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Track changes – how do I get rid of the text box that appears when I hover over words in a Word document?

How do you get rid of document tooltips? How do you stop the little text boxes appearing when you hover over deleted or added words in Word. I had a query about this in a comment and thought that it warranted some screen shots and instructions.

What’s the problem here? What do you mean by these text boxes?

When you’ve worked with Track Changes enabled in Word, as well as showing you what your editor or collaborator has deleted or inserted into the text in red and with bubbles in the margin, you also get text boxes when you hover over the change. Here’s what that looks like:

Some people get annoyed by this, so here’s how to turn it off.

How do I turn off document tooltips aka those little text boxes that show me what I’ve deleted?

This process works for Word 2010 and later versions:

Click File on the far left of the tabs and then Options:

Once in Options, choose Display:

The Display dialogue box has an option to Show document tooltips on hover. Untick this by clicking in the square, then choose OK.

Now you won’t see those boxes in the document.

However, it does NOT turn off the useful tooltips in the rest of Word – so if you hover over any of the items on the Ribbon, you will still see the usual tooltips there.

If you’re using Word 2007, click the round button in the top left corner, choose Word Options at the very bottom of the dialogue box, then as above, select Display and untick Show document tooptips on hover.

Please note: these tips work for Microsoft Word version 2007 and upwards. They are not guaranteed or tested for Word for Mac.

Other track changes articles on this website

Track changes 1 – why use it, where can you find it, what can you do with it?

Track changes 2 – customising Track Changes

Track changes 3 – working with a document with tracked changes

How do I accept one reviewer’s changes?

Why are my tracked changes changing colour?

 
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Posted by on February 13, 2019 in Copyediting, proofreading, Skillset, Word

 

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How to Make the Switch to Fiction Editing (by Sophie Playle)

How to Make the Switch to Fiction Editing (by Sophie Playle)

I’d like to welcome Sophie Playle from Liminal Pages to my blog today: Sophie is a fiction editor and also trains other editors to do what she does. I tend towards working on non-fiction, marketing, informational and academic texts myself, but if you’re interested in moving into fiction editing, Sophie outlines here the ways to start going about this. I hope you enjoy reading this excellent article; do post a comment or share the article if you’ve found it useful. Over to Sophie …


So you’re a freelance editor. You’ve done the training, built up your business, maybe even tucked a few years’ experience (or more) under your belt. By day, you edit textbooks. Or technical papers. Dissertations. Journal articles. But by night … you lose yourself in the latest Man Booker Prize winner, or perhaps a heady romance or a brain-tingling sci-fi.

And you wistfully think to yourself: I wish I could spend my days editing books like this. Editing novels. But you don’t have the right skills, you tell yourself. And besides, you’ve already built your business, and fiction editing doesn’t really come into it. (Other than the occasional proofread that comes your way.)

If you harbour the desire to become a specialist fiction editor but are worried about changing your business model, I’m going to tell you step-by-step how you can make the switch. Really – it is possible! What you need most is a shift in focus and a plan.

Step 1: Change your mindset

We build our identities around a number of factors. One of the more dominant is what we do for a living. It’s often the first question we’re asked when we meet new people. ‘So, what do you do?’ Changing our profession feels like changing a core part of our existence. Scary stuff, no?

But you’re more than your job; your job doesn’t define who you are. We grow and change throughout our lives. Just because you’ve set yourself down a certain path doesn’t mean you have to stick to that path forever. ‘I’m a biomedical-sciences editor’ can become ‘I’m a fiction editor’ if you want it to.

If you’re not entirely happy with the business you’ve built, you can change it. It doesn’t mean you’ve failed at building the right business for you. It simply means the time has come for a change. Your business has served you well to this point, but you’re ready to steer it in a new direction.

Big change can be scary. But if you’re feeling stuck in a rut and wish your professional life were different, it’s scarier to think you’ll be in the exact same position feeling the exact same way ten years down the line.

Step 2: Build your confidence

Editing fiction can be quite different from editing other kinds of text. You need to pay extra-close attention to the author’s style. Different characters will have different voices, too – you can’t make them all consistent. Then you might have to consider whether the author has deliberately deviated from convention for effect. (Did the author mean to use the passive voice continuously throughout this passage?)

But don’t panic. I want you to remember two things.

  1. You’re already skilled. Proofreading and copy-editing focus on the technical side of writing rather than the artistic side of writing. A misplaced modifier is still a misplaced modifier whether your editing a thriller or a journal article. And a homophone is still a homophone. You already possess the skills to spot and correct these mistakes. And if you’re proofreading or copy-editing a novel, that’s still exactly the kind of thing that’s required.
  1. If you’re an avid reader of fiction, you’re already an informal expert. Reading fiction might seem like just a hobby, but I bet you’ve subconsciously absorbed a whole lot of information about what makes for good writing in fiction. If you know your stuff as a reader, you can apply this knowledge to editing novels.

