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How to Become and Make Money as a Freelance Editor
Today’s Money-Making SAHM is a freelance editor named Rachael. Below she shares with you the pros and cons of editing, things to watch out for, how to be successful at it, and ultimately how to make money as a freelance editor.
Q. What inspired you to begin working?
A. I got my degree in English and Editing. About one month after I graduated I had my first son. We decided I would be a stay at home mom so I could nurse him and we wouldn’t have to pay for childcare. But with only one kid I was frequently finding myself wondering what I should do. I had been in school full time and working full time before baby, so during his long naps I was bored. I laugh now because I never have a free moment, but at the time, I needed something to do. So I started looking for freelance work.
Q. How did you go about starting your business or arranging a work at home position?
A. Truthfully it started with someone asking me about my degree, and then wondering if I would want to edit some documents for their company. That led to more freelance editing with them, and lots of word of mouth referrals.
I was good, fast, and cheap, so I seemed to always have more work than I could handle.
Once I started getting more work than I could handle on my own I realized I needed to get more organized, and only take on jobs I was interested in. I was also doing a lot of freelance writing at the time. Through that freelance writing I found a consulting firm that had lots of clients that wanted online writing and editing, and signed a contract with them. I did all of their work, and they got a commission. It worked out great for both of us because they needed someone to do it, and it gave me a consistent paycheck, although it was less than I would have made had I found the jobs myself.
From there I continued to do freelance work with others as well, but was very picky about what jobs I took so that I could take time to do something for me too. I now run two blogs, a food blog and a travel/lifestyle blog. (http://www.eazypeazymealz.com and http://www.travelparenteat.com)
Q. What are some tips you would like to share with others who are interested in doing something similar?
A. Charge what you are worth. When I first started I had more work because I was cheap, but I soon got burned out, and realized I was charging way too little. I had a degree and lots of experience, and just because I was working from my home didn’t mean I couldn’t charge competitive rates. Obviously if you do not have a lot of experience that should be reflected in your pricing, but as you gain experience don’t be afraid to up your rates.
Look close to home. I remember scouring the classifieds and other sources like that for work, and then realized I knew plenty of people who owned businesses that produced pamphlets, books, and web copy, and they all needed an editor even if they weren’t already using one. So I started offering my services, and providing the people I knew with pricing sheets and referrals. Word-of-mouth was the best form of advertising for me, but in order to get that I always over-delivered, and was on time.
Over-deliver. Some of my best clients are the ones I have worked with for years and years. But that only happens because I follow through with deadlines and promises, and over-deliver every time. They know they are getting quality, and I know they will always come to me. It is job security at its finest.
Don’t work for free. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you have to do everyone you know favors. I remember being so flattered when I first started when friends would ask me to edit their papers for school or whatever. But I was doing a lot of work for free. If they really want a service, they will pay for it. You can give them a discount if you want, but don’t work for free.
Set a schedule for yourself. Spend some time on marketing your services, sometime on following up with past clients and reminding them what you offer and that you would love to work with them again. Sometimes learning and improving your skill, and then of course time doing the thing you are selling. Working from home gives you lots of flexibility, but it can also mean procrastination. Get organized.
Applying to write for a people through a website like http://bid4papers.com/ is also a great way to find freelance work.
Q. How many hours do you work a week or how much of your time does this position require? Is it flexible? Is it consistent?
A. The number of hours I work each week varies significantly. It depends on the jobs I am doing, and what is going on in my life. I have four children, so I am selective about the work I take, and I plan on only about 10-15 hours a week. My other projects, like my blogs are usually in addition to my freelance work. So between editing, writing, and blogging, I work 3-5 hours a day, 5 days a week.
However, some jobs do take a lot more work than that. I recently completed a 2-month long editing project with a major national company, and it required full-time work for me to reach my deadline in time. Because that meant I had to find sitters for my kids, and was not as able to devote myself to my other endeavors such as my writing and my blogs, I charged accordingly.
