gleaned over the last two years is from content marketers who say: do what works for you. If you can cover all (and it’s not recommended – unless you have more than 24 hours in your day), fair enough.

I need to do one of them well. Do it with purpose. Do it with meaningful content.

Shout it out!

When I was teaching, and was so frustrated that I felt like shouting at the class or an individual, it was generally much more effective to whisper “When I say … I mean it.” Pause. You could have heard a pin drop with the silence and anticipation. I hope that my whisperings of marketing are making a difference. Perhaps I should be shouting. I am certainly anticipating that doing all I can to market my business will result in getting my name out there, which should result in getting the work in. Tell clients you are available.

Family trait

For those familiar with where I grew up – Glasgow in the 1980s – there was a marketing campaign called ‘Glasgow’s Miles Better’. My dad, as an employee of Glasgow District Council (Industrial Development Officer) took Glasgow around the UK to exhibitions, promoting its good points.

When I married Tom, my artist husband, in the late 80s, my father asked him to which galleries he had touted his work. My husband was reluctant. Dad took it upon himself to go around many galleries in Glasgow to promote his son-in-law’s art. I like to think that I have inherited my father’s skills in marketing. He would be proud.

Help, support, share

Having discovered a VAST array of tips in content marketing, I am still, not by any stretch, an expert. Everything I have learnt has been absorbed so much by osmosis. Much like a lot of newbie freelancers I suspect.

Networking

Networking (either in real life or online) with other freelancers means you pick up valuable advice; connections on LinkedIn; online support groups are another gem for tips from many specialist freelancers.

In summary, whatever medium you use, the algorithms love it if you like a post, comment and share what other small businesses are doing. It can’t help but raise your profile.

Business cards

Networking IRL (in real life) with local groups is a great way to get out and about while promoting your business. It is incredibly useful if you can offer business cards or leaflets which act as a reminder of who you are and the business services you are offering.

Moo.com was recommended to me as a business card provider. Their website is user-friendly, with professional-looking products. I’m on my n-th set of 50 cards and they are always complimented.

There is some debate as to whether off-line marketing (on paper) still serves a purpose. But I like to market myself in as many ways as possible. All my social media links are on my cards (again, an area for debate is how much detail to put on them). Nevertheless, I am proud to say I give out my cards to all!

Paperwork

In my next blog, I recall answering my first query from a student. (Just trying to get a sample out of them, while they check if you’re available, when they haven’t actually written their thesis yet.).

Taking tiny steps as I adapted templates to compose my contracts, T&Cs, create invoices for payments and feedback forms.

As a freelance sole trader, you find that you have to be in charge of EVERY facet of your business: admin, IT, marketing, finance, … and that dreaded tax return. But there is lots of support out there.

I wish you a healthy and happy 2019!

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Thank you to Lisa de Caux for proofreading.

Business Plan and Training

training goals

Welcome to my second blog post. In How I Started, I told you a bit about myself and how I became a freelance proofreader. This post gives a bit more detail about my first goals: my business plan, proofreading training, and how I got here.

‘Here’ is actually the dining room of our Victorian-terraced house near Stansted Airport in Essex which doubles as my office.

Meanwhile, my husband has the luxury of his studio space (at the bottom of our 100-foot-long garden) to paint. His studio is next to the chicken coop, so he has company there, chatting away to the three clucking girls when stretching his legs. If you like birds, the theme develops … keep reading.

How did I get here to this point in my freelancing journey?

Teaching – my previous life

As a former primary teacher, I was trained in the primary ‘Talk for Writing’ project initiated by the poet Pie Corbett. He was asked by the government of the day to raise standards in Literacy.

His theory was that, in shared writing sessions with the class, as ideas are being discussed and written on large poster paper, children are encouraged to write their own version simultaneously. The children get swept along with the enthusiasm of the teacher and the drama of the story, in whichever genre was relevant for the age of the child, at that stage in the term (e.g. fantasy). A buzzing atmosphere would ensue.

Over a week of Literacy lessons, a hanging washing line of posters with beginning, middle and end parts stretched across the classroom.

A growing story and a sense of achievement took shape, with ideas magpie-ed by the children. They were allowed to ‘borrow shiny ideas’ to help one another. A few children felt secure when they knew that they could share ideas if they were faced with a blank page in front of them. Don’t we all need that reassurance? Evidence suggests that their independent writing would grow from practising together.

Writing a business plan

When I left teaching, I applied for the New Enterprise Allowance (NEA) with the Job Centre. My Business Mentor helped me complete a Business Plan. Compiling the 20-page Business Plan took me a month of research and exploring strengths and weaknesses of the business I had in mind.

These were my learning takeaways:

  • Googling ‘proofreading’ and finding The SfEP at the top of Google!
  • Second on Google’s list was Louise Harnby and the treasures of her amazing website for editors and authors!
  • Doing a SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats). Finding proofreaders and businesses who I first thought of as competitors, but later discovered how supportive and encouraging they are.
  • What was my marketing strategy going to involve? Was I going to have a website? Was I going to do social media? The answer was a resounding YES. EVERYTHING.
  • Describing the goals and objectives of my business over the short term (0-1 year), medium term (2-3 years), and long term (4-5 years).
  • Describing the trends in my chosen market (students, academic, businesses and educational publishers).
  • Predicted expenditure on equipment and training? How much was I going to spend? Predicted income from proofreading and tutoring? How much was I going to charge?

If you are deciding at this point whether to strike out on your own or not, the business tools from the Princes Trust are recommended by others setting up as freelance. Planning and preparation are essential.

