There are many reasons for choosing to be a freelance editor: maybe you were laid off from your staff job, want to be your own boss, or wish to take your editing career in a new direction.
As with any decision, however, there are advantages and disadvantages to becoming a freelance editor. This list of pros and cons should help you decide if the freelance editing life is for you.
Three reasons for becoming a freelance editor
1. You can work anywhere.
As a freelance editor, you never need to run for the bus again, or get stuck in traffic, unless you’re on your way to the airport to spend the next three months working from a beachside villa!
You can work as an editor anywhere: in your living room, in your kitchen, or in your garden shed. You can even stay in your pajamas. You can also decide where that living room, kitchen, or garden shed will be: a Greek island, a Paris attic, or your own home.
The Internet and a lightweight laptop are certainly useful, but you can find the Internet pretty much anywhere these days—even on an African safari. And you don’t need an expensive, top-of-the-range laptop for editing. Still, a new computer would be a great investment for your new, freelancing life. Treat yourself.
2. You can work anytime.
Not a morning person? No problem. When you work as a freelance editor, you can choose your own hours. Sure, you’ll have deadlines, but it won’t matter to your client if you do the bulk of the work before lunch or while having a late-night snack at your desk.
You can even decide how many hours a week you want to work and whether you spread it out over five or six mornings or choose to cram 40 hours into three days.
As long as the client gets the job back on time, you can work whenever you want.
3. You can specialize.
When you work for a boss, you often have to edit whatever lands on your desk. One day it’s the annual report, the next it’s a memo to the sales department.
However, as a freelance editor, you can decide on the type of work you want to do. You could decide to only edit academic manuscripts and then only those on fluid mechanics. You might enjoy editing textbooks, as long as it’s not math. You can choose.
Editing in a specialized field will also help you stand out from the crowd and find a specific type of client.
Now let’s look at some of the disadvantages of becoming a freelance editor.
Three reasons for not becoming a freelance editor
1. It’s difficult to find clients.
Getting started as a freelance editor can be difficult. Some people build up a list of clients before they give up their staff job, but many people begin their freelancing career from scratch, or with only one or two clients.
It can take a lot of work to build up a reliable client list, but these days, there are also opportunities to work for online editing companies, specialize, as mentioned above, or even take time to brush up on your skills by taking an online editing course.
2. Your income is unpredictable.
Many freelance editors go through dry spells when the jobs aren’t coming in as fast as they used to. There may even be times when you’re getting more work than you can handle.
Hopefully, the two balance out over the course of the year, and those busy months can see you through the lean times.
If not, you can still use your time productively. Take the opportunity to look for new clients, refresh the look of your website, or take an online proofreading course to develop and expand your skills. The important thing is to keep busy.
3. You need a lot of discipline.
The threat of the sack or a cut in pay is often motivation enough to get out of bed and make your way to the office. But if you have no boss, who’s going to tell you to get to your desk and get the job done?
When you work as a freelance editor, it can be a struggle to find the discipline to sit down every day and get started.
It can help to develop a routine or talk with others in the same position. There are many forums and online discussion groups where other freelance editors can help you through those difficult days. They might even give you some tips for new clients.
The life of a freelance editor isn’t always easy, but it certainly has its advantages.
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