Making the decision to invest in yourself is HARD.
Often we feel we have to put everyone else’s needs above our own. Or we just don’t think we’re worthy of the investment.
But let me drop a truth bomb on you: you need to look after your own needs before you can look after others. Investing in yourself is an example of self-respect; you’ve got to respect yourself before you can expect others to respect you.
Improving your skills is one way you can invest in yourself. Skills not only give you a way to pay the bills, but they also give you confidence in your abilities.
It took Melinda a little while to convince herself that she was worth the investment, but when she finally did, she was able to grow her business to $2,000 a month by proofreading books!
Take it away, Melinda!
Q: Welcome to the blog, Melinda! Tell us a little about your background. What did your life look like before you crossed paths with PA?
I had been underemployed for about six months before I crossed paths with PA. I have a couple of decades in the education world but have been searching for my “dream job” the whole time. I’ve done a lot of different things: cashier, zookeeper, lab technician, high school teacher…
Q: Ooh, zookeeping must have been fun! When did you start proofreading, and what made you decide to learn how to proofread?
In my last full-time job, I was occasionally allowed to work from home, and I loved it. In that job, even though I was supposed to be a writer, I ended up mostly editing. After that, I edited a book for a friend in my spare time and really enjoyed it (she got published in 2016), so I thought maybe I should look into training for proofreading and editing.
Q: Working from home is one of the biggest draws of freelance proofreading. What was the most challenging part of getting started?
The biggest challenge was investing in myself. I think I started looking into PA in December or January, but it wasn’t until April 2017 that I convinced myself I was worth the investment. And then I needed to motivate myself to invest the time into completing the General Proofreading course (I took the exam in October of 2017). Coming from the education world, money has always been tight, and you are expected to be mostly self-reliant. It was a big challenge to learn to invest both time and money into myself and my future.
Q: I’m a big proponent of investing in self-development. That’s how you get the skills to pay the bills! What was the most valuable thing you learned during the course?
What a style guide was! Ha! I didn’t realize that there were style choices beyond whether you use the Oxford comma. Now one of my big selling points is that I create a personal style guide for any of my clients who do not choose to use The Chicago Manual of Style, so they can be consistent throughout their body of writings.
Q: How long did it take you to find your first client? And how many clients do you have now?
Having my friend’s book in my portfolio really helped me to find clients because I could use excerpts from that for my samples. I first got paid by a client while I was still working on the PA course. However, I had probably been looking for about a year. I landed a client pretty quickly when I first started looking, but it took over a year of chasing them down to finally get my money.
I currently work directly and regularly with two authors, I have two small fiction publishers as clients, I edit eight different blogs, and I am the copyeditor for two quarterly magazines. That adds up to ten regular clients right now, and my income from editing has been slowly growing all year. July 2018 was the first month I surpassed $2,000 in monthly freelance income.
Here’s what some of Melinda’s happy clients have to say!
Q: How long did it take you to recoup the cost of the course?
In the month after I passed the exam, I made more than the PA program cost.
Q: What advice would you give anyone thinking about enrolling in the course to learn how to proofread? Is it worth the money?
When you add the supportive community of graduates and the business lessons from Caitlin on top of the proofreading skills, it is definitely worth the investment in yourself. So stop procrastinating, and just do it!
Q: What does your life look like now as a working freelance proofreader?
The days when I am not working my side passion (outdoor education), I get to wake up on my own time, relax with a great cup of coffee, walk my dog and then edit when my brain is awake and ready to go. I also frequently take luxuriously long meal breaks because I can!
Over the summer, my dog and I took a month-long road trip, where I worked from my rentals about twenty-five hours a week and played, explored, and hiked the rest of the time between drives. When my friends are available for a getaway, I can always say yes (because they are good about letting me have some editing time when I need it).
Most importantly, I work when I am most productive and can schedule downtime—or not. I love what I am doing, so I have found myself to be a little bit of a workaholic, especially if I am working on a really fun read!
Enjoying the winery: Melinda’s dog Carnitas (or Carnitas Fajita Burrito if she’s in trouble!)
Q: Doing work you enjoy often doesn’t feel like work! Anything else you’d like to share with the PA community?
The key to being successful is being persistent. Despite having a number of regular clients, I apply to at least a dozen gigs every week. I run a local freelancing group, which is a great way to network. When I don’t have editing to do, I am finding new ways to market myself or adding info to my website. As Caitlin always says, you’ve got to work hard at it. I translate that as you get out of it what you put into it!
I couldn’t have put it better myself, Melinda! Nothing worthwhile comes easily. You need to keep taking action to achieve the change you want.
Ready to put your needs first and invest in yourself? Check out our free workshop to find out how you can take steps to improve your life.