Freelancer Profile Critique #2: Live Stream
This is the transcript of our second Freelancer Profile Critique on July 26th, 2023. Reedsy’s Head of Operations, Prathima, critiqued profiles submitted by Reedsy professionals submitted for evaluation. With these examples we discussed what helps a profile do well on the marketplace, as well as tips and tricks freelancers can use to get more visibility in the search results and requests from authors.
This transcript has been edited for length and clarity.
Skip to 5:07 for the start of the discussion.
Profile #1. Stephen M. (Editor)
Prathi: I like that the short description is very clear and that he's mentioned that he's an author. I think that adds a different dimension to his editor profile.
Thanks so much for reading my profile. If we were to work together on your manuscript, I can promise you 100% commitment, dedication to making it the best it can possibly be, and a smooth working relationship with honesty, integrity, and ease of communication.
I'm here for one reason only: to help make your manuscript as perfect as it can be and thus, as saleable as possible.
So, what are you waiting for? Let's get started on your future masterpiece.
Now Steven wants to switch to third-person narrative 😊
Steven boasts a long list of delighted clients, and has edited over 100 books across all genres, including epic fantasy, thrillers, and historical fiction, many of which have become bestsellers and award-winning novels. Steven is equally competent in both British and American English. A qualified English teacher via International House and Cambridge University, and with almost a decade of writing and editing experience, Steven is confident he will meet and surpass all your editing needs.
A series of glowing testimonials demonstrate Steven's dedication to his clients, his attention to detail, and his ability to make a manuscript shine whilst retaining the author's distinctive storytelling style and unique author voice.
“Steven does a fantastic edit and with a quick turnaround! I highly recommend his services to anyone looking for a great editor at a reasonable price.” ~ William Miller, bestselling author of the Jake Noble action thriller series.
"Steven is one of the best editors I’ve met in this business. He is highly reliable, prompt and professional. His input on my manuscripts has proved invaluable." ~ Robert J Power, author of the hugely popular Spark City series.
Home is the beautiful city of Norwich, England which he shares with his travel writer wife Leslie, and their fur babies Ernest Hemingway and F Scott Fitzgerald, the rescue cats, and Charles Dickens, the rescue puppy.
Prathi: If you take a look at his overview, I really enjoyed where he starts speaking in third person narrative. I thought this added a lot of personality to an overview, which I don't often see on the Reedsy platform, as overviews tend to be a little technical. I think that Stephen has done a really good job.
Use genre tags to increase your discoverability
If you scroll down further, what I thought he can do better is maybe starring some of his genres.
I liked that he used subgenres, so he's effectively maximized that, but he hasn't starred any, and just starting two of his genres will help him rank better in all of the search results that we see.
Martin [Host, Reedsy Live]: How many genres can you actually pick on your profile?
Prathi: On your profile, you can go up to a maximum of eight genres. But I always recommend having enough examples in your portfolio that match the genres you've listed. Also, as much as possible, use sub-genres rather than parent genres, because then you'll end up in search results for both, but it doesn't work the other way around. For example, if you're just using fantasy, but you actually specialize in epic fantasy.
If an author is looking for an editor who is very niche in epic fantasy, you will not come up in those search results. You broaden your visibility on the platform simply by using sub genres.
Be specific wherever you can
Martin: What could be changed in the work experience?
Prathi: A lot more information can be added there. “I have edited close to 100 fiction titles, many of which have gone on to become bestsellers….” Just saying “100 titles” is a little bit vague. Giving a little bit more context will help.
Martin: You could pick out some of the titles that may be better ones, or you can even describe some of them a little bit more just to make it feel less vague. This sort of vagueness thing I might put on my CV if I was trying to hide something. Be specific if you want to validate the experience.
Prathi: Exactly. There’s a balance between too much detail and not enough information.
I also like the fact that he's responded to the reviews. A lot of our freelancers don't. It's always nice getting back to your clients, and it does show up on your profile anyway.
💡Top tip: Once it comes down to the sharp end of hiring someone, if someone's about to hire you, you can bet they'll probably read everything on the overview. They actually do pick out editors, based on their overview or something in their overview that they really like.
Profile #2. George J. (Editor)
Prathi: George J is an editor with a clear specialization in fantasy and children's books. But what could be improved is starring the genres, as it will add an extra bit of credibility to your profile.
Even though most of the titles in your portfolio are for young adults, middle grade, and fantasy, because contemporary fiction is listed first in your genres, it can give the impression that it's your main focus. Just ‘starring’ a genre will help highlight your true area of expertise.
