Oscar Wilde famously quipped that to lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.
Can Wilde’s witty maxim can be applied to freelance businesses, and the inevitable fact that our hard-won clients don’t stick around forever?
We spend so much time, capital and emotional energy finding and maintaining those precious relationships. How bad really is it when the hard-won clients – the golden icons of our professional life – move on?
The irony of the title of this blog is not lost on me, given the piece is intended for broadcast on social media among other places. Even the structure of it, you could say, is ‘blogg-y’ – X ways to do stuff. Pop will eat itself.
A few weeks ago we spent five blissful days in coastal Suffolk. The bliss was prompted, partly, by a decision I took to leave my tablet at home and only check my phone once a day for emergencies. Sally’s (non smart) phone was also available to adult children on both sides. And as it happened the wifi didn’t work, so she couldn’t access her chromebook either. We were device-free. Time slowed and life richened.
But the lessons haven’t been learned. We’re back home and more online than ever.
And despite the joys and amusement and insight I get from many, most, of my lovely online friendships, life overall seems no happier for it.
Is it time to take the lessons of five days of RLO (Real Life Only) and recalibrate more comprehensively? It’s risky saying that kind of thing on social media, where you’ll be held to account. Actually that’s part of the point, a personal manifesto of sorts: shoot me if you see me here.
But first a brief look at the four ways my social costs are getting too high.
Despite their facility with language, professional editors and proofreaders sometimes find it hard to translate their editorial skills into their own business writing.
Many editors are brilliant writers in their own right; hardly surprising given the close read-across between the disciplines. Still, editors – being editors – are also prone to insecurity about their writing: even some of the best, in my experience.
The workshop I led at the #SfEP2018 annual conference at Lancaster University aimed to give editors some guidelines and tools to improve their business writing confidence: whether they’re writing emails, letters, CVs, reports, reviews, summaries, websites, blogs, articles, policies or other documents.
Impact and engagement are at the heart of all business writing: we want to avoid our reader ‘swiping left’ on our content, sending it forever to the virtual dustbin. We want our writing to have an impact, an effect, to get someone to do something or think in a particular way. It’s not necessarily to educate or entertain. We have an objective, an aim, in every piece we write.
That’s what distinguishes business writing from other forms of writing. And we are actively trying to avoid disengagement as well as achieve more positive impact.
The title of my blog on the 2017 SfEP conference at Wyboston Lakes was “Linnets, Laughter, Learning”. All three were available at #SfEP2018 Lancaster too.
Alongside a big helping of food for thought. The plenary session led by PTC CEO Kathryn Munt added a serious note to proceedings, highlighting big changes in the way publishing houses and outsourcing companies are working with each other and with freelance suppliers, including editors and proofreaders.
Still, better out than in. It’s better that we don’t put our heads in the sand and that we stay fully conscious of these trends; so we can work together with other industry players such as PTC to address the needs of the outsourcing companies and make them aware of our needs.
More on that later. We should also celebrate the many joys that the conference brings. Opportunities for renewing old friendships, making new ones, letting our hair down (in a, by and large, rather attractive and introverted way) and revitalising our businesses with new knowledge, techniques, hints, tips and reminders about the things we know we should be doing. And learning some new words along the way, courtesy of Kia Thomas’s inspired obscenity-compounding.
This was my second conference and I didn’t think it could possibly improve on the first. But it did. Partly because I knew so many more people already. Seeing them all again felt very warm and reassuring and exhilarating, however many tweets, forum posts and emails had passed between us since #SfEP2017. Nothing beats IRL.
Prism-Clarity provides high-quality professional writing, editorial and training services for financial sector and other clients