10 Ways to Name Your Editorial Company
19 January, 2022
You’re taking the plunge: you’re setting up as a freelance editor. You’re going to have your own company and you’re going to get clients and edit their text and invoice them and make a good living as a midwife of words.
But the first choice you face is a big one: What are you going to name your company?
This matters. It’s going on your business cards, website, email signatures, social media… It’s also the name clients will be writing on checks, which means it’s the name you’ll use when setting up the bank account. You get one chance to do it right. So what do you do?
You can start by reading the excellent article by Louise Harnby. Then here are ten approaches you can take when choosing a name for your editorial service company—with some real-life examples of each.
1. Make a Catchy Pun
Small business owners love a good pun. Count all the hair salons with “Mane” in their name, or all the caterers with “Thyme.” A fun pun is perky and memorable, and it lets people know something about who they’re dealing with. Or, in the case of “Textual Healing”, it lets people know the feeling they may experience if they work with you. Editors’ company names with puns include NoBull Pursuits, Kit ’N Kabookle Editorial, Write Vision Services, and Grammargeddon. That last one packs a wallop, but when you’re an award-winning editor with long experience in sci-fi, fantasy, and horror, as Karen Conlin of Grammargeddon is, it does the job!
2. Use an Animal
Who doesn’t love animals? They’re cute (usually), cuddly (sometimes), good for puns (occasionally), and can have great logo potential. Just ask the editors behind Rabbit with a Red Pen, Tapir Trail, and Gecko Edit—and have a look at the logo of Gecko Edit, which Katherine Kirk made herself.
3. Use Some Good Old-Fashioned Branding
There’s really nothing wrong with thinking like the people who come up with product brand names. Consider the tone and any sort of cultural reference you’d like to draw on, and have a little fun. Ask Dr. Cory Marie Stade, who says “I wanted mine to sound like ‘Kiki’s Delivery Service’ so I called it ‘Dr Coco’s Academic Proofreading Service’!”
4. Use Positive-Toned Natural Imagery
Branding experts also know that nature can be relaxing and inspiring. And since editors’ clients are often more than a little stressed out, how can you go wrong with a name like—to cite two from the real world—Rainwater Press or Dragonfly Editorial?
5. Make a Publishing Reference
You’re in the publishing trade. Why not name your company after something to do with books or type? But you can’t use Looseleaf Editorial & Production, Asterisk Editing, Red Pen Editorial, or Perfect Page Editing—they’re already taken!
6. Use Nerd Humor
You’re a nerd. Of course you are. And, depending on your field, your clients may be nerds too. Karen Spiegelman named hers Studio Sub Ubi from a gleeful Latin pun. (For anyone who’s not a Latin nerd: sub means “under” and ubi means “where,” so a popular joke among Latin students is “semper ubi sub ubi,” which means “always where under where”—say it out loud.)
7. Draw on a Personal Story
If you have a word that has a special personal meaning, you may want to use that to name your company. It can give you a story to tell your clients that will make it more memorable. Isabella Furth says, “I started using Bluefish long before I started my business: it’s part of an anagram of my name (Isabella Furth = Bluefish Altar). My actual name is clunky as/in a business name, but Bluefish Editorial Services worked better.” Barbie Halaby named her business Monocle Editing “because neither my first nor my last name conjure up an image that really ‘fits’ who I am. I am blind in one eye, so I chose Monocle because it makes me think of peering closely at a text with my one good eye. 🧐”
8. Be Straightforward
Just name your company something to the point. If big companies can do it (Standard Oil, International Business Machines), so can you. Editor's Atelier (“atelier” is a prettier word for “workshop”) is one real-world example. And ESOL Edit is so named because, as Nina Cook says, “I specialize in copyediting for people whose first language isn’t English.”
9. Use Your Twitter Name
Are you on Twitter? Do you have a Twitter handle that everyone knows you by? Is that Twitter handle something that could make a good business name? Melanie Padgett Powers was already MelEdits to everyone when she decided to make it her business name. (Consider its suitability carefully, though—as James Harbeck says, “if I went by my Twitter name, I wouldn’t make as much money. ‘Sesquiotic’ would scare everyone off, and the cheques would be made out wrong too!”)
