By Rachel E. Newman

When I first entered the workforce right out of college, I had no idea how green I was. Experience truly is a valuable thing. It was my first time to work in an office setting, although I’d held various part-time jobs before that.

As I grew accustomed to my new surroundings, I noticed one of my coworkers, Sherry, went above and beyond what our training required in the area of professionalism. When she put people on hold, she would ask them if she could place them on hold. She dressed above the basic office wear that was accepted. And she showed grace and patience with the most irate people.

As I observed her over the months, I began to realize that her behavior should be the standard, not the exception. And at some point it dawned on me that I could set that standard for myself.

I carried what Sherry taught me throughout my years in the legal field and right on into my freelance career.

True professionalism is a rare find anywhere today. But you can decide to raise the bar in your professional practices and set yourself apart from the other editors authors might select. In the competitive field of editing, your level of professionalism could mean whether you panic to have your bills paid that month or whether you have clients lining up to use your services.

If this sounds like something you want to strive for, here are three steps you can take to get you closer to that ultimate professional you wish to be.

Step 1. Commit to Excellence

As Christian editors, we are a reflection of our Father, God. And God always gives His best. Have you been okay in the past to submit an edited manuscript that’s “good enough”? Have you ever returned a project to a client and thought, Well, I could have done better, but it was at least pretty good. Sometimes you might find yourself sacrificing quality in order to meet a deadline. What’s the answer? Always provide yourself enough time. Bid the job for longer than you think it will take if you have to. And practice saying no to jobs you don’t have time for. If you can’t do it with excellence, don’t take the job. God will bring something else along that is more suitable for your needs.

Step 2. Stand by Your Word

If you tell a client you’re going to do something, do it. Even if it’s detrimental or inconvenient for you, even if you misunderstood or got confused when you said it, make sure you follow through. If you’ve created an impossible situation for yourself, be honest with the client. But do everything you can to offset the inconvenience to him or her. Discount the price, throw in extra services, do some work for free. Whatever it takes.

Step 3. Wait Until You’re Ready

Patience truly is a virtue. And here’s the good news: it’s a fruit that grows effortlessly out of the Spirit within you. People often say they need more patience, or sometimes they even beg God for more patience. But when you realize patience is a part of your new identity in Christ, it takes all of your self-effort out of the equation. How does that apply to professionalism? Never go public with something that’s not ready. If your website isn’t as good as it should be, wait. If your skills are not as developed as they should be, wait. If your business logo isn’t quite what you wanted, wait. Make sure that the product you present to the public is the best of the best.

Mastering these three steps will propel you down the road of ultimate professionalism. Not only will it attract clients who value quality, but it will bring great glory to your Father when you operate like He does.

Pleasant penning,

Rachel Newman
Freelance Editor and Indexer
Certified Paralegal

Rachel E. Newman holds a BS degree from Northeastern State University in Oklahoma. She is a Gold Member of The Christian PEN: Proofreaders and Editors Network, serves as a judge for the Excellence in Editing Award given by the Christian Editor Connection, and has served as a faculty member for PENCON, the only convention for editors in the Christian market. Rachel enjoys, among other things, dates with her husband, swing dancing, reading, teaching, discussing important issues, watching Star Trek, sewing, cooking, Pilates, horseback riding, water sports, playing guitar, and snow skiing.