What if …? Learning from non-editors
My fellow editors and proofreaders are brilliant at giving me ideas and inspiration for how I can grow my business. Sometimes, though, it can help to step out of one’s known zone and see what people in other industries are doing.
That doesn’t mean that everything on offer will be relevant, but delving into other business owners’ worlds can inspire us to spend a valuable half hour asking simply, ‘What if … ?’
So here’s one what-if experience from recent months … something offered by a non-editor that made me take a step back and think about my proofreading and copyediting business from a different angle.
First of all, though, I offer an overview of my most-often used approach.
Measuring value in terms of time
At the base level, I approach pricing in terms of what my time’s worth to me. The questions I ask are:
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not at all unhappy with that approach. It provides me with an effective hourly rate that meets my needs and desires, and it allows for flexibility.
Not all my hours are of equal value.
What if, though, one approaches pricing from a different angle?
What if we set a fee based not just on the value of our time but also on the risk the client attaches to not hiring us?
I’m not saying that this is a better way, just that it’s useful to at least think about it, perhaps in relation to some of the clients we work with.
What if …? Measuring value in terms of risk
In ‘Part Three/Money Talk: Pricing Design’,* Chris Do, founder of Blind, a brand strategy design consultancy in Santa Monica, discusses pricing the client (or more specifically, their perceived risk) rather than the job.
He asks a group of logo designers, ‘What does it touch?’
The video is 30 minutes long but it’s well worth watching.
The nub of it is this: a bad logo on one niche website, 10 booklets and 50 promo flyers is a different problem to a bad logo on 40 aeroplanes, 20 helicopters, 14,000 vending machines and a million mailshots.
The cost of rectifying the problem is different in those two scenarios, and so the cost of ameliorating the risk of it happening in the first place is different.
So the questions editors might ask themselves are:
Those editors with relatively homogeneous client types are less likely to find this approach useful; generalists, however, might well consider testing it.
These days, I specialize in proofreading and copyediting for independent and self-publishing authors. That’s a homogeneous client base in terms of client-perceived risk so my rates are based on time to do the job.
But if I were working with a lot of corporates, Chris Do’s approach would be food for thought.
How about you? Do you have what-if lessons from non-editors that made you step back and ask whether there are other approaches to thinking about your editorial business practice? I’d love to hear about them!
*Thanks to my pal Averill Buchanan for alerting me to this link and thinking I’d find it interesting. She was right!
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.
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