Add testimonials if you don’t have any reviews yet
Martin: I see George is fairly new as well, so I see he's included some testimonials from previous clients.
“George was amazing to work with as he helped to edit my epic fantasy. He was professional, courteous with his review, fast, and, most importantly, his comments on my work helped me to "re-vision" my work in ways that were important to the story I was telling and the world I was creating. Anyone would be lucky to work with him, especially marginalized writers.”
“He has the perfect balance of critique and praise. After he had edited my work, I had a clear direction of where to go and I felt confident going forward. I highly recommend George, he is amazing and on top of being a great editor, he also does it professionally and with care.”
"Working with George was a wonderful experience. His edits were thorough, thoughtful, and incredibly helpful. I can’t recommend him enough!"
Prathi: Which is absolutely fine. When you're new to the platform, it's always nice to see a couple of testimonials, but once you've been on the platform for a couple of months or a few years and you've stocked up enough reviews, you should cut down on the testimonials. Because, prospective clients can always see the reviews that the authors left on the platform for you.
Keep updating your portfolio
Prathi: George’s work experience is pretty detailed. It gives me a little bit of an idea of what he's done. But I think mentioning a few books specifically can also help because clients can always Google that, look it up on Amazon, if it's not in your portfolio.
💡Top tip: Always keep your portfolio updated and add books you've worked on recently. If it's relevant, add that to your portfolio.
Martin: If there's one thing just to note, I wouldn't say necessarily change it, but one of the things that Stephen mentions in his headline is that he is an author as well. “A published author and seasoned editor leveraging years of experience in children's fiction…”
Some writers are a little bit precious about handing their work over to someone who's primarily an author first before an editor. You may want to play around with mentioning you’re an editor first if you feel like you're not getting too many requests.
Profile #3. Oren E. (Editor)
Prathi: I think what I noticed about Oren's profile was that the short description was very clear about what he specializes in. (“...editor for a wide range of books across many genres, including NYT and WSJ bestsellers, sci-fi/fantasy/horror novels, and more.) But when it came to the services listed further down his profile, it gave me a broad range rather than telling me what he specialized in.
Narrow down your services
You can see that Oren's pretty much listed all editing services that are available on the Reedsy platform. Some clients may wonder, “Can he really be a specialist in all these services?”
💡Top tip: you might be really good at all services, but go with the ones you specialize in. Pick a niche, a bunch of services, rather than listing everything.
Martin: In his genres, he’s starred Fantasy and Science Fiction — the parent categories — so he might consider looking at some subgenres instead to further refine the kinds of authors he gets more exposure to.
Expand on your work experience
Prathi: And that's something that I would also recommend Oren does is go through the subgenres and pick those rather than the current genres. And I think in the work experience section again, it looks a little bad to me.
It just tells me which publishing company he worked on rather than what he did. I think a little bit more information would give a lot more context to prospective clients, for instance:
- What projects did he work on?
- What books did he work on?
Always add a couple of sentences on what kind of work you did and in what capacity, regardless of whether you moved up or not. I think it just helps people get a better idea of your professional journey.
Martin: It all comes down to what is the thing that will affect the client? What do they care about? Like, the fact that you are good with corrections? (Hopefully something all editors should have) Or do they want to know what titles you've worked on? And in what capacity? You want to tell a story with your work experience here.
Put books in the portfolio that match your genres
Prathi: The last two books in Oren’s portfolio didn’t match his listed genres. Even though they are popular, they aren't relevant.
Additionally, it may be better to be quite selective of what you put down, considering that we scrolled down that much. A potential client wants to skim the profile and if it takes them a lot of time, they probably will skip the profile.
💡Top tip: You can pin multiple projects at the top with the button “Pin to top”
Profile #4. Richard L. (Designer)
Tailor your overview to the client
Martin: Why did you pick Richard's profile?
Prathi: I think it was largely because of his overview. It's quite long.
Prathi: I didn't think adding a detailed bio about how he started his career was necessary. And I think all the awards can also be skipped, as they’re covered in the Awards section.
I think that is something that he could have shortened and tailored to potential clients.
Martin: Yeah, after you read the first three or four awards, you become blind to them. Most authors on Reedsy aren't inside the industry; they may be less impressed by this and perhaps be more swayed by the titles and authors you've worked with.
Prathi: You can just mention some of the awards, not all, but of course, the more popular ones for sure.
