Recently, a group of editorial friends and colleagues demonstrated how the power of group support can be harnessed to further the success of their editorial businesses. Let’s call them the Lunchers.
Learning the skills to be a fine editor or proofreader is tough enough. Turning that skill set into a client base is even tougher. For those with no previous marketing experience, this element of small-business building can feel like an overwhelming challenge. Social media platforms such as LinkedIn are a great option in which to explore marketing ideas, and there are books, blogs and professional society forums that are worth their weight in gold. However, when it comes to inspiration, nothing quite beats the act of bouncing ideas around with a group of trusted friends.
Freelancing can be isolating and many editors and proofreaders don’t feel comfortable using professional forums to chat. There are a number of reasons for this, some of the most common being:
For those people, the ideal scenario might be a daily lunch in a local café with trusted colleagues – a sandwich and a coffee to accompany the sharing of ideas. Alas, given the nature of editorial freelancing, it’s likely that your best editorial friends don’t live around the corner. The group of editorial pros featured here, the Lunchers, have therefore taken the challenge online. The sandwiches and drinks are virtual but the daily meetup is very real. The idea started when one editor mailed the following message to a small group of her trusted freelancing friends:
I read this article last night: How to Create a Marketing Plan You’ll Actually Enjoy Implementing. It it has inspired me to set myself a challenge to get into good marketing habits [and] I want to get better. So, I aim to do at least one marketing activity every day for the next three weeks. My definition of marketing activity is fairly loose. I'm including activities such as updating my CV because, although it's not actively
The response was enthusiastic, to say the least. As the emails flew back and forth what transpired was a decision to “meet for lunch” every day and share any activity that would fall into the initial, comfortably loose definition of business promotion.
As the weeks have gone on, each member of the Lunchers has fired off daily emails stating things such as:
There are several points that struck me about what my colleagues are doing:
It's not that I see the online lunch as an alternative to professional forums and social media platforms. Far from it. Indeed, I value the formal platforms I participate in. And many of the “rules” associated with larger, more formal forums are absolutely necessary owing to the size of the membership, the resulting number of contributions, and the lack of intimacy between members. Rather, the online lunch is an additional way for freelancers to communicate and inspire each other on a goal-by-goal basis (if desired) to improve their business practice in a safe and kind space.
The daily marketing challenge that our Lunchers set themselves could be applied to any aspect of small business development. If you want to set your own goals and get inspiration from your freelance friends, but feel uncomfortable with a more public forum, why not create your own virtual lunch group? What I've learned from the Lunchers is that success lies in keeping it between friends, keeping it small and keeping it kind.
Thanks to the following professional editorial freelancers for permitting me to share their experiences and advice:
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Advanced Professional Member of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP). I'm a signatory to its code of practice as a professional editor.
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