Go big or go home?

“The great danger in applying for a job is that you might get it.”
M. Lincoln Schuster


Schuster’s opening to his essay “An Open Letter to a Would-be Editor,” which appeared in the third edition of Editors on Editing: What Writers Need to Know About What Editors Do, could be applied to any profession, really. Being a freelance editor, Schuster’s words perfectly encapsulate the doubts running through mind each time I write a query letter for a project. There is a fine line between stepping outside one’s comfort zone and biting off more than one can chew. Taking calculated risks often results in valuable experience (and a paycheck), while accepting a project which requires a level of expertise achievable only through years of study and experience–and not possessing that expertise–usually leads to an unsatisfied client and possible damage to one’s professional reputation.

What’s the answer to this dilemma? I’m not sure there is one. In my own experience, I mostly choose projects where I know I have the necessary skills and knowledge to produce work that exceeds the client’s expectations, but I may need to do some research. Maybe it’s the easy way out, but happy clients are usually recurring clients–and recurring clients keep a freelance editor working.

What is your approach to deciding which projects to work on? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!