“Ah! A competitor! I must cower in fear/assert my awesomeness/outdo him in some way.”
Ugh. Just stop.
Has it ever occurred to you that your competitor should be your friend? I mean, a good friend. It could change your whole game. You shouldn’t be afraid to talk to them—or even collaborate with them. Here are eleven reasons to befriend your competitors (from a freelancer’s perspective; however, it applies to everyone):
They can get you jobs. “What? No! They’ll steal my customers.” That’s funny, because I can think of three clients right off the top of my head who came straight from copy editors—just like me. Example: “Hey, Shayla! I’m just drowning over here with book projects. Would you like to freelance for me on this book?” Well, certainly! Or: “Super Awesome Publishing Company sent me a company email today, telling me that they’re hiring. Are you interested?” Uh, yes!
They guest blog for you. I’ve had several editors guest blog for Curiouser Editing. I’ve even featured a few in Curiouser Magazine. Rose, a fellow editor, writes for Curiouser Magazine, so I have a little advertisement page at the end to showcase her bio. “Oh no! What if someone uses her services instead of yours?” Um. Then they get an awesome editor—and isn’t that what it’s all about? I want people to have their books edited—plain and simple. Whether someone uses me or not, as long as his book is edited, then I’m a happy camper. Bonus: when I have an editor guest blog for me—or anyone, really—my insights skyrocket, because it gets passed all over social media. Who wouldn’t want that?
They mentor you. The person who comes to mind is the incredible Alice Sullivan. When I need advice, I go straight to her. It’s just automatic. She knows the industry, she’s full of great advice, and she’s totally hilarious. Sure, I could ask tons of other people what to do when a client doesn’t pay me or what to do when I decide to subcontract, but I only trust Alice. I know she’ll give me the truth every time.
They love the same thing you do. How cool is it to be friends with someone who loves the same thing you do? When I try to talk to my family about the subtle nuances in George Orwell’s 1984, they stare at me like I’m crazy. When I talk to Mandy (fellow editor, friend, and cat lover), she gets me. She knows what I’m talking about. When an author capitalizes every single word in her manuscript, I can vent to Mandy. She not only understands but sends me LOL cats to take my mind off it.
They’re full of knowledge, resources, and tips and tricks. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve leaned on fellow editors for resources on pricing or help with hyphens. What if I treated every single editor/competitor like garbage? Well, I wouldn’t know half of what I know now about the industry. I’m so thankful for editors and writers who have taken the time to teach and guide me.
You can collaborate together. What if you got to work on a project with your competitor? And what if it turned out great? I’ve had the opportunity to do that, and it’s a blast. I have a new friend, Andrea, who is breaking into the proofreading world and will need clients eventually. When I finish copyediting a book for a self-publishing author who will need a proofread after the typeset book is done, guess who I’m going to recommend? That’s right—Andrea.
You can cheer for them when they get a new client. Look, we’re all in this together. I know how it feels to promote, promote, promote and not get a single client. So it’s really awesome when I see my editor or writer friend get a new client. I get to congratulate her and know she’ll do the same for me.
It teaches you sportsmanship. Sure, there have been times when my fellow editor friends are pushing toward the same client. So what happens when I don’t get the client and so-and-so does instead? I just cry and give up. Woe is me! Yeah, right. I say, “Good for him/her. I better step up my game next time.” And then I move on.
You reciprocate. Recently, Mandy (cat-lover extraordinaire) has been doing some freelance work. Sometimes, she’ll ask me for resources or advice. I love being able to do that. I want to help her be successful, just like other editors have helped me be successful. I mean, Mandy’s already a genius editor anyway; but the freelance world is new to her—so I get to help her out. What if I said, “Oh, I’d love to answer your questions about pricing, but I better not. We are in the same field, you know. You edit, I edit. Your business is similar to mine, so…” Ugh. I would be a total jerk if I did that. Help a sister out! You get to be a blessing to someone. Don’t turn that down.
You get love. It’s really amazing when I have people come to me asking for resources, using my blog post to answer someone’s question about different types of editors, or sending me a grammar picture, saying, “I thought you’d like this.” I want to give them that love too.
Because everyone needs just one more friend. Are you really that worried about losing business that you would shut out someone just because she’s in the same field of work as you? I don’t know. Maybe I just view the world differently, but I want to be friends with people who do exactly what I do. If everyone out there is trying to one-up the competition, then I want to be different.
I challenge you to connect with three competitors this week. Just ask them how they’re doing. Talk. Communicate. And who knows? Maybe you’ll receive a friend from it all.
An expert editor, seasoned writer, and author-centric marketer, Shayla Raquel works one-on-one with authors and business owners every day. A lifelong lover of books, she has edited over 300 books and has launched several Amazon bestsellers for her clients. Her award-winning blog teaches new and established authors how to write, publish, and market their books. She is the author of the Pre-Publishing Checklist, The Rotting (in Shivers in the Night), and her novel-in-progress, The Suicide Tree. She lives in Oklahoma with her two dogs, Chanel and Wednesday.