Freelancers don’t close yourself off.
There’s a lot to be said for specialising, but one thing I’ve found over the years is that you cannot close yourself off to possibilities.
Now, I’m not saying go out and make everything you can do into a business proposition (hey, I can make a cracking cup of tea, but I’m not going to set up a tea shop alongside my editing business), but it’s wise to keep your eyes, and options, open.
How I became an editor.
When I was a librarian I did all the librarianny things that we take for granted. It involved training, teaching (although at the time it was dragging first year students kicking and screaming into sessions on how to research effectively and use their library – hell I was in my 20s and confidence was a long way off for me – I hated it), writing ‘stuff’ and being a proper librarian who dealt with books and information. I loved my job and thought I would be there forever.
Then I moved and life became more complicated.
Fast forward through setting up my genealogy business and struggling when Who Do You Think You Are came out, and the internet evolved and everyone became armchair genealogists (often completely barking up the wrong tree, but if the dates or places fit …). I was asked to run, and write, a family history for beginners night-class at our local college. Me? Teach? And write a ten week course?? I nearly said ‘No’. I had no confidence; I thought I couldn’t write a whole course. Guess what? I jumped out of my comfort zone, and spent three or four years passing on what I knew to some lovely people.
When I was thinking about training in editing I thought it was a mysterious occupation that I would never be able to do. I worked with books from the other end – my degree gave me the background, but mainly from the outside, from the consumer’s point of view. Publishing was a closed shop, even though I had trained as an indexer a few years before. I had the SfEP’s training information printed off and in a folder by my computer, literally, for years. But people I knew convinced me that I had the skills, I just needed the confidence and the training. Then a friend passed some work on to me, she needed an eye for detail and someone she could trust. She knew I could do the work even if I didn’t. The possibility for a new experience arose and I took it. I loved it – I signed up for the course.
Once I had opened myself up to the possibility that I actually could do something I previously couldn’t give myself the credit for, a regular indexing client asked me to edit for him, project manage for him and eventually write for him.
I realised that, actually, my years of training had given me more experience than I realised. Now you do need to train to be an editor, which I did (and I passed my course with a merit), but there were some other things that I wished I could do … and once I dissected what I used to do, I realised I’d been doing them all along.
For example, once upon a time I had little confidence in my writing ability, but when I bit the bullet and took a free writing course at Futurelearn, getting over my fear of showing other people my scribblings, I found that other people liked what I wrote. So I’m now taking an advanced course after taking the creative writing course last year. And I regularly write for clients.
Open yourself to the possibilities.
Where am I going with all this ancient history? Well, from opening myself up to possibilities and dissecting my previous training and experience, I came to the conclusion that:
So, if you are open to the possibilities that are floating around you, you could change your life for the better. Keep your eyes and ears open, and if an opportunity shows itself don’t answer straight away (if you do, it’s usually a ‘No’ that is spat out when confidence is low).
Ways to spot a possibility.
Here are my ways to spot an opportunity: