I’ve been freelance a long time, thanks to living in a small town with no publishing nearby and my annual short-lived searches of job ads that often show 200+ applicants within four hours of being posted. After I respond to a few ads, someone will need me on a project for the next year or four, so I stop fruitless applying and carry on editing, thanks to a bunch of delightful clients who know and trust me. Here are my soft skills that the résumé or a bunch of keywords doesn’t explicitly show.
1. The ability to manage projects and deadlines
As a freelancer I’ve essentially been working 10–15 part-time jobs per year, balancing everyone’s deadlines and turning things in on time because that’s how I get repeat business—being reliable and doing good work. I typically work on one big project in the morning and one in the afternoon, and I reserve a bit of time at night or on weekends as needed. This of course changes based on the deadlines’ fast approach and how much is left to do on any one book or pile of documents.
2a. A wide range of experience, part 1: topics and formats
I work on so many different things every month that I daresay I have a broader range and knowledge base than someone who’s just been working on one thing or in one niche for a long time. The list of topics and material types I’ve handled is long and varied and includes topics such as sports, hobbies, and business and formats such as marketing materials (including SEO articles/web page text and social media posts), books (fiction and nonfiction), education (preK–college and adult learner curriculum, assessments, study guides, and other materials), and journalism (news and music).
2b. A wide range of experience, part 2: software and publishing
Every client or project has a different set of software and computer skills needed for the job, from various CMS systems to Google Workspace or Microsoft Office. PDF markup is handled with Adobe, and communication can be IMs via Slack or Hangouts or just regular email. Meetings can be on the phone, Zoom, WebEx, or Teams. Give me a few tips and tricks with a new platform or software and I’m off to the races (or meeting, as the case may be). I also keep up my skills and stay plugged in to the ever-changing publishing industry via webinars offered through my professional organizations.
3. The ability to code-switch
Every client has a house style guide, and every series or product line has its own style as well. That’s in addition to the core style guides of Chicago or AP, one of which most clients use as a starting point and then decide their exceptions from there. I juggle it all and remember everyone’s nuances, often while working on multiple projects per day.
4. Loyalty and quality
I’ve always put my whole self into my work, and thus I take pride in doing a good job. I very much care about quality and making sure the manuscript/article/marketing piece is the best it can be. I’m persnickety and thorough, all for the text’s benefit—and the client’s.
5. Self-assured leadership, independence—and a team player
Because I’ve had to assemble a full-time job out of thin air for so many years, I’m definitely one to call when you want to just hand something over to someone else to take the lead. I’ll work it over and get it ready for the next step for you, while raising important considerations and potential issues for your review. But work done to a client’s specifications doesn’t just magically happen. The more context I have, the better the decisions I can make for you on issues not detailed in the style guide. This makes dialogue with my team members an essential part of my job.
The bottom line: I get things done well and on time. What else do you need to know? Have something full-time? Sign me up.