The Editorial Freelancers Association’s conference took place Aug. 21-23 in Chicago, and I was lucky to attend. I took the train to Chicago on Tuesday, explored The Art Institute on Wednesday, then attended the opening reception of #EFACon2019 on Wednesday night. I met up with a group of editors from Instagram (hi, Alyssa, Jaclyn, Angela, and Heather!) and had a blast attending the conference with them.
I attended two keynotes and six sessions throughout Thursday and Friday and live-tweeted so fellow editors can catch up on the sessions they missed. Read on for insights from the presenters who spoke at #EFACon2019.
A note about navigating the tweets: You can either click through the tweet visible under each heading and view the original thread on Twitter, or you can click on the links labeled “read the rest of the tweets on Wakelet” to view the live tweets from each session.
#EFACon2019 Opening Keynote: To Visibility and Beyond: Building Trust, Getting Work, and Saving Time with Louise Harnby
THE Louise Harnby? Yes, indeed. #EFACon2019 got to hear from the one and only Louise Harnby first thing on Thursday morning.
Louise’s keynote boiled down to: Know what content marketing is, and start making content that appeals to your ideal clients. Creating this type of content makes you visible online and creates trust with your audience.
This is important because work doesn’t fall in freelance editors’ laps. If you want to be found online by ideal clients, you need to be visible. And that means putting time and effort into your marketing.
Create one piece of content, then repurpose it. Say you write some blog posts: Can you turn those into a booklet, webinar, podcast episode, YouTube video, and/or checklist? Clients search in multiple spaces, so put your content in multiple formats in various spaces.
(A real-life example: I live-tweeted sessions at the conference, put them into Wakelet collections, and am now publishing a blog post with links to all the Wakelet collections. Meta! And an effective way to repurpose content across my platforms.)
Once you’ve created your content, distribute it via your social media. Focus on the social media platform(s) where your audience is most active.
As someone with a background in content marketing, I know exactly what I should be doing—blog posts, building a newsletter, sharing more on social media—and Louise’s keynote was a good kick in the pants, considering my last blog post was in February. And I imagine that for editors who don’t have a background in digital marketing and content marketing, this keynote spurred ideas of how they can market themselves more effectively.
Being Human: Addressing Errors with Honesty, Humility, and Humor with DeAnna Burghart
I absolutely loved this session. DeAnna brought exactly the right tone to the discussion on owning your mistakes and figuring out how to prevent them next time while not beating yourself up about not being perfect.
Learning how to be human is an essential part of being an editor. I’ve struggled with perfectionism throughout my education and into my career. Luckily, with the help of good mentors in school and in my first job, I learned that you will miss things, you will make mistakes, and yet you have to move on instead of feeling depressed about not being perfect or spending too much time triple-checking your work. I’ve written about how editors can’t be perfectionists before, so I loved this session.
I loved hearing DeAnna’s stories about making mistakes and what steps she takes when a client points out a mistake she’s made. The session resonated on both an emotional, human-to-human level, as well as a practical level with advice on how to handle the client situation as a freelancer.
“How Should I Price It?”: Pricing and Estimating Workshop with Jake “Dr. Freelance” Poinier
“How Should I Price It?” was an interactive workshop. Jake started by sharing some of his standard advice on pricing projects, then we dove into the meat of the session: Thinking through how you’d price a project with only a limited amount of information. What would you ask the client to clarify? Would you ask to see the project first? Would you give an estimated range or stick with one fee? Would you quote at an hourly rate or a project fee?
Not all of the situations were applicable to all the editors, of course, as some people specialize in certain types of editing, but the value in this session came from thinking through the situation yourself and then hearing other people’s thought processes. Pricing projects is personal and unique to your rates, time constraints, and familiarity with a type of work, but it was helpful to hear the red flags others saw in projects, what questions they’d ask the client, and what factors they accounted for in their pricing estimate.
Guiding Your Clients to Successfully Self-Publish with Ally E. Machate
Ally Machate shared so much practical and helpful information about working with self-published authors that I could barely keep up live-tweeting! Seriously, I wish I could make potential indie author clients listen to this talk before looking for an editor or social media help.
Ally talked about how to set realistic expectations with indie authors: They’re not going to be overnight successes, and they might not even make back the money they spent on editing and book design. It’s important for authors to realize this before they self-publish.
This session also covered how to market better to indie authors so they trust you and want to work with you.
“Grammar Hobby” to Profession: Revising a Classic Handbook for Copyeditors with Marilyn Schwartz
I always enjoy hearing from copy editors who have been in the business longer than I’ve been alive. Their perspectives are always enlightening and necessary for me to hear. In her #EFACon2019 keynote, Marilyn Schwartz talked about how the profession of copyediting has changed over the years, including the emergence of freelance editors, new technology, new style updates, and new professional organizations that help their members get educated and network with other editorial professionals. I loved hearing this perspective and overview of copy editing!
Selling It: Marketing Strategies and Tips for Freelancers moderated by Molly McCowan with panelists Naomi Kim Eagleson, Jake “Dr. Freelance” Poinier, and Ruth E. Thaler-Carter
I appreciated hearing what marketing tactics have and haven’t worked for these seasoned freelancers over the years. Unfortunately, the session didn’t cover using social media to connect with other editors and clients (which is my main way of marketing, actually). But this session was packed full of useful marketing tips for freelancers, whether they’re starting out or more established.
For All of Us: Building Power in Inclusive Media through Editorial Decision Making with Ebonye Gussine Wilkins
Learning about inclusivity in publishing is vitally important, so I’m glad this session was offered. Ebonye talked about the power structures in publishing and editing and how you can work within those power structures to push for more inclusive content, projects, and language. She provided specific questions to ask yourself throughout the editorial process to get you thinking about inclusivity, which are practical and essential for editors to use in their work.
Systems & Shortcuts: Supercharge Your Business with Lori Paximadis
I’ll admit, I was a bit tired by the time the last session of #EFAcon2019 rolled around. But even in my half-awake state, I got a lot of good ideas from Lori on simplifying and restructuring my systems to make running my freelance business easier. And the session in general reminded me that it’s probably time to sit down and reevaluate whether my current systems and tools are working for me or if I could rethink how I do certain things.