Erin Brenner. Founder of Right Touch Editing and Copyediting. A dyed-in-the-wool New Englander and all-around language maven.
WHAT LED YOU TO START WORKING IN DIGITAL/MEDIA PUBLISHING?
My first exposure to digital publishing was working as a copyeditor for a website published news and articles on digital marketing back in 2000. The articles were written by digital marketers, and I learned a lot from them. I loved the ease and quickness of digital publishing. My previous job was with a marketing research company, and our publishing process could be long and onerous. Web publishing was sleek by comparison.
WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?
These days, I run two companies: editing agency Right Touch Editing and training company Copyediting. On a given day, I could be doing any number of things: writing and editing for clients, writing my own copy, teaching other editors, planning new courses, monitoring projects, marketing, and completing administrative tasks. Each day is different, which I really like.
Every day, though, involves social media: sharing links and conversing with my audience. I start my day with social media, and I end it by planning for the next day.
WHAT’S YOUR WORK SETUP LOOK LIKE?
I’m a heavy Google products user. I have two main Gmail accounts that all my business email comes into, and I couldn’t live without Google Calendar. I think I’m up to seven calendars!
I use Google Calendar for major deadlines, such as project due dates, but I use Todoist to track all the small deadlines within a project. I share some of my calendars and Todoist projects with my contractors and my VA. I also use Dropbox for all my work files, sharing folders with clients and contractors to pass the work around more efficiently. Being able to share information and files with my tools makes tracking everything much easier.
WHAT DO YOU DO OR GO TO GET INSPIRED?
I love to go hiking or for a walk in the woods to get my creativity humming. Puttering in my garden helps, too. Books and conferences are also a good source of inspiration. Getting away from technology–and all the demands it carries with it–is essential for me to tap my creativity.
View from Cathedral Ledge, North Conway, NH. Credit: Erin Brenner, 2017
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PIECE OF WRITING OR QUOTE?
Picking just one is hard! I like quotes that highlight the essence of things. We get so lost in the details that we forget why we started something or what the purpose really is. I like chapter 3 of the Book of Ecclesiastes, which begins: “There is an appointed time for everything, / and a time for every affair under the heavens.” It’s not only a reminder that there’s a time for everything but also that everything we humans do is temporary; what God does is forever. It helps me put my life into perspective.
WHAT IS THE PASSIONATE PROBLEM YOU ARE TACKLING AT THE MOMENT?
Growing my editing agency. Right Touch Editing started as a one-person shop, and I’m still heavily involved in much of client work. But I’m working hard to grow the client list and sign on writers and editors to work with me. I love coaching people and watching them blossom, and the more I grow Right Touch, the more I can do that.
IS THERE A PRODUCT, SOLUTION OR TOOL THAT MAKES YOU THINK IT IS A GOOD DESIGN FOR YOUR DIGITAL PUBLISHING EFFORTS?
I don’t think there’s one publishing tool I couldn’t live without. Tools change so quickly, it’s really a matter of looking around to see which tools will accomplish the tasks you need most easily and affordably. My sites are run on WordPress, which I like for its ease of use and the number of professionals out there who know how to use it. At Copyediting, we use WooCommerce for selling our products and services, and that’s been good for us. But if something better came along, I’d be open to changing it.
The program I would struggle to live without is MS Word. It’s not the perfect word-processing software, but it has a number of time-saving features that aren’t done as well in other word-processing programs. Macros and add-on tools like PerfectIt and Acrobat PDFMaker make writing and editing so much more efficient that I feel hobbled when I don’t have access to them. I know that’s old school; my kids are all about Google Docs and I agree it has some great features. But Google Docs can’t do what Word does for me.
ANY ADVICE FOR AMBITIOUS DIGITAL PUBLISHING AND MEDIA PROFESSIONALS JUST STARTING OUT?
It’s a noisy, chaotic world out there. You have to be heard above the noise and stand out from the chaos to become successful–and that doesn’t happen overnight. Do your homework: get to know your audience and their needs so that you can speak directly to them. Invest the time in building a trusting relationship with them. Don’t be afraid to make course adjustments as you go. If you stick with it and pay attention to changes in your audience, you’ll reach your goals in time.