An intro to managing the admin side of your business
With a little organization and planning, you can get as much satisfaction from quoting, invoicing, recording your expenses, analyzing your marketing efforts, and tracking your professional development as you do from editing or proofreading.
Why should I care about business admin as a freelance editor?
Neglecting the admin side of being a freelancer can have serious consequences. If you’re not tracking your business spending, whether your invoices are getting paid on time and in full, and whether your actual hourly rates are anywhere near your estimated ones, you might be earning less than you need to meet your expenses – and you’ll have no idea why. And if you aren’t tracking the time and money you spend on CPD and marketing alongside the projects you take on, you won’t know whether they’re helping you get the work you love at the rates you want.
Keeping on top of your admin will give your editorial business the best possible chance to succeed. Tracking your business data helps you see the big picture for your business, make more informed decisions, and achieve your professional goals. Plus, colourful charts and graphs are fun to look at!
Where do I start?
You don’t need an advanced accounting degree to keep track of how your business is doing – you just need to focus on what’s most important to you by setting some professional goals. They can be short-term (such as completing a course) or longer-term (such as supporting yourself solely through fiction editing within three years). If you’ve already started getting some paid work, think about the work you’re currently doing, the clients you’re doing it for and how it’s helping you reach your goals.
If you value financial security above all else, you could start tracking your hourly rates and whether your clients offer you steady work. If you require defined project scopes and predictable payment schedules, you might want to brainstorm ways to market yourself to traditional publishers and record which of those marketing endeavours lead to the most work from them. If your goal is become a more efficient proofreader, you might find it helpful to record your estimated and actual proofreading speed for each project and then track that data alongside any proofreading or efficiency training you complete. It all comes down to what’s important to you and your business.
Where do I record all my editorial business data?
Excel spreadsheet templates, like the ones in my business data system, The Editor's Affairs (TEA), remain local on your computer, so there’s no risk of anyone else seeing your data. You can also opt for online accounting software, like QuickBooks, Wave or Sage. Whatever option you choose, once you have your system set up, the day-to-day calculations will be minimal or nonexistent.
Bottom line: Business admin is essential for freelance editors
Recording the details of how you landed your first paid editorial job, seeing that you achieved your desired hourly rate on a challenging project, and watching your words-per-hour speed increase over time are powerful motivators, and business admin is the key to it all.
More articles in this series
Check out Part 3, which addresses recording and analyzing the personal side of your business: tracking your work-life balance and your continuing professional development (CPD) activities.
Check out Part 4, which addresses tracking the time and money you invest in your business: the business expenses you declare at tax time and your marketing activities.