Don’t Judge Your Year One by Someone Else’s Year Ten

The PBS Blog

One complaint I hear from new Self-Publishers (a lot) is how much they wish they could do what they see other authors doing.

Usually, these are authors they perceive are more successful. I say perceive because you really don’t know what that person is going through, has gone through, or what they sacrificed to be where they are now.

But know this:

You are doing yourself a disservice when comparing your progress to others.

If you’ve published your first book, it is not fair for you to compare yourself to someone publishing their third or fourth book. Your journey will not be the same. Never measure your year one with someone else’s year ten.

My first few books were duds. I’m talking bootleg covers and crappy editing. The only people who bought them were members of my organization at the time—like someone whose church family buys their book.

The problem…

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Phinite Drying Systems: Innovation from Australia Brings Revenue and Problem Solution to Pork Farmers

(Previously published in The Duplin Times)

On Wednesday, June 29th, an Australian inventor from Crocodile Dundee country visited Duplin County to show pork farmers a way to turn the sludge in their lagoons into additional revenue. 

Inventor and founder of Phinite, Jordan Phey, was a water engineer working to bring “simple and robust safe water treatments” for aboriginal people in northern Australia. He discovered two technologies to make money from water, and he began the process of developing them. In 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held a contest called the Nutrient Recycling Challenge. Phey entered his invention in the challenge and won an award at the White House for being one of the 10 best ideas in the world. Smithfield Foods was a judge in the competition, and they were so impressed with Phey’s work that they invited him to North Carolina. 

First, Phinite partnered with the NC Department of Soil and Water Conservation to conserve water in a wetland in Bladen County in 2019. In 2021, The Department of Soil and Water Conservation secured a Project Impact Grant to help make the technology accessible for farmers. “We have spent 16 million dollars in projects so far,” Executive Director Amanda Sand said. “We consider ourselves a conservation incubator.”

Phinite learned a lot from the wetland project and began to see the changes necessary to make their product commercially helpful for farmers. “Lack of access to cost effective drying systems is why farmers have such a big problem with waste today,” Jordan Phey said. “I felt this was a problem worth solving.” 

Jordan explains his drying systems process to farmers.

Phinite is a drying system that mines solids from hog lagoons and dries them in onsite drying stations using natural air flow and remotely operated equipment. Within 4-6 weeks, a batch of manure–approximately 100 tons–is dried. Then it is crushed and put through screen filters to prepare it for market. “We are in the business of mining solids,” Jordan Phey explained. “Solids are where the good minerals are, and 30% of them are within a foot of the liner in lagoons.” Phinite uses long-reach back hoes and other custom designed equipment to mine lagoons. They are able to harvest two years of manure for every one year of waste production. Set up in a research and test site on Dexter Edwards’ farm, they plan to have all the kinks worked out of the product and able to use them on farms as early as this October.     

Phinite handles the whole process from mining to market sales and returns a percentage of the sales to the farmer as a return of investment on their asset. Initial costs to install the equipment as well as some small maintenance is the responsibility of the farmer, but the difficult technical operations and everything else are managed by Phinite. 

Dexter Edwards, Don Butler, and Jordan Phey talk to pork farmers about Phinite Drying Systems.

Long term pork farmer, Phinite investor, and Phinite North American Representative Don Butler said, “in order to be successful, we have to address one of the biggest issues in North Carolina and that is our accumulating sludge. Phinite takes a problem and turns it into an asset. We think we have a valuable product that is perfectly timed for what is happening in the market (with fertilizer availability and cost). We view this as an ongoing mining operation with a revolving service.” 

Dexter Edwards, an executive with Smithfield Foods and one of the largest pork farmers in the state, said, “we’ve had a lot of people come to us claiming they had a solution. (We are well known for and made rich by our pork, turkey, and chicken products.) We are overproducing our product but today we have a solution that turns the waste burden into a product itself. I invested in bringing this to my property as long as Phinite was committed to making the changes to make it work. We are only time away from having this become a money maker for Duplin County. What we are going to be able to have is something that helps everyone. We will remove the argument that we are over producing (and we will have) a product to return to the farmland.” 