Proofreading training

I have read so many jewels of advice about how important training is. Preferably from a respected organisation such as the SfEP or PTC (Publishing Training Centre). By January 2017, I had registered with the SfEP, and because it was vital that I train first, by May of that year I had completed my final SfEP Proofreading Course. Also important was learning how to use the BSI symbols (British Standard Institution marks).

There is much discussion as to whether the symbols are valid these days as businesses and non-publishers are unaware of them and have no need of them. But, I felt, knowledge of their use added professionalism in case I got an opportunity to work in publishing – education in my case. They are like learning a new language, but I was happy to add them to my skillset.

For those considering or currently doing the Proofreading Courses, other skills you will learn are: proofreading against copy; proofreading blind; proofreading tables and references; and proof-editing vs proofreading in Word. You will find that proofreading is SO much more than you first thought.

You may prefer copyediting, which is also offered by the SfEP. Have a look at the wide range of courses offered – both core skills and editorial.

Ready, steady, go! 

The courses consolidated my knowledge and confidence. I was ready to take on work as a proofreader. My newly hatched website was designed and updated with my qualification. Now I could build experience. My next goal was looking for work in proofreading.

I was both excited and terrified about the possibilities, and of what the future would hold. Luckily, I have a supportive husband who would change his regular job to ensure a more consistent income, while I struck out with my fledgling business Proofnow Proofreader.

Initially I would focus my marketing efforts on students. Well it made sense with education being my specialism. I also started tutoring primary children in the afternoons to help pay the bills.

In my next blog post, I will describe the process of choosing and designing my website and researching the content marketing world of social media.

Happy new beginnings!

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Proofread by Lisa de Caux, https://www.ldceditorial.co.uk

How I Started

Hello – and welcome to my first blog post as a newbie freelance proofreader. I know, it was a surprise to me too!

blogging proofreader

The year is 2018. I have been in business as a self-employed proofreader for 22 months (yep, almost two years!). Up until now I have always smiled silently when my fellow networkers at the SfEP (Society for Editors and Proofreaders), now the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP), folk would say, “How about writing a blog, then? You’d be really good at it.” My reply was always, “Och no, I don’t think so! I check the writing of others, not write myself.”

Why now?

But over the last few months, I have had a slow, burning change of mind and heart: by reading a variety of blogs recounting the wide range of experiences at the latest SfEP Annual Conference, held in Lancaster in September; by reading the blogs written by new SfEP-ers about their experiences of feeling the same terror of revealing their inner thoughts. These have all encouraged me that it is necessary to consider plunging into the world of blogging. So, with my SfEP parachute for support, here we go …

Fears

However, there were decisions to be made if I decided to go ahead:

  • If I organised myself enough to commit to blogging once a month, once regular deadlines were met. Planning was needed.
  • If I could find enough topics to write about – turns out there’s plenty of advice out there about how to find subjects to write about.
  • If it meant it would lead to more business as a proofreader by promoting my website through my blog …

Research

I set about doing research into the skills of, and theory behind, being ‘a blogger’. Following certain content marketing gurus on social media, bookmarking advice offered by more experienced bloggers who happen to be fellow editors and proofreaders. I’ve done a lot of reading. And persuaded myself to ‘bite the bullet’.

Biting bullets

There has been much ‘biting of bullets’ over the last two years …

  • when I found the courage to leave full-time primary teaching after three decades, giving up the main family income.
  • when my local Job Centre helped me write a New Enterprise Allowance Business Plan.
  • when I joined the SfEP and completed two proofreading courses.
  • when I built my website, ordered my business cards, and invested some inheritance in my new company.
  • when I started networking with local freelancers IRL (In Real Life), on the SfEP forums, and in local groups.
  • when I answered my first proofreading job query, sent out my first contract to my first student client, and invoiced on completion of my proofreading of her dissertation.
  • when I carried out my first private tutoring job with a primary pupil after not teaching for 18 months.

All nerve-wracking stuff. All to be developed in detail in my ‘How I got to this point’ blogs to follow.

Name for my blog? Describe me

So –  to choose the name for my blog. As SfEP colleagues who attended the last two Annual Conferences will know, I stand out. Because I am 6 feet tall. I can be spotted across a crowded room. Helen Stevens, a fellow lofty SfEP-er, commented to me at Conference, “It’s good to talk to someone taller than me!”.

I am also proud to have held onto my lilting Scottish accent. I spent my first 23 years living in Paisley, Scotland. I consider myself Scottish. Having said that, the last 30 years of my life have been spent in the pretty countryside of north Essex, in East Anglia, immortalised in my husband’s oil paintings.

A family conference (on much more important matters) finished with me uttering, “So I’ve thought of a name for my blog. What do you think …?”.

What followed was a flowing of ideas, several changes of direction, discussion and debate. You know that feeling when you wish you’d never started something.  Anyway, the name Tall Tartan Tells was born. (We thought that Tall Tales might … not give the professional image I was after. The name changed after a few blogs to Tall Tartan Talks.)

The future

So I have started blogging, and I look forward to sharing my experiences as a new business owner, proofreader and tutor, while giving useful tips along the way about what I’ve learnt.

I’m sure, if you’re a newbie freelancer, you will be having the same doubts, fears and excitements that I had. Why not share your experiences?

Have some flowers. My pleasure.

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Proofread by Lisa De Caux, SfEP Intermediate Level Member, https://www.ldceditorial.co.uk