A good literary editor should recognise and draw out the best in an author's work

December 10, 2022, 0 Comments

How to Become an Editor: A 6-Step Guide for Beginners

One of the greatest perks of being a freelancer is that you can choose which areas you wish to niche down into. If you’re wondering how you can make money working online as a freelance writer, you may be discovering that there are many options open to you, from creative writing, copywritingcontent marketing, or one of the most popular: editing.

In this guide, we will provide you with a step-by-step overview of how to become an editor and start making money as a freelance writer. If you’re interested in learning more about the differences between an editor and a proofreader, check out our Complete Beginners Guide to Copyediting.

But first, why would freelance editing be a great career choice? Many writers struggle with their own material and need an experienced second set of eyes to help them polish their work. A great copy editor can identify grammar and spelling mistakes, suggest structural changes and check facts – and then provide constructive feedback that allows the writer to develop as a professional. Editors work in many ways and are useful for larger projects, such as books or corporate documents, where an extra pair of hands is required to ensure the project is completed to a high standard.

Copy editors must identify grammatical and factual errors, and suggest alterations to the structure of a manuscript

How to become an editing freelancer

1. Get Your Education

The first step in becoming an editor is getting your education. You’ll need to obtain at least a bachelor’s degree in English, journalism, or related fields. It can also be beneficial to take continuing education courses to stay up-to-date on the latest editing tools and techniques.

2. Develop Your Skills

Once you have a degree and some experience under your belt, it’s time to hone your skills as an editor. This includes everything from mastering grammar and punctuation to staying on top of the latest trends in your industry. This can be done via courses, workshops, or self-learning; plenty of resources are available online for editors looking to brush up their skills.

A copyeditor will only land clients with a strong portfolio to showcase their work

3. Create a Portfolio

It’s impossible to land clients without a portfolio to showcase your work. Start by collecting samples of your best editing projects. This will help you demonstrate the quality of your work and give potential clients the confidence that you can provide high-quality services.

4. Get Certified

Certification is often beneficial for freelance editors as it gives them an extra layer of credibility when reaching out to potential clients. Several certificates are available for editors, including the Certified Professional Editor certification from the Board of Editors in the Life Sciences or the Editing Certificate from The Proofreading Academy. These differ from step 1 because certification is a way to show potential clients that you are an experienced and competent editor, not just fresh from Uni with a degree.

Online communities allow copy editors to network with other freelancers

5. Join Editing Communities

There are several online communities dedicated to editors, which can be invaluable when it comes to networking with other professionals in the industry, finding potential job opportunities, or getting valuable feedback on your work. These include subreddits like /r/editing, online forums such as the International Association of Professional Writers and Editors, or even Facebook Groups like Freelance Editing Network.

6. Market Yourself

Finally, it’s time to start marketing yourself as an editor to find clients and build your freelance business. You can reach out to potential clients directly via email or social media, create a website to showcase your skills and portfolio or use freelance job boards like Upwork or Freelancer.

Following these steps will help you get started as an editor and start making money online as a copy editor. Of course, some individuals will prefer to enter an editing career, working for a company rather than as a freelance editor.

Going this route means beginning as an assistant editor and working up to senior editor over the course of many years. Whatever route you choose, with the right education, training, and marketing, you can build a successful career as an editor in no time! Good luck!


How do I become a freelance editor?

Once you have the necessary qualifications to be of interest to other writers or institutions, and you can prove your abilities through a portfolio of work, you can begin to market yourself as a freelance editor. This means creating an online presence, building a network of contacts in the industry, and proactively searching for editing jobs through freelancing websites or social media platforms. To begin as a freelance editor, check our online freelance platforms, or attend local industry events and network with other professionals.

What editing skills are necessary to become an editorial assistant?

When you begin your journey as an editor, you’ll begin as an editorial assistant (unless you are freelancing, of course). You’ll be expected to have good grammar, punctuation, and spelling knowledge. You should also be familiar with the various style guides for writing (APA, MLA etc.).

Additionally, you’ll need to know how to use editing software such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs, as well as an understanding of copyright law and digital publishing platforms. Ultimately, having a strong eye for detail and the ability to work quickly and accurately are key skills for an editorial assistant.

A good literary editor should recognise and draw out the best in an author's work

How do freelance editors find work?

Freelancers have many avenues to find work. Social media, professional groups, and online job boards are all helpful resources. You can also reach out directly to clients who may need editing services or put together a portfolio of your work that you can share with potential employers.

Additionally, attending events related to editing is often a great way for freelancers to meet new contacts and secure more work. Many online platforms, such as Fiverr or Upwork, allow freelancers to advertise their services and find work quickly.

What makes a good literary editor?