Dexter Edwards is known for being a frugal investor, but the Phinite operations on his farm are considerably large. He is not the only investor that sees Phinite as a working solution. HogSlat, Prestige Farms, and several other large family farms have invested in the company.
Farmers interested in having a Phinite Drying System are encouraged to contact the company through their website, via email to: info@phinite-us.com, or by calling 910-337-5662.

Top 5 Important Lessons Learned From My First Year Of Entrepreneurial Business

Has it really already been a year?! WOW!What a whirlwind it has been!

Whether you are a seasoned business person, a curious contemplator considering a startup, or a faithful reader of this blog, thank you for taking a moment to let me share about my first year in full-time business for myself and some of what I have learned from it. My hope is that this transparency will help you in your own businesses and aspirations.

1. Bring God Into Your Business Plan

When I first started, it was easy to get overwhelmed. My mind was racing in a thousand directions. I knew I wanted to make writing my business, but what did that look like?

One of the most important things I did was let myself freewrite (in my case, paint) what I thought my business would look like. Freewriting pulls out the heart of what you want to be without all the edits and filters that “be reasonable” will put on it. It helped me see what was most important to me as a person as well as a business.

Next, I needed to translate that into a written vision and mission statement. People call this all sorts of things in business, but it is generally your articulation of who you are, what you do, and why you exist as a business. Writing your vision like this is an important part of guarding yourself in business too.

The most important part of planning your business is praying and inviting God into it. I gave it all to Him. I would be nothing today if I hadn’t done that.

Over this past year, God has led me to do some pretty crazy spontaneous things (which only served to deepen my dependence on Him and joy in what we do together now). He has opened doors for me to meet and have favor with people I would not normally have that with in my own strength. In each step of this journey with Him, my business plan has become more clearly defined, and I have grown in character and confidence. I’ve had to trust God to provide when money wasn’t coming in as well as when it was. I’ve had to learn to be fearless and even excited when my calendar filled one day at a time instead of months in advance.

2. Say Yes To Every Good Thing

In the beginning, you say “yes” to every job you can do. Even when it was a stretch, I said yes to it. Why? Well, the obvious reason is that you need the money. The less obvious reason is that you need the experience.

Writing as a business takes business acumen. You have to learn what is a marketable skill that you can offer and others will pay you to do for them. In my case, I have a talent for capturing the heart of a business or story in words and pictures. I am also good at capturing how to represent someone online with their own website, logos, print graphics, etc.

I’m not just good at this list of tasks, I enjoy doing them. That is important! If you are going to work for yourself, you have to be willing to work harder and longer hours than you would for any other job. That is just how it is–especially in the beginning. If you want to stay in business, you can’t be a slacker. Success in business comes from being a person of integrity that keeps their word, balances multiple tasks at once, and is a good steward with the resources they are given.

Equally important as the things you say yes to doing are the thoughts you say yes to entertaining and believing about yourself and your business.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Philippians 4:8

Matt Tommey, a mentor to artists and successful artist himself, says that negative thoughts stifle creativity. If you allow yourself to entertain fear, you stop seeing creative solutions to your problems. That is so true! Many times I had to repeat Philippians 4:8 over and over before I could start my work day because I was so paralyzed in fear. Entrepreneurship has no room for fear. You have to keep your mind open and flexible to knew ideas and things to try.

3. Make Time To Learn New Skills

Entrepreneurship takes a lot of different skills at once. On one hand, you need to develop mastery of the craft you are trying to sell. On the other, you need to understand how to handle your finances, taxes, marketing, etc. There are infinite opportunities to grow and learn new things in both directions.

Don’t let the things you don’t know overwhelm or scare you. Believe it or not, it is better to get started than to try to know everything first.

The real truth is that we are always learning and striving to remain relevant. You never fully know all you should know, and if you think you have, you probably aren’t paying attention to your market anymore.

Education is a passion for me, so this was not a hard sell for my business. I made time for mentorship, webinars, workshops, conferences, software training, email subscriptions, and more. If it was even remotely related to what I do and came from a source I trusted, I signed up for it. I learned so much that I became a resource for others.

One other important reason to learn new skills is to expand your portfolio. Learning how to market myself on social media helped catalyst me into helping other businesses do it as well. Learning how to build my own website helped me get hired to build websites for others. Skills learned equate to more dollars earned (and saved) in the long run.

4. Say No To Some Things

Remember that business plan in my first point and how I said it protects you? Well, this is where it protects you. In the beginning, you do say yes to every job you can possibly do that fits within the guidelines of your plan.

