At this point in time I’m going to assume that you’ve already made that “leap of faith” to becoming an indexer (see Newbie Reflections) and have thoroughly outfitted your office/ office space so that that leap won’t land you flat on your face (see A Newbie Gets Organized).

You are ready to do business.


But first, let’s go down a checklist to make sure you’re not missing something:

       Business Name—Whether it is your own or a fictitious one, decide on one. And stick with it. But don’t forget to check if that name is already taken in your state.

       Registration—Your shiny new business deserves to be made official with your city and state. You will need to decide if it is a sole proprietorship or a limited liability corporation (LLC).

Check www.irs.gov for all the information you need to make this decision. And, while you are there, you may want to apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN).

       Business Cards—You need these right away so you can begin marketing. Have them professionally printed. The home printed ones where the printing is off-center and you can see where the perforated holes were just does not look “pro.” Make them glossy on the front side (very attractive) and matt on the back (so you can write on it).


Before we continue on this list it is time that you make some more decisions that will influence how your business will be seen by potential clients. After deciding on your business name you might want to consider some of the following:

       Colors—What colors are going to represent you? Pick three or four and be consistent in using those everywhere you do business: business cards (I know, I listed that first but you really needed those immediately whereas you can take some more time to make these other decisions), website, invoices, emails, etc.

       Font—Pick a font to consistently use. And make sure it is easy to read on-screen as well as in-print.

       Logo—If you could design a unique logo that would be very “pro.” Have it pop up next to your website name in the url address window instead of some ubiquitous browser icon. And make sure that its design is simple enough to be recognizable as such instead of a messy blob of ink. How about using a couple of those special colors you’ve just chosen? And use this logo on all your marketing material.

       Motto—How about a motto/tagline? Not necessary, but nice. Spread that around as well.


And now you are ready to continue with your checklist:

       Website—Nothing to debate here. You have a business. You need one. Regardless of whether it is a DIY or an outsourced job, you need to have a website. Now. Don’t forget to incorporate those marketing decisions you’ve already made (e.g. colors). And update some of your material occasionally—search engines like that as it shows you’re doing something (in other words, that it is not an abandoned site). Some people like to blog. For those who do, blog away. Just don’t forget to link it to your website which you should think of as your home base.

       E-Mail Address—You need one for your business. Don’t use the same one you use to chat with your friends and family. Be “pro.” Don’t use a domain like “amazingindexer@yahoo” or “awesomeindexer@hotmail”  (Note:  LinkedIn does not allow you to have a business page with an address like those). Spend the few extra tax-deductible dollars to buy your own domain:  “myname@myprobusiness”  (or words to that effect).

       Business Phone Number—Good to have one for the exclusive use of your business. Better to keep as much of a separation between your business life and your personal life as you can.

       Social Media—Use it to whatever level you are comfortable with and have time for. Some of that will depend upon who you are marketing to. My business and I each have a Facebook page but they are static, acting only as a way to find my website. On the other hand, my business and personal LinkedIn pages are completed as fully as I can and are actively kept up-to-date. Of course, there are other social media sites as well that you can use. Whatever you choose, don’t forget to use your good marketing tricks.


Everything checked? Now you are ready to go forth and conquer:

       So put on your business clothes--You are wearing your business colors, right?

       Grab up that pile of business cards—I mean those glossy cards which have a pro-looking holder which you can take to meetings and place on a table in front of the eyes of potential clients. You might also want a holder that you can drape around your neck or attach to yourself so when you are in a conversation with someone and they ask “What do you do?” you will be able to immediately present them with one of your spiffy cards.

       And share the news about the wonderful world of indexing.—Most people don’t even know that there is such a thing as an indexer. Explain what you do and how your services can help them sell books and, thus, make more money.

       Finally, when you return home, don’t forget to note your mileage—That’s tax-deductible too.


What? You have some free time? Here are a few ways to fill it:

       Exercise—Yep, that extra O2 to the brain cells may actually help you work better. It certainly will make you feel better.

       Pet a Cat or Dog—Still not kidding. Petting your favorite furry friend has been shown to reduce one’s stress levels which must help one work better.

       Read—Catch-up on all the reading you need to do in order to run a business and improve your indexing skills.

       Practice—Your indexing software is very complex. There must be something you don’t know or have forgotten how to do. How about all those keyboard shortcuts?

       Research—Look up additional resources you can use (on the web or in books) that can help you index generally (e.g. a thesaurus) or specifically (e.g. a culinary dictionary).

       Practice More—Besides your indexing software there are undoubtedly other programs that you use in your business life such as Quicken, Word, or Adobe Acrobat Pro that you could learn better.

       Index—Write indexes for the type of work you would like to index but just haven’t yet. So when a potential client asks you to index this new and exciting________(insert type of text here e.g. cookbooks), you can confidently say “thank you” and know that you can do it. A bonus here is that you might be able to save and reuse the main entries and subentries of these indexes as controlled vocabularies for subsequent indexes.

       Break—And, of course, you can always use a work break to just take a breather. Play music. Talk to friends. Watch a movie. Revel in your free time! For now you know that you are a pro!



This is the last article in the Newbie series. If you managed to wade through any of the previous ones, thank you for your patience. I had fun writing them and hope you got something from them as well.

You are a generous group of people and I’m glad I have found such a home.

Good luck to every one of you in your endeavors.




This article is reproduced courtesy of the American Society of Indexing Key Words publication.