A good literary editor should be able to recognise and draw out the best in an author’s work. Typically, this means having a deep knowledge of literature, including literature genres, history, and language. A successful literary editor must also have strong interpersonal skills to help authors develop their writing by providing them with constructive feedback.

Moreover, they should have an understanding of the publishing industry and be able to identify trends in the market. Finally, a good literary editor needs stamina and dedication to work on projects with tight deadlines.

Is a literary agent an editor?

No, a literary agent is not an editor. A literary agent serves as an advocate for authors in the publishing industry and works to negotiate book deals on behalf of authors. They also advise authors throughout the process of publishing their work. On the other hand, editors are responsible for improving manuscripts through editing and proofreading.

What are the three types of editors?

The three types of editors are developmental, copy, and proofreaders. Developmental editors help authors shape the structure and content of their manuscripts during the writing process. Copy editors focus on improving accuracy in a manuscript with regard to facts, as well as grammar, spelling, punctuation, and formatting. Finally, proofreaders read through documents for any typos and errors in grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc., that the other types of editors may have missed.

What is a line editor?

Line editors are a type of editor specialising in improving the flow and readability of a manuscript. This includes ensuring that sentences are succinct, checking for any inconsistencies in voice or style, and looking for areas where text can be reworded to make it more readable. Line editors also check for incorrect grammar, spelling, typos and syntax errors. Additionally, they can be responsible for adding any necessary citations or references. In contrast, a proofreader only checks for minor errors and typos that may have been missed.

If I become an online editor, will I also have to become a proofreader?

That will depend on the types of clients that you work with. Some clients may expect you to provide both copy editing and proofreading services, so it is important to be aware of your work scope. This is especially true when working with smaller clients who may need help understanding the functional difference between editorial tasks and proofreading tasks. However, many businesses with larger projects will hire separate editors and proofreaders for their projects. It is also possible to specialise in one type of editing or the other if desired.

A strong eye for detail and the ability to work quickly and accurately are key skills for a copy editor

What qualifications do you need to become an editor?

To become an editor, you must have a comprehensive understanding of the English language and grammar. A degree in literature, writing, or journalism is beneficial, as it demonstrates a working knowledge of the language. If you wish to become a copy editor or proofreader, you must have an eye for detail and excellent organisational skills. Furthermore, editors should possess strong communication abilities to communicate effectively with authors and clients.

Is editing hard to get into?

It can be hard to get into editing commercially, depending on the amount of experience you have. Many employers require that editors have a certain number of years of experience or qualifications from an accredited program. However, some entry-level positions are available for those with limited experience and ambition. There are also freelance opportunities available for those who wish to become editors. Many freelance editors start out taking on smaller projects and work their way up to larger ones as they gain more experience. This experience can then be used to demonstrate to potential employers that they are capable of handling more complex editing tasks.

How do I start editing with no experience?

Editing courses available online can offer you a basic understanding of editing and proofreading. Additionally, many digital publications always look for new editors to review articles before publication. This is a great opportunity to gain experience in the field without committing to a long-term contract or project. Creating your own blog or website and editing the content to gain experience is also possible. Finally, volunteering your time to help a small business or nonprofit organisation is another great way to get started with editing and proofreading.

Ultimately, you can become an editor if you understand the English language, have excellent organisational skills, and are willing to put in the research and dedication needed to learn editing practices. Regardless of experience, all editors must be willing to continue honing their craft and remain open to learning new techniques to stay up-to-date with the ever-evolving industry of editing and proofreading.

How much do editors get paid?

Just like any freelance writer, the amount an editor will get paid varies, depending on the type of project, how much experience they have, and the client. Generally speaking, editors can charge anywhere from $20 to over $50 an hour for their editing services, depending on the task and difficulty level. It is important to research in advance what other editors are charging for similar services so that you can set a competitive rate. Additionally, editors can negotiate flat rates with larger projects to ensure that they are adequately compensated for the time and effort they put into the work.

Do editors make good money?

With the right marketing and making the most of networking opportunities, editors can make a comfortable living from content editing. However, it is important to remember that this work requires dedication and patience. Editing is a role that requires investing in yourself by improving your skills, buying the right tools to aid you, and connecting to the right people. It may take some time before you start seeing any return on your investment, but with the right strategies in place, you can steadily build up a client base and become successful as an editor.

How do I become a book editor?

Book editors are highly sought after in the publishing industry, as they help shape manuscripts into polished works of art. To become a book editor, you must first have a strong command of the English language and excellent writing skills. Many book editors also possess an academic background in literature or writing to demonstrate their knowledge of grammar and storytelling techniques. Their experience stretches over many years, with most editors spending many years in editor jobs before they achieve the position of managing editor/editor-in-chief.

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