Event review: Building a successful editing business

Written by Amy Haagsma; copy edited by Meagan Kus

Review of seminar Building a Successful Editing Business with Peter Moskos (offered by EAC-BC on January 24, 2015).

I was excited to see the topic for EAC-BC’s January seminar: Building a Successful Editing Business. The timing couldn’t be better—as a newish editor who is just venturing into freelancing, I really needed some advice in this area!

The seminar was led by Peter Moskos, a fixture within EAC and a member for 26 years. Now retired, he previously co-founded the highly successful Gordon Writing Group and was the company’s managing partner from 1995 to 2004.

Getting started
We kicked off the morning with an icebreaker game, aimed at getting people moving around the room and mingling.

Next, Peter gave us an extensive list of tips for starting out in business, including the following:

  • Determining what equipment and software you will need for your business
  • Predicting startup costs and managing an uneven volume of work
  • Developing a portfolio of work samples
  • Obtaining a business number and developing a system to manage your receipts
  • Creating promotional materials, such as a website and business cards
  • Finding and keeping in touch with clients

We also discussed the advantages and disadvantages of in-house and freelance work, and we looked at structuring our business as a sole proprietorship, a partnership, or a larger company.

Costing and quoting on work
The next topic we covered was costing and quoting on work.

Peter explained how to assess a document to determine the type and level of editing it needs, how to estimate the time needed for graphic elements, and how much time to include for revisions and project management.

We also completed a costing exercise in small groups. Each group looked at a different scenario using sample documents and arrived at a price for the overall project. We then compared our quotation with Peter’s and reported back to the group.

To close, Peter also touched on rush charges, defining a rush job as any project that would require you to work more than your regular number of hours per day or per week.

Writing proposals
After lunch, we looked at getting work by responding to requests for proposals (RFPs).

Submitting a proposal can be a good way to introduce yourself to a prospective client and let them know of your interest in working with them. Writing proposals can be intimidating, but remember that everyone else is also intimidated, and putting in the effort can really pay off.

Peter did caution us that it’s rare to win the first proposal you submit. But, if you submit a really good proposal, the client will remember you, which can lead to work in the future.

Before the seminar, Peter distributed a sample RFP along with a true/false quiz. This was a good way to introduce us to RFPs, teach us how to read them critically, and demonstrate the kinds of things to look for.

During the seminar, we discussed the typical sections in an RFP and how to respond to each. Essentially, your proposal should follow the RFP section by section, describing your qualifications and how you will do the work required. We also looked at two sample proposals.

In conclusion
This seminar was a must for anyone starting an editing business and for those looking to expand or advance their existing business.

In addition to learning a lot, I also had a very enjoyable day. Peter broke up the topics with a few short games, complete with prizes (Ferrero Rocher chocolates!). The room was set up with a number of round tables, and many activities incorporated group work and discussion. I came away not only with new information but also with new friends.

Amy Haagsma is a communications professional and a graduate of SFU’s Editing Certificate program.

Meagan Kus is a freelance copy editor and proofreader with an 18-year background in arts administration.

Image by Shutterstock.

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