Recently, I have seen questions on several editor forums and email discussion groups from people who want to break into editing or proofreading. Most of the questions are along the lines of “where do I find clients?” or “how do I get started as an editor?”
I would never claim to have all the answers, but I have learned a few things over the years, and I’m happy to share some of that. Here are my top five tips for anyone who’s trying to get started as a freelance editor or proofreader.
- Evaluate your strengths and weaknesses honestly. If you are a new editor, don’t expect to get work from a top publisher right away. If you don’t have a lot of experience, take some editing or proofreading courses and read about editing. Also, gather and read information about running a business; tips about marketing and how to cultivate clients can be helpful for all types of businesses.
- Use your imagination when looking for clients. Publishers are not the only ones who need editors. Join local writers groups to meet writers who may need an editor someday. Contact high schools or colleges; lots of students—particularly those whose first language is not English—need editors. Approach local businesses, churches, and organizations and offer to edit or proofread fliers, newsletters, or websites. You may even offer to do some work for free if you need to build a client base or a portfolio.
- Join professional organizations such as the Editorial Freelancers Association (http://www.the-efa.org/) and interest groups on LinkedIn or other social media sites. Monitor editing websites and blogs and join editing discussion groups.
- Build a website that gives details about your services and experience and showcases what kind of work you can do. Include the web address on all your emails and other correspondence. Be persistent and tell everyone you know that you are looking for editing or proofreading work and ask them to pass your name along.
- Be an outstanding editor. It may take a while to build a steady client base, but if you’re good at what you do, you can get work.