How can I become a freelance editor?
February 11, 2007 5:23 PM   Subscribe

How can I become a freelance editor (or proofreader)? I have a good eye for grammar and whether writing makes sense, and I have an unrelated bachelor's degree from a respectable school. On the other hand, I have no significant experience. I'm hoping to work from home on a freelance basis. Is this crazy? How would I get started?
posted by lgyre to Work & Money (7 answers total) 48 users marked this as a favorite
Find a charitable organization whose mission you care about, and volunteer your services for their newsletter, website or publicity materials.

Trust me, they won't turn you down. You'll also be able to gain a clip file and references which will get you paying work.
posted by princesspathos at 5:37 PM on February 11, 2007

See the Editorial Freelancers Association (
posted by notyou at 5:52 PM on February 11, 2007

Here are some previous related questions on this, which I found by looking at the tags "editing" and "editor". (To see posts tagged with a word like "editing", go to the address I only looked at the first page of results under "editing"; didn't try "edit" or other related words.)
posted by LobsterMitten at 5:59 PM on February 11, 2007 occasionally has copyediting courses online, and some colleges may offer them as well. in this case, i think the courses are actually a good idea, because not only do you crystallize your skills, you learn the nuts and bolts, like how to mark up a document in a standardized way, common reference materials, what the job entails (it's usually more than just grammar--you'll often be asked to write captions and headlines, check tables of contents and indexes, and more), etc.
posted by thinkingwoman at 6:48 PM on February 11, 2007 [1 favorite]

I got started by doing an internship.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:05 PM on February 11, 2007

Amongst other things, I commission significant amounts of freelance work each year and a full time freelance proofreader. Remember, there are two types of freelancer in this world: People who can't hold down a job with a company and people who don't need to because they're good enough to work for themselves. You want to be the latter, obviously.

The golden rules, in my experience, are:

1) Get some experience. Any relevant experience will help, but no-one will hire you unless you can show you can do the job. A CV with known companies on it is a powerful thing.

2) Network. A lot. Send a lot of emails, make a lot of calls. Half my freelancers come to me.

3) Be reliable. Especially on deadlines. I'll rehire a reliable but average person over an unreliable brilliant every time because I've got deadlines to meet. Always communicate delays, problems or issues.

4) Do your job well. I can't tell you how often I get people who say they have certain skills but don't. They never get rehired if they even make it that far. It's all about the delivery - people hire freelancers because it's supposed to remove, not add to, hassle.

5) Don't price yourself out of the market. If you go in with the bombshell rate, no-one will use you. I pay top whack only to people I trust and who deliver every time. Build your client base and then look to raise your rates if you're in high demand.

5) Don't accept work unless you are totally clear how long it will take and what your client's expectations are. High project/piece rates are attractive only until you find yourself committed to work for which you will ultimately receive a derisory day rate.

6) If in doubt, take on small bits of work first and see how you get on.

7) Don't expect to get rich quick. When you freelance, nobody pays you for sick days, shopping days, admin days, client meeting days, days between one project finishing and another ending. Monitor what your day rate actually works out as, and don't kid yourself.

8) If you can, know the boss. Not just the person who hires you, but their boss. To them, you may be just a cost until they can put a face to the name.
posted by MuffinMan at 6:00 AM on February 15, 2007 [2 favorites]

And don't put 5) down twice. D'Oh.
posted by MuffinMan at 6:08 AM on February 15, 2007

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