How to Set Up a Proofreading and Editing Service

Do you find errors on every web page you read? Do these errors make you cross?

It seems as though 8 out of 10 pages have spelling and grammar mistakes that make me cringe. Eliminating these mistakes could double sales on an e-marketing site according to the BBC.

There is a definite need for freelance proofreading and editing services to correct all the articles being written for blogs and commercial sites.

Could You Be a Freelance Proof Reader?

Yes you could!

If you are a native English speaker, can read quickly and spot simple English spelling and grammar errors then you have the necessary skills to fix 90% of online errors. The errors you would be editing out are the simple ones that you learnt at age 12: It’s not rocket science.

How Do You Find Editing Work?

You can find low-paying editing jobs on freelance sites, but I advise you to use a different strategy; the 5 Currencies strategy:

  • Use Your Time wisely
  • Grow Your Knowledge – Learn about proofreading and editing
  • Grow your Reputation – Help other people on forums and by answering their questions
  • Grow Your Contact List – The more people you help the more will be willing to help you
  • Earn Money – Some of the people you have helped will pay you for your proofreading and editing services

If you follow this method you will have an ever-increasing number of clients and will not need to work so hard at finding work. The clients will be willing to pay more than they would at oDesk or Freelancer.com because they know you and trust you; they know that you put your reputation on the line with every piece of work you do, they respect that.

Set Up a Website

You must set up a website. This is easy to do using WordPress, but you will need to buy a .com domain name, the shorter the better.

You can list the types of work you do and include testimonials on your site, which will give you added credibility and will give new clients more confidence about employing you.

How Do You Get Testimonials?

You must ask every satisfied client for a testimonial. Nobody will refuse because it’s how the system works. A testimonial takes them 10 minutes to write, but increases their worth as a client in your eyes.

What does Your Client Actually Want You to Do?

Clients normally talk about proofreading when they really mean that they need the article editing. Make sure you understand what your client needs you to do and price the job accordingly. Most clients want you to fix any and all problems that an article has; they do not want to employ separate editors, line editors and proof readers, they just want one person who will do everything.

Some will want to see a breakdown of what you have done; others just want to see the finished copy. You need to make sure your client is happy, so be sure you understand what he is expecting, so you can deliver it.

How Do You Price a Job?

There are many factors that will influence your quote for a proofreading job:

  • How busy you are
  • How much you want the job
  • How well you know the client
  • How urgently the work needs to be done
  • How much editing the piece requires

You need to earn a living wage so do not try to compete on price with people who promise to proofread 10 articles for $10. You will be competing mainly on quality.

Make sure that you always see an article before you quote a price. There is much more work involved in editing a piece by a non-native English speaking writer than there is that of an English writer with a BA in English Literature.

How Long Will the Job Take You?

It will take you at least 2 days to edit a 1000 word article to professional standards that you can stake your reputation on. This is because you need to revisit your work the day after completion, before you send it off.

So, Could You Start a Proofreading Business?

You have seen how easy it is. It will take time to establish your reputation and gain a good list of clients, but these clients will always come back to you for future projects.

Your expenses are minimal, just your Internet connection and an accountant . . . What are you waiting for? Start today by reading more about proofreading and editing.

References
Spelling mistakes ‘cost millions’ in lost online sales

How To Plant The Seeds of Success For Your Landscaping Business

With summer fast approaching many people are looking to escape the confines of work and other stressful factors, to enjoy some peace and tranquillity in their own back garden. These warm summer months provide the perfect opportunity for all landscape gardeners, established or budding, to increase their client pool, bring joy to many people.

 

However, with the sheer number of companies all vying for a client’s business, it can often be difficult to stand out from the crowd. So, what can you do to improve your brand image, attracting a client to use your services in the process?

Get Your Name out There

When looking for new clients, the important thing to do is get your name out there. The more people who are aware of the services you offer, the more likely you are actually going to get some business. This means promoting yourself by getting your name in telephone directories and producing flyers.

Also, one of the best things to do to get the ball rolling is to inform all of your friends and family about your new business. That way, if any of them run into someone who is considering carrying out work on their garden, they can tell them all about the business you provide and hopefully get you some work.