For more tips in this area, read my guest post on Louise Harnby’s blog: How to edit fiction with confidence.

Step 3: Increase your knowledge

A lack of confidence almost always comes down to a lack of knowledge. I hope the above points will make you realise that you know more than you think, but there’s even more you can do.

  • Learn about all the different types of fiction editing. The path to publication for novelists is not quite the same as it is for other types of writers, and editors can come into the fold at different points along the way. You might already possess the skills to provide proofreading and copy-editing at this point, but perhaps line or development editing interests you, too – in which case, you’ll likely need to bolster your knowledge.
  • Learn how to adapt your editing style. I’ve already touched on this point, but generally being open to rule-bending to allow for style while still applying a degree of consistency is key. This is where your informal knowledge comes most into play, and where you’ll need to both exercise your judgement and hone your querying skills!
  • Study the craft of writing. There are many excellent books out there on how to write fiction. If you want to develop your copy-editing skills, focus on books that talk about style, self-editing and point of view. (Try The Art of Fiction by David Lodge, Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Rennie Browne and The Power of Point of View by Alicia Rasley.) If you want to develop your line or developmental editing skills, read books on bigger topics like plot, story and characterisation. (Try Monkeys with Typewriters by Scarlett Thomas, Story Engineering by Larry Brooks and Writing Characters Who’ll Keep Readers Captivated by Roz Morris.) You could also take a fiction writing class and learn by doing!
  • Read novels analytically. As an editor, you might find you do this already. (I know I always have ­­– I can’t seem not to!) Read slowly, carefully and thoughtfully. Take notes in the margins and underline passages, if you like. Keep a reading log and write out your thoughts. You’ll learn so much about fiction editing by simply reading with awareness. Grab a copy of Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose for more advice on how to do this.

Step 4: Re-do your website

Now that you’ve built your confidence and knowledge, it’s time to take the leap. If you want to edit solely fiction, I strongly advise that you market yourself as a specialist fiction editor. Not as a generalist who also happens to edit fiction. But as someone who just edits fiction.

Why? Imagine for a moment that you’re an author who wants to self-publish. You have a crime novel that’s ready for copy-editing and you’re looking for someone to take on the job. Who do you choose? An editor who works on business flyers, cook books, journal articles and the occasional novel? Or the editor who focuses solely on novels? It makes sense to choose the editor who has their head firmly in the novel-editing game.

It makes sense to make fiction editing your niche.

The most important thing you can do now is totally re-do your website. Your website is one of your key marketing tools, and you want it to attract and engage the right clients – people looking for a fiction editor. This may seem like a big task, but it’s essential if you want to make the switch to fiction editing.

Step 5: Build your client base

It would be short-sighted to immediately sack all your current clients and expect a boatload of fiction clients to land straight in your lap. I know you don’t think that. In fact, it’s probably one of the things stopping you from making the switch.

Instead, keep working with your current clients – even though you’ve now totally changed your website. (They probably won’t notice anyway.) As the fiction editing enquiries start trickling in, start dropping your existing clients. You can always keep the ones that bring you the most benefits if you really want, but eventually you’ll be able to transition to full-time fiction editing, at your own pace.

Of course you’ll also need to start marketing yourself as a fiction editor. Most people won’t land on your website by chance, so you need to start point prospective clients towards it – through directory entries, online and in-person networking, advertising, content creation and so on.

And there you have it!

Switching your business model to specialise in fiction is perfectly doable but requires a little courage and some careful preparation.

If you’d like to know more about setting up a fiction editing business – and would also like some guidance and feedback as you make the transition ­– my online course, Start Fiction Editing, goes into much more detail.

 Come and join us – and make the switch! Visit www.startfictionediting.com to learn more.

Sophie Playle runs Liminal Pages (liminalpages.com), where she offers editing to authors and training to editors of fiction. She’s a Professional Member of the SfEP and often packs her laptop into a rucksack to run her business while traipsing around Europe.

 
 

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What is prosopagnosia and how does it affect the self-employed person?

Cartoon expressing the experience of prosopagnosiaI read an interesting article in the Guardian newspaper this week about prosopagnosia (or “face blindness”).This is a condition I suffer from (not in the most severe way, but it does affect my life – and my business life), and I haven’t found much else about prosopagnosia and the businessperson. So, I thought it might be useful to share some information about what it is, how it affects me, as an example, and some coping strategies I’ve worked out for it. I would love other prosopagnosics to share their experiences and solutions, too, and I have added links to some useful resources at the end.

I know this is a long piece, but I didn’t want to be all teaser-ish and leave the coping strategies to another blog post. Feel free to jump down to those, though, if you want to!

What is prosopagnosia?

Prosopagnosia is also known as face-blindness, and this key term really explains what it is. Someone with the condition can see another person’s face OK: they can usually identify it as a face. What they can’t do is recognise who it is, tell the difference between similar-looking people, recognise familiar people in a different context, etc. In severe cases, people can even be unable to recognise their own family members, in whatever context, apart from knowing “If it’s a man in my house, it’s likely to be my husband”. Many prosopagnosics have complicated workarounds to help them to recognise people – their gait, glasses, common items of clothing – but this isn’t always fail-safe.

