Freelance Editing

A brief guide to freelance editing

Freelance EditingAh, the wonderful world of editing! So many options, so many possibilities! As an editor, you can work in a variety of industries—from the publishing field, to the broadcasting field, the engineering field, the medical field, and beyond—and hold a variety of editing jobs, including copy editor, sound or video editor, photo editor, managing editor, or technical editor.

Although there are many great things about being an editor, one stand-out advantage is the possibility of working as a freelance editor. The advantages of freelance editing include being your own boss, enjoying the convenience of working from home (or elsewhere), and having a peaceful work environment (i.e., no office politics). If you are interested in this type of work, there are a number of qualities you must possess. Freelance editing requires an editor to be:

  • Organized
  • Detail-oriented
  • Decisive
  • Diplomatic
  • Ambitious
  • Self-motivated
  • Enthusiastic
  • A good multitasker
  • A good networker
  • A good negotiator
  • Fastidious
  • Responsible
  • Reliable
  • Resourceful
  • Flexible
  • Savvy about money

To be a freelance editor, you must also have:

  • The ability to plan
  • The ability to manage your time efficiently
  • The ability to manage your career like a business
  • Marketing skills
  • A strong work ethic
  • A support network

Getting started as a freelance editor

There are a number of things you must do to get started in freelance editing. The first is to gain experience or acquire more experience. When first freelancing as an editor, stick to editing pieces on topics with which you are familiar and for clients with whom you already have a relationship. If you are well versed in medical topics, for example, stick with that subject matter until you have established a foothold. Build your portfolio. Subject matter experts are always in demand, and you will have less difficulty finding work.

This leads to the second thing you must do, which is to build your brand in freelance editing. Create a web site, print and distribute brochures and business cards, start a blog, create (or update) a professional profile on networking sites, and promote yourself by word of mouth.

The third thing is to stay abreast of what is happening in the editing field as a whole. To be good at freelance editing, you must be familiar with—nay, knowledgeable about—the world of editing and writing and all sorts of other things. Professional development is necessary, no matter what field you work in. For comprehensive information about editing and proofreading, some tips and tricks for editors, and advice on how to find work, check out ProofreadingCamp and EditingCamp.

The fourth thing you must do when freelance editing is to become very familiar with publishing tools, search engine optimization tools, and research tools. An in-depth understanding of these things will be an immense benefit to your freelance editing business.

This leads to the fifth thing you must do as a freelance editor, which is to become business savvy. You might be a great editor, but if you don’t know the first thing about business or money, you could well find yourself upstream without a paddle! It is critical to develop a business strategy and do some financial planning. Keep careful track of your income and expenses, and keep your business and personal finances separate. Look into tax regulations and options for payment. Open a work-only bank account, and pay for work-related expenses only from that account. Also, make sure you have some savings for times when no freelance editing work is available. Have an invoicing policy in place, and be sure you communicate it clearly to your clients. Keep clear and detailed records of all transactions. It is also critical to ensure you have a well-written contract so both you and your clients are on the same page.

Getting freelance editing jobs

There are a number of ways to find freelance editing jobs: word of mouth, networking with friends and colleagues, advertising (web site, brochures, etc.), and online job sites. In terms of the latter, check out Elance, an online site for freelance editing and writing jobs, and dozens of other sites.

When looking for freelance editing jobs, don’t forget to join an association, such as the Editorial Freelancers Association and the Association of Freelance Editors, Proofreaders and Indexers (AFEPI). Check out the web sites of these and other editing associations as they often offer useful information, tips and tricks, and even leads. They’re useful for networking, too! Also, consider writing articles about editing for article directories, such as Ezine. This could well result in some freelance editing jobs!

What to charge?

Determining what to charge clients for freelance editing jobs can be challenging as there are many variables involved, such as your experience and speed, the deadline/turnaround time, and the complexity of a particular job. Consider also that the price of freelance editing jobs can change according to the client. Let’s face it; some clients can afford and are willing to pay more than others.

Freelance editing: a dream job

So, what’s stopping you? Use this basic guide to help you. Go forth and start freelancing as an editor. You will find opportunities that you might not have thought about before, as well as an outlet for that dreaded editors’ affliction, OECD—obsessive editing compulsion disorder!

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