Professional Appearance

When working on a garden you are bound to get dirty, so you don’t want to be wearing your finest clothes, but you do want to be wearing something that is practical and projects professionalism. This usually comes in the form of a gardening coverall that is personalised with your brand, logo and other information related to your business.
Landscape gardener in overalls with hedge trimmer

While this would cost you some money creating the garment, the benefits it would provide in creating a professional appearance and improving your overall brand awareness make it a very worthwhile endeavour. For more information on how you can create your own branded gardening workwear click here.

Have A Website

You may think having a website isn’t any help to your landscaping company as you don’t sell a product online, but you will be surprised by how much it will actually benefit your business. Setting up a website for your business, not only provides a focal point of contact online, but makes you seem more trustworthy and established in the eyes of potential customers.

 

While these are positive factors, there is one particular reason to have a website that trumps all of these and that is a portfolio.

The best way to attract new customers is for them to actually see work you have previously done. While you can’t drag people round the various properties you have worked on to show them what you have done, you can place them all online for people to see. This means that without leaving the comfort of their homes, potential customers can see everything you have ever worked on. The more they see, the more experienced and capable you look.

Rather than just showing images of the landscaping you have done on various gardens, you could also try creating a number of videos, taking potential customers on a virtual tour around a particular garden you have worked on. This allows them to feel like they are actually there, visualising how a particular path, gazebo or flowerbed would look in their own garden.

Use Social Media

Just like telling people through word of mouth about your landscaping services, social media provides a public platform for you to advertise your services but on a larger scale. In addition to setting up profile pages on Facebook and Twitter and then encouraging people to like and follow you, be sure to check out some of the local groups that people are part of.

Particularly within Facebook, there are a lot of community groups that advertise products and services for sale within a particular geographical area. Finding a group that relates to gardening and placing information regarding your services on there, allows you to promote yourself to a demographic that you know will be interested in what you have on offer.

 

Business Cards & Leaflets

Once you have completed a job for a client and provided them with the garden of their dreams, it is important to make sure they don’t forget about you. When providing them with the invoice for payment, you may want to include a business card or promotional leaflet for them to keep. That way, when it comes to them wanting to have some more work carried out on their garden, your name will be one at the top of their list.

All of these ideas will help you not only get your landscaping business off the ground, while also helping to give an established business a bit of a boost.

Image source

Unemployment Anger – Understand It, Get over It and Move On

Unemployment is a fact of life. It is normal to be angry at first, but anger will destroy you if you allow it to. Anger is pointless and gets in the way of starting again. The sooner you get a grip on your negative feelings the sooner you will find a replacement income.

 

Understanding Your Unemployment

Unemployment happens to the best of us and is part of the economic cycle. Nobody has a right to a job for life; even government jobs are less secure than they once were. Even presidents and prime ministers lose their jobs.

No company or employer wants to terminate an employee’s contract. Redundancy usually happens because the company is in financial difficulties and has to make cutbacks in outgoings to stay afloat. It is not a personal attack on you, you just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Making someone redundant is a big step and one that has a negative impact on the company and on the person who has the job of telling you. Of course the impact on your life is much bigger and you are not going to have much sympathy for the HR manager who tells you that your job is gone.

 

Understand Your Anger

Anger at unemployment comes from fear. Fear of losing your home, of having your car repossessed and of the unknown. I know because I have been there.

Fear is paralysing. It stops you from taking the actions you need to take. You need to learn to live with a greater degree of uncertainty than you had last week.

Getting Over the Fear and Anger

Your fear is mostly fear of the unknown, so make plans to remove the unknown.

You need to reduce your outgoings and you need to increase your income. Unemployment might be for a long time, even for ever, so you need to start planning the rest of your life today.

Reducing Expenses

We all have expenses that we can reduce; it’s a sad but necessary fact of being newly unemployed.

  • Contact the company that provides your satellite or cable TV. Ask about reducing or terminating the contract – Free to Air channels will have to do for a while.
  • Terminate gym membership – Start walking and jogging instead
  • Get rid of one car – You are going to be at home for a long time, so you can probably share one car
  • Walk instead of driving – Make the kids walk to school as well
  • Cut up your credit cards – Join the cash economy
  • Use any redundancy payment to pay off any money you owe – the repayments will break you on your reduced income, so pay them off
  • Cancel any trips or vacations, even if you only get a partial refund – The up-front cost is only about half of the total vacation cost, so you get to save the money you would have spent on eating out and entertainment
  • Limit your grocery shopping to once a week – Live out of the freezer, too
  • Stop buying newspapers and magazines – Join your local library and look for jobs in the newspapers there as well as borrowing books

Increasing Income

Self-employment is your best option. You might be able to get financial help setting up your business because you are unemployed. Talk to people, take action and get a business plan in place.