A side-effect of this can be an inability to distinguish expressions and emotions on people’s faces.

Where does it come from? You can pick up prosopagnosia from a brain injury or stroke, but most people acquire it as what the experts call a ‘developmental disorder’, i.e. it’s a connection that doesn’t get made at the right time when your brain is developing in early childhood.

It can be really distressing to be like this. I’m a reasonably friendly and warm person who likes to help other people. I have a horror of offending people or being rude. How horrendous to find out that you’ve repeatedly blanked someone in the street or to ask someone what they do, only to see a shocked expression and realise that they told you all about their business last time you met.

There’s lots of information and the scientific stuff on a handy University of Bournemouth website.

My experience with prosopagnosia

I didn’t know I was prosopagnosic for years – but I discovered the term in my 30s and breathed a HUGE sigh of relief. It was “A Thing”. I wasn’t just weird (well, not in that way, anyway). Other people had it!

I don’t have the most severe form of the condition. I can usually recognise family members and close friends. But it’s not like that thing where you know you know someone but can’t remember their name. I will see someone I spoke to last week – yesterday, even – and if they’ve not “taken” in my mind, I will not have any idea that I’ve ever met them before. Until they walk up to me, know my name, and know things about me, that is.

experience of prosopagnosiaSo, I have trouble recognising people or knowing that I’ve ever seen them before. I will walk past people I know quite well. I have developed coping strategies – I joke that I got together with my husband because he had a distinctive hairline (he had a widow’s peak, not some weird curlicue business) and a goatee and has a distinctive gait. This is only partly true. But I do get very discombobulated when he changes his beard, and I am well-known among my friends at parkrun for having real trouble picking him out in a crowd of runners – even if he has his special hat on.

I’m also not good when watching new TV programmes with lots of people (Strictly Come Dancing can be difficult in the early weeks), such as soaps and reality shows. This sounds funny, but it can REALLY annoy the person you’re watching with. I am known for mixing up pairs of people who I genuinely think are the same person (Matthew Broderick and John Cusack for example). They may not look identical to you, but if they have similar coloured hair and body shape, they’re the same person to me.

I don’t THINK I pick friends based on them having very definite looks or features, but I wouldn’t put it past me. I know I recognised one friend from her shoes rather than her face or hair when I saw her on the high street once (phew, got away with it).

Two things that I find particularly difficult are:

  • Changes in context. Give me someone from running club in running kit on club night or, within reason, in normal clothes and a similar hairstyle, volunteering at parkrun and I’m fine. Present them to me on the high street, in town, on a train, at the airport – not so much. I met someone in the gym the other day who recognised me from one meeting, when I scanned her barcode at parkrun a few weeks before. She knew she knew me from somewhere – not something that I’d manage to achieve!
  • Changes in look. I am constantly amazed that someone I know from said running club can recognise me not in flourescent gear and with my hair down rather than in bunches. To me, that’s a different person, someone I don’t know. How do they do that?

I’ve actually reached a point where I just explain it to new people I meet who I might meet again. I didn’t do this when I started networking for business, and I really wish I had. I certainly remember asking a “new woman I’d never met before” her name and being horrified to realise I’d met her twice before, and had quite long conversations with her. I wish I’d explained my condition then, and I will be sharing this post with her!

The good news: I do eventually get used to people and recognise them pretty well immediately – but it takes more meetings than it will for the average person. I’m also quite good at telling identical twins apart, maybe because I’m used to doing the checking of extra details that non-prosopagnosics don’t have to worry about.

Prosopagnosia and business / self-employment

Business revolves around recognising people. Even if you craftily have a job where you don’t have to deal with your clients face to face (hello, editing and transcription!), you tend to end up doing events, going to networking, etc. All of that can be a minefield. It’s all about who you know, and meeting, liking and trusting people – difficult if the person you’re speaking to seems to think they’ve never met you before when you had an in-depth conversation about widgets last time you met.

If you’re an introvert, by the way, this can make business encounters and networking even more exhausting than they already are!

I’m going to share some coping strategies that I’ve used in my business life (or should have used sooner). If you have this issue, too, I would LOVE you to share your experiences and coping strategies in the comments below!

Coping strategies for the business owner or businessperson with prosopagnosia

Tip 1: Be honest about it

I really wish I’d always done this. When I meet new people who I might meet again, I now pretty well always say, “Just to let you know, I have a condition called prosopagnosia, or face-blindness, which means that I have trouble recognising people. If you see me out and about, please come and say hello and remind me who you are!” It breaks the ice a bit, and I’ve not found anyone so far who’s reacted badly to this (why would they? Would you want to meet someone who did react badly again?)