You start very open minded. The world is your oyster and you shuck every oyster you can to find your pearls.

But with time, you learn what you like and dislike doing, so your plan becomes a little more clearly defined. You also begin to learn the limite of your time and have to be a little more discriminating. There is only one you, so you have to figure out what tasks are the best use of your time and which you should probably pass on to a colleague. (That means you also need to know good people who do stuff like you that you can send people too. Yes…work can get that hectic sometimes.)

My best example of this was with my sister when she was a massage therapist. Even though she could do anything she could (literally) put her hands to, she realized quickly that she only had a certain number of hours to work each day with full strength in her hands. That made her have to alternate times of services as well as what services she offered to be able to maximize her time each day.

It is not just saying no to jobs that aren’t the best match for your business, it is also saying no to some things so you have time for self care and fun too. Life is not just about work–even for us 5-percenters (the estimated percentage of the world that claims to be entrepreneurs). Making time to do what brings you joy requires saying no to something else.

5. Break The Plan

The most important part of your business is flexibility. You are going to have things that don’t work out the way you thought they would. As precious and essential as that written plan is, it’s not the details that matter as much as the core of who, what, and why you exist as a business.

When I first started, I thought everything I did was for artists only. I wrote to help mentor younger versions of myself. Even my first business cards said I existed as a business to “empower makers and young artists to live out their callings”. Imagine how hard that was to explain when I handed it to a business professional telling them I could help them. The whole first year of making any money in my business relied on proving my worth, necessity, and value to small business—NOT mentoring artists.

One thing I learned was that my passion for the arts (as an artist and business woman) is also my passion for small business. I want to help people get more exposure, expand what they do, and get better at it. Sometimes that is mentorship, but most the time that is marketing. It took time working my business to know that.

You can’t treat every little thing you write in your business plan like it is the holy grail, but it isn’t. You wrote it, and you are not God. Be open to wherever God will take you with your business because the more open you are to Him, the farther He can take you.

One of the things I like to do now is do an assessment at the end of the year of how the business is progressing. I look at my analytics and stats to see what is resonating with you, my readers, and plan how I can create more content like what you love to read. I do the same with my business and see what areas have sold the best and what areas I want to pursue more. I make goals and work towards them throughout the year, but I remain flexible to change them if the Lord clearly shows me something else I need to focus on. I encourage you to find a similar rhythm and pace yourself in your business. Oh, and I made new business cards. 😉

I hope this helps you.

Be blessed!

Art of Hope: Where Dreams Come True in Wallace, NC

Art of Hope galleries and framing shops in Wallace and Clinton, NC are evidence of an impossible dream that came true for artist, Hope G. Smith. In the art business for 18 years, Hope has over 1000 paintings, two Art of Hope galleries, and work on display around the world. 

Hope grew up as an artist in a family of creatives and entrepreneurs. Though they have been helpful for her development as an artist and businesswoman, Hope was not encouraged to see art as a viable career early on. She pursued teaching for a more steady income but found herself writing her own business plan after just three years of teaching. In January 2004, she opened a studio out of her home and began the journey of entrepreneurship. “I taught private lessons, made my own art, and did custom framing,” Hope says. “I took on any job possible, and it just grew from there.” In the beginning, Hope went to shows, expos, and all sorts of events to get her work seen. She also kept expenses low by working from home. “Until you get on your feet,” she says, “working from home cuts the overhead.” 

With no formal business training of her own, Hope surrounded herself with a strong support system.

You need to know who you can trust to surround you. It should be a partnership where you help each other out–not just one benefitting from the other.

Hope G. Smith on business partnerships

Hope’s most important partnership is with her husband. He did the hard work of researching the business side of what she needed to do to make her dreams come true.

Two really are better than one if you let it be, but you have to work at it. It isn’t easy; it’s hard work.

Hope G. Smith about marriage

Hope’s artistic style has been described as whimsical, colorful, and loose. She tries to capture “the soul of the moment, not a photo-realistic portrayal of it”. Her art also incorporates Bible verses as an intentional attempt to be a positive light. “If we can be a light in whatever work we find ourselves in (mine is art), we should be one!”

