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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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2 top tips on dealing with the endless pitches for guest posts or reviews

handshakeLast week, I wrote down the 10 top tips for pitching guest posts and asking bloggers to review your product (you can read the article here). I wrote that from the point of view of somebody who receives requests to host guest posts and review stuff All The Time.

It can be time-consuming replying to these emails and messages, but if you’re anything like me, you welcome genuine and relevant content (and interesting book review requests) and don’t like to be rude, unless something’s obviously spammy (in which case, I’m only rude enough to ignore the message!). So, in this article I’m sharing the two methods I use to allow me to respond to pitches quickly, easily and politely, which also have the effect of weeding out the time-wasters.

1. Have a policy for guest posts and reviews

I’ve got a guest post and review policy on both this website (visit it here) and my book review blog (visit it here).

It’s standard practice to have a policy – it sets things out and allows you to filter out approaches you don’t want. Of course, I don’t know how many people this filters out before they contact me, but it must get rid of a few.

This is also hugely useful for when you respond to pitches. When I send my automated email (see point 2 below), I include a link to my policy in my email. This means …

a) The pitcher has to go and look at a web page before they respond (filtering out people who were blanket-bombing blogs and probably won’t be relevant to you)

b) I can change my policy once, on this page, without having to remember to update my standard pitch response email.

c) If a pitcher replies to my email and clearly hasn’t looked at the guidelines, that’s a clear indication that it’s time to terminate the conversation.

2. Create a standard automated pitch response email

Most email providers allow you to create standard replies which you can select and send out without having to type out a new email every time. In Gmail, you can set up something called Canned Responses (and you can find my instructions on how to set them up here).

This saves you loads of time responding individually to pitches for guest posts or product reviews. I tend to get more of the first category for this blog, and this is what my email says:

Thank you for your enquiry about posting your content on my blog.

Before we go any further, please read my Terms and Conditions on Guest Blog Posts and Sponsored Posts, make sure that you can answer the questions posed there, and then get back to me with your suggestions. Best wishes,

Liz

This really does cover most eventualities (and for the few that it doesn’t cover, I can easily add a bit to the email). It takes about three clicks of the mouse button to reply and send, and, to be honest, it usually puts people off! But then, that’s the idea …

—-

Using both of these methods has speeded up my response time to pitches and allowed me to sift out the wheat from the chaff, the genuine opportunities for cooperation from the spammers trying to insert their link onto every website and blog going.

I hope you’ve found this article enjoyable and useful. If you have, please take a moment to share it using the sharing buttons below, and I always appreciate relevant comments!

Relevant posts on this blog

Guest blogging 1: how to be the host with the most

Guest blogging 2: how to be the perfect guest

10 top tips for pitching your guest post or asking a blogger to review your product

 
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Posted by on August 5, 2015 in Blogging, Business, Marketing, Writing

 

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10 Top Tips for Pitching a Guest Post or Getting a Blogger to Review your Product

handshakeI get lots and lots of requests every day, via my contact form or email, to accept a guest blog post from somebody. I also get requests to accept books for review on my personal book review blog. Although I’ve written in more depth about being a good guest blogger, I think it’s worth putting down a few points here to help people get the most out of their pitch to get a genuine and useful guest post or review on a blogger’s website.

Because … I reject about 98% of requests for a guest post after the first email.

So, here are my Top 10 tips for pitching a guest post or getting a blogger to review your product

1. Before you even start, think about the relevance of the website you’re contacting.

I get so many queries that have nothing to do with my website in the slightest. Things like, “I love your [editing] website, would you accept an article on real estate in Texas?”

Now, on rejecting one of these a while ago, I had a back-and-forth with the pitcher. She was determined that I would benefit from having her totally non-relevant content, full of dodgy links, on my website. I ended up saying to her “No reputable website would take this as a guest post”. Her reply, “You’d be surprised, LOL”.

The thing is, Google is adjusting its search algorithms all the time. It already specifically works against backlinks (a link to your content on someone reputable’s website which ups your credibility in the “eyes” of the search engines) which are in lists of random links and content which is full of keywords but no useful content. In time, your link to your bead firm on a blog about wind farms will impress the search engines less and less.

