Working as a freelance editor allows you to earn an income from the comfort of your own home. As long as you have a laptop, you can work! But if you have no experience and are just getting started, many people don’t know HOW to become an editor,
Don’t worry, I was in the same boat and I’ve learned a few tricks along the way. I earned between $2,000 to $3000 per month working on online proofreading jobs from home.
This article will share all you need to know about how to become a freelance editor.
First things first.
If you are looking for other ways to make an income from home, read these articles:
Related articles on work from home jobs:
- 20 Best Stay At Home Jobs
- How to Become an Online Teacher (and earn $6,000 per month!)
- How to Become an Online Proofreader (With NO Experience)
- How to Become a Well-Paid Freelance Writer
- How to Become a Virtual Assistant With No Experience
- How to Work from Home in 6 Easy Steps
- How to Become a Freelance Social Media Manager
Some of the links on here are affiliate links and I may earn if you click on them, AT NO EXTRA cost to you. Hope you find the information here useful! Thanks.
How To Become An Editor For Beginners- 8 Steps
1.Understand what an Editor does
2. Create 3-4 work samples
3.Find your first paying client
4. Decide on your pricing
7.Create a website
8.Increase your rate
If you want become a freelance editor but need some training, the Proofread Anywhere course helps you transition into a full-time proofreader/editor and run it as a well-paid business.
The Proofread Anywhere course begins with proofreading basics and then goes on to share advanced proofreading methods, how and where to find jobs, what rate to set and common mistakes to avoid.
Caitlin is the lady who runs the course and she has been a proofreader since 2007. She turned her love for proofreading into a full-time job and now helps others do the same.
The Proofread Anywhere course is packed with 40+ lessons in 8 modules, grammar-specific worksheets, and real-life example jobs.
After passing with 90% or higher on the final exam you will receive a Certificate of Completion and access to the Self-Publishing School Preferred Outsourcer Rolodex.
Ps; Caitlin is offering a FREE Proofreading workshop that will help you learn the basic skills and decide on whether freelance editing is for you.
Allright, now you are aware of that… the first step is :
1-Understand WHAT an editor does
An editor corrects and refines the text of written material to ensure it is polished and refined.
This will include correcting spelling, grammar, and punctuation, and also whether the texts flow properly and correspond within in-house style guidelines.
Essentially, you spot typos and errors, correct them and then get paid for it!
These jobs require you to have good attention to detail and an ability to work by yourself for long periods.
What’s the difference between a proofreader and an editor?
From my understanding, a proofreader identifies more surface-level errors such as misspellings, incorrect punctuation, etc.
However, an editor tackles more in-depth issues such as sentence constructions, language and tone clarity.
It’s easy to mix up the two, but bear in mind, if you want to become a proofreader, you can charge more for editing, as its more in-depth.
Why work as an editor/proofreader?
I started my remote working career as an online editor. I think it’s a brilliant way to earn an income from any location. All you need is a laptop and Microsoft word and you are good to go!
My first big paid editing job came when I was just about to climb up Everest Base Camp.
Every day after long hours of hiking, I edited a university thesis to ensure it was error-free.
It was incredibly challenging, but in the end, I was paid $600, which nearly funded my entire trip. So if I can edit hiking up EBC, you can edit anywhere you want too!
2-Create 3-4 work samples
The biggest obstacle I had when I wanted to start working as an editor was, a lot of potential clients asked for samples of my work. But, how can I provide samples when no one wants to hire me because I have no experience?
It’s like the chicken and egg argument -_-
I have a solution.
Create free samples! Offer to edit your friends’ and families’ CVS, essays, LinkedIn profiles, written reports for university or work, emails. It all counts.
Fire up Microsoft word. Click Microsoft Tracker and edit the text.
Voila! You now have work samples!
You essentially want to show the difference in the text before and after you edited the text, so the client can see your editing skills.
Now you can upload your work samples on a FREE online portfolio platform like Contently.
Alternatively, Google docs is also good, as you can send them the links to your samples.
3- Find your first paying client
So you have your samples, now it’s time to get PAID! There are so many ways you can get clients.
- Create a flyer
Create a poster for FREE in Canva and stick it up in places where people would need editing i.e. universities, book publisher offices, get creative!
Canva has paid options but try the FREE one first.
Think about where your potential clients may hang out.
My approach was to post my advert in universities because every university student needs to submit a thesis.
Not all of those students will have perfect grammar and spelling. Every university has thousands of students… voilà! You just found a target market!
It is the easiest way to start building yourself a pipeline of freelance proofreading jobs from home.
Up work is great to find work for freelance proofreading jobs for beginners. They sometimes advertise part-time proofreading jobs from home.Set up a profile on Upwork and start applying like a mad person. Be sure to tailor your application to the job.
Sometimes job boards also advertise entry level proofreading jobs online. A few of the sites are:
If you want to find proofreading jobs online with no experience, sometimes these editing websites also hire newbies, as long as you have samples.
4- Decide your pricing
You found a client *scream!*, but what do you charge? You don’t want to come across as too cheap and inexperienced, but then you don’t want to overcharge and lose a client.
According to the Editorial Freelance Association, the average rate is $2.7 per page.*
*$30-$35 per hour for 9-13 pages.
You can charge per hour, per word or page. I have always charged per page, BUT make sure the text is Times New Roman, 12, double spaced.
Because sometimes clients send you manuscripts with single-spaced, TINY font because you charge per page. They think they can get the project cheaper.
Advise them the industry standard is Times New Roman 12, double-spaced and you will price it accordingly.
I am going to be honest. When I began, I charged $1.5 per page. This is way lower than the average rate, but I wanted to build up a solid portfolio of samples and gain experience.
The great thing is, your rate can always increase as you gain more experience.