Freelance editing is very much flexible, as long as you meet deadlines most companies do not care when you work. I like to work for an hour first thing in the morning. This gets my day off on the right foot and lets me make sure I communicate with clients during their normal business hours. I work while my kids nap if I do not have other pressing things, and then I usually put in a few hours after the kids are in bed. This is not every day. And I am juggling things besides the editing, so some of the time I spend is on other things as well.
Q. When/how do you find the time to work?
A. I set aside an hour each morning when my husband is home and takes care of the kids. I answer emails and things all day as I do normal “mom” stuff. I work during nap times. And I usually spend at least 2 hours at night doing work related things after the kids are in bed. My husband is often at work until 10 or so, which makes this very possible for me. However, I think the key is just organizing your schedule and planning on set times to do your work.
Q. Are there certain tips/advice you’d want to share with others who want to start working like you?
A. Know what the client wants upfront and be VERY specific about what you are willing to do.
When I first started I remember clients being vague and I would spend hours editing their work, and then they would change their minds on what they wanted and I would have to do it again. So I did a lot of work for free.
Now I get pretty specific and spend more time upfront making sure I know what the clients want and they know what they want. Sometimes they have a really vague idea so I have to help guide them to answers about what exactly they are looking for. Things to consider are whether or not you will format and do layout, or just copy edit? How many drafts will you do? Will you charge by the hour, page, etc.? If charging by the page, do you charge per page of original content, or finished (edited) page count? Be specific.
It is also important to check and see if they client’s company has a style guide they want you to conform to. Or a preferred standard.
Q. Was training/schooling required for the position? How/when did you complete it?
A. I do have a BA in English and I have a minor in editing. However, they may not be strictly necessary. This will depend on the client. If you can show a proven record of editing skills or pass an editing test it may not be required.
Q. What is the income percentage you bring in? or How much do you make from this job? or Does the income help a little, medium, or is the main source of your family’s income?
A. For our family this is a side income because we have four kids, and I am the primary caregiver. However, there was a time when I worked doing the editing and writing full-time and made over 50% of our income. Now what I make is mostly what I would consider discretionary. We use it to travel, to build the kid’s savings, and to afford luxuries (going out to eat, buying new clothes). My husband’s income covers the bills, and mine covers the fun, entertainment, and extras like sports and piano lessons for the kids.
When I was working full-time from home I made between $30,000 and $50,000 a year. I now only take jobs I really want to do, and focus more on my blogging and other interests. Most of my jobs range in the $100-$200 range, and I only do a few each month, but I will occasionally do work with a larger client or take on a larger project that may pay $5k + I would say I make an average of $20-$30/hr. I charge per page (Max 500 words per page) for editing because I have kids at home, so I can’t always devote solid hours to work.
How much you make is up to you. If you want to work more hours you can make more money. But you will have to really hustle and find work, and work fast, and do a good job so you can get repeat clients.
Q. How would someone who wants to do something similar get started?
A. Start by getting the word out to people you know who may have need of this service. When you do get a job with someone, let them know you are always interested in other work, so if they know anyone who may need your services, you would love if they would pass your info along.
Look on Craigslist, as there is a writing and editing section, and can be an okay place to find work, though it does not always pay very well.
When I first started I built a website, but found that I got very few referrals through it. And so I have since let it go. But LinkedIn, and some of the more business focused social networks are a good place to connect with people who may need your services, and a good place to get endorsed by those you have done work for.
Rachael Yerkes is a stay at home mom with four kids, who enjoys freelance writing, editing, and blogging about food and travel. She currently manages a food blog called Eazy Peazy Mealz (http://www.eazypeazymealz.com) where she shows how she keeps things simple and tasty for her family. And contributes to the blog Travel Parent Eat (http://www.travelparenteat.com) where she shares her love of all things travel. Connect with her on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/EazyPeazyMealz) .
Other posts in this series:
Series 31: Sell Shaklee (MLM)-removed
Series 33: Sell Mary Kay(MLM)-removed
more coming…pin or bookmark for more.
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