You’ll get far more hits as a genuine person seeking to place guest posts on a website if you target appropriate and relevant hosts.

2. Give detail.

If I get a generic, one-line email asking for a guest post or review that doesn’t give me any other info, that’s going straight in the reject pile. You might get my standard email response if you’re lucky.

If’s fine to keep it short, but make sure there is some information in there.

3. Show you’re familiar with the target blog / review site

I am looking for you to  have actually read my blog and know a little bit about what I do. Just a mention of the URL isn’t enough: you can cut and paste that. I want to  know that you know what I do, who my readers are, what topics I cover.

4. Watch out for mail merges / cut and paste carefully.

I’m putting this here because without fail, emails requesting guest posts start with “I have been reading URL INSERTED for some time and love your content”. This doesn’t work so well as a hook if you re-use an email and include the incorrect blog title or URL!

5. State what you want to do.

The target will want to know what you want to do – send in a blog post, pitch some ideas, post them a sample. Put this clearly early on.

6. State what you want out of it.

If you want a book review, say so. If you want your website address included in a guest post you’ve written, say so. If you want to include links that you’ve promised your customer to get onto several reputable websites, also say so – because your target is likely to notice this further down the line and get a bit cross with you.

7. State what the target will get out of it.

State clearly the benefit for the target. Yes, they might be desperate for content – if you see they haven’t posted for a while, this is OK to mention. Will you be helping their readers, bringing a new but related audience to their blog? Tell them. One useful offer is to do a reciprocal guest post – i.e. you will host a post from your target on your website on a similar or related matter.

8. Show you know who your target’s audience is.

I want to know that you’ve thought about who this will reach. An example when pitching to me might be, “I would guess given your writing on dissertations that your audience includes students. This product helps students to bind their dissertations so might be useful to that part of your readership”.

9. Give links and reviews.

If you’ve got examples of your work or product on other websites or you can showcase your own writing on your own website, include links. If your product, book, etc. has been reviewed on other websites, include links.

10. Keep it simple, keep it correct.

If you’re pitching a guest post, make sure to write clearly and grammatically – a reputable blogger will not want to either edit your text for hours or hosts something of lower quality than the content they usually post up. If you’re pitching a product, make sure you are clear and knowledgeable and point to a well-designed and informative website. Will your target want to embarrass themselves pointing their readers to a terrible website?

A good example

This post was triggered  by two things – one, another request but with another company’s URL in the message – d’oh! The other was an excellent pitch from an author asking me to review her book. I’m going to go into specifics another day, but she included …

  • A greeting using my name and a farewell using hers
  • A note confirming that she had read my blog, mentioning something I’d talked about on it recently
  • Details of her book title and the fact she was asking me to review it
  • A few sentences about the book
  • A link to its sales page and a review by a reputable reviewer
  • A polite request to consider taking a review copy

And do you know what? I’ve got a review copy of that book sitting in my To Be Read pile right now.

In summary

If you’re serious about pitching your content or product to reputable websites where their presence can do you some good, make sure that you give your target blogger information about both what your pitching and your own credibility. I’m not saying that you will succeed every time, but your target blogger is more likely to read your email and consider your pitch if you do.

I hope you’ve found this article enjoyable and useful. If you have, please take a moment to share it using the sharing buttons below, and I always appreciate relevant comments!

Relevant posts on this blog

Guest blogging 1: how to be the host with the most

Guest blogging 2: how to be the perfect guest

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2015 in Blogging, Business, Marketing, Writing

 

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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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Spring cleaning your budget for the new financial year

spring clean your financesToday we have a guest post by Chinny Ogbuagu from Pitney Bowes, who’s going to share with us her tips for spring-cleaning your budget as you submit your tax return and move through the new financial year. It’s always good to get other people’s views on these matters, and it’s timely for me as I sort out my bank statements and records and get them all sent off to my accountant. You don’t leave it until January, do you? Read on for plenty of handy tips and hints … 

Many of us think of spring cleaning as dusting away those cobwebs, sorting out your clothes and tidying up your house. Many business owners don’t often think about the new financial year: here are some top tips on how you can start planning by streamlining your budget for the coming year.

