Micro Mentor

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Are you just starting out as an editor? Do you have questions that you'd like to ask someone with a bit more experience and knowledge? Ask away! We'll pass on your query to one of our fabulous and generous editors for some considered and wise advice.

Q: I've just started life as a freelancer, and my finances are pretty stretched. People keep telling me that I have to have a business card. Do I really need one? This isn't the 1990s.

A: Yes, it's true this isn't the 1990s, but you're also not in Kansas any more. As a freelancer, you're a business owner. Whether you'll be eating Kraft singles or goat's cheese from the local market depends on how you manage your business.

Certainly, you don't need a business card to get work. And the opposite is also true: having a business card won't necessarily net you the big bucks. However, as a freelancer your network is key. Eventually, through your network, you will find work, find editors with whom you can share jobs or business tips, make friends and stay sane (all without leaving the house).

When you meet someone, you can always scribble your name down on a piece of paper. (Of course, as an editor, you'd never be without your trusty pen.) But scraps of paper are easily lost. You can also enter someone's details in your phone and then send them a message. But an important part of finding and keeping business is being professional. Sure, you can work in your PJs at home, but you wouldn't wear them in-house, naturally. The same goes for how you present your business.

Business cards are still professional currency, even in 2014. So think about whom you might give a business card to (clients, other editors) and how you want them to see you. Your card doesn't have to be fancy or expensive. Online, you can easily order 250 for about $20, using stock designs. Your card should reflect your business though. As an editor, you know the value of a proofreader. Get an editing colleague to read the text. If you are also a designer, then your card instantly shows your clients what you can do, so spend some time creating the right look for your business.

What should go on the card? All you need is your name, the name of your business (if you have registered one) and the details for how you want people to contact you. This information also reflects your professionalism. Make sure you have a proper email address, for example, either your own domain name or a WordPress or Gmail address. Do you know any business people with a Hotmail or Yahoo address? Great for personal emails, but a bad look for someone providing a professional service. Think also about briefly listing the types of editing you do, any specialist knowledge you have and your qualifications.

All that's left is to press 'buy' online and get down to the printers to collect the cards (an inspiring moment for your business). Don't forget to carry them with you. Then, you can relax. You'll be able to keep in contact with key people you meet. And remember, it's the relationships that are important in the end, not the piece of paper.