Hi all! For this month’s Creative Corner post we’re taking a trip all the way over to the Netherlands where we chat with the super lovely freelance Editor/Proofreader and owner of C.M. Proofs who has a ton of awesome advice up her sleeve.
Everyone, meet Ciera…
I’m experimenting with a slightly different Creative Corner format this month, as well! Rather than working with a list of pre-made questions, Ciera and I chatted through Instagram and I’m just copying/pasting the transcript below. Let me know if you prefer this format. Enjoy…
Ciera, it’s so lovely to be chatting with you today! To begin with, would you mind letting us know a little bit about yourself? Where you’re based, any hobbies, pets, family…give us a little look into who you are before we get into the nitty gritty questions 😊
Sure! I am originally from Alaska, but have moved around quite a bit. Until recently, I was living in South Korea where I worked as an English instructor. I moved to Delft, Netherlands about 2 months ago (to be closer to my sister and friends) and love it here. I have a wide range of hobbies, from cooking to scuba diving to yoga and hiking and reading. I am always looking for new things to learn and try.
Oh, wow! It sounds like you’ve had quite an interesting life! I’ve always thought that living in the Netherlands would be super chill. Do you find that you live a relaxed lifestyle in Delft?Also, we have quite similar hobbies. I think we’d get along well if we were able to meet in person! 😊
Oh cool! I imagine Australia has amazing diving! Although I didn’t get to do any the one time I visited there. And yes, Delft is so, so lovely! It doesn’t take much to make me happy, and zooming around the greenery, old buildings, and canals pretty much does it for me.
What a life! That sounds amazing.
I’ve never been scuba diving before; that’s the one hobby that differs between us 😂
I did get to go on a snorkeling camp in high school one year though which was a lot of fun! You should definitely try and visit again and go diving up in North Queensland. I’ve heard the diving is amazing there on the reef!
Anyway, on to business…
I’ve been super excited to chat with you because we both lead quite similar professional lives – we’re both freelancers working within the writing/editing/proofreading space. It’ll be interesting to see if our experiences align.
Can you tell me a little about your business and the work you do on a daily basis?
😊Sure thing! I’d been flirting with the idea of working as a writer for many years. It’s one of those things that I am naturally good at, and since colleagues and friends would always come to me for help in that area, it seemed a smart fit. I started and hated it. I found it completely exhausting! So I discarded that career path and tried a whole slough of other things.
When I was living in Chicago, I met a woman who wanted help editing some books she’d written and she and I ended up working together on those for several years. It was something I was doing on the side while teaching, and I realized that it’s the editing and proofreading that I truly love.
I was doing this when Covid hit, and during the worst of the pandemic I also realized that I wanted a job that gave me more geographic freedom. I didn’t want my job to tie me to any one place. I think a big part of this came from being so far from family and friends during Covid and being unable to visit.
So I took the leap, so to speak, and started building C.M. Proofs while finishing up my last contract in Korea. And I just realized that this didn’t totally answer your question! On a day-to-day basis I work on a range of things. I help authors with their manuscripts, I review articles for Study.com, I help businesses with their webcopy and marketing materials, and help bloggers who need a second pair of eyes before/after publishing.
A lot of my work for businesses comes from non-native English speakers, which I think is great. It’s a niche that I am very comfortable with after working in ESL and language instruction for so long.
Feel free to edit and delete whatever you like from this atrociously long response haha
Hahaha it’s absolutely all good!
My next question was going to be along the lines of ‘what drove you to start your business?’ so you’ve already covered that one above! You’re just one step ahead of the questions 😂👌🏼
I’m in much the same boat, to be honest. A lot of what you’re saying rings true to my own experiences which is nice to hear.
I have a few of my own non-native English-speaking clients and I find that the work is super rewarding because they always tell me that as I’m writing/proofreading for them I’m helping them learn. I love it!
Since you’ve been freelancing, what have you found has been most challenging business-wise?