The jobs you could do depend on your experience, but there are many real world and online jobs available to you that you can do on a self-employed basis. Gardening is something almost everyone can do; yard work needs to be done 52 weeks a year, not just in the summer. Other alternatives include doing odd jobs, writing articles for websites and taking a course to learn about being a chimney sweep.

Even if your long-term aim is to find another job, self-employment will provide you with an income in the interim. It looks good on your CV or resumé that you did not just wait for a job to land in your lap, that you created your own.

Moving On

It took me two or three years to grow my writing business until it now provides a full-time income; it will probably take you a similar time with whatever business you set up. Nowadays if someone offered me the option of my old job back, I would have to think hard about it. I might be tempted by the thought of a regular income coming in, but my writing gives me that now anyway. I might be tempted by the 9 to 5, but I would still be writing all the other hours in the day, just in case.

Someone said to me when I was leaving my job that it might be the best thing that could happen to me. I laughed at the time, but I would never have set up my own writing business otherwise and my life would have been less complete than it is now.

Image source

Image source

Accounts for Self-Employed People – Scary Stuff, but Necessary

Accounts for the self employed are an unpleasant but essential chore. If you have accounts then you can argue with the IRS or HMRC, without them they will make an arbitrary assessment of what you owe, and it will not make pleasant reading.

How Complex Do Self-Employed Accounts Need to Be?

The tax authorities will need an account of your income. They will want to know who paid you what and when, so all this needs to be recorded, as it happens. They will also want proof of any expenses, so you will need to keep receipts as well as listing every business purchase in your accounts.

If you are working from home then you can claim a portion of your fuel bills as a business expense, but you will need to keep the bill in case of a tax audit.

Pencil and Paper

The simplest form of book-keeping is just to write everything down in a notebook. This is what I did for many years with my home tuition business. If it is simple then you are more likely to stick with it and to record everything.

Snartphone App

The next step up is the electronic version of the paper notebook, a smartphone app such as Expensify. Many people run their business from their smartphones, so an accounts app makes sense, as long as it is simple to use and you record everything. Be sure to back everything up though and to password-protect such sensitive data.

Excel Spreadsheet

This can be as complicated as you want to make it. In its simplest form it can just be two lists, one of expenses, the other of income. The important thing is to keep it updated every day. I am happy using Excel but updating my accounts spreadsheet was a chore that I always put off and it became  a once every three month monster of a chore.

You can use spreadsheets for everything from a business plan to paying your employees, but it becomes increasingly complicated. There is also a good chance that you will make mistakes unless you are really an Excel expert.

Accounts Software

Accounts packages come at a range of price points. You really need one that includes annual upgrades that take account of all the annual changes to the tax code. These will do everything you want them to do but, they have one big disadvantage: you need to enter data into them. You still need to sit down frequently and to record every income or expenditure transaction.

Small business accounts are big money-spinners and you will find they are heavily promoted all over the Internet, but they are not the accounts panacea that they are sold as.

Hire an Accountant

This is the simplest solution. It’s the one I have gone for, after trying all the previous options. You still have to give your accountant a list of your income sources and expenses, but this is not too arduous. You know the job is going to be done right and you can even ask him or her to fill in your tax return for you, which is a major stress for me and many other business  owners.

The accountant deals with all queries from the IRS or HMRC. He knows what expenses the tax authorities will accept and can help you to pay less tax by giving you advice as to the structure and financing of your business. He will warn you of imminent cash-flow problems and give you advance warning of any large tax bills that are coming due.

Cost-wise an accountant comes in about the same as buying an accounting program and he does all the work, so you have less stress. Finding one is the tricky part; recommendations work better than just a web search because this is someone who you will have to trust and deal with on a very confidential level. You do not have to physically meet your accountant, but most people will want to do so, so a local professional is your best option.

Large accountancy practices will charge more because they have many more overheads such as renting those prestige offices that feed through into your bills. I found a one man accountancy practice where the accountant has a home office, like mine, but much more tidy. He is my own age and I immediately felt a rapport with the guy.

References
Expensify
IRS or HMRC