I increased my rate from $1.5 to $2.8within 8 months. I have even charged $3.6 per page for certain projects that I have specialist experience in. More on that later.
If you want a really good way to communicate your rate and deadline to a client, email me.
I’ll send you an email technique I’ve developed which almost always results in a client accepting my rate and deadline 🙂
5- Get paid
- Always insist on upfront payment
Unless you have a long-term relationship with the client or you are working for an editing agency, ALWAYS insist payment before work commences.
Freelance proofreading jobs online always have an element of risk. Be sure to mitigate that risk.
Having said that, there have been a few occasions where a client has asked if they could pay in 2 installments, one before the project commenced and one after.
It’s up to you to use your business judgment to decide whether you trust the client. I’ve only allowed it on 2 occasions out of hundreds of editing jobs!
- Paypal or Transferwise
The client can pay you via PayPal or Stripe, but often the client will want to pay via bank transfer in their own currency.
Some clients will ask you to send an invoice. Google invoice templates and copy a sample one onto Microsoft Word and send it off to the client. Simples 🙂
If you want an example of the invoice I send, email me. I will send you my sample.
6- Get testimonials
If you want to know how to become a freelance proofreader that is paid well, get client testimonials.
Once you have a few paying clients, if they are happy with your service, ask for testimonials. This will be crucial to you getting better-paying clients in the future.
Tip– Deliver the project ahead of the deadline if you want to wow them and get a good testimonial.
7- Create a website
Creating a website will provide you with a professional and legitimate profile to offer your services.
If you are like me and are hopeless at technology, don’t worry, it’s actually really easy and simple to set up a simple website once you have a guide.
I created a FREE guide on How To Create Your Freelance Website
You just need to follow the 8 steps in my guide and you will end up with a spanking brand new website !
No coding or IT experience required 🙂 You don’t need to make it complicated.
Have an About Me, Services, Portfolio and Contact Me section and you are done.
This is the basic website I created for freelance writing and editing.
If you face any technical difficulties, and you want some to help for cheap, I recommend Fiverr.
Fiverr is the sole reason I haven’t thrown my laptop out the window. They can fix any technical errors you have for as little as $5!
8- Increase your rate
There is no point working online and making extra cash if you have no time to enjoy it!
I am teaching you how to become a proofreader online, so you can work less and have more free time. So, start increasing your rate.
You can increase your rate by:
- Niching down
Learn to be an editor that works on specialist fields. Use your background and experience to edit documents in specific niches.
For example, my background is law and finance, so I have expertise and knowledge to edit documents in these fields.
If you worked in sales and marketing, or even engineering, you can edit magazines, online publications, books and even theses related to these fields.
- Offer extra services
An extra service you can provide is paraphrasing, instead of merely editing.
Paraphrasing involves you changing wording and sentences to improve the language and structure of a text. Because it’s more intensive than merely changing grammar and spelling, you can charge more.
Formatting is one of many proofreading services you can offer.
It involves changing font sizes, indentations, making certain text italic, just to name a few.
You are basically in charge of making a document look presentable.
Reference checking is a service you can provide which ensures the references of a text are in line with appropriate citation styles.
For example, the American Psychological Association (APA) reference style, is different from the Modern Language Association style (MLA) of reference.
Don’t worry too much if you don’t know the different styles. You can google them and learn them within one day. That’s what I did 🙂
Any final tips?
- Discounts for referrals
If you have a recurring client who is happy with your work, ask them to recommend you to their colleagues and friends, and you will offer them a discount on their next piece of work.
- Discounts for big projects
Sometimes when a client has a particularly big project i.e. more than 50 pages, they may ask for a discount. This is normal and whether you should give the discount, is entirely up to you.
Bulk work is great, as you can utilize the time you spend hunting for clients on actual editing and getting paid.
I often provide discounts on big projects, as I prefer big editing jobs that I can get my teeth into.
- Introductory offers
A good technique to attract new clients is to offer free editing on the first page of a project.
This allows a client to assess your writing skills before they commit to a big project.
I’ve rarely offered this, but it’s a technique some editors use when a client is on the fence about hiring them.
- Deadline date and pricing
Always ask the client the deadline date and price it accordingly. If a client needs the document within 1-2 days, you can double your price. This is normal in the editing industry
There will be a few clients that will be resistant to your pricing. Don’t worry.
If you want a really good response that normally always gets them to agree with your pricing, email me and I will send it to you.
Watch out for
- Client scams
Let’s say you send the client the finished work. They come back to you and say their article wasn’t accepted for publication due to errors, so they need you to rework it or give them a refund.
You look at it and notice they have added paragraphs through the text which didn’t exist when you edited the document.
Don’t fall for this trick. Advise the client you will re-edit it if they re-pay you.
They tampered with your work and now want you to fix it. No thanks
- Unprofessional editing agencies
I used to work with a few editing agencies. They were great as they found me a few clients when I was getting started.
Yes, they took a commission BUT it helped me get experience and exposure to different areas of editing.
There was one particular agency that was a pain in the butt.
Every time I was assigned a job, they would message me every day, ask me to send them editing work completed so far and would also have negative feedback.
In the end, I had to cut them loose, as I was spending so much time responding to their questions, I was wasting valuable editing time!
I also started to doubt my abilities.
I politely told them I was no longer accepting work and spent the week hunting for my own clients.
I secured 3 new ones who were easy to work with, stress-free and I didn’t have to pay any commission.
It’s ok to turn away low paid jobs or jobs from frustrating clients/agencies because of time= money.
If someone isn’t respecting your time or worth, you can always look elsewhere. That’s the beauty of being a freelance editor!
I hope this has answered all your questions about how to become an editor.
Any other questions I haven’t cleared up?
Shoot them in the comments below and I’ll answer them when I can !