A note from Louise: Editorial freelance directories are key promotion tools for many proofreaders and editors. My colleague Nick Jones recently took ownership of the online directory Find A Proofreader and he’s kindly agreed to talk to the Proofreader’s Parlour about this exciting expansion of his business.
Louise Harnby: Before we talk about the Find A Proofreader directory, Nick, can you tell us a bit more about yourself and your editorial business, Full Proof?
Nick Jones: I set up Full Proof in 2004 whilst working as an in-house proofreader for Yell. I advertised on free sites like Gumtree and the brilliant FreeIndex directory, and concentrated on getting as many positive reviews from clients as I could. By the time Yell made me redundant in 2010, Full Proof was established well enough for me to go it alone. I now have a team of freelancers to whom I outsource work and we cater for students, businesses, authors and job seekers in the UK and beyond. We’ve got a US English version of the site now so we’re hoping to get more customers across the pond. I attribute much of Full Proof’s popularity to FreeIndex, which ranks us as the top proofreading company in the UK based on our positive reviews.
LH: How did the deal with Find A Proofreader come about?
NJ: I had a listing in the directory already, and in May this year the owner sent all advertisers an email saying she was selling the website and wanted to give us each an opportunity to buy it. Being rather impulsive by nature, I submitted an offer within a couple of hours. I don’t know how many other offers she received in the end – maybe none – but I got the site and I’m pleased about that as it’s doing really well. Mind you, it’s taken up more of my time than I anticipated! When the site became available my wife had just gone on maternity leave and I thought it would be a fun thing for her to get involved with. As it’s turned out, I’ve ended up doing most of the work. It’s my baby. So now I have two babies to look after.
LH: So who’s the site for, broadly speaking, from the point of view of both the freelancers who advertise and the people looking for assistance? I see that despite the name of the directory, the category listings go much further.
NJ: That’s right – as well as proofreaders and copy-editors, the directory also includes other categories such as indexers, copywriters, virtual assistants and translators. Ultimately we want to include all types of professionals working with words and we’re happy to consider adding further categories if people feel we’re missing any. In terms of the end user, the site is aimed at anyone who is looking for a freelancer working with words. Students, businesses, indie authors, publishers, job seekers, bloggers ... the more, the merrier.
LH: The site looks great, Nick – and very user friendly, too, for both the editorial freelancers who advertise their services and those looking for help with their written work. You’ve clearly devoted a lot of time to ensuring the directory works in terms of design and usability. Was it a big task? Can you tell us a bit about what the process involved and the experience you brought to the table when you set about it?
NJ: The site was built using WordPress. I’m no web designer but I know my way around WordPress, having used it for the Full Proof blog. I bought a premium theme, modified the code a bit, rewrote all the copy, paid a friend to design a logo, and then jazzed the site up with a load of Shutterstock images. It wasn’t a massive job, no. The hard bit is finding the time to update the blog and Facebook page regularly. I think I’m going to steal one of your ideas and have a monthly spotlight feature like this, if that’s okay with you!
LH: The thing that struck me most about the site is that it’s much more than a straightforward searchable list of providers. Can you outline the key features for us?
NJ: As I see it, Find A Proofreader has four main features that set it apart from other freelancer directories. The first one is the search bar. Other directories tend to force visitors to search by category or name. A visitor to our site can search by keywords – they don’t have to type in "proofreader" or "indexing"; they can narrow the search by typing, say, "academic", "fiction" or "blogs". As long as the freelancer has mentioned all their skills, specialities and qualifications in their listing and added all the relevant tags they can think of, they’ll show up in these more narrow searches.
The second feature I’d like to talk about is the Get A Quote system. Visitors can fill out an online form with the details of their requirements and submit it to all our advertisers at once. This is great for visitors because it enables them to gather several quotes quickly, and it’s great for the advertisers because ultimately they are advertising on the site to get leads, and we’re sending them leads every week. The enquiries come through to us first, we check they’re not spam, and then we forward them to our members.
The third key feature is the reviewing system. Users can rate advertisers out of five and write a comment about the service they received. The rating system encourages interactivity, which enhances the user experience and leads to repeat visits. More importantly, however, it shows that we care about the end users as well as the advertisers.
Finally, we have an articles section. Google loves relevant, regularly updated content so we encourage advertisers to send us articles on any subject that relates in some way to the directory’s categories. The articles have a link to the author’s website so it raises the advertiser’s profile further, while Find A Proofreader benefits as the articles will eventually show up in the search engines and it may improve the site’s overall rankings, too.
LH: So what do the advertisers get for their money? What kind of information can they include and how easy is it for them to edit their profiles?