Tip 2: Use the features of networking to your advantage

Networking events often feature badges and usually feature business cards. Hooray! You can at least make a note of people’s names and check their badges next time. I am good at recognising words and so I’ll commonly collect business cards from people I’ve met, then look out for those names next time. If you can’t read the badge from a distance, make a conversation about it: “Oops, my badge is peeling off,” “Where did you get your name badge from?” (this one only works at the beginning, obviously). Moving around the event and re-meeting people, a quick glance at the badge will reassure you as to whether you’ve met them before.

Tip 3: For one-off events with a lot of circulating, concentrate on a non-facial feature

If you’re at a one-day conference or training day, people aren’t likely to change too much. If you know you’re not good with faces, concentrate on earrings, unusual shoes, an e-watch – any clue that you can pick up that will help you to match the person to someone you know when they come around again (you probably already do this, but just in case).

Tip 4: Try to have a role at events

Weirdly, having a role that means lots of people talk to you can make it easier. They probably won’t expect you to recognise them, so if someone’s chasing up their gluten-free lunch, they’re likely to say so, meaning you can context-match and have the appropriate conversation.

Tip 5: When you’re having a meeting, turn up first

If you’re already in the meeting place, perhaps sitting down in an open and friendly position but looking at your phone or gazing calmly around you, it’s much more likely that the other person will come to you. If a different person you know, nothing to do with the meeting, just happens to come in, you’re just going to have to hope they have very different attributes (different gender, age, etc.) to the person you’re meeting – but I’ve never had a mix-up.

This one works for dates and meeting up with a new friend, too.

Tip 6: Be super-friendly

If you can manage to be super-friendly and approachable with a “Hi, how are you?” you can often pick up hints as to whether the other person already knows you from their answer.

Tip 7: Have a friend with you

If you know you’re going to be doing a regular event, volunteering session etc. there’s no shame in enlisting the help of a friend. I try to take my husband when I’m meeting people at the railway station (so many faces!) and pal up with a known person who can give me clues and cues when I can.

Tip 8: Do a job where you can hide the prosopagnosia

My job, as I mentioned above, doesn’t involve me being face to face with clients. I really do not know how I’d do that, actually. If you do have that kind of role and this condition, I really would like to know how you manage, as it will help other people (pop a comment below or get in touch if you’d rather be anonymous). You can use the tips above to work out who people are, and if you have regular customers, you will start to recognise them in time. How do waiters and teachers manage it, I wonder?

Dealing with prosopagnosics

If you meet one of us and you know (because we’ve told you) or suspect that we are prosopagnosic, please bear with us! We do not mean to be rude! Of course, I’m better at recognising (ha ha) this in other people, and I have managed to reassure and inform a couple of people that it’s not them, it is A Thing, but if someone fails to recognise you a few times, reintroduces themselves to you when you think they know who you are, or has to ask your name when they’re ticking you off a list and they’ve met you a few times before, chances are they’ll have a touch of prosopagnosia.

Top tips for dealing with someone with prosopagnosia:

  • Don’t take it personally.
  • Do introduce yourself, just “Hi, it’s Liz the slow runner, we met at the back of the pack at last week’s run” will work wonders.
  • Don’t think they’re stupid, it’s just one aspect of them. We all have blind spots. I’m really good at recognising voices, for example.
  • Don’t suddenly grow a beard or dye your hair without warning them (that’s a bit of a joke of course, but if you’re close to a prosopagnosic, it’s best to warn them of any major changes in appearance coming up, and remind them afterwards).
  • If they ask you who someone is, or to help them spot their husband in a crowd – again – don’t sigh with exasperation, just try to help.

Resources

I hope this has helped anyone with prosopagnosia feel less alone. If you want to get in touch with me about it, feel free to do so via my contact form.

The Guardian article explains things very clearly and easily, with good examples.

If you think you have prosopagnosia, the Cambridge Face Recognition Test (CFRT) is the one to take.

Face Blind UK is an organisation dedicated to raising awareness and providing support

The prosopagnosia website is a bit more formal but ever so useful, and there’s a discussion forum, too!

And as I said, if you have anything to add or any help you can give or stories to share, please comment below. And if you know anyone this article might help, please share it using the sharing buttons below. Thank you!

PS: This was quite a difficult article and image that I wanted to get right. Thank you to the people who helped me out!

 
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Posted by on October 8, 2015 in Business, Prosopagnosia, Skillset

 

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What to do in 6 common freelance crisis situations

To do listsOh, the freelance life is one that’s full of peaks and troughs, feasts and famines. I’ve already written about how to avoid running out of work and how to avoid overwhelm, and in this article I’m going to run through some common crises and my top tips on how best to cope with them.

I’ve been through all of these in my time … I’d love to know if you have more coping ideas, so please pop a comment at the end if you’ve got something to add!

Notehere are a few links in this article – all of them are to other content that I’ve posted on this blog, so you can click through safely and happily for more information.

What do I do when I’ve got no work to do?

