Are You Cut Out for Freelance Editing?

Freelance editing takes a lot of…something. I don't have it. But you might be cut out to be a freelance editor.

There are a number of career paths that are compatible with freelancing. It's possible to land freelance jobs in almost anything related to creativity. One of the most important jobs is that of editor. If you have what it takes, you can edit others' work — right from the comfort of your home.

I like editors. In many cases, they help me improve my writing. However, I don't particularly enjoy freelance editing, even though I am reasonably competent at it. One of the reasons is that editing can take longer than just sitting down and writing something from scratch.

However, there are those who have no problem editing. If you want to be a freelance editor, you need to meet some of these requirements:

  • Eye for detail: You need to notice things. As a freelance editor, you need to be able to identify what's wrong. You can't miss the details as an editor.
  • Knowledge of grammar and usage: Clearly, you need a good working knowledge of grammar and proper usage in order to effectively edit others' work. Know how words are used, and develop a solid grasp of grammar. Bone up the differences between similar words, and when they should be used.
  • Understand variances in spelling and usage: In our global economy, many of us find ourselves doing work for others. When I write for a business blog in the United Kingdom, I spell words differently — and sometimes even use different words. I don't worry about it too much when I'm writing as myself for Canadian blogs, but when I'm “undercover” and ghostwriting as a Canadian, I need to pay attention to differences. As an editor, you need to be aware of these differences, and not “correct” a word that is used differently for different audiences.
  • Knowledge of style: There are different styles used. AP, APA, MLA, and Chicago are some of the different style preferences. When freelance editing papers and other items, you need to have a solid understanding of what style is being used, and the proper way to cite sources, as well as other elements of style. Also, some publishers and media sites have their own style guides. When you edit for organizations with specific style guides, you need a copy of their manuals.
  • Understand the goal: Before you start, understand the goal of the piece. You need to know what the writer wants to convey, the voice it needs to be conveyed in, and what the content creator hopes the reader will get out of it.
  • Ability to meet a deadline: Know the deadline. You need to meet deadlines if you want to continue to receive freelance work. If you are asked for an approximate delivery date, you need to make sure you understand your abilities, and offer a realistic deadline. If you are having trouble meeting your deadline, communicate that with the client as quickly as possible.

What you charge for freelance editing depends largely on the type of editing you are doing, as well as the length of the piece you are working on. The more involved the project, the more you should charge. Serious overhauls can be more time-consuming and draining than writing from scratch, and you should take that into account as well.

In the end, whether you prefer freelancing editing to other types of work depends on your interest. Personally, I find editing tedious. I'll do it for a few people, but, for the most part, I turn down editing jobs. Others, though, really enjoy it, and do a great job.

Do you like editing? Why do you enjoy it?

Image source: Matt Hampel

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