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Being a digital nomad: Or how to edit from the beach

Beach editing

Photo by Rachel Stuckey

By Rachel Stuckey

I’m a digital nomad. For years I’ve told anyone who asked that I was a writer and editor (even though editing pays most of my bills). But lately, the way I work has been more interesting than the work I actually do.

But I’m still getting used to saying “I’m a digital nomad” (and sometimes, I confess, I often use air quotes when I do say it). I know what “digital nomad” conjures up: visions of twenty-somethings with no job prospects and an unnatural attachment to their smartphones.

Air quotes aside, such visions are really just the surface of this cultural phenomenon. (And thanks to Insta-influencers and click-bait web content, that surface seems both beautiful and vacuous). But there are plenty of Gen Xers, Xennials, and even grown-up millennials doing marvellous and fascinating things on the road.

I’d like to think I’m one of the grown-up digital nomads. For the last several years, I’ve been seeking out new temporary homes for me and my editorial services business, sometimes spending months in one place and sometimes changing it up every few weeks.

In 2012, I was a burned-out freelancer looking for adventure. After months of preparation, I headed out on a trip around the world, with stops in Thailand, China, Cambodia, India, the UAE, Spain, France, Italy, and the UK before coming home nine months later. Everyone thought that might be it, adventure had.

But I wasn’t ready to settle back into the same old same old. And I’ve been on the move ever since, spending some months each year in Toronto and the rest of my time in Europe, South and Central America, Thailand, and Vietnam. In 2018, I’m returning to Thailand, and then on to Southern Africa.

This wanderlust may have begun as therapy for my tertiary life crisis. But over the last five years of living and working abroad and living and working in Toronto, I’ve realized that there is a strong economic argument for tackling our gig economy as a nomad. After several months living at home in TO again, my pocketbook is itching to get the heck out of Dodge! (Also, winter is coming, and I hate wearing socks and shoes.) (more…)

Book Review: Boss Bitch by Nicole Lapin

Boss Bitch

(Crown, 2017)

By Alethea Spiridon

Nicole Lapin knows what she’s talking about. She’s a wildly successful career woman who has blazed a path for herself as both a businesswoman (launching the CASH Smartwatch) and as a news anchor for CNN and CNBC. A boss bitch is the “she-ro” of her own story, Lapin writes on page 1 of the Boss Bitch: “She is the heroine who doesn’t need saving because she has her own shit handled. I became a Boss Bitch by embracing being a ‘boss’ in all aspects of the word.”

That opening sets the tone and pace for this marvellous book that will no doubt empower women who need a nudge, or even an all-out kick in the butt, to take their career—and life—to the next level, and to be as successful as wanted and needed. Lapin’s tone is forthright and honest, and girlfriend to girlfriend, something she says at the outset is exactly how she intends it to be.

Her voice and approach make the content relatable and easy to digest; it’s like going for drinks with a great friend who has your back, but calls you out on your nonsense because all she wants is the best for you. Lapin has plenty of insights to share that can really help women get back on track or consider what track to finally take to become the Boss Bitch in their own lives. (more…)

Retirement savings for freelancers: What you need to know

  • Retirement Saving for Freelancers
  • by Michelle Waitzman

    When you’re self-employed, saving for retirement is anything but simple. There’s no employee pension, no group RRSPs, and no steady paycheque to count on. I sat down with Aldwin Chin, a financial advisor with Edward Jones in Toronto, to get his insights on how to save for retirement as a freelancer. This is a very general overview, but you can use the links at the end of the article to find more information.

    How much of my income should I be saving?

    You need to prioritize your money to figure out how much you can and should save. Most freelancers should allocate their income like this:

    1. Pay for your current living and business expenses.
    2. Save three to six months’ living expenses in case of emergency or lack of work.
    3. Anything that’s left should go into long-term savings and investments for retirement or for other major expenses.


    How to write a successful academic grant application

    Grant Writing

    Editors can wear many hats. Sara Scharf dons a grant-writing hat, especially in the fall. She sees a great many applications and she has a few tips, which she has kindly given BoldFace permission to share from her blog.


    I’ve been editing a lot of grant applications lately. To borrow from Tolstoy, good grant applications all have several things in common, but there are many, many different ways for grant applications to be bad. Here are some tips to help you succeed in applying for grants.

    The number one thing that successful grant applications have in common is that they follow the directions. Most granting agencies have many applicants for a limited pool of resources. Don’t let your application get screened out early for failing to follow directions. It’s about respect: if you can’t even be bothered to submit what the instructions call for, the reviewers will have less reason to believe that you’ll use the grant money appropriately. Beyond showing basic respect by following the directions, be kind to your reviewers. Make your application easy to read and easy to understand so they will focus on your content. Here’s how:

    Layout tips

    Even if there is no minimum font size specified, use a font size of at least 10 points – even in figures – to make your text easy to read. Don’t play with the spacing, margins, line height or paper size, either. Reviewers see many applications and will notice when something about the layout is unusual. Giving reviewers more to read when they’re already swamped with applications is not a way to stay on their good side. But there are still ways to use the space you have to maximum effect.