If you’ve got no work to do – don’t panic! It will probably be temporary

What can I do now?

  • Take a deep breath and embrace the fact that you’ve got some down time
  • Make a list of admin tasks you’ve always meant to do
  • Do some brainstorming on some job searching you can do, whether that’s networking, looking for some jobs on Twitter or joining some free sites (see more on how to find freelance jobs in this article)
  • Spend a third of your time doing admin, a third marketing yourself and a third taking a little time to do some things for yourself

What can I do to stop this happening?

  • Consider new avenues of work – diversify
  • Let people know you’re available – including customers you’ve worked with before
  • Keep a note of the ups and downs in your business – if they follow a nice predictable yearly cycle, you can plan holidays and downtime for the low points and hard work for the high points

Tips to avoid running out of work can be found in this article.

What do I do when I’ve got too much work?

Having too much work can be a bit scary. Again, don’t panic. Make lists, be super-organised – you CAN do it!

What can I do now?

  • Don’t panic – take a deep breath and plan instead of panicking
  • Write a list of the tasks you have, their due dates and how long you think they’ll take (better, draw them out on a Gantt chart or calendar)
  • Make a priority list – what must be done first?
  • If you really CANNOT do it all …
    • See if you can rearrange any deadlines
    • See if you can get a colleague to take on any of the tasks
  • Work through your jobs in priority order

Tips on what to do when you’ve got too much work can be found in this article.

What can I do to stop this happening?

  • Find a colleague to work with and make an arrangement to cover each other’s work
  • Look through your client list and see if there are any clients who make your schedule difficult – then see if you can work things out or pass them on to someone else
  • Learn to say no!

What do I do when I’ve made a mistake?

We all make mistakes. All of us. Just the other day, I didn’t pick up on a duplicated word in a text. Most clients should understand that little mistakes come with the territory. Big mistakes need a big apology.

What can I do now?

  • Own up and accept responsibility – don’t fudge or blame other people or things
  • If there IS a reason (e.g. your sewing machine broke or you ran out of thread; your computer crashed and you lost a chunk of the spreadsheet) explain it briefly
  • Offer to make it right – whether that’s doing the work again or reimbursing / not charging your client (see the section below, though)
  • Explain concisely how you will prevent that mistake happening again
  • Forgive yourself and try to move on – better to admit a mistake, redress it and move on and give that customer a chance to forgive you than to hide it all, dwell on it and get in a state

What can I do to stop this happening?

  • If you know what caused the mistake, make a wholehearted attempt to remove that cause from your work life
  • If it was human error down to tiredness / lack of a cuppa / bringing a bad mood from your home life to your work, make a wholehearted attempt to recognise that and work to avoid it in future
  • Accept that everyone does make mistakes sometimes, and move on

What can I do when the customer doesn’t like what I’ve done?

This usually happens with the more creative industries like writing or making craft items for people. It’s a tricky one, but these points might help.

What can I do now?

  • Ask the client for as many details as you can – it might be a minor point that they don’t like
  • Offer to redress the issues – if it’s something I’ve written, I will do a rewrite (although see below, this is included in my Terms and Conditions)
  • If the client has already paid, offer a refund unless this is discussed in your terms and conditions
  • Personally, I’d say the client is always right and apologise / refund / replace graciously as this gives a much better impression than messing them around

What can I do to stop this happening?

  • Make sure that your Terms and Conditions cover this eventuality
  • Firm up the way you do the initial discussion with the client – can you use a tick-sheet or prepare a sketch that they agree on before you start working?
  • You could include x number of rewrites / alterations in your Ts and Cs if you offer graphic design or writing, for example
  • If you make craft items, you could send a photograph of the completed item before sending it off and taking payment
  • Build up a library of items that you’ve made or created so your customer has more to work from when telling you what they want

What do I do when I’m going to miss a deadline?

Everyone misses a deadline every now and again. It’s horrible and sick-feeling inducing, but sometimes things are beyond our control. If there is a genuine emergency, your clients will understand. If it’s down to too much work, also have a look at the section above on that topic.

What can I do now?

  • Be honest and contact your client as soon as possible – this is easier if it’s a sudden emergency than if you’ve got behind
  • Offer an alternative deadline or colleague who can do the work (don’t just send the work to a colleague – do it openly and keep the client informed)
  • Apologise and explain how it won’t happen again very briefly – allow your client time to reschedule the work

What can I do to stop this happening?

  • If it’s down to overwork, review the section on how to cope with too much work above – if you’re missing deadlines and nothing’s actually wrong with you, that’s too much work
  • Cultivate good and honest relationships with regular clients – that way, they’ll stand by you if you have a sudden illness or emergency
  • Enlist a colleague to cover your work if you’re taken ill or otherwise occupied (this is good practice anyway)

You can read more about what happens when you have to cancel a job in this article, which I wrote just after I experienced a sudden and temporarily debilitating bout of flu.

What can I do when it’s All Too Much?