Let's see. There seems to be a slight formatting error here in the work experience. It could have been part of the migration — there are bits of HTML where there shouldn't be.
💡Top tip: Always take a look at how your profile comes across for new clients. When you are editing your profile, make sure you view your profile before you say that you're done. Also, search for yourself on the Marketplace to see how you come across in our tiny search results.
Keep your portfolio neatly curated
Martin: As a cover designer, you will mainly draw people in with your designs. Every little detail you add above: the length of the overview, the amount of details in the awards, the working experience, all of it pushes the portfolio down. However, a potential client wants to get there as soon as possible.
Prathi: I think he's got better examples in his gallery, which I really loved, but I had to go all the way down just to be able to get to it.
Martin: The gallery, especially on mobile, is a better way to display your designs. Try having fewer entries in your portfolio so users get to the gallery quicker.
Prathi: Exactly. As a designer, I think that will be more appealing to a client. Because they're going to look at the work that you've done. And they probably want to get to it much quicker than just reading about it.
Prathi: A couple of these entries are repetitive as well. If you already have your book in your portfolio, you don't need to add them to the gallery and vice versa.
Profile #5. Ronit W. (Editor)
Spread your story throughout the profile
|Editor of NYT-bestselling and award-winning literary fiction and memoir. Former acquisitions editor at Doubleday/Penguin Random House.|
Martin: That is a very impressive logline in her profile.
Prathi: Definitely. And I like that she's added that because not all of our editors also have acquisition experience. I think it just adds credibility to her portfolio and profile.
I see a lot of good author names. I see a lot of good titles and awards listed in the overview. In fact, most of the awards that overview could actually move to the award section to declutter her profile.
☝️ Note: When someone is looking for professional editors or designers or any other services on the platform, the awards section shows up in the short search results.
Martin: Yeah. I think there's something to be said about spreading your story throughout the profile. I think you go into a lot of detail about basically all the steps you took through the different publishers and companies, but the work experience feels a bit empty. You could use this space to talk about the work you did at Penguin Random House and then talk about the clients you've had since you've gone freelance.
Prathi: This is the first look at your profile.
They can only see the portfolio, the gallery, the short description, and your awards (if you've listed any). I always recommend making sure that you spread your experience and your journey throughout, rather than having it at one place in your overview.
Ensure that your best work always comes first in your portfolio.
Profile #6. Chris B. (Marketer)
Record a video to stand out and get more requests
Prathi: I liked Chris's profile because there's also a video. I think he was the only profile that we received with the video. And we have 3,800 professionals. And just 99 profiles with videos.
💡Top tip: One of the best ways to stand out is to actually do the 30-second video.
Martin: It's that opportunity for people to see you as a human being and to know what it's like to work with you.
Prathi: They want to see what you look like, hear what you sound like. It adds a lot more personal touch.
Make sure your face is visible on a headshot
Martin: Yeah. As a marketer, Chris has got a good knack for this. His headshot here at the top is just about the right size to feel personable.
Sometimes you will see editors and designers who use headshots that may be too artistic or too small. It's hard to get an impression of what they’re like. But if you want people to really connect with you, sometimes all you have to do is show your face.
💡Top tip: A good headshot helps to get the right impression. Make sure your face is visible, and the quality of the picture is high.
Put only relevant information in your portfolio
Prathi: I think with Chris, another thing that I noticed was his projects. (As a marketer, what you list in your portfolio are ‘projects’). And I think that's where I thought he could cut it shorter. There was just too much information.
Prathi: I think it's just about making sure you provide your clients with just the relevant information.
Martin: I think most of the time, given the opportunity to fill in a block of text without any upper limit of words, people tend to overwrite.
Prathi: I think we now have a limit actually. So I think your overview can only be about 500 words and your work experience only about 200 words. We have that limit because we saw that it was becoming a trend where people would just write an entire page.
Martin: From my perspective as an online marketer, we try to avoid creating massive walls of text. With a lot of online copy, you'll often see paragraphs only last like two sentences long. It may seem deranged, but it’s what helps to break that wall of text up and make it look more approachable.
Prathi: I think the formatting can also help; just making sure you've added spaces. Even if you have paragraphs, just ensure you've added spaces between them. So it does read better. But I really liked the video, honestly. I listened to the whole thing. I paid attention to it too!