10. Play on Your Own Name
You can also make your company name a play on your own name, if there’s a good one to be made. Paula Clarke Bain’s company is Baindex. As she explains, “My surname is Bain, and I’m an editor turned indexer, so, yes.” Rob Worth “tried to think of a name that didn’t use my name… but then realised that ‘Worth Editing’ could be used in a nice series of strap lines: ‘If it’s worth writing, it must be Worth Editing.’” Pam Eidson named hers E before I because, “besides the obvious, it’s a prompt to spell my last name correctly.”
11. Just Use Your Own Name
But wait! There’s one more option! You could always just use your own name. In fact, some freelancers don’t set up a separate company at all; they just work as individuals. This has its weaknesses, but it does save some complications; make sure to get good information and advice for your particular case in your particular location. Even if you do set up a company, nothing stops you from naming it after yourself—unless someone else has already used your name, of course.
10 Things to Do After You Decide Your Name
It’s a good idea to get your name right at the start. But that’s all it is: a start. What really matters to the long-term success of your editing business is how good an editor you are, and how good you are at running a business. Here are ten of the things you should think about doing after you decide on your name:
- Join a professional editing society. Societies like ACES, CIEP (formerly SfEP), Editors Canada, IPEd, SENSE, and many others have more resources than we can possibly list here.
- Attend an editing conference. You’ll get to learn mind-expanding and career-advancing things about editing; you’ll discover the latest tools and techniques; and you’ll get to know more fellow editors, who can share further insights and connections with you, and—more importantly—many of whom are great fun people and will become good friends with you.
- Take an editing course (the ones offered by professional editing societies are superb). You may feel confident in your English language skills, but there are plenty of special details and unexpected pitfalls in the process and business of editing that you will be glad not to have to learn about the hard (and embarrassing) way. Also, even if you are entirely sure you have nothing left to learn about editing, courses can teach you the most important things you’ll need as a professional editor: a bit of humility and an open mind.
- Set up your website. Do you want to be found by prospective clients? Of course you do. Do you want to look like someone who has made the effort to produce a clean, clear, effective marketing vehicle for yourself, which gives evidence of your ability to give similar attention and effort to their projects? Yes, yes you do.
- Set up your social media. Even if you’re not inclined to be heavily active on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or other similar sites, they can help you be found by prospective clients. And you may find yourself making new friends and connections among colleagues—people you would never have met otherwise. Just be careful how you present yourself, though: there are some people whose social media presence is mainly useful to potential clients as a red flag warning.
- Work on your marketing. We’ve already mentioned marketing twice, but marketing is more than just “If you get on the web, they will come.” Consider writing articles or making videos. Put together a promotional package you can send to companies you’d like to do work for. Try other angles that your editorial friends and colleagues will tip you off to at conferences and on social media. And make sure you keep your details up to date.
- Set up your workstation. This is going to vary a lot from person to person, but consider that you’ll be working on editing several hours every day. It should be comfortable and not prone to causing muscle strains; it should have your necessary reference tools ready to hand (including an internet connection but also all the printed references you like to use); it should be somewhere you aren’t going to be excessively distracted, but also where you don’t feel cooped up and unhappy. This really takes knowing yourself. Some editors have a cushy cave they retreat to; some go work in a different coffee shop every day.
- Set up your work tracking and finance management. You need to have a reliable way to keep track of time worked on each project; some people use time-tracking software, while others use an excel spreadsheet and their computer clock—whatever you use, it has to fit right in your workflow and be easier to use than to forget. And you need to make sure you have a proper means of accounting and billing—and keeping track of all you’ve billed and been paid. Again, there are many options, ranging from a simple spreadsheet to sophisticated programs that calculate your taxes for you.
- Set boundaries. Make sure you keep your work separate from your personal life so it doesn’t take over and burn you out. You can use a different computer, or a different physical space, or even just set a firm cut-off time. Also, plan breaks in your day: make a point of going for a walk if you can, for example, so you can stay fresher and healthier.
- Get the tools of the trade. If you want to work for any client, you probably don’t want to be restricted to Google Docs. Invest in good software. And make sure you have PerfectIt to make all your double-checking so much more efficient.
Your name matters, but there’s so much more to starting an editorial company, and this article can only scratch the surface. Above all, remember that you’re running a business now, and that takes investment. But your friends and colleagues can give you insights on ways of being fiscally efficient, and editing societies can help you find savings too: here’s a list of associations that will give you a 30% discount on PerfectIt.