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What Is Freelance Copy Editing?

Freelance copy editing

Freelance copy editing gives you career freedom

Freelance copy editingYou may have heard of an editor, but what is a “copy editor”? The editor of a book or a magazine will decide on writing assignments and then approve the finished work or request alterations from the writer. A copy editor is specifically concerned with the format and style of the piece, as well as the spelling, punctuation, and grammar. Many jobs are available in copy editing, and freelance copy editing is a viable career option.


“Freelancing” simply means you don’t have a permanent contract of employment. There are no hard and fast rules for the terms of a freelance contract. A freelancer can negotiate terms and conditions on a contract-by-contract basis. Generally, though, companies that hire freelancers have fewer obligations to these contracted workers than they do to their full-time employees. When a contract comes to an end, the freelance copy editor has no right to severance pay. There is also no sick pay or holiday pay in freelance contracts. A freelancer has to make his or her own arrangements for health insurance and retirement plan contributions. On the upside, however, the weekly income of a freelancer may be higher than that of a full-time employee. This is one of the main reasons why freelance copy editing appeals to some.

Work pattern

A copy editor seeking work has an advantage if he or she can show long periods of stable employment on a résumé. Usually, a freelance copy editor has a different work pattern compared with full-timers, so any potential employer may be surprised to see long periods working for the same organization on a freelance copy editor’s résumé. However, that situation does sometimes arise. Some editing organizations want to be free of all full-time-employment obligations and use freelance copy editing. In this case, you are likely to be given a piecework contract in which you are paid based on units of output rather than time. Or you will work on a periodically renewed short-term contract.


Freelance copy editing is not for everyone. You may have to work hard to find jobs, because short contracts will mean you will be in the job market frequently, seeking assignments. You may need to build up savings while freelance copy editing so you can survive between contracts. Furthermore, freelance copy editing can mean higher costs than full-time employment, because you may have to travel to find work and you will be responsible for tax payments, which can require an accountant.


There are many advantages to freelance copy editing. For one thing, you may find you don’t like a new job. As a freelancer, you have to tough it out only for a few months, and that light at the end of the tunnel can make a bad job easier to bear. Also, in freelance copy editing it is easier to adapt to changing personal circumstances, and you will find it easier to adjust your career goals as your lifestyle changes. The freelance route is not for everyone, but it may be your best career choice.

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