You don’t have to join the rat race—get into freelance editing
Editing is a precise vocation that requires a particular mindset. Some people have a natural ability to edit the work of others but can’t fit into the regular nine-to-five structure of a typical desk job. If you have started a career in editing but can’t stand the idea of being permanently tied to one company, you might find that freelance editing suits you.
Being a corporate player has its advantages. Getting experience in a well-respected publishing house will associate you with the reputation the company has within the publishing industry. If you have ambitions to be in charge of a publication as a managing editor, full-time employment is the best way to arrive at that goal. Freelance editing is not for everyone, and those driven by career goals should not necessarily opt out of permanent employment.
A permanent job can get a little boring for some. By tying yourself to a specific company or publication, you will find yourself pigeonholed in a particular subject area. Repetitive work can get some people down, but sticking with a fixed job may seem like the only way to gain a promotion. Freelance editing brings a wider range of opportunities. Companies generally supplement their regular editorial staff when they have a new project and need people to work on it so their regular employees can continue with other projects. This may result in freelance editing contractors getting the cutting-edge work, while the permanent staffers find they are trailing behind.
The Peter Principle states that employees get promoted until they find their own level of incompetence. If you enjoy your job and do it well, you are likely to be promoted out of it. This continues until you get promoted into a job that you don’t enjoy and so perform badly in it. Many people pursuing promotion for a greater income and more influence find they get promoted into a job they hate, but can’t return to the job they loved because that would entail a wage cut. Freelance editing enables you to stick to the job you love while gaining diversity in your daily challenges by frequently switching projects.
One of the main reasons people seek promotion out of the job they love is simply because they want to earn more money. Permanent employment earns you more than just a wage: you also get holiday pay, sick pay, retirement plan contributions, and health insurance benefits. If you are young and healthy, however, you may decide to forgo the non-wage benefits of a permanent job. The absence of benefits can mean that take-home pay, on a daily wage basis, is higher for freelance editors than for employed editors. This means you can increase your pay without having to climb the corporate ladder.
Freelance editing could be a good career move if you don’t want a management position, don’t need health benefits, and want varied work experience. There is a reason, however, that many in the industry are not drawn to freelance work. Permanent employment gives long-term security that freelance editing rarely brings. You may have worked full time in an office that has used the same freelancers for years and are drawn to the advantage you would have with such a long-term contract. However, such situations are rare, and most freelance editors see gaps in their employment. If you worry about making your next mortgage payment and have kids in school, maybe freelance editing is not for you. But if you have few commitments, don’t need loans, and don’t prioritize job security, consider the leap to freelance editing.
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