Prints from selected originals are available for purchase within Art of Hope galleries and online. Some originals can be purchased as well as custom framing jobs at either location. Hope is also available for hire to do custom commissions and live wedding painting. 

Hope G. Smith is a founding member of the Downtown Wallace Merchant Association, and she is a strong advocate for the value of a healthy Chamber of Commerce.

The Chamber is what visitors look at when they come to a new area. When a Chamber is healthy, it goes to businesses and supports them, it sends customers to them, and it shops locally for its own needs before it looks elsewhere. Good leadership is a partnership with business, and we support each other.

Hope G. Smith on the importance of a Chamber of Commerce

The Downtown Merchant Association works with the Chamber of Commerce to support downtown businesses and bring activities there like the semi-annual Shop Hop in April. This ticketed event includes lunch, coffee, free merchandise, and discounts at 15-20 downtown shops in Wallace, NC. Downtown Wallace is a thriving place with businesses that have been in operation there for many years. When asked about why small-town America is thriving with culture today, Hope’s answer was sincere. “People are hungry for a small-town community. Covid has taught us all that we need each other; we need community.” 

Hope doesn’t take for granted that she has been blessed to be in business as an artist for 18 years. “The art business isn’t easy. Sometimes you overwork and have to be willing to put in the hours that nobody sees. When you are doing what God has called you to do,” she says, “you are doing that thing that fills your soul. The money will follow after that. It is much harder to do something you don’t love, so pursue your passion and don’t feel guilty for doing something you love. We need to be able to embrace people for what they are, not necessarily the 9-5 boxes we want to put them in.”

A lot of people, over the years, have told Hope that they are not creative, but Hope looks at creativity much different. “Creativity breeds creativity,” she says. “People do it all the time and don’t realize it. Creativity is an important part of how we nurture humanity. It is when we aren’t nurturing others that problems arise in society.”

When she is not out painting in the community, Hope G. Smith can be found in one of her two galleries: Art of Hope in Wallace or Clinton, NC. She is also available online at hopegsmith.com.

Two Are Better Than One: How Partnerships Make The Dream Work

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. 

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

As a small business, I hear a lot about partnerships between organizations. This business partners with that one to facilitate this service and now both entites had a point of impact in the community. In fact, greater impact is accomplished because of their partnership than could have been even imagined if they stuck to doing it all alone.

The principles of partnership are as ancient as the Garden of Eden. When God created Adam and looked down on him, he didn’t say, “good job, son, you are killin’ it on your own!” No, on the contrary, he said it is not good for man to be alone, let me make him a helper. Why? Because God designed us to live and work as teams–not individuals.

Business

If you look at the needs of your organization–your specific business plan–you should see a target demographic that you want to reach. To truly accomplish that goal, you can’t do it by yourself, you need to bring in other people who can agree with your vision and have the passion for it that you do.

No organization grows from idea to thriving business with just one person. If you want to be successful, you have to have vision for the future and a plan to mentor others into your seat on the company because eventually you will retire or pass away and you don’t want to build something that just ceases to exist in 10-20 years.

Entrepreneur

It might sound silly to list this separate than business, but the truth is that they are not the same. Though every small business needs to have vision and growth, many are franchisees of bigger businesses. An entrepreneur is someone who is a one-off business: they came up with an idea and pursued it based on their own creativity, vision, and willpower.

Entrepreneurs are the invisible demographic in a community. They are the people like Amy Brogden who look at a town, see a vacancy, and believe they can do something to meet that need. God bless them! We need more people like that everywhere. Small towns are dying without them.

Entrepreneurs work hard to make their vision prosper. They live with the daily reality that the economy can change in a minute and they can be out of a job, so they are always on pivot to stay relevant. The bigger they grow, the more people they carry under them, and the more burden they feel to be successful; no one wants to work as hard as we do to build a business that dies in a couple years.

Relationships

Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord.

Proverbs 18:22 KJV

From the beginning, God set us up to work together in partnership. He took a rib out of Adam to make Eve because he wanted her to be something standing beside him and working with him not ruling over him or trampled by him.

Women of God, you have such an amazing Creator! He saw your worth and recognized you long before Susan B. Anthony or any of those other folks even existed. Get to know Him and praise Him because our Lord Jesus really is a good God to serve.

