By Karin Beery
One of the best pieces of advice I can give to new freelance writers and editors is to join a professional network. It may seem counterproductive—a group of people all doing the same job and competing for the same clients. If that’s your mindset—competition—then a professional organization might not work for you. If, however, you want to improve your skills, get and give job leads, and develop long-lasting relationships, then keep reading.
The idea of working for yourself while working from home sounds wonderful—no set hours, no dress code, no commute. For a while it’s wonderful, but even if you’re an introvert (and especially if you’re an extrovert!), it eventually reveals its true nature: isolation. Sure, working from the local coffee shop or library can alleviate some of that solitude, but it doesn’t change the nature of your career choice. So how do you find balance?
Professional organizations. Here’s why:
- Education. Most organizations offer classes, books, or conferences with discounts for members. The classes often cover a wide array of topics that you may not find at your community college. Best of all, these classes are usually taught by industry professionals—you’re learning directly from your peers, not from people who learned how to teach a subject.
- Job Leads. You may not believe it, but joining a group of other editors can actually help you get editing gigs. How? Not every editor is qualified to edit every type of book. I specialize in fiction, not technical writing. When people contact me about editing genres I’m not familiar with, I don’t take the jobs and hope for the best; I refer them to my professional network. Similarly, when editors are too busy to take jobs, they often provide the lead to other editors in the group. It’s not about taking jobs from each other; it’s about helping each other.
- Support. When you work for yourself, you don’t have managers to encourage and challenge you. There’s no company Christmas party. It’s just you and your work station—until you join a group of like-minded professionals. Then it’s you and a group of people just like you who not only offer support but also sincerely understand your frustrations and victories. You don’t just listen to each other, you understand each other.
You can do it alone, but you don’t have to. If you’re frustrated by your isolation (or dreading its inevitable arrival), do some research. Find your people and get connected.
Owner of Write Now Editing and Copywriting Services, Karin Beery specializes in fiction and professional business copy. She is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers and the American Christian Writers Association. A Christian Proofreaders and Editors Network member, she is the Substantive Editing for Fiction instructor for the PEN Institute. Karin is represented by literary agent Steve Hutson at Word Wise Media. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, or at her website, www.karinbeery.com.