You know what? Sometimes it is just All Too Much running your own business, being freelance. Sometimes you’re in a bad mood, there’s a fly in the room, all your customers seem to loathe you or have impossible demands and you’re finding it all boring. You’ve probably got a cold, too. Is that you?

What can I do now?

  • Stop – if you can possibly stop – stop
  • Even if it’s for half an hour or ten minutes, do one of these things:
    • Go outside and walk around
    • Do some brisk walking or vigorous exercise
    • Read your book
    • Have a bath
    • Phone a friend
    • Rant and rave IN PRIVATE for example with a friend on Facebook messenger or in a private group you might have set up for that purpose
    • Another thing that you like to do that centres and calms you
  • If you only have 10 minutes to deal with hating your life right now, step away from your desk / workbench / stall and do some calm, deep breathing, imagine your happy place, centre yourself and relax
  • Give yourself a little treat
  • Try not to discuss this in public or anywhere where your customers might be – you never know who might be looking, and who might have been just about to book your services

What can I do to stop this happening?

  • Learn to say no so you don’t get overwhelmed
  • Take regular breaks during the day AND regular days off
  • Don’t work late into every evening and over every weekend
  • Have a serious think about how you can redress your work-life balance, because that’s what this is all about – then do it
  • Cultivate a group of like-minded business people or people in your area of work or geographical area and talk to them – you’d be surprised to find that everyone feels like this sometimes

I hope these ideas will help you when you have one of these common crises. Why not bookmark this article or select your most common crisis, print it out and pop it on your noticeboard!

If you’ve enjoyed this post, please use the sharing buttons below to share it on your social media platforms. Thank you!

Related posts on this blog

How do I cope with the ups and downs of the freelance life 1: when the work dries up

How do I cope with the ups and downs of the freelance life 2: when there’s too much work

Top ten tips for freelancers

How do I get freelance work?

How to decide who to work with

How to turn a new customer into a regular customer

What’s the best mix of customers to have?

How to make more money in your freelance business

When should I say no?

 
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Posted by on June 25, 2015 in Business, Organisation, Skillset

 

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How do I cope with the ups and downs of the freelance life? 2 – when there’s too much work

To do listsIt can be a bit scary being a freelancer / self-employed. One minute you’ve got no work at all, the next you’ve got all the work in the world, deadlines coming out of your ears, and you’re drowning in a sea of … stuff. To accompany my article on what to do if the work seems to have dried up, here are my top tips on coping with overwhelm – those times when all the work has come in and you don’t know what to do first. Maybe we can even work out a way to avoid that happening in the first place!

How do I cope when I’ve got too much work?

Yes, it’s the other side of the coin, which it doesn’t do to complain about as such, but can be a scary prospect. If you’ve got a lot of work but it’s not physically or mentally too much for you to complete in the deadline, that’s OK for short periods of time. We all get that. I’ve just booked in a large job  which will involve doing just one job for just one client, 9 hours a day for 4-5 days. However, you can bet I’ll be taking plenty of rest and cancelling everything else while that’s happening.

But what happens when you just have Too Much Work, too much to do in the time, too much to do without exhausting yourself mentally or physically?

It’s harder to organise yourself into not having too much work. Work does just tend to all come in at the same time: it’s a fact of life.

Here are some ideas for preventing overwhelm building up:

  • If you have a client who regularly overwhelms you, for example sending in orders for too many products in too short a timeframe or sending you work with no notice, reguarly, it’s worth talking to them and seeing how you can make the situation more predictable. If it’s really becoming a problem, consider offering to share their work with a colleague or tell them that you can’t fulful their requirements and they will need to find someone else to work with (yes, I know it’s really hard to do this, and you will probably want to have another prospective client lined up before you do this).
  • If you have a kind of work which regularly overwhelms you, consider how you can work to make that situation easier. I used to spend a lot of time with a particular kind of customer who tended to involve lots of emails and discussion and handholding. I now work mainly with an agency which specialises in this kind of customer – they do all the emailing, I do the work. It’s a lower rate of pay, but I am pretty sure I make that back in the time saved.
  • If you create trouble for yourself by scheduling too many jobs at the same time, keep some kind of record / calendar of what you’ve booked in. I do it on a Gantt chart with a line for each client, with the days I’ve got to do a piece of work or the dates they have booked me for coloured in. In this way, you can avoid scheduling All The Work for the same week.
  • If you have trouble with moving deadlines, put terms and conditions in place. This is a notorious problem for editors, as writers’ deadlines often slip back. Make sure you’re covered in your Ts and Cs for saying “No” if a job comes in later than planned and you’re already busy.