–Rebecca J. Whitman

It is tempting to live life single–especially if you have faced any heartache in relationships–but I really don’t think that was God’s design for the majority of us. There are far more verses in the Bible about love and marriage and filling the Earth with children than there are about the blessings of singleness. We all must be single for a season, but we are also responsible for being able to see when that season has ended.

Mixing Love and Business

If you are an entrepreneur, it can be really hard to be in a relationship. Sometimes the demands of work make it hard to have room to share your life with anyone else. It is easier to say a relationship will hinder your productivity than it is to say it will help it.

Still, I have seen too many married couples thriving in business to say that single mindedness is really the truth we should hold to—and I am not the only one. According to this article from Entrepreneur.com, research shows that growth in business is tied to a strong and thriving marriage.

Truth Hits Home

When my maternal grandparents came home from their honeymoon, they came home to a box full of baby chicks, and my grandma cried. We were never told why she cried, but I have always believed it was because she knew how much work was ahead of them and the weight of it was frightening. Entrepreneurship is an often scary adventure.

From then on, the adventure was non-stop for them. From chicken farming to dairy farming to firewood to restaurants and everything in between, my grandparents were successful entrepreneurs in Colorado. They were married over 50 years and now rest buried together.

I never saw that entrepreneural life buy them a fancy house or lots of things, but we lacked for nothing at grandma’s house. Their faith and love poured into everyone they knew: friends, family, and strangers. It was a level of kindness and generosity so great, in fact, that it took multiple funerals to celebrate them when they died—and we still talk about them years later today. That kind of legacy doesn’t happen when you live life alone.

This godly heritage reminds me every day that true love and business success are possible. The wedding rings that honored that marriage wait to honor my own now. I like to think my grandparents would be tickled pink to know I will wear grandma’s rings someday. I like to think they would be proud to see me in business now much like them—living day to day on my faith in Jesus.

There is nothing easy about being in business for yourself. Some days you want to curl up and cry or just go back to working for someone else so you can sleep at night.

But all those fears are just growing pains. In time, the business you are building will establish itself if you don’t give up and if you make strategic partnerships that will propel you forward.

Don’t be afraid to risk failure for love. When you find someone worth giving your heart to, be bold enough to speak your truth even if that means writing it down in a letter. Pray for them. Invest in them. Make them a priority and trust me in this: the ROI will be worth the effort.

The Freelance Life: Editing Services with Andrea Barilla

In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the mid-1980s, a young Andrea Barilla with brown wavy hair and wide eyes sits at a kitchen table nibbling on cookies and drinking Coke. In a nearby room, she watches her daddy talk to his clients about their life insurance. He’s one of the top salesmen in the company, and it’s not because he has charisma, it’s because he knows his clients’ kids. He knows their birthdays. He values them as individuals. The young girl smiles from the other room; she doesn’t even know yet that this moment is teaching her the secret that would later make her business.

Today, Andrea Barilla starts her coffee, grabs her planner, and steps outside in a pair of her favorite LuLaRoe leggings. “The best investment I made,” she says, “was my outside table because we so often have trouble getting outside in this line of work, and you need things to force you to get outside.”

Andrea Barilla is an established freelance editor and writer. She holds an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from UNC Wilmington and a BA in English from Westminster College in Pennsylvania. She is a member of several editing groups including the American Copy Editors Society, Editorial Freelancers Association, and Publishers Marketplace.

She has edited 300 health articles for Healthline.com, over 100 courses for Savanah College of Art and Design (SCAD), and served on the staff of three literary magazines, including Ecotone (now a national publication) and the trilingual El Protagonista in Puerto Rico. But if you ask her what she loves the most…it is the books.

Helping someone bring their book to life is like bringing a child into the world. It takes time and gentle nurturing care; it’s not something you want to rush through. It takes attention to detail like the ability to see how a punctuation mark can be misinterpreted in print.

I love working on books. I love critiquing projects, or discussing the big-picture issues of plot, characters, setting, etc. I love fixing things with copy edits—which can be very meditative and fulfilling too.

Andrea has edited book manuscripts (of various genres and types, including textbooks) for Stackpole Books; Paradigm Publishing (a division of EMC Publishing, LLC); Dorrance Publishing Co., Inc.; and individuals. One of the books she worked on, A Girl Named Nina, went on to win Best Young Adult Fiction Book in English at the 2014 International Latino Book Awards. Andrea attended the 2016 Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writing Conference and was a guest panelist at the 2017 Professional Networking Symposium at Westminster College. Andrea also loves to help clients create query letters and book proposals to pitch to agents. She keeps her finger on the pulse of the publishing world and helps her clients take their writing to the next level.

