42.5% of people are negatively influenced by grammar and spelling mistakes. This is why writers, from bloggers to authors, require editors. Editors serve many purposes, depending on their expertise
- Grammar and spelling correction
- Word flow and continuity
- Substance and development of a story
If you have a love for the written word, and you’re skilled in finding mistakes, you could do the noble work of freelance editing. How do you become an editor though? The answer comes down to your abilities in specific editing niches and your willingness to market yourself.
What Does an Editor Do?
There are different types of editors to fit the needs of writers. This can range from researchers to developmental editors. The type of editing you provide depends on the aspects of writing you feel most comfortable working with. Many freelance editors offer multiple services, but if you’re just starting you may want to stick with one or two areas for now.
Fact-checkers are the researchers of the editing world. If you’re a fact-checker, it’s your job to make sure the content in front of you is factual. This includes checking stats, links, and footnotes to make sure they are presented accurately.
Fact-checkers also let writers know if their references fit the context of their content. As a fact-checker, you make sure writers maintain credibility with their readers.
Copy editors provide the services most commonly called on. This type of editor checks for spelling and grammar mistakes. They are like the mechanics of the editing world.
Copy editors check for style and technical issues. They also do a review of content flow to make sure it’s consistent and easy to read. Writer’s Row has a good example of the common mistakes copy editors work with.
Line editors come in after the initial copy editing is completed. This type of editor makes sure an edited piece continues to flow well after changes are made.
Line editing and copy editing go hand-in-hand. This means many editors will offer both services together.
A developmental editor deals with the substance of the writing. This type of editor looks at issues regarding
- Character and plot development
- Writing style
Developmental editing should occur after grammar and spelling issues are addressed. This is the stage when in-depth changes occur. Developmental editors make sure the final product is polished while maintaining the writer’s intent.
Learn to Edit: What Do You Need?
Before you get started as a freelance editor, you need to make sure you have the right tools. This starts with having the skills necessary to provide credible service. You also need to brush up on the rules of the trade so you can meet the needs of your writers.
Skills Required for an Editor
A good editor starts with a love of reading and writing. You also need a good eye for detail so you can catch those pesky mistakes. A good editor is flexible and friendly yet honest.
A freelance editor also needs the ability to manage themselves. It’s up to you to find clients and keep up with your work. If you over-think, or you’re not willing to do extra work don’t take this route. (Blake Atwood)
You need a willingness to listen if you want to keep writers happy. You don’t want to change the writer’s voice; your job is to help them improve their content.
Most importantly, make sure you love editing.
Editing is not a good job for someone looking for an easy way to make money. Determine the services you want to offer and the content you want to work with.
– Blake Atwood
Tools of the Trade
One of the first tools you want to find as an editor is a good style-guide. The style guide will help you brush up on your skills. It also acts as a regular reference tool.
You also need to build up your network. Getting started, you’ll need to rely on your contacts for referrals.
I lucked into my first client because an editor friend knew I was looking for editing work and referred me. – Blake Atwood
You’ll need to use social media, conferences, and any other networking tools you have available to build your client base. A good mentor in the industry also helps you get started.
Once you decide what editing services you want to provide, set prices for these services, and stick to those prices. Don’t offer “friend deals” or everyone will expect the same price. Create a contract, and have every client sign so you’re both on the same page.
Many editors offer editing as one of many services, such as Jim Woods who runs the Finish Your Book Summit. You’ll want contracts in place for each service you provide.
Marketing Your Services
As a freelance editor, it’s up to you to market your services. This is why the network you create is so important. Making friends with other editors and writers will help you get your name out there. Develop relationships with these people and they’re more likely to refer people your way.
If you don’t know how to market your services, make sure you learn. This includes creating content that shows your expertise. Write articles for your website, for social media, and guest posts on other sites. Learn how to create ads that grab people’s attention.
You can also market by answering questions on social media sites. Share your expertise with people asking questions. Remember, your best marketing tool is building relationships.
You also want to make sure you have a website you can send people to. Your website is your home-base for your freelance services.
- Create a blog to share content
- Provide an easy way for people to contact you
- List your offered services
- Share your successes and credentials
Make your website easy to navigate and make sure it’s helpful to visitors.
Your Freelance Success
Does freelance editing sound like the perfect choice for you? If so, great! get out there and get started. You can always find helpful tips here to help you market your services.
If you’re still not sure, check out other freelance work options. Find the perfect job to help you succeed in the freelance world.