Profile #7. Jennie C. (Editor)
|Proofreader and copy editor specializing in fiction and literary nonfiction. Fifteen years' experience with premier New York publishers.|
Prathi: I like the fact that she says she’s a proofreader and copy editor right up front. Though “fiction and literary nonfiction” is too broad. It would be nice if she could tailor that and focus on genres she specializes in — which she does in the genre section.
Because she has done that in the genre section. Which I thought was very neat. But that would be good to see in her intro sentences because that's what will pop up in search results.
Martin: Her actual genres are: historical fiction, literary fiction, and then nonfiction. Some of these are quite broad categories.
Prathi: But I did like the overview, though. I think it's very similar to Stephen’s in that it shows off a bit of personality.I actually laughed when I read it. Again, she’s tailored it to clients and authors.
Mention big titles in your short description and overview
Prathi: Jennie’s portfolio was pretty nice. It did give me a clear understanding of what she specializes in.
Martin: Oh, these are pretty big titles! Elliot Page's memoir, Matthew Perry's one.
Prathi: She's made sure she's added that to the top of her portfolio, so they’re going to come up in the short view as well.
Martin: Yeah, I would be tempted to mention them in the little logline, near the top of the overview, or as part of the work experience. If you have big name titles like these, you shouldn't be afraid to drop them.
Martin: We do have authors who will search for the names of some of their favorite authors. That’s why having them available to be searched by writing it down in your profile, certainly doesn't hurt.
Profile #8. – Jillian B. (Editor)
You’ve devoted countless hours to your craft. You've sacrificed and overcome obstacles, and it all culminated with a manuscript you've proudly published for the world to see. Congrats! Just one thing: you accidentally typed "poop" when you meant to spell "pop." Facepalm.
Sound familiar? Don't let this happen to you. Instead, prevent such a faux pas from happening by partnering with me.
Clients benefit from my:
*Breadth of experience,
*Hawkish attention to detail,
*Relentless pursuit of errant punctuation and grammatical mistakes, and
*Unwavering resolve to submit projects ahead of deadline.
For 12+ years I’ve worked with publishers such as Simon & Schuster, Capstone Publishing, Skyhorse Publishing, W. W. Norton & Co., and ABDO. I've copy edited and proofread for authors such as Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Sheila Johnson, Michael Uslan, Working Mother Magazine, and more to ensure their published manuscripts are worthy of readers’ eyes. I endeavor to do the same for you.
I've provided top-tier editing services on more than 1,000 projects, including memoirs, guidebooks, picture books, and more. And I’m a pleasure to work with, or so I’ve been told:
"Thank you so much for all your great work over the last few years, and for being such a pleasant, flexible, professional person to work with." — Yvette Grant, Simon & Schuster (previously at Penguin and Skyhorse)
Ready to put the finishing touches on your manuscript? I am. Let’s connect!
Prathi: I liked her overview. I liked the first paragraph. It was just funny; it stood out. It's something that made me want to read the entire thing.
Martin: It's all personality-led. It puts the author front and center, which is always very good.
Prathi: I also liked the work experience section, splitting her work as a copy editor and a proofreader into two different entries. She's given very clear context to what she's done in both services.
I know what she's worked on as a copywriter, and I know what she's done as a proofreader. So I really like that distinction.
However, if you say that you are a children's book specialist, make sure you put examples of this genre at the top of your portfolio.
Respond to your reviews
Martin: She has 42 great reviews averaging 5 stars.
Prathi: She's replied to pretty much every review, and it's all personalized, so I really like that extra touch.
Martin: This is another one of those cases where you want to just curate and reduce maybe the number of titles in your portfolio.
💡Top tip: Responding to reviews positively impacts how easy your profile is to discover. However, how responsive you are to messages and requests, whether you’ve used sub-genres, and if you've starred genres also play a role.
Profile #9. Claire B. (Ghostwriter)
Prathi: I think it's really hard for ghostwriters to be able to showcase their work just because of NDAs and contracts, but I liked Claire's profile. That's probably one of the reasons why I picked it. She was funny and kind of gave up her perspective.
She put the author first. And it's hard to do that with ghostwriting. She's got a very niche genre, and I think she's even starred those.
She's used all subgenres throughout. It's the only profile that I saw with all eight subgenres.
I also liked the work experience section. It made me laugh when she spoke about the NDA and her portfolio. I understand her situation; they can't list the books they’ve worked on, but she has added some examples.
Even though she's not able to mention many of the titles, the detail she puts on this actually is a bit more vivid than some of the profiles we've seen from authors who are free to talk about all the titles they've worked on, so well done here, Claire.