My Indexing Origin Story

On the Freelance Indexer Exchange podcast


“Welcome to the Freelance Indexer Exchange. I am Michelle Guiliano. And I’d like to start a conversation with you about indexing.”

That’s how I start every episode of my podcast for indexers.

In my first episode, I share my indexing origin story. What better way to introduce myself to listeners than to share my personal story of how I became an indexer?

Indexers’ Backgrounds

After all, indexers come from diverse backgrounds—medicine, law, anthropology, film, and even farming. An indexer typically doesn’t set out to become an indexer because there isn’t a college track that leads to indexing. The only time a would-be indexer still in school might be introduced to indexing as a career is while pursuing a library science degree through a course on back-of-the-book indexing. And, even then, most would-be indexers pursue a career as a librarian, only to circle back to indexing years later.

Rather, most of us found ourselves in this career accidentally—meaning we stumbled upon it in the course of doing something completely different.

Accidental Indexers

Instead of setting out to index books or documents from a young age, the average indexer accidentally discovers indexing from friends or colleagues. In fact, Nan Blodgett wrote a whole book about how she discovered indexing in The Accidental Indexer! [link to book]. My origin story centers around a chance meeting with a neighbor, leading me to establish my indexing business. In my head and on paper, I had kept a list of must-haves for a new career if I were to veer from medicine. As it turns out, indexing checked off every box.

Feel free to listen to the episode “Benefits of Freelance Indexing” to hear more about my indexing origin story and why I chose to become a freelance business owner.