Learn how Brenda gave her services away for free to build an editing business in which she is now working 80 hours a week.
Location: Lansing, MI
Her business: The Eclectic Editor
How we met: Brenda was a fellow attendee at Pioneer Nation, the conference where I got the idea for 101 Conversations. After the conference, I put up a post in the Facebook group asking if anyone would be willing to talk to me, and she responded!
When I asked Brenda why she went into business as an editor, her passion for her work was obvious.
She said, “I wanted to be a cheerleader for writers. When I was a little kid I would write little novels. Aside from profits and rights, the traditional publishing industry is mean to writers, and I wanted to help the person who couldn’t publish their book, give them an opportunity to learn how to become a better writer, and get their books published.”
Brenda has had a lot of different experiences, including going to school for music history, working as a tech person at a school, and doing writing consultations. In becoming an editor, she says that she can combine the jobs of an editor, writing consultant, and therapist, all of which she loves.
Brenda’s biggest learning curve right now is figuring out how to handle all of the work on her table.
Brenda’s schedule is packed with clients, and she is working 80 hour weeks. She’s realizing that, as just one person, her time is limited. She just hired someone to help her with proofreading, a huge step for her.
Pioneer Nation was incredibly inspiring, and Brenda says that while she got so many ideas and insights from attending the conference, it’s hard to figure out when to implement new business ideas when her plate is so full of work. She really wants to figure out how to make an income without selling her time for money.
Brenda was able to build up such a large clientele by doing great work for free and expanding her network.
Brenda started by doing free editorial work for people in her immediate network and one step beyond in order to build up a portfolio of work. When people saw the great work she did, they started referring her to friends, and her business just kept growing. She also did some guest blogging and helped bloggers with their editing as well. They would give her a shout out in their posts, people would click through, and she would get another client.
When you’re an editor, you can barter for just about anything.
I asked Brenda who built her website, and she told me she bartered for it. She also bartered for her contracts, and many other aspects of her business. My guess is that this bartering also helped her expand her network, which probably led to more clients as well.
Even though Brenda built her business through her network, she doesn’t attend networking events.
She said that Pioneer Nation was the first conference she’s attended, and she is an introvert, so she gets really nervous about going to actual networking events. The reason she attended the conference was because it was small – only about 300 people. She said she would prefer smaller networking events, with a specific topic being addressed, and a facilitated networking experience. She also wouldn’t mind meeting someone who understands her hectic schedule and wouldn’t mind grabbing a beer.
When Brenda does meet people, she is strategic about it.
She researches people going to an event so that she knows who she wants to talk to. Then she approaches with a specific question in mind.
A band director she worked with told her that he wanted to meet a famous trumpet player, and decided to approach him after a concert. But instead of going up and gushing about his trumpet playing, the band director asked him if he liked to play basketball. He said yes, and the two started a friendship playing basketball together. From that, the band director was also able to advance his career.
That story has always stood out to Brenda. When she approaches leaders in her community, she thinks of a specific, conversation starting question to ask them instead. That gets the conversation flowing.
- While networking is a very powerful way of growing a business, it can be done without going to networking events.
- Giving services away and bartering is a great way of creating a band of loyal clients and referral partners.
- There is no doubt in my mind that Brenda’s passion for her work has led to her success. It is obvious that she really cares about her clients and her work.
Brenda has a thriving business, which she’s built up through developing relationships and doing great work for free. Her biggest challenge is figuring out what to do now that her schedule is so packed. She is passionate about what she does, and is moving on to the next phase of her business. What will that be? I don’t know, but I’m sure she’ll kick ass with it.
If you want to connect with Brenda, check out her LinkedIn profile here.
1 step you can take to grow your network today:
Low on clients? Reach out to friends who might need your services, and offer to do a little bit of work for free. Build your reputation by showing your value.