I love that your ESL clients feel that way! What a nice thing to hear from them. The most challenging thing at the start was just believing that it was possible. It’s totally scary to start a business from scratch, even though it is so rewarding. C.M. Proofs is still quite new, and I think the hardest part is finding new clients. So much work goes into networking and learning to be comfortable pitching yourself.
Yessss! I 100% feel that! So, how do you find new clients? Do you use one predominant method or do you tend to mix it up?
It’s quite mixed! I use Upwork a lot and have connected with some really lovely clients that way. Word of mouth helps as well, and I think as my network grows that may be where I get most of my work. I have also used sites like Indeed, LinkedIn, and Fiverr and found clients that way. I think (especially when starting out) that having a diverse pool of possible gig opportunities to pull from helps a lot. Keeps the content that you are working on diverse and interesting as well.
(please enjoy all these lovely typos, my editor brain is clearly off haha)
Hahaha it’s ok, we’re out of office hours so typos are 100% allowable lol
I am definitely on the same page when it comes to keeping your opportunities diverse. I do much the same as you (except replace Upwork with Airtasker). Word of mouth is a wonderful thing! Nowadays, a lot of my work comes in from referrals and returning clients.
Is the majority of your work ad hoc or do you mostly deal with regular clients?
Also, I did notice that your fees are listed on your site. How did you come up with your rates? I found that was one of the most difficult things to do, to be honest.
It’s a 50/50 split right now. Part of this is because of how I like to arrange my work. I can get bored quite easily, so working for the same clients all the time would start to feel redundant quickly if that is all I did. So, I sprinkle on ad hoc gigs to keep things fresh and interesting. These are normally books or academic journal articles.
Ah, pricing. I still am not totally confident with that! Sometimes I think my rates should be higher (especially with cost of living in Holland) and other times I think they are too high. It’s something that I’m constantly assessing and wondering about. I came up with my figures based on the fact that I am a new business and still need to establish trust in the market, and on what I know I need to make a living. One thing about having clients scattered across the globe is that market rates for services can differ drastically from place to place. So some clients think my rates are a steal and others think they are absurd haha.
Maybe this is different for some people, but my goal with C.M. Proofs is not to make heaps of money. My goal is to make a living through a job that offers me the flexibility to balance my life in a way that makes me happy.
(and I should skedaddle here in about 10–15 😊 )
Yeah, I feel you on that. I’m still in the same boat, always wondering whether my pricing is too high or too low. I’m much the same though, as long as I can pay the bills and enjoy a fulfilled lifestyle, I’m happy with whatever I’m able to bank.
It’s a tough gig trying to manage different clients expectations.
It definitely is! And while also making space for what you need as an individual and entrepreneur.❤️
No problem!! Thanks so much for jumping on this chat with me, I super appreciate it! 😊
I always finish these blogs off with the same question…
If you had three tips to give to new freelancers/editors/proofreaders looking to start their own business, what would they be? In other words, what do you wish you’d known before you got started?
1. Don’t rush. Take time to observe and learn from others in your chosen field who are doing what you want to do.
2. Along those lines, don’t be afraid to reach out to people you follow on IG or LinkedIn. I’ve found that most people are happy to share a little advice or expertise if they have the time. We all had to start somewhere.
3. Have fun and keep your options open. I’ve learned new skills like Wix and WordPress simply because I said yes to opportunities that at first seemed intimidating.
Perfect! I couldn’t agree more 😊
Thanks again for agreeing to chat with me. I’m super excited to share your knowledge and advice with my readers!
I’m very glad we stumbled upon each other through Instagram. Keep doing what you’re doing – I love it!❤️
Thanks so much Katelyn, you as well! It was really nice to get to know you better and connect like this.
If you’re looking for a seriously talented editor/proofreader to help refine your written work, you can use any of the links below to check out Ciera’s various links and contact her directly through them.
☕ Coffee is good. Sponsor Ciera’s next cup here: www.ko-fi.com/iscribecreative
If you have any questions at all for Ciera that weren’t answered in this article, pop them in the comments and I’ll follow up with her for you 😊
Creative Corner will be back at the beginning of next month so follow the blog to stay in the loop!