NJ: For £20, advertisers get a standard listing for a year under the category of their choice. They can upload images to the listing, they can provide as much information as they want, and they can add as many tags as they like. The more information they provide, the more likely they’ll be found. If they have a website, they can also include a link to it. Unlike some other directories, all our links are dofollow links, which means our considerable "link juice" gets passed on to our advertisers. Google values relevant links very highly, so I’d argue that a dofollow link from a niche business directory is worth £20 a year on its own.
For £45 a year, advertisers can have a Category Featured Ad. This gives them all of the benefits listed above with two added bonuses – their listing will appear above all the standard listings in their category and it will be highlighted so it stands out more. We also have a premium advertising option for larger companies. For just £150 a year they can have a banner ad placed in the sidebar of the site’s main pages.
Editing profiles is extremely easy because the site uses the WordPress content management system. All advertisers need to do is log in, click on the Dashboard button and click on Edit Listing. If anyone does ever encounter an issue with the site or has a question or suggestion, they can contact us via email, phone or live chat. I pride myself on being as responsive as possible!
LH: And what are your plans for promoting the service?
NJ: Most of my efforts are concentrated on getting the site higher in Google’s organic search results. We’ve already seen big improvements since the redesign, but there’s always room for improvement. Google is a tricky beast to master and I’m well aware that content is king these days, so my promotion efforts are mostly spent on regular blogging, networking on Facebook and Twitter, and encouraging advertisers to submit articles to our Articles page. Because I had to buy the site in the first place, I don’t have an advertising budget as such, but I am spending what I can afford on AdWords and Facebook ad campaigns too.
LH: Many thanks, Nick. I think you’ve taken an interesting and innovative approach to running an online freelance directory and it’s been a pleasure to hear about both what’s on offer and the creative development you’ve put into the process.
To advertise your services in the directory or search for an editorial freelancer in the UK, visit the Find A Proofreader website.
About Nick Jones
If you’re a fellow editorial freelancer and want to connect with Nick, he can be contacted as follows:
Twitter: @FindProofreader and @full_proof_uk
Facebook: Find a Proofreader
Facebook: Full Proof
If you want to enquire about editing services with Full Proof visit either the UK or US website.
Favicon is the abbreviated form of “favourites icon” and it’s that small symbol that appears on a tab next to the title of the webpage.
Look up at the tab at the top of your screen for this page and you’ll see the red square with a white “LH” in it next to the page title. That’s my favicon.
Why do you need one?
A favicon enables your readers to recognize your website easily in their lists of bookmarks, RSS feeds and open tabs. Your favicon consolidates your brand. Let’s say you have a website/blog in one of the popular self-build websites like WordPress or Weebly.
Let’s say 50 of your colleagues do, too. If all of you have the WordPress/Weebly favicon, your entry in a list of bookmarks isn’t going to stand out. Perhaps a potential client has opened the websites of 20 proofreaders so that they can evaluate each one. Your favicon will enable the client to navigate back to your page easily.
How do you make one?
Favicons are usually 16 x 16 pixels in size. You can either resize a stock image, draw your own (using Word, Publisher, Quark, etc.), adapt your existing business logo, or pay someone else to design one on your behalf.
Due to the small size of the favicon, it’s recommended that you keep the image simple and sharp so that it can be rendered clearly once uploaded. If you want to draw a really simple one by simply filling in pixels try Favicon Icon Drawing Program Online Free (it's very basic). If you want to experiment with different colours, search online for "hex colour numbers" and pick your shades.
Once you have your image you should resize it according to your website provider’s instructions. I used Canva (since Weebly needs a PNG) to create my image; an alternative, if you need a .ico file, is Favicon Generator.
My colleague John Espirian kindly posted a comment with links to some favicon generation sites that he's used for years, so consider making these your first stop: Favicon.cc and Dynamic Drive.
How our editorial colleagues are using favicons ...
Take a look at some of our colleagues’ favicons in the screenshot below. Then visit their websites to see how these images match the colour schemes, logos and font styles on their websites.
Louise Harnby | Proofreader ● Espirian Technical Writing Services ● KOK Edit ● Enigma Editorial.
I hope you found this article useful. Feel free to post any questions or comments below!
Louise Harnby is a professional proofreader and copyeditor. She curates The Proofreader's Parlour and is the author of several books on business planning and marketing for editors and proofreaders.
Visit her business website at Louise Harnby | Proofreader, say hello on Twitter at @LouiseHarnby, or connect via Facebook and LinkedIn.
This roundup provides a quick-access route to all the PDF proofreading marks files posted on The Editing Blog.
I should have done this ages ago so apologies to anyone who's had to spend unnecessary time navigating their way around the Stamps archive to see what's available.
