Freelancing Basics

Freelance editing can be just as rewarding and fulfilling as editing for a traditional publisher, but likewise, it can be just as difficult getting started. I’ve compiled a few lists to help you get started with your freelance editing business. (If you’re not into freelance editing, that’s okay! Many of these tips can be applied to other industries!)

Getting started as a freelance editor

  • Apply to internships while still in school and even after, to build your real-world experience in the industry, as well as your experience working with industry-standard programs and editing techniques.

  • Take masterclasses specializing in the different degrees of manuscript editing, electronic editing, grammar, and the Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS.)

  • Aim for editing certifications to show your education and qualifications.

  • Join editing associations to build connections with other editors in these networks and build your repertoire of resources in the editing industry.


  • Collaborate with other editors online and in-person to gain new perspectives, techniques and successful practices of others.

  • Connect with literary agents and other editors for their “reject” clients to build experience and make connections with artists who are just getting started. (reject clients may include clients the other editors and agents simply didn’t vibe with our didn’t have time to take on the projects of and does not necessarily;y refer to clients that are incompetent or lacking.)

  • Offer services both online and in your community to increase your experience.

  • Apply to any business or person with an online presence. Writing online copy is just as important as manuscript editing, especially in the digital age.


Working from home as a freelance editor

  • Time batch similar tasks. Freelance Editor, Mollie, from Molliereads on YouTube, and bestselling author, award-winning speaker and entrepreneur, Amy Landino are both uber-successful boss ladies, living their best lives and managing their time with time-batching. The key to this is to schedule similar events and tasks on the same days, to eliminate wasted time. One way they use this practice is on days when they film for their channels, they will film several videos in one day while their “film-ready” or they’ll schedule several meetups in one day at the same coffee shop to cut down on time spent getting ready and travelling.

  • Keep looking for work. While your schedule may dance between being busy and slow work days, it’s important to keep multiple projects lined up. In this industry, its best to prepare for situations out of our control, such as when a writer backs out of a project.

  • Plan realistic hours for your work. It’s important to keep busy, but it is likewise important to create a meaningful and sustainable schedule for yourself. As an editor, burnout comes more often and destructive than for other occupations. Similarly, it is important to remember that when it is time to work, you must be responsible for yourself and your time. Editors cannot wait for motivation or creativity to strike because most projects are time-sensitive. Set realistic hours and stick to your schedule.

  • Create a workspace conducive to successful business practice. Environment is everything for freelance editors. For the same reason it is important that students don’t sleep where the study or study where they sleep, freelancers need a workspace that can be differentiated from their home environment. In the student example, it’s easy to see where the mental lines become blurred if one studies in their bed. This has been proven to decrease study effectiveness and degrade students ability to stay on task and alert in an area they associate with sleep. Similar to this example, freelances must be able to separate worklife and homelife to avoid burnout and to avoid blurring the lines between work and play. This may mean implementing a physical distinction, such as a divider or even setting up a home office separate from sources of entertainment. This distinction should make it so that when you’re in your workspace, you aren’t distracted or tempted to procrastinate and when you’re in your homespace, you don’t feel the pressure of work when it’s time to wind down.

Looking for more? Freelance editing workshops are projected to come out in 2020! Check out the classes planned for 2020, here!

CEO Payton Hayes