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Content marketing made easy

January 1, 2019 By Erin Brenner

Content Marketing Primer for Editors & Proofreaders: How to Add Value to Your Editorial Business by Louise Harnby is a short guide that spells out the what, why, how, and when of content marketing.

Available only as a PDF through the author’s site, the guide continues in the vein of Harnby’s previous business books for editors: a straightforward writing style with minimal jargon and plenty of examples from editorial businesses.

I like Harnby because while she acknowledges that many freelance editors are reluctant business owners, she doesn’t let them use that as an excuse. To be successful, you have to treat your business like a business. “If you’re not interested in making your business more visible,” she writes in this guide, “you’re probably better off working for an employer than for yourself.”

She also doesn’t shy away from unpopular truths. Many editors new to freelancing think marketing will yield them new business quickly and are discouraged when they hear it will take time, sometimes years. Harnby makes sure her readers know this. “Content marketing is a slow burn,” she writes. “It may take months, even years to see the results of your labour. Rather than thinking about it in terms of a to-do list, consider yourself a gardener.” She continues:

A gardener tends and nurtures. First, the seeds are planted (our content-marketing creation). The garden looks bare until the seedlings bud (our network begins to take notice; our valuable content is discussed and shared). Those seedlings grow into saplings (our visibility increases as we rise to the top of people’s minds and improve our search-engine rankings). Finally, the saplings mature into trees (we achieve our business goals).

One weakness with the guide surrounds your target audience (Alpha Audience in the book). Some of the advice and examples urge readers to target the editing community with their content. Harnby explains why this is one of her target audiences: she likes educating other editors and making a little money in the process. This is a great reason, but it’s not one every freelance editor can—or should—take on, especially less-experienced editors.

Yet all freelance editors want to target clients and would be wise to put most of their marketing efforts there. The principles and platforms for reaching a client audience are the same, of course. But I wanted to see more examples of editors reaching out to different types of clients rather than to other editors.

The best part of the book, however, is the content-building framework. This is what lets you put all the principles and advice into practice. The layout is clean and the progression is easy to follow—key features of a usable worksheet. The terminology is consistent with the rest of the book, which is a help if you need to review a section before completing the worksheet. I would encourage readers to complete the framework in order to start putting the principles to good use.

Content Marketing Primer for Editors & Proofreaders does a great job of explaining a jargon-laden strategy for promoting your business and offers many good examples and a lot of sound advice. Together with the fact that Harnby is offering it for a very attractive price (£3.99), there’s no reason to not go buy it now.


This article was originally posted on the Copyediting website, February 17, 2017.

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