    All grant applications have limits of some kind on how much writing should go in each section. Page limits and word limits are pretty unambiguous. Character limits usually crop up when submission through specific types of digital forms is required. Many of these forms count spaces as characters. Maximize the amount of text available by using only one space between sentences. (Two spaces between sentences is a hangover from the days of typewriters and not a habit that holds up well now). Make sure there are no extra spaces by searching for and replacing “ ” (two spaces, no quotation marks) with a single space. Check that there are no stray spaces at the end of paragraphs. (more…)

    Report on ACES 2017 in St. Petersburg, Florida

    By Berna Ozunal

    This year, 591 people travelled to St. Petersburg, Florida, for the annual American Copy Editors Society (ACES) conference held from March 23 to 25 at the Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront Hotel—the second-highest attendance ever.

    I went to St. Pete’s for a few reasons this year: I enjoyed last year’s conference in Portland and learned a lot, I seriously needed to “defrost,” and I was presenting a session.

    Located on Florida’s Gulf Coast, St. Petersburg has a population of just over 250,000. From the Tampa International Airport, it’s just a 30-minute taxi or shuttle ride to the hotel.

    I was told that March is the perfect time to travel to Florida, and it’s true. With highs between 24ºC and 28ºC, you are transported to another dimension—one where people do not walk around half the year swaddled like mummies in wool and down. (more…)

    Book Review: Hustle by Neil Patel, Patrick Vlaskovits, and Jonas Koffler

    (Rodale Books, 2016)

    By Deepi Harish

    Most people talk about their dreams, yet few people do anything to achieve them. From start to finish, Hustle is a burst of inspiration to “do something. Do something that moves you. Do something that excites or energizes you. Don’t talk about it. Don’t dream it. Don’t plan it. Don’t plan to plan it,” say authors Neil Patel, Patrick Vlaskovits, and Jonas Koffler. All three authors are entrepreneurs who come from immigrant families and faced plenty of ups and downs as they experimented with their career choices. Now they are considered the top startup consultants in the United States today.

    The phrase “Hustle Generation” refers to people who have gone from dreamers to doers, and it is a common thread throughout the book. Examples of self-made millionaires include John Paul DeJoria, the man behind Patrón Tequila, and Ursula Burns, the first African-American woman to become a CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Several other examples are sprinkled throughout the chapters. (more…)

    Book Review: Level Up Your Life by Steve Kamb

    Level Up Your Life by Steve Kamb
    (Rodale Books, January 2016)

    By Jessica Trudel

    Not all editors are writers, but all editors are readers. The majority of us fell in love with stories when we were little, making friends with the characters on the page. Some of those memorable characters were inside TV shows, movies, and video games, too. Steve Kamb, the author of Level Up Your Life, reminds us of our greatest childhood heroes and uses that nostalgia to make goal-setting fun again.

    The concept for Level Up Your Life began for Kamb when he found himself with everything a person needs—family, friends, a good job—but he still felt unfulfilled. After establishing a website to help gamers like himself get fit (, Kamb realized that wellness is about so much more than physical fitness. He writes, “I wanted to turn my life into a game…I could become adventurous Steve Kamb, actively planning crazy experiences that would take me out of my comfortable hobbit-hole and away to far-off lands, into life-changing moments of growth and adventure.” He realized that by gamifying his life, he could start accomplishing all of his personal and professional goals. And that’s exactly what he did.

    Now, Kamb is teaching others how to do the same thing. With Level Up Your Life, Kamb shows readers how to use this same system to achieve their own goals.

    Level Up Your Life isn’t a book about editing, but it is a book for editors. It’s for anyone who wants to reach his or her personal and professional best in life. What are your editing goals? To gain five new clients this year? To expand into a new field of editing? To upgrade your skills and take a new course? Whatever your goal, Level Up Your Life will show how to make goal-setting fun through gamification. (more…)

    Promoting accessibility in editorial businesses

    Web Accessibility Source: Shutterstock

    Source: Shutterstock

    By Christine Albert

    As a student enrolled in an editing program, I’m often asked to reflect on issues that may arise when working with clients. The discussion and module notes invariably focus on respect, clear communications, and diplomacy—about how the language of our queries and comments can affect authors. Yet, accessibility is rarely discussed, and few resources from professional associations or courses exist on how to make editorial businesses inclusive and accessible.

    This lack of information on accessibility creates a disadvantage for those potential clients who may be physically or cognitively unable to use the same editing services as their peers. An author with multiple learning disabilities once explained to me that she found it difficult working with other editors: they simply wrote long comments using Track Changes, which she had difficulty reading. As a result, she had to constantly ask her transcriber to read her the edits and comments. After discussing the author’s needs, she and I worked out an alternate method that involved verbally communicating comments and large changes, which would let her work through the draft independently—a tactic that surprisingly hadn’t been considered by the other editors.

    Lack of accessibility not only affects the services side of our businesses but it also affects our marketing efforts. Google searches for accessible and inclusive editing services turned up no relevant results. While searching editor websites, I was surprised to find that many do not follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG) nor incorporate basic accessibility features. For instance, a number of websites could not be zoomed in when viewed on a tablet, while others did not have enough contrast between the text and background. As someone with moderate vision issues, I struggled to read the content on these websites. Potential clients with visual or learning disabilities may be deterred by these difficulties and look elsewhere for an editor. If we are to operate our editorial businesses successfully, we need to go beyond our assumptions of what clients need and make our services accessible so we can provide them with what they actually require. (more…)