It’s time for another Small Business Chat and I’ve let another newbie join the gang! Things are getting rather tight now, with 65 active participants and 52 weeks in the year, but then Sophie Playle got in touch, and when she said, “I think these interviews are wonderful – not only for promotional purposes, but in providing a means for valuable reflection. I’ve really enjoyed following other people’s experiences on your blog!” and showed she’d really got what they’re all about, I just had to shuffle up the roster and make a place for her. So let’s meet Sophie, from Playle Editorial Services, a fairly new editorial freelancer and one who specialises in editing novels, too!
What’s your business called? When did you set it up?
I set up Playle Editorial Services in April 2013. At least, that’s when my website launched and I started promoting myself under that name. I’d been freelancing for a few years previous to that, but didn’t start really focusing on my editing and writing services as a business until the start of 2013.
What made you decide to set up your own business?
I’d always dreamed of making a living unconventionally. Part of the reason I wanted to set up my business was that I wanted to work with writers and books, but all fiction publishing houses seemed to be based in London – and I don’t want to live in London. In fact, I’d like to have the freedom to move around without having to change jobs. As well as that, I craved the flexibility and creative freedom of running my own business.
What made you decide to go into this particular business area?
I’m a writer, and I’ve studied literature and creative writing both at undergraduate and postgraduate level. It’s cliché, but I love books, words, stories and characters. And I love editing as much as I love writing and reading! I really enjoy helping to shape a piece of writing to make it truly excellent.
Had you run your own business before?
Nope. It took me a little while to get my head around that freelancing is running a business. I’m still on a learning curve, but I even enjoy the admin side!
How did you do it? Did you launch full-time, start off with a part-time or full-time job to keep you going … ?
After graduating from university, I spent a year working full-time in publishing and, though the job had many perks, it made me realise that a 9–5 desk job was not for me. I took a year out to do an MA in Creative Writing and the publisher I had been working for started sending me bits and pieces of work to do from home on a freelance basis. After the MA, I decided I wasn’t going to go back to an office job and tried to make a go of the freelancing. I got a part-time job for a few months to help me through the set-up, and my partner was massively supportive.
What do you wish someone had told you before you started?
You can’t set up a business and expect work to fall into your lap. You have to work really hard to get yourself out there and get clients. I knew this, but I was far too timid at first.
What would you go back and tell your newly entrepreneurial self?
To believe in myself. Take the rough with the smooth. Give it time. Build a financial cushion!
What do you wish you’d done differently?
I pretty much threw myself in at the deep-end. Though this approach has merits (stops you wasting time over-preparing or doubting yourself), it’s pretty difficult as you flounder around wondering if you’re going to sink or swim. I should have spent more time working out a rough business plan. I’ve got one in place, now, though!
What are you glad you did?
I’m glad I joined the Society for Editors and Proofreaders. I’ve only been a member for a few months, but it’s fantastic. The local meetings are brilliant for support, and the forums are an excellent knowledge base.
What’s your top business tip?
Set out a basic business plan, review it periodically to make sure you’re on track, and update it every year with new goals. Track and celebrate your achievements. This gives your business positive momentum.
How has it gone since you started? Have you grown, diversified or stayed the same?
I diversified into writing marketing copy for agencies. Copywriting certainly adds another dimension to my business.
Where do you see yourself and your business in a year’s time?
Hopefully, I will have a more stable income, and a few more regular clients. I hope to start working with publishers as well as continuing to work with writers. I’d love to edit more speculative fiction novels, as this is a particular passion and expertise of mine!
I find Sophie’s reasons for going freelance quite interesting – she was looking for freedom and the ability to be creative where and when she wanted to be. I thought that this was going to be a common reason when I started this series, but many people have gone freelance because they’ve been made redundant or needed to dial down the day job for family reasons, or, in fact, rather fell into it (like me). It’s rarer than I thought to find someone who just wanted to up sticks and do their own thing. Sophie’s also young among my editor colleagues, most of whom went freelance after years in the industry. Having said that, Sophie has obviously come to terms with the business side of things, and has firm plans in place. And her strong education in creative writing is a bonus when it comes to working with fiction, and she’s someone I recommend fiction writers on to. I wonder how her career will develop over the next year!
If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured. If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my new book, Going It Alone At 40: How I Survived my First Year of Full-Time Self-Employment.