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How to Become a Freelance Editor

Aug 3, 2023 · 7 minutes to read

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Do you have a passion for writing and strong attention to detail? You might make an excellent editor! Learn how to start a freelance editing business and put your talents to good use with this quick guide. Plus, find out how to find instant freelance insurance to protect your new business.

What does a freelance editor do?

Freelance editors get documents ready to publish. They work with clients (usually other writers) to help sharpen their ideas, improve their writing, and craft content that is free of mistakes. If you have a talent for turning rough copy into something that is fun and easy to read, then this might be the career for you!

As a freelancer, you will be working for yourself. You’ll be responsible for all parts of your business—from working on documents to reviewing your freelance insurance.

How to get started as a freelance editor

Ready to become a freelance proofreader or editor? Here are six steps to help you start a freelance editing business.

1. Choose a specialty

Clients want to work with the best, and you can establish yourself as an editing pro right out of the gate. Choosing a specialty helps set you apart from “jack of all trades” editors. You may be able to do everything, but selling yourself as an expert in a particular type of editing may entice more potential clients.

There are many editing specialities you might focus on, such as:

  • Developmental editing – Writers hire developmental editors to help them see the big picture when it comes to their projects. You point out holes in their work, suggest changes, or recommend additions or cuts.
  • Copy editing – A copy editor’s job is to support writers at a sentence level. You help make their prose readable by adding transitions, changing sentence structure, and improving the overall flow.
  • Proofreading – Creating a truly letter-perfect document requires a strong proofreader. You’re responsible for catching every error, from a missing comma to a misspelled word.

You may also choose to edit only specific projects, content, or documents. This can help you match your strongest editing skills with things you enjoy reading. Some examples of projects you might specialize in include:

  • Fiction manuscripts
  • Non-fiction manuscripts
  • Academic research papers and dissertations
  • College admissions essays and student essays
  • Science writing

Once you’ve chosen your editing specialties, you can begin to build your business around these details.

2. Set your rates

Editors commonly bill their clients in one of two ways:

  • By the hour – You may opt to charge your clients based on the amount of time it takes you to edit the content. Setting a timer can help you track the time spent on a manuscript and provide your clients with accurate invoices.
  • By the word – Charging based on the overall word count of a project may be a good option if you don’t have a strong idea of how long it will take to edit it.

Regardless of whether you’re charging by the hour or the word, consider setting a price range (i.e., $30-35/hour or 4-6¢/word). This allows you to assess each project individually. If a manuscript is full of typos and lacks overall flow, you could charge toward the upper end, as it will probably take more work to get it ready for publishing.

3. Create a portfolio

Clients typically want to see examples of your work before they’ll hire you. A portfolio is a great way to showcase your skills and services. Choose your best work from a variety of styles and create a PDF you can share with potential clients. You can also house your portfolio on your business website.

Many editors also include client testimonials in their portfolios. This may be a single page at the end with glowing reviews from your happiest customers!

4. Establish an online presence

Many clients turn to the internet when they need to find an editor. Curating a professional online presence can help them find you and inspire them to hire you for their job. Your website and LinkedIn profile are two of your most important online assets.

A professional website is easy to build, thanks to online templates. You can quickly customize colors, add your own written content and images, and add your contact details. Your editing portfolio may also live on your website.

Your LinkedIn profile can supplement your website. Clients may view your profile to learn more about your experience and vet you as a professional editor. On LinkedIn, you can add more information about your professional background and request references from past clients and relevant former employers.

5. Find clients

You’re ready to take on clients—but now you need to find them! If you’re lucky, you may already have a client or two before you launch your business. But if not, you’ll need to dedicate part of your day to finding new ones.

Editors often find clients by:

  • Networking – You never know who may need an editor, so tell everyone you know about your new business! Industry events are also great places to connect with writers and other editors.
  • Searching job boards – This is a more traditional way to find freelance editing work. You may need to filter results to find short-term and contract jobs.
  • Joining freelance apps – Sites like Fiverr and Upwork allow you to bid on freelance editing jobs. A one-off project could become a regular client.
  • Cold contacting – Sending emails to writers, businesses and institutions you want to work with could lead to a freelance contract.

Consider offering your clients a small discount if they refer others to you for editing work. This could become a great way to find new clients and earn the loyalty of your current ones.

6. Protect your business

Editors are up against many challenges in their day-to-day work. Missed deadlines, undelivered services, and even unhappy clients could cause trouble for your business. That’s why many editors consider freelance insurance to help protect their business.

Freelance editors may consider various insurance coverage, including:

  • Professional LiabilityProtects editors from potentially devastating financial damages resulting from alleged negligence or error in the delivery of your services.
  • General LiabilityProtects your business against bodily injury or property damage lawsuits from outside parties.
  • Business Owner’s Policy – A combination of policies, combining covers such as General Liability insurance and business personal property coverage, to help protect small businesses from costly interruptions to service.

Freelance insurance helps shield your business from everyday risks that could devastate your finances. Without it, the cost of unplanned bills and legal costs would fall squarely on your shoulders. Freelance insurance for editors can help you work more confidently, knowing you’re protecting should the worst happen.

Writing your small business success

Starting a freelance editing business can be an exciting step in your career. With a strong foundation and freelance insurance to back you up, you could become the author of your own success for years to come.

Compare freelance insurance options for editors with BizInsure and start saving today!

As with any insurance, coverage will be subject to the terms, conditions and exclusions contained in the policy wording. The information contained on this guide is general only and should not be relied upon as advice.
The number of quotes provided varies between products, occupations and other underwriting factors determined by the insurers.
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