There are also three ways to cope with work overwhelm that involve other people …

  1. Contract out work. This involves having someone who you can book to delegate the work to. In this case, you will end up charging the cliient and paying the contractor. You may need to disclose that you’re using a contractor, i.e. someone other than you is doing the work, and I personally don’t use this method as my service revolves around me, to a great extent. Typically, the primary worker (you) will charge the client a little more than you pay the contractor, to give yourself a small profit on the job.
  2. Have at least one cover person who can take on work for your clients but act as an individual with their own relationship to the client. This is usually arranged in advance, but can be very helpful in this sort of situation (as well as when you want to take a holiday). If I am booked out and one of my clients with whom I have arranged this contacts me, I say, “I’m really busy at the moment, can you send this over to Laura, please?” They send the work to my colleague, then she will do the work and invoice them accordingly. Yes, I can’t make a little money on the fee, as you can with contracting, but my clients stay happy and the admin is minimal.
  3. Outsource work to someone else – for example, my journalist clients might usually transcribe their interviews themselves, but if they’re in a rush, they will send me the tape to transcribe while they get on with something else. You could either outsource the work itself or aspects of running your business that take up time – your social media updating, your filing, your invoicing … You may or may not have to disclose that you’ve done this (a journalist wouldn’t disclose that I’d typed out their interview) but you will generally pay the person you’ve outsourced the work to.

As with dealing with having too little work, there are two principles involved here:

  • Try to run your business such that it’s less easy for you to get overwhelmed
  • Have plans for what to do when overwhelm hits, and put them into action appropriately

With these tips and the ones on how to cope when the work dries up, I hope that I’ve given you some useful tools for smoothing out the ups and downs of the freelancer’s life. Good luck – let me know which ones work for you, or if you have other suggestions!

If you’ve enjoyed this post, please use the sharing buttons below to share it on your social media platforms. Thank you!

Related posts on this blog

How do I cope with the ups and downs of the freelance life 1: when the work goes away

Top ten tips for freelancers

How to decide who to work with

How to turn a new customer into a regular customer

What’s the best mix of customers to have?

How to make more money in your freelance business

When should I say no?

 
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Posted by on June 17, 2015 in Business, Organisation, Skillset

 

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How do I cope with the ups and downs of the freelance life? 1 – when the work goes away

To do listsOne of the things that puts people off freelancing or self-employment is the ups and downs, feasts and famines, highs and lows of the workflow. While the freelance workflow can be tricky to manage, it is possible to get a handle on it and maintain your work-life balance (most of the time). I’m sharing with you my tips for making that work.

In this post, we’re going to talk about what happens when it feels like the work has all dried up. In the next post, we cover the other side of things: overwhelm!

The important thing to note here is that this all comes with time. No one starts out super-organised and busy at just the right level all of the time. Cut yourself some slack – things get over-busy or yawningly low for all of us, but these tips will help that to become less of a problem.

How do I cope when the work dries up?

The scariest thing about being a freelance is when the work appears to dry up. It’s easy to catastrophise here: what if NO WORK EVER COMES AGAIN? Well, in my experience, unless you’ve done something really wrong (like produced very sub-standard work or reneged on all your deadlines), the work will come back again. Part of learning to deal with the fallow periods is making yourself believe that they will come to an end.

There are two things to think about here …

  • What to do during fallow periods
  • How to prevent fallow periods happening in the first place

Let’s look at them in turn.

What should I do in times when I have no work?

There are so many things you can do to fill in the times when you have no work. They basically break down into three areas, though …

1. Rest

When it’s busy busy busy, I bet you don’t get all the rest you need. I try to get some downtime for myself when I’m slow at work – extra sleep, quiet reading, a cafe visit with a friend. Recharge those batteries ready for the next busy time!

2. Admin

There’s always admin to do, and you know it. Whether it’s clearing out your inbox, following up on leads that never came to anything, tidying your desk or sorting out your receipts, now’s the time to do it. (Extra hint: set a stopwatch. Do it for half an hour. You’ll be amazed at what you can achieve.)

3. Marketing

You can do a lot of your own marketing for no monetary cost – but there’s usually a time cost. If you have a free day, make it your mission to, for example …

  • Register on a few more free-to-advertise online boards
  • Write some amazing website content to promote your products or services, or overhaul what you’ve already got
  • Write and schedule some blog posts to keep your website regularly updated and cover you in the busy times
  • Go to that networking event you don’t usually have time for – or a new one
  • Overhaul your profiles on social media and make sure your message is getting across
  • Write some products for awareness-raising, passive income generation – free downloads, pdfs, an ebook …

The message here? Put your down time to good use, and use those troughs in incoming work to tidy things up and work to generate new business to diminish the next low point.

How can I guarantee to have a steady stream of work all the time?

You can’t. But you can work towards that situation, and this is something I have a lot of experience with, and it’s how come I write my blog posts in little scraps of time while waiting for something to come in, rather than in great blocks during days and days when I have nothing to do.

The answer is, I think, simple: diversify.

While it’s great to be an expert in a niche or to have one big customer who “always sends you so much work”, it also lays you open to sudden downturns when the industry in which you specialise or the company for which you work takes a downturn itself.