I'll keep this updated as new files are added so that there's always one central resource with all the necessary links.
Louise Harnby is a line editor, copyeditor and proofreader who specializes in working with crime, mystery, suspense and thriller writers.
She is an Advanced Professional Member of the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP), a member of ACES, a Partner Member of The Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi), and co-hosts The Editing Podcast.
Visit her business website at Louise Harnby | Fiction Editor & Proofreader, say hello on Twitter at @LouiseHarnby, connect via Facebook and LinkedIn, and check out her books and courses.
It helps if you have a grasp of basic arithmetic if you’re working with financial texts but it’s not essential, argues Louise Bolotin. Understanding context is far more important ...
I’ll be the first to admit that maths is not my strong point. I can tot up a Scrabble score in my head and divide a restaurant bill between four friends, but I only scraped a C in my O-level maths (without a calculator, my grade would have been far lower) and I regularly joke about needing to take my socks off to count past 20. Numerate I am not. Yet, for the past 12 years I have built up a flourishing specialism editing financial books and reports for a range of clients, from publishing houses to investment banks.
I was already an experienced copy-editor when I took a job at a major investment bank in the Netherlands. I was appointed for my editing skills, of course, and hadn’t the first idea about banking beyond my lay knowledge as a high street bank customer.
Was I nervous? Understatement. Colleagues in the editing team checked over my work during my first week on the job, but couldn’t save me from errors such as mistaking “flattening” for “flattering” when talking about financial results (the first means the figures are down, the latter up). Who knew one letter could paint such a massively different picture of a company’s financial health?
In my favour, I managed not to move any decimal points in the actual numbers, which could have had a disastrous effect on a company’s share price. After that, I was on my own – part of a team but expected to be able to handle the work without being nannied.
My boss sent me on a training course – I spent five days alongside a dozen City whizz-kids (all male) learning how to calculate the equity value of a company (that’s basically the share price to you, dear reader) – but by then I’d already been in the job five months.
I finished the course unable to complete those vital calculations (did I mention I’m innumerate?) but what the training did do was give me a very deep understanding of the context and I left with the skill of being able to cast a swift eye over a profit and loss sheet and spot any glaring errors.
If I’m honest, I was finally able to understand it. In short, the course knocked off the last rough edges.
Most financial editing is not figures but text, of course, and as with any other subject a solid understanding of the topic is what matters. It doesn’t matter too much if you can’t calculate the equity value of a company – what does matter is understanding what equity is (the value of an asset after any debt attached to it is paid off) and what it means to the intended readership.
Thus, knowing that return on equity (ROE) is basically how much profit or dividend an investor will earn from their shares in a given financial period and why it differs from return on investment (ROI, a metric used to calculate how efficient an investment is, i.e. is the investment delivering gains) or return on assets (ROA, an indicator of how profitable a company is relative to its total assets) is critical.
As another example, it pays to know the difference between ROE and ROCE, the latter standing for return on capital employed, which is a ratio that indicates the efficiency and profitability of a company's capital investments.
As you can see, finance, like many other specialist topics, has its own language. There are a lot of acronyms that need to be learned and understood, not to mention some very arcane jargon. Even I struggle to remember exactly what a “dead cat bounce” is (a small, temporary recovery in a declining share price), and don’t ask me why it’s called that as I haven’t the foggiest. Understanding how capital works and the above-mentioned concepts and their ilk is probably more important than the actual numbers.
With investment banking, which is my specialism, there are never any guarantees and nothing is predictable. You can suggest, but you can’t promise. So if your author writes, “when tomorrow’s results are announced the share price will go up” your job is to change it to, “when tomorrow’s results are announced the share price is expected to rise”.
Every single sentence has to be scrutinized for such claims – the only thing you can leave intact are facts, as they are historical: “when the results were announced, the share price immediately rose to $10”.
Finance is a global industry so you can never not edit such things as “last year”, “in the autumn”, “at 8am”, etc. Context is everything and vagueness is a no-no, so I would change such things to “2011”, “in the period October–December” and “0800 CET” so they are factual and can be easily understood by an international readership. Oh, and another thing – it’s rare to see something like $10 as many countries use a dollar as their currency, so it’s important to specify if you mean US$10, A$10 or CAD$10 …
Also important is an understanding of financial regulation. All countries have regulatory bodies that determine the rules for financial institutions and it’s essential to have a basic knowledge of the regulatory arena as this will affect how you edit.
For several years I edited daily equity reports for an overseas bank that was trading shares on the London Stock Exchange for its investment clients. As its sole UK editor, I was the thin blue line that ensured my client’s reports did not breach the Financial Services Authority’s rules on financial reporting.