On Life As A Freelancer

Andrea starts her day the night before with coffee grounds ready to brew in the pot and her planner set up with her next day’s schedule.

“The beauty of freelancing,” she says, “is that you have your own routine and the freedom to do what works for you. Nothing is wrong as long as it makes you productive.”

For Andrea, that is a task-oriented schedule and whatever clothing makes her as comfy as possible. Outside with her coffee and planner, she centers her day around the tasks she needs to complete that day.

“Over time, I’ve learned how many pages I can edit in an hour and how long different types of editing take me. That’s a really great thing to learn because it helps you know how many projects you can take on and how to break them down to make them manageable.” When Andrea looks at her schedule, she sees the manageable chunks of the projects she is working on. She can decide which work needs her time the most and structure her day around the goals she has to complete.

“I try to balance my schedule with critiques and copy edits. They use different parts of the brain and require different levels of energy.”

Business Coaches

One of the things that really helped Andrea early on was working with business coaches, particularly those with SCORE, a nationwide free and low-cost nonprofit supported by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). She worked with these coaches to create processes and systems to streamline the things she does over and over again in the business.

“I used to panic when I got an email,” she says, “now I don’t have to panic because having these systems, these templates, makes it easier and keeps my responses professional and pretty much the same for everyone, save a tweak or two. I’ve had people thank me for being so professional because of them.”

With potential clients, Andrea starts with a paid sample edit. She likes to show the clients what they will be getting with her services and the quality of the care and work she will give their project. She treats the clients and their work as gingerly as if it were her own; that is a lesson she learned from her father, and it is the lesson that keeps clients coming back to her for repeat business.

Determining Worth

It took time for Andrea to learn how to determine her worth. “I can’t believe I am an editor,” Andrea says. “In grad school, I was surrounded by amazing authors and didn’t always give them my critiques in workshops because I didn’t feel I was worthy of giving them my opinion. It’s crazy to see where I am now versus then.”

When Andrea started her freelancing career, she thought she wanted to be a freelance writer. She would send out queries and pitches and wait anxiously for responses. Sometimes editors would take her ideas and give them to their own staff writers. It was very stressful. She had to try a lot of things to figure out what she was good at. One day she got a chance to take on a large editing job for Healthline.com. She wasn’t sure she could handle it, so she called me. I encouraged her to try because I knew she was capable of doing the work.

“I really thought I would fail,” Andrea says looking back, “but then I realized I could really do it and I enjoyed it. My whole career shifted to editing and it all hinged on one job I thought I couldn’t do until I tried it.”

On Bridge Jobs

“You’re going to have some failures,” Andrea advises, “that’s just a part of being an entrepreneur.” Nevertheless, she wishes that she would have kept a part-time job in the beginning when she was still trying to build up clientele. “There is nothing wrong with working another job while you are freelancing,” she says, “and many freelancers maintain part-time jobs for the consistent steady paychecks.”

On Rates

Andrea has an hourly rate, but she didn’t charge much and even did a few jobs for free when she first started editing. “I wanted to put feelers out there and build up my confidence and portfolio,” she says. Confidence and time can help you learn how much to charge, but there are also reference guides to know where your prices should fall. The Editorial Freelancers Association website and the Writer’s Market yearly guidebook both have respected information about industry standard rates. Andrea used both of these to help create a list of rates and services that she offers. They also give her professional leverage when she is negotiating her worth with potential clients.

Making the Budget

Being your own boss can be exciting when you control your own freedom, but there is also a huge responsibility to acquire new clients to be able to keep the bills paid. Andrea keeps a spreadsheet to see exactly how much money she has coming in and how much she needs to make to stay ahead. She knows how much each current and potential project is worth, and the spreadsheet can help her determine what kinds of projects she should pursue. “It is not good to depend all on one project,” she advises, “you need to have a couple of projects going at all times.”

A key component of Andrea’s business is repeat business with clients she refers to as her “bread and butter” clients.