If you work supplying widgets to Company A which are different from the ones Company B uses, and you only make widgets of that kind, if the market for those widgets goes down or Company A goes bust or changes what they use, you’re in trouble. If you make widgets of all kinds and supply company A and B, it would take the whole widget market and both companies to go downhill fast before you were in trouble.

I’m not saying be Jack of all trades and master of none, but a bit of judicious diversifying can really, really help to iron out those peaks and troughs which come in any line of industry.

Here are some general ideas, with examples from my specific work:

  • Work on different products or services – I do editing, transcription and localisation, so if the market for one goes down, I have the others to look after me. I usually work on a range of tasks every week, but I can end up having a week of transcription and that’s fine.
  • Work with different types of client – even in the area of editing and proofreading, if I just worked for students, I’d get massive peaks and troughs as dissertation season comes round at Easter and the end of the summer, but disappears in October/November. But I can fill in those troughs by doing editing of self-published books or working with translators
  • Work with clients in different places if that’s possible – I have customers all over the world. I used to have a lot of Chinese customers; at the moment I don’t. If I’d concentrated only on that region, I’d be in trouble now. Similarly, with the drop in the value of the Euro, if I just had European clients who paid in euros, I’d be looking at a serious drop in my income right now.

I’m not suggesting that you take on areas of work or industry sectors you’re totally inexperienced in and unused to – but have a think about how you can diversify a little. If you work editing legal texts, maybe you can offer your services to a local university with a large law department. If you sell your handicrafts in shops, why not consider an Etsy shop or going to a few fairs?

In summary

If you want to avoid the down times and keep a good flow of work throughout  your working year, you can approach the issue on two fronts:

  • Have a plan for what to do when you have no work – rest, marketing, admin – and put that plan into action when you end up with some free time.
  • Work actively to have a good mix of work coming in from various sources, so you aren’t relying on just one income stream and don’t keep all your eggs in one basket.

When we add to these tips with some on what to do when you’ve got too much work, I hope you’ll find here a useful resource for helping you to smooth out the ups and downs of the freelancer’s life. Do let me know which ones work for you, or if you have other practical ideas that work!

If you’ve enjoyed this post, please use the sharing buttons below to share it on your social media platforms. Thank you!

Related posts on this blog

How do I cope with the ups and downs of the freelance life 2: when there’s too much work

Top ten tips for freelancers

How to decide who to work with

How to turn a new customer into a regular customer

What’s the best mix of customers to have?

How to make more money in your freelance business

When should I say no?

 
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Posted by on June 10, 2015 in Business, Organisation, Skillset

 

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How Video Can Help Your Blog or Website

Today we have a guest blog post from Markus Wilson of Phink Video Productions, who talks about the added value that video can bring to your blog or website. A lot of people do have video content on their blogs now, and it’s something I’ve been considering doing myself for a while – maybe this will be the impetus that I need to look at it in a bit more detail …

This article is about how you can use video content to help your website or blog as part of a digital marketing strategy. No matter how big or small your websites audience maybe, video is a powerful tool to up your profile and reach a wider fanbase.

It’s a fact that our brains respond more effectively to communication that combines visual and audio stimuli. Therefore improving the retention of information we are trying to divulge. While it’s interesting to know that YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine online. It has been found that 60% of online users prefer video than text, and having video content on your website or blog increases the likelihood of first page Google ranking by 53%. Not only that, but people that reach your site are likely to spend at least two minutes longer browsing a site with video on it.

As we know today more and more people are using online video to learn about products, services, and tutorials. What’s great about online videos is that so many people are creating and watching them nowadays. Whether they are evaluating products, showing us how Coca-Cola can clean the rust off your car or just checking out the best supplier for a job. Video really is a great way to engage your audience. Another great feature about online video is that it can help you stand out in the search results! As long as your video listed is marked up with the appropriate title, tags and descriptions Google will always value video content over written.

One of the best ways to utilise online video for your website or blog is to create an explainer video. Explainer videos are great if you have something very complicated to get across, as you always have to fight for every second of your web users attention.

Another great use of video for businesses or service providers is to incorporate Testimonials from your former or current clients. Testimonials direct from the horse’s mouth and not just a quotation at the bottom of a webpage are a great way to gain that much needed social proof about you and your service.

A third good use of video for your website or blog is to create a ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ piece. This can be yourself presenting to camera or just something simple involving text and music. If you always come up against the same questions from your potential customers, by you anticipating the question, its an efficient and easy way for them to be reassured that your are the right person for the job!

Online video use continues to grow with 81% of marketers using video in their digital marketing activity and 76% planning to increase online video spend. At the current rate 69% of all internet traffic will be purely video by 2017.

So what will your story be?

Markus Wilson is Co-Founder of London-based video production company Phink TV. Markus has been in marketing for the past 8 years, first with data processing company Pumasource and starting up Phink TV in 2009. Since then he has produced video content for the likes of Coca-Cola, Unilever and Sony Music.

 
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Posted by on October 1, 2014 in Business, Guest posts, Skillset

 

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