Freelance Writing: Handling Editing and Revision Requests

Writers need editors. Could your freelance writing need an editor?

It's not fun to be told you need to improve. Sometimes, though, that's just what you need. Remember, it's probably not personal when a client asks for revisions or an editor requests changes. Your freelance writing might need a little help or direction.

Making Revisions in Freelance Writing

I've had to make revisions to my work on occasion. Sometimes, the client wants a little bit more here or wants something explained differently. Most of the time, I don't have a problem revising the work. And it gives me a chance to review the piece again and improve it overall. I might also catch little typos that might have gone unnoticed originally.

However, you get to the point where making more revisions becomes burdensome. If you're being asked to add 500 words because the client was too cheap to order an article of that length initially, it might be time to ask for a little more money.

One way to address this possibility is to clearly state how many revisions you will make (two is a fairly standard and reasonable number of revisions) when you agree to the project. It can also help to ask the client for more details about the project and what he or she wants. If given vague directions, you could be forgiven for doing whatever you think fits.

When Someone Changes Your Piece

Another issue that freelance writers have to deal with is the possibility that an editor will take what you've written and add to it or change it. Personally, I don't have a big problem with that. In many cases, especially if I'm ghostwriting, it's understandable that the client would want to change things a bit to reflect his or her personal style.

There is a fine line, though. Do you want something that is dramatically changed to still bear your name? What if the changes are inaccurate or don't really reflect your ideas? When your name is on something, you have cause to ask that you be allowed to re-work it, or that an editor's note be added to state that something has been added clearly. I once had a client add a section of text to something I'd written, and someone called it out as inaccurate in the comments. The client ended up leaving his own comment, apologizing and pointing out that it was his mistake and not mine. Sometimes, you have to edit the work of your editor.

Many times, though, with the simple nit-picky stuff, it's much easier just to let the editor make the changes than to go back through and make the changes yourself.

Clients Get What They Pay For

Another consideration for editing and revisions is what the client is paying for. If you are charging a higher rate for your work, you need to be prepared to do a little more to make the freelance writing client happy. On the other hand, if you are a blog staff writer and aren't paid that much, it seems counter-productive (not to mention terribly cost-inefficient) to keep making revisions.

At that point, when you are constantly asked to change small things or make big revisions that take up a lot of time that you aren't being paid for, you need to think about possibly firing your client. It really becomes a cost-benefit analysis.

Editing Can be Helpful for Freelance Writing

Writers do need editors. I have some really great editors that push me to improve my writing and stretch myself. This is a good thing. They offer insightful suggestions, and I can feel the article improving as I revise. None of us is perfect, and there is room for improvement. But changes because the client feels like he or she needs to “do something” are rarely warranted.

Consider requests from clients, and consider the editing process. Have an open mind about the process, and remember that most of the time, editing and revision requests aren't personal commentaries on the quality of your work.

How do you handle revision requests?

0 thoughts on “Freelance Writing: Handling Editing and Revision Requests”

  1. This is an important post for me as I am a writer for some companies and now the Managing Editor for too. So I do both. It’s new to me so will take on board your suggestions – from both sides 🙂 Thanks for sharing on

  2. One client often asks for revisions, but my per post rate is really high, so I am happy to do it (a post often takes several hours before final sign off is given). Otherwise, I rarely get asked for revisions – occasionally for another client, whom I charge hourly. I’m lucky in that regard – I think it’s a good idea to set boundaries up front regarding how revisions will be handled. I remember one of the first pieces I got published in a paper was absolutely butchered by the subs, and I had no notice at all until I saw the paper.

    1. Miranda Marquit

      I think you make a good point about making sure that everything is hashed out in the agreement ahead of time. I find that I am rarely asked for revisions as well. However, on the occasions that I am asked for revisions, I find that it is usually one of the lower paying clients.

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