With all the spinning plates that editing and proofreading involve – plus all the COVID-related anxiety, responsibilities and cabin fever we’re dealing with right now – keeping on top of your business affairs might not be your highest priority.
Now is certainly not the time to wag a disapproving finger or put pressure on anyone to be more productive or organized. But if you find yourself wanting to think about your business’s health as a distraction from the constant conversations about physical health, the tips in this post can help you overcome the following barriers to adding regular admin check-ins to your working life.
I have no time for admin in a full day of editorial work
These tasks aren’t just extras that you can squeeze into an already full day; if the admin doesn’t get done, projects fall apart, clients are dissatisfied and you don’t get repeat business. Building in admin hours to each one of your project quotes – the number of admin hours will depend on the complexity of the project and your knowledge of the client – will ensure the editorial work doesn’t eat up all of your time.
And chances are that by investing in your admin, you’ll be less tired and rushed while doing your editing work, because you’ll be more knowledgeable about your editing speeds for different types of projects and you’ll have identified the clients who offer fair rates and manageable turnaround times.
Admin is boring
Think of your business data as a record of all your achievements, something to look at to inspire you and fill you with professional pride. Feel free to add little motivational notes in your private files, and celebrate milestones such as upping your hourly rate, getting a new client or increasing your working speed.
In the end, you may have to accept that checking in with the financial side of your business is boring but necessary. My good friend and fellow editor Janet MacMillan has a saying about an editor’s need to stay on top of copyright rules: “Better bored than sued.” A similar principle applies to the admin side of your business: “Better bored than barely afloat.” If you’re not on top of your business spending, whether your invoices are getting paid on time and in full, and whether your actual hourly rate is anywhere near your estimated one, you might be earning less than you need to meet your expenses – and you’ll have no idea why. Tracking that data will put your business in the best position to succeed.
I can't cope with all the calculations
That initial set-up investment will also pay dividends during tax season. Just think of how much less stressful it will be to have all your income and expenses details ready when it comes time to file with the CRA, the IRS or HMRC.
My business is too new / too established to track
I encourage you to challenge both of these assumptions. Failing to keep up with your financial affairs can have major consequences for the health of your business, and this is true whether you’re new to freelancing and struggling to get your first clients or whether your business has been going strong for decades.
If you’re new to freelance editing, it’s worth your while to record how much time you spend on each of your marketing endeavours and how much work they bring in. If you’re doing some work, whether paid or volunteer, tracking your editing/proofreading speed will help you quote more accurately for projects in the future. And if you’ve been in the biz for many years, you may have been relying too heavily on ongoing work from a single client and failing to reach out to other clients or invest in marketing; you may have fallen behind with your continuing professional development in the areas of knowledge that bring you the most work; or you may have lost track of when you last raised your rates.
Having regularly updated admin data all in one place will save you time and mental energy down the line. It will empower you to keep your editorial business healthy and strong.
The Editor's Affairs (TEA) is my system of Excel tools to help self-employed editorial professionals manage their income, expenses and project data. Check out my TEA web page or contact me to find out more.