Welcome to another Small Business Update, and it gives me great pleasure to publish my second update post with fellow editor Tammy Ditmore of eDitmore Editorial Services. We first met Tammy back in June 2012, and read about her growth and achievements in June 2013. At that point, here’s where she was thinking she’d be by now: “I’m not quite sure, actually. I feel I’ve taken initial steps in several different directions that may pay long-term benefits. I’m hoping to remain flexible enough to pursue the best opportunities that come along—let the business grow more organically, to use a bit of jargon. Even though I’m not quite sure what eDitmore Editorial Services might look like in a year, I feel confident that I’m on a good path and am looking forward to what this next year will bring.” So, where is she and how’s she doing?
Hi, Tammy! Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?
Well, a year ago I didn’t want to predict where I would be, so I have to say that, yes, I’m right there! Seriously, my business has continued to be steady, and I continue to gain clients from expected and unexpected places. I am usually booked several weeks in advance, even though I’m not doing a lot of active marketing, which is good. The downside is that I’m often overbooked, and I wind up working long, frantic hours to finish everything by the clients’ deadlines.
What has changed and what has stayed the same?
I think for the most part things are pretty much the same. I’m still thrilled to get to work on a wide variety of projects. This year I added some new clients, including working on a federal grant application for the first time. I also got a chance to speak to several groups about editing, and I enjoyed that experience very much and discovered I would like to do more of that in the future.
What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?
I recognized earlier this year that the majority of my clients have come from word-of-mouth referrals from friends, co-workers, and clients. So I feel if I keep pleasing my clients, then my stream of work will probably stay steady. A lesson I have been learning, and continually re-learning, is that I can’t do everything. There is always more to learn, more people I could talk to, more social networks I could join; there are better ways of recruiting clients, better computer apps and programs that might make my life easier, more productive habits I could adopt. But I find myself getting so wrapped up in trying to make everything better that I actually make it harder on myself just to do the work that is in front of me.
Any more hints and tips for people?
I was really surprised this year when I stepped back and analyzed where my clients had originally come from and saw how many of them were from personal contacts. (I wrote a blog post about my findings if anyone is interested.) Since then, my advice to any independent business owner is to tell everyone you know what you’re doing and ask them to keep you in mind if they hear of anyone looking for the kinds of services you offer. Some of my favorite clients have found me from what I would have considered very unlikely sources.
And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?
Probably in about the same place as I am today. I recently stepped back and took stock of my current family and life responsibilities, and I realized I just need to focus right now on keeping my business steady so that I have the time and energy to take care of these other obligations. I do have some dreams for expanding into other areas at some point, but I don’t think this will be the year for that. Admitting that I needed to take a step back — or at least not try to move forward — was hard at first, but it’s given me a greater sense of peace and helped me focus on what’s most important to me right now. I believe there are seasons to life, and I don’t want to miss this particular season by trying so hard to launch myself into the next one.
Tammy’s only about 18 months “behind” me on the freelance editing journey, so I always find her updates very interesting. I urge you to go and read her post about where she’s found her clients – very interesting. It was at about the point Tammy’s at that I took stock, too – I recommended some clients transferred over to colleagues as the way they needed me to work and I wanted to work didn’t gel any more, and I have a much more relaxed and flexible life now, with slightly (but not much) less income but much more time. I wrote about how to achieve that balance here. Update: Tammy wrote a lovely blog post of her own about the process of doing these interviews!
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 (I have a full roster of interviewees now so am only taking on a very few new ones). If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my books, all available now, in print and e-book formats, from a variety of sources.