That’s a lot of scary responsibility – I was under daily pressure not to screw up this aspect because of the terrible consequences it would trigger.
Regulation also covers the thorny issue of ethics if you edit anything to do with investments. Insider trading is against the law everywhere and carries severe penalties – staff editors work inside a “Chinese wall” that separates them from the company’s traders and have to sign non-disclosure agreements as well as an employment contract when starting work.
Staffers are also not permitted to buy or sell investments without their employer’s approval. As a freelance, it’s on your honour to abide by the same rules.
Thus I have strict personal rules.
Firstly, I never discuss the minutiae of any market-sensitive material I’m working on so as not to breach insider trading laws – I might tell a friend or partner in passing that I edited a report on Company A but not the details. At all.
Secondly, I avoid conflicts of interest by not telling any of my commercial clients who my other current commercial clients are and ensuring that I keep such work separate from each other, don’t allow one to influence another and that nothing slips from my lips in error. In short, there’s a Chinese wall in my head.
Thirdly, if any friends ask me for investment advice, I only offer general advice such as not putting all their spare cash in any one company – if they want advice on Company A, I suggest they find a broker.
Fourthly, I don’t trade shares for myself – when I do have spare money to invest, I put it into tangibles instead (tangibles is things – art, wine, gold, jewellery, ephemera, antiques…) so I don’t risk insider trading at any level. As a freelance, I exercise huge personal discipline in managing my workload in this area.
Finance is a wide field and not all areas of it will suit everyone working in it – I briefly took on some freelance work editing blue-chip accountancy reports and while it was not a total disaster, it wasn’t a good match for my knowledge or skills. I decided to stick to banking.
If your background is financial and you’re thinking of moving into editing or proofreading, you’ll have a good basis for a career once you’ve acquired the editorial skills. If, like me, you come into the field without background knowledge, training in finance is pretty much essential – get some in-house experience if you can or find a course that will give you a short, intense introduction to the subject. Then buy a good specialist dictionary or two – I have around half a dozen myself and even after 12 years I still use them regularly.
As someone who’s pretty rubbish with numbers, I was surprised to discover how much I absolutely love editing financial stuff. It’s the sheer variety of it – when I’m editing equities, I’ll be working with copy written about all kinds of industries and sectors from steel and coal to retail via pharmaceuticals and the stock-exchange listed companies that produce or sell such things (in the process learning huge amounts of interesting things that I’d probably never have got round to looking up in a library).
I get offered book editing work that ranges from hedge fund strategies to Islamic banking principles via risk management for insurance companies.
A lot of people’s eyes glaze over at the mention of finance, expecting it to be boring, but it’s not – when money makes the world go round it makes sense to be interested in it and to find it interesting. Picking up the skills to edit or proofread the mountain of words written about it is just the next step.
Louise Bolotin is a freelance editor and journalist
Copyright 2012 Louise Bolotin
The Editorial Freelancers Association is the largest and oldest US professional association for editors, proofreaders, indexers and related specialists.
There's a wealth of information on their website, some of which will also be of interest to editorial pros from outside the States. One of my favourite resources is the transcripts from the EFA's Twitter Freelance Fridays. If you follow @EFAFreelancers you'll be able to join in with the discussions and see notifications of when the transcripts are published.
Other resources include the training/education catalogue, resource links, society and chapter meeting information, and the EFA searchable membership database.
If you are based outside the US and want to contact your national editorial association, take a look at this international list: Editing & Proofreading Societies.
While nosing around on Katharine O'Moore-Klopf's blog and Copyeditors' Knowledge Base (as I often do), I came across this excellent post, published in 2011: How to Find Medical Editing Freelance Work.
A highly experienced medical editor and a board-certified editor in the life sciences, Katharine may well have forgotten more about the field than most people will ever know. If you're looking to break into this particular area of editorial freelancing, do yourself a favour and take taking some time to explore her resources.
Katharine is based in the US, so some of the links featured in this post are States-side. However, considering how much work copy-editors do onscreen these days, geography is not the barrier it once was – even if you're based elsewhere in the world, the advice on offer is pertinent to you.
I'd also recommend reading the comments on this post, where one of Katharine's colleagues, based in Germany, chips in with some great tips.
'Louise uses her expertise to hone a story until it's razor sharp, while still allowing the author’s voice to remain dominant.'
'I wholeheartedly recommend her services ... Just don’t hire her when I need her.'
J B Turner
'Sincere thanks for a beautiful and elegant piece of work. First class.'
'What makes her stand out and shine is her ability to immerse herself in your story.'
'A million thanks – your mark-up is perfect, as always.'
All text on The Editing Blog and on the other pages of this website (unless indicated otherwise) is in copyright © 2011–20 Louise Harnby.