Category Archives: work issues

The Art of Negotiation

Freelancers know that the key to successfully landing business contracts is knowing how to negotiate a win-win for the parties involved.

One potential problem is negotiating pay. Often, the client has a firm budget for the work needed, and it’s up to you, the freelancer, to accept the gig or not. If the pay isn’t sufficient to cover the costs of running a business, paying living expenses, paying taxes, and saving for retirement, then it may be best to walk away.

But before you do, make sure you’ve exhausted your options. Perhaps the job could be altered in some way, so that the client can afford your services. The job could be done in instalments, or a payment plan could be proposed. Maybe only part of the project could be acquired, or maybe you could suggest ways of reducing the amount of work required, so that the budget is met.

If, on the other hand, you name a price, and the potential client balks, explain the value that editing services add:

  • a professional image that attracts clients
  • audience reach and retention from ideas well communicated
  • freedom from embarrassment resulting from poor copy and the subsequent loss of goodwill and profit
  • time savings from efficient content creation

If possible, offer a freebie that won’t cost you much. If you know a client needs promotional material or other content, throw in a press release or a reworked blog post from your archives.

If the timing of delivery is a problem, don’t simply decline the job — suggest delivery alternatives.

As a last resort, refer the client to another freelancer in your network. What goes around comes around, after all.


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Nix the Networking Noose

Lots of editors are introverts. We love reading — alone! — and we have little trouble working at home as freelancers.

Of course, we must deal with our clients and with any other issues related to running a business — talking with the accountant, with the computer techie, or with the account manager at the local office supply store. And we must market ourselves to keep the gravy train rolling. Yes, we must “network” whether we like it or not.

For me, the thought of networking is not pleasant. I hate self-promotion and sales talk, and isn’t that what networking is? This is who I am, these are my skills, and this is why you should pay me money. Oh, and this is my business card. Now I’ll smoothly bring the conversation to a close and move on to my next victim.

Clearly, I need to change my perspective on this.

Today, I discovered this article that helped me do just that. The article suggests that, instead of focusing on yourself when meeting someone new, you should focus on the other person. Huh.

This idea has been expressed before, but I enjoyed the author’s refreshing take: don’t network; help people instead.

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What’s Your Word?

According to the Toronto Sun, this is PwC’s personal brand week. (I have no idea what “PwC” stands for — even their website left me wondering. I guess their brand is so strong that their name doesn’t matter, heh. ) On their website, PwC offers this tool to help job hunters understand how they’re perceived in online searches. Armed with this knowledge, job hunters can then work to correct any inconsistencies.

To get the gig they want, job hunters and freelancers should be clear about what they have to offer a company — in other words, they should be clear about their brand. Recently a branding exercise has been making its way through the media: Choose one word that represents you.

Although I’d love my word to be innovative, daring, or brilliant, there’s no denying that my word is persistent. That, along with confident, is how others often describe me. I know I can do anything if I put in the time. From learning a new skill to getting the job contract I want, it comes down to daily habits performed with drive and consistency. Obstacles are nothing to me:  With persistence I find ways (hey, there’s some innovation for you!) to accomplish my own goals and those of the people and organizations that I’m fortunate to be involved with.

Once you’ve identified your word, you’re on your way to creating your brand. It’s a matter of making sure your brand is loud and clear — online, on your resumé, in person — to employers. Because your brand is unique, it sets you apart from the pack and makes finding the right fit easier for both you and prospective employers.

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Holacracy at Work

Whenever I hear about changes in the workplace, I think of the Portlandia skit where Julia is meandering through one of those modern, techie workplaces where cubicles have been replaced with bouncy balls, slides, and “The Basket.” (Watch the skit to the end to see what I mean.)

The subject of work and workplaces has been a recurring theme on CBC Radio’s The Current. The show recently revealed that millennials are cobbling together part-time jobs and delaying life events because of financial insecurity. And some businesses — even so-called traditional ones like TD Bank — are creating workspaces that do indeed get rid of cubicles in favour of large open spaces where employees can interact.

