Giving clients a reason to hire you

Editors often talk about how much they love stories as if this is a reason why someone should hire them.

But loving stories is kind of a bottom-line thing, like having a medical degree is the bottom-line for being a physician. No one is going to hire you because you love stories. They’re going to hire you because you can help make their story better.

It can be hard for freelance editors, especially newer ones, to get out of the habit of trying to prove their credentials by listing all the books they’ve worked on and the classes they’ve taken, but no one is going to hire you because you took a class. (Although as the owner of Club Ed I love it when you take a class!)

Writers are going to hire you because they think you can help them solve their problem, whatever that problem may be – they’re getting ready to publish a book and want to make sure the commas are in the right place, or they know something is going wrong with their plot but they can’t figure out what – and the way you demonstrate that problem-solving ability is not by telling (“I’ve edited many thrillers!”) but by showing (“Here is how to make an action scene in a thriller more compelling”).

You can show this kind of thing through blog posts and giveaways for newsletter signups but the problem with free content is that many people will consume it forever and never buy anything from you. Invest at least some of that content-creation energy into something you charge for.

I think of classes as a great way to to show your editing skills and you can do these for a fairly low cost. Think of a one-hour webinar where you show examples of how you might edit an action scene to be more compelling with a purpose of showing authors how to write more compelling action scenes.

People who pay you $30 from this webinar will learn something from it, plus they are far more likely to book an edit with you than someone who has been reading your blog posts for three years but never goes any further than that. And if you get five or ten people to show up for the webinar, you’ve made it worth your time even if nothing else ever comes of it. You can also offer the webinar again in six months without having to start from scratch.

If you think of teaching a class as a way to give people a reason to hire you, you’ll be more likely to focus showing them how you can solve their problems – which is exactly what they’re looking for in an editor.

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