Andrea says, “you want consistent work from a few bread and butter clients coming in every month. That gives you a consistent revenue to work with and room to be a little more choosy about the projects you take on with the rest of your time.”

Building Clientele

Though the field of editing can be competitive, Andrea’s organic approach is dependent on the fact that the quality of her work will create repeat business. “Try to build relationships with people who could become bread and butter clients. Try to build repeat business and, in that way, it isn’t about competition at all but about creating a product people want to come back for.”

Trust God

Andrea does not worry about where the next source of income will come from; her faith directs her business. Andrea has been amazed by the way clients always show up when she needs them, and she credits this timing to her faith.

“I have a faith in Jesus Christ. I tithe and try to put Him first in my life. I don’t stress,” she says. “I know God will provide; He always does. Still, it’s up to me to do my part, and that means sowing seeds.”

Andrea advises that you should “constantly be sowing seeds” when it comes to your business. She is constantly making connections and networking with people who can become future clients. She also keeps a list of potential clients whom she can reach out to—for example, people who are working on books, people she has worked with before, and people she has met at functions. She always tries to get testimonials from happy clients that she can put on her website and point potential clients to.

Job Boards

In the world of freelancing, a lot of jobs are posted on job boards in organizations where freelancers maintain memberships. Jobs vary widely and are filled quickly from the boards. Many scammers also fill the boards with fake or low paying ads. Nevertheless, when you are just starting out, you try anything, and you take any job you can get.

There are safe ways to navigate through job boards now. Some of the advocates for their use recommend verifying the posters are verified accounts. Others avoid foreign posters entirely.

Specialization

Andrea advocates trying as many things as you can, but she also advocates specializing in particular fields and learning what you do not want to work with. Specialization doesn’t mean you work in one area of interest only–sometimes you have to work outside your specialty. It does, however, bring you unsolicited business.

“Creating a reputation in an area is huge in this business,” Andrea says. “You become the go-to person for that area based on your reputation. Clients know to come to you.

Determining Projects

Experience has taught Andrea a lot in this business. She has learned what kinds of projects she will enjoy and what kinds of clients will be difficult to work with. She avoids the problem clients and the projects too-far outside her comfort zone, such as poetry. She navigates to books that she feels will make a difference in the world–especially memoirs, business and education titles, Christian living and inspiration, and literary fiction. She is able to sift through potential clients by the level of their commitment. “The people who are serious,” she says, “will be willing to pay the price and sign the agreements.”

Contracts

Andrea has learned the hard way the value of having clients sign contracts. Without them, she experienced some clients disappearing mid-project and “ghosting” her on payment. “It is important to have contracts to avoid getting caught with people who will ghost you,” Andrea says.

Making Room To Write

Because Andrea is also a writer, one of the things she had to learn the hard way was not to take on work that is too similar to her own. In one particular project, she realized that it was “pulling energy away” from her own work.

Editing is usually relaxing for Andrea; it helps her maintain some mental space and energy for her own work. “I want to conserve energy for my own writing projects,” Andrea says, “and editing helps me do that.” If a project is too close to her own work, Andrea will now tell a client up front that she is not the best editor for their project. In the first few years of the job, Andrea didn’t have any time or energy to write her own stuff. Now, over eight years into her business, Andrea tries to keep one day in the week free to pursue her own creative work. She had a very popular relationship blog, and now she is working on a new Nonfiction project.

Social Life

“It is really easy to let freelancing take over your life,” Andrea says. “It helps if you have some involvements that force you to get out and have a life away from work.”

Andrea maintains active involvements with social groups in her church and community. She also has a lot of friends who pull her away from her work when she needs it. She claims that the breaks help her avoid burnout, isolation, and loneliness that are often side effects of her job.

The Benefits of Freelancing

In 2013, Andrea’s aunt states away was diagnosed with terminal cancer. However, Andrea was able to go home and spend the last month of her aunt’s life with her. She was able to be with her family and go through the grieving process with them while she worked. She was never so thankful for her job than in that moment.

Andrea also loves the fact that she is learning something new in her job every day. “I get to work on fascinating things and I’m constantly learning and meeting really cool people from diverse walks of life,” she says. “I love that I’m always learning and that people are trusting me with their stories.”

Connect

If you would like to know more about Andrea Barilla and her editing business, you can check out her services at: http://www.andreabarilla.com/