Becoming a freelance editor – what you need to know Copify

Becoming a freelance editor – what you need to know

Becoming a freelance editor can be a great career choice. You have the freedom to choose what type of editing you want to do, where you work and what projects you work on. But being an editor does require a certain level of knowledge. You can’t just set up your shingle as an editor without an in-depth knowledge of spelling, grammar and punctuation, and if you want to be a developmental or substantive editor for novelists, you’ll need to understand story arcs, character development and a whole lot more before you can promote yourself as a professional.

If you’re thinking of a career as an editor, read on to find out what you need to know.

First of all, what is an editor?

Becoming a freelance editor – what you need to know

Really simply, an editor makes sure that any copy that goes to print, whether online or offline, is factually accurate, formatted to