Review Your Budget

Have you ever heard of the saying “in with the new and out with the old”? You may want to spend a day going over your expenditure during the past few months and work out if there is anything you aren’t putting enough money aside for or maybe areas where you are spending too much. Look at areas in which your company can save costs such as business phones or internet providers, and maybe even costs of office rent and stationery. It’s always a good idea to review this on a monthly basis, as it can save you time and money in the long run.

Sort out your paperwork

This is the perfect opportunity to look thorough all of your paperwork and files and shred any documents you no longer need, especially if they contain any personal information such as names, bank details, addresses or phone numbers. You might need to invest in an industrial shredder for this and there are a number of affordable options for you to choose from at a number of office suppliers such as Pitney Bowes. Do take advice from your accountant on what you are allowed to shred and what you must keep for a statutory number of years.

Create Your Own Financial Calendar

Create an online financial calendar. This will help you to set reminders throughout the year to do things such as review policies and outlines tasks you should complete every month. You can even set this up in Gmail and set reminders to your mobile phone, or alternatively invest in an online financial calendar so you don’t forget when something important needs to be paid for or relooked at.

Go Paperless

You know that you have made progress when you clean out your sock drawer and you can finally close it after years or months of storing items you no longer wear.
According to the HMRC, you are advised to hang onto tax records for a particular accounting period for normally six years from the end of that period. For example, if the accounting period ends on 31 December 2012, the records have to be kept until 31 December 2018.

It might be easiest to keep the hard copies of those. But things such as bank and credit card statements, as well as pay stubs, can be scanned and stored in a cloud-based filing provider, such as Dropbox or Google Drive.

An article on Learnvest claims that you should keep your documents for the following before shredding (again, do check with your accountant and note that this can be different for different regions of the world):
Destroy in a few days:
• ATM receipts, once you record the transaction
• Bank deposit slips, once the funds appear in your account

Destroy after 1 month:
• Receipts for things you bought on a credit card, once you get your statement, unless you need it for a return or a warranty
• Credit card statement, unless it has a tax-related expense on it

It’s important for businesses to keep on top of this so that you don’t spend more than you have to:: just like you would with your shopping or household expenses, look at the best value for money. This will help to you keep up with today’s rising costs.

This article was written by Chinny Ogbuagu who works for Pitney Bowes helping small businesses to save time and money with their range of equipment and services. She’s also an avid social media user, following and commenting on industry trends.

 
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Posted by on June 25, 2014 in Business, Guest posts, Organisation

 

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Developing your Business: Expanding into Regional Offices

Sneak preview of the image from my new bookWelcome to another expert post in my series on growing your business. Today we’re going to take a look at why it makes sense to have a physical presence around the country (or beyond), written for us by Juliet Martin, representing Regus. Linked to this post, you can read about small business owners’ own experience moving out of the home office here, and Sam Barnes’ post about what to consider when planning to move outside the home here. Juliet’s going to share with us the value of renting offices in different places.

Advantages of Renting Corporate Settings around the Country

Today’s ever-growing business world is taking with it the ability for any one enterprise to be localised in a particular place. This means you should at least consider setting up new branches or virtual offices in multiple locations across the nation. Even though you will have to then manage a number of settings, you will gain plenty of benefits in the long run. Adapting to these modern, global times will provide you with the following five corporate advantages.

A commercial building

It pays to have more than one branch for your business Image

1. Access to Local Resources

If you produce any kind of goods, you may find that the various materials and components required are sourced from multiple areas around the country. For example, you may find the following are located in different regions:

• Mines
• Factories
• Ports
• Plantations
• Refineries

By opening up small branches near each of these facilities, you will then give your company greater access to a range of materials and services directly from the source. This means you won’t have to rely on a third party to bring these essentials to you.

