A guest post by Dr Hilary Cadman, ELS. Hilary has worked internationally as a scientist, university lecturer and technical editor (both in-house and freelance). She now works as a freelance editor and trainer, and is based in the delightful town of Bellingen, NSW. Hilary is passionate about finding better ways to work on and in her business. Here, she poses a question that’s critical for anybody expanding their editorial business beyond their original specialism: how to market yourself to more clients, more successfully, without underplaying your specialist credentials?
As an editorial professional, I know exactly who I am: I’m a science editor, and have been for the past 14 years. But actually, I edit all sorts of things, and recent jobs have included an application for an ecotourism award, a report on cattle thefts, and a paper on international law. This diversity presents something of a dilemma when I’m marketing myself. As a science editor, I want to show that I’m a specialist and so, I need to focus on my years of experience in that field, highlight relevant projects and generally attempt to give potential clients confidence that I can take on their job, whether it be a paper on genetics, a report on vaccine development or a science textbook. But as I also want to land jobs in other fields – which will provide a wider client base and thus a more secure income – I need to show that I’m a generalist too. This demands that I focus on my versatility and highlight the diverse range of projects I’ve worked on.
The question is how to respond to both needs. My first idea for fixing this problem was to have two CVs — creating a generalist one that I could use as an alternative to my current, science-focused one. But the thought of writing a second CV and keeping the two documents up to date was daunting, and I rejected that idea. What I’m actually doing instead, when contacting prospective clients in areas other than science, is to attach a copy of my CV as I’d usually do, and to use the body of the email to describe some of the most relevant non-science jobs I’ve done. This has been quite successful, I think perhaps because the different mediums work well for the different messages I’m trying to convey: the CV is a formal document that gives me credibility as an editor, and the list of jobs in the email is a less formal way to say, ‘Look, I can work on just about anything’.
Over to you: have you found a better way to deal with marketing your editorial services as a specialist or generalist or both?