I was pleased to see a favourite company of mine, Precision Nutrition, featured today on The Current. PN was presented as an example of a company whose structure follows that of a holacracy: authority is distributed evenly among workers, who have roles and not titles. Holacracy (ideally) gets rid of bureaucracy and ego-driven behavior in favour of worker efficiency and autonomy. Gortex has been a holacracy for half a century, and Zappos is about to follow suit.

I think holacracy could very well bring authenticity and productivity to the workplace. And maybe it would give freelancers easier access to a company because there would be more workers with hiring autonomy (we freelancers can hope!).

All this positivity doesn’t mean I don’t want to see a funny skit about it, though (did you follow my double negative there?).

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Copy Editing Commandment #8: Thou Shalt Be Aware of Publishing Law

Copy editors are not expected to know the ins and outs of the law, but they are expected to recognize when a document may be violating one of the four areas of publishing law: libel, obscenity, invasion of privacy, and copyright infringement. If a problem is suspected, the copy editor should discuss the issue with the author and publisher. In corporate publishing, documents to be published may be reviewed by counsel as a matter of course. In book publishing, the copy editor may be the only person who reads a manuscript from start to finish, so having the ability to identify potential violations is a necessary copy editing skill.

Can you identify any legal issues in the following (fictional) manuscript excerpt about a deceased poet:

The late So-and-So was a suspected pedophile in his hometown. Indeed, figure 2 shows So-and-So, at a neighbourhood street party, dressed as a clown and surrounded by children. Recall the words of So-and-S0’s famous poem, “The Children”:

When the summer breezes blow/My mind strays to the street/Where children chase ice cream trucks/In their small bare feet.

Because the poet is dead, libel is not a concern. Based on the description of the photo, we can also rule out possible obscenity charges. But invasion of privacy could be an issue here, especially if permission to publish the photo was not granted by the poet’s estate. And the poem? If those famous lines are still under copyright protection, and permission to reproduce them was not obtained, then we definitely have a problem. (Although, if this excerpt is any indication, there may be A LOT of problems with this manuscript!)

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Copy Editing Commandment #7: Thou Shalt Not Lose Thy Clients’ Files

Not so long ago, editors worked on hard copy, so a manuscript was treated with kid gloves. Can you imagine losing or damaging the only copy of a text? Not a fun conversation to have with your client.

But handling files effectively is important today, too. Save the original file, and back it up. If the file is long or made up of chapters, it’s best to save each part or chapter separately within a folder. When you’re ready to edit, open the file and rename it so that you’re working on a duplicate, not on the original.

I’m sure there are some lost-manuscript horror stories out there. Thankfully, the only thing to worry about losing in this day and age is face. But who wants to look irresponsible and unorganized by asking for files to be re-sent?

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In TranSITion (Not Standing for Sitting)

National Post columnist and talking head Andrew Coyne wrote a humorous column (last year already?!) about the research showing the health consequences of sitting all day. He ended the column with a call to arms, writing that “we can no longer stand for sitting.”

All joking aside, I’m finding the transition from an active day to a sedentary one rather challenging. I used to spend my days in the park throwing a Frisbee or pushing someone on a swing or playing tag — and running errands, of course. Errands are a staple of daily activity when you have young ‘uns in tow who are enthralled by a walk through the ‘hood.

But now I’m in front of my laptop for the six hours daily that the kids are in school, and it’s amazing how fast the time goes. The EAC invited a chiropractor, Dr. Kimberley Macanuel from Forces of Nature Wellness, to speak to us about strategies — taking breaks, stretching, sitting on an exercise ball — to counteract the negative results from sitting for prolonged periods at our computers, but it’s so easy to log on and then look up hours later and realize you haven’t once altered your zombie workstation position.

Today I said, enough! I got on the bike to go to the dentist and then did some errands, including hauling groceries by hand. I love physical activity, and the reality of sitting all day isn’t as glamorous as I once dreamed it would be when the kids were younger and the opportunity to sit down and read or have a cuppa was rare. Along with developing my brand, attending seminars, marketing myself, studying my trade, and staying current with social media, I guess finding the right balance between sitting and standing is just one more ball to keep in the air.

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