2. Lowering Your Monthly Rent

Believe it or not, it may actually be more cost-effective to run a number of bare-bones offices around the country than a fully functional corporate setting in a single location. After you have negotiated to reduce the rent of your many branches, you can then look forward to even more savings thanks to the smaller and more compact premises that your company is now working from. If you can simplify how your work settings are planned out, eliminating excess features and only renting what is necessary, you can streamline your outgoing cash flow and still benefit from a number of corporate environments located around the country.

3. Honing Your Corporate Marketing

One difficulty that any localised business has is that its target audience is fairly limited, being restricted to a single geographical area. You can get around this by working from several different locations across the country. In general, people will wish to work with a business that has a presence in their neighbourhood because:

• It provides a local face to the company
• Contacting the enterprise is much easier
• Delivery times won’t be needlessly long
• Employees will be much more relatable

By branching out across the nation, you can tap into a wider consumer base than ever before, enabling you to find additional customers and boosting your sales to help cover the rental costs of your various corporate locations.

4. Added Convenience for Clients

Another advantage to the consumer is that it is far easier for them to come and visit your workplace if you are found scattered across the country. To cater to all your client’s needs, rent some office space at business centres around the nation. This will give them additional convenience as they can deal with your company in a number of ways thanks to your now local business setting. For example, they should be able to:

• Visit your office without driving for hours
• Post parcels and letters to you cheaply
• Phone without expensive long distance rates

There are times when your clients want some personal attention. In these cases, email won’t suffice. Video conferencing can be difficult to set up properly too. A better solution is just to have a local branch available so they can arrange for an appointment with you or a company representative without having to go through a lot of hassle to get there.

5. Broadening the Talent Pool

Lastly, by making the effort to rent corporate premises around the country, you will then have access to a greater range of skilled workers for your business. The truth is that having the right resources is crucial to helping you identify new talent. In this case, the resources in question are your local offices which can then tap into the growing number of potential candidates found in those local regions. People may not want to relocate to another city to work with your company so having multiple branches will give them a reason to sign on with you even though your main office is found halfway across the nation! In this way, you can increase the sheer talent within your organisation and grow your products and services accordingly.

As a brief recap, we can see that renting workplaces across the country can indeed provide many benefits to any enterprise. These advantages include the following:

1. Ease of access to national resources
2. More cost-effective rental payments
3. Effective locally targeted advertising
4. Increased consumer convenience
5. Wider talent pool for new employees

We would recommend that you get out there and expand your business operations as soon as possible to reap all of the above rewards. By occupying some of the best corporate spaces around the country, your company can grow and your customers will get even better service as a result! To make the process easier, get in touch with a provider such as Regus for assistance on renting suitable spaces at cities or regions you have interests in.

Author Bio: Juliet Martin is from Regus, a global office space solutions provider. Founded in 1989, Regus is a global organisation that aims to provide only the best office spaces and meeting venues to all kinds of businesses.

This post is part of my series on growing your business. Read more here and read about my own business journey in my books.

 
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Posted by on June 11, 2014 in Business, Guest posts, Organisation

 

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Developing your Business: Moving Into Office Space – How, When and Why?

Sneak preview of the image from my new bookAs part of my series on growing your business., we’re taking a look today at the expert’s view on moving into office space. You can read about other people’s personal experience of moving out of the home office here, and today I’m delighted to welcome Sam Barnes from Easy Offices, who is going to run through things to think about when upgrading from your home office from an expert’s perspective.

Many people choose to start their businesses from home. It’s cheap, convenient and comfortable. For some businesses, that’s all that’s required and they never feel the need to break out of the home office. For the majority of businesses though, office space becomes an essential as revenues grow. We’ve helped all manner of businesses find office space, from single person start-ups to massive corporations. However, there’s no doubt that with the advice you’re about to read, the process of selecting and moving into your brand new office, will be made substantially easier.

Why does my business need office space?

Your office space is the centre of your business.

Without offices, you’re running the risk of not being taken seriously by other businesses or consumers. Imagine if the next time you wanted to go the bank you ended up at a home, not an office. Commercial premises are a necessity of business.

The practical side of getting your own office space is extremely important too. You’ll have your own phone systems, postal address and meeting space. All of these things will be vital as you grow your business, providing the infrastructure that will drive you forward.

When should my small business move into offices?

This is a slightly more difficult question to answer. There are lots of reasons that you might need to look into choosing office space:

•    You’re outgrowing your existing office space.
•    You’re taking on more staff.
•    You need a meeting room for clients.
•    There are too many distractions at home.
•    You’re unsatisfied with your current office space.
•    You need better facilities, i.e. better internet, private rooms, reception area etc.

There could be hundreds more reasons on this list, but the vast majority of office moves are instigated by a lack of physical space, specifically when taking on more staff.

If you find yourself thinking, on more than one occasion a day, that a bigger office would make your work more effective or allow your business to grow more easily, then I would say it’s time to take the plunge!

As your revenue grows, you’ll find that justifying the cost of an office becomes easier and easier. Having the cash to be able to fund an office move is an absolute necessity.

How do I go about choosing office space?

There are three main kinds of office space available to small businesses in the current market:

1.    Co-Working Office Space

Co-working spaces can be a great fit for some businesses. They’re the cheapest of the three main options available. Essentially you’ll rent a couple of desks in a room or part of a larger office. This gives you the ability to separate your work and home lives while keeping costs low while your businesses is in the early stage of development.

You’ll never know who you might be sharing with and you can make some amazing new businesses contacts while sharing office space. We’ve heard lots of fantastic success stories about relationships formed in shared environments. Equally you’ll want to know before you choose a certain office, what kinds of businesses you’ll be working alongside. If you need a really quiet environment, make sure those around you feel the same.

You’ll also have access to shared mail, printing and catering facilities.

If you’ve only got a couple of staff and you work as one well-oiled machine, a co-working space would be ideal.

2.    Serviced Office Space

Serviced office space is more expensive than co-working office space, but not quite as expensive as a full-blown office lease.

It’s the perfect choice for companies with a few staff who need room to grow. You’ll have a dedicated space for your business (no co-working here). You’ll have all the kitchen, printing and mail facilities that I mentioned before, plus some added features. These normally include security, some kind of reception area, cleaning services and usually the ability to rent extra infrastructure such as improved internet connections.

You’ll get to put your own stamp on things too! The simple branding of your office through posters, mugs and pens can turn the feeling in your office from start-up to established business.

A fantastic choice for businesses growing quickly who know they’re going to need space to meet clients and further expand their operations.

3.    Office Lease

The only option for larger businesses, an office lease lets you rent an entire office. This is necessary when your business has outgrown your existing solutions or needs to centralise.
As this post relates to small businesses, I won’t go into too much detail here. What I will say is that you’ll need to be making substantial revenues before choosing a fully leased office. The costs involved are substantially higher than serviced or shared offices.

Some Top Tips for Choosing Office Space

Here are a few questions that you’ll need to ask yourself before making your choice to move offices:

•    Price – Can you afford it?
•    Space – Does the office you’re looking at give you enough room for meeting clients and working as a team?
•    Infrastructure – Do you need a dedicated phone line and Internet? Does the office you’re interested in office this as a service or do you have to organise it yourself?
•    Facilities – Can you and your staff park here if they drive? Are the kitchens clean?

They might sound like simple, fairly obvious questions, but if you fail to take one of these things into account you’ll be paying for it for months to come.

The best advice I can give you when attempting to choose an office space, is do your research.

Start out with a list of criteria that you need from your office. If any one of the office spaces you go to look at doesn’t meet even one of them, keep looking. There’s a space out there for everyone!

sam barnesSam Barnes is from Easy Offices.

The company works tirelessly to help businesses of all shapes and sizes find the perfect office space for their needs. He is interested in everything small business related with a particular interest in marketing. He works in the digital marketing sphere.

Outside work, he’s an avid football fan, with Arsenal being his lifelong obsession. He also has a passion for music and film. He’s currently rattling through the IMDB top 100 as a personal challenge.

You can also find Easy Offices on Twitter.

This post is part of my series on growing your business. Read more here and read about my own business journey in my books.

 
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Posted by on May 28, 2014 in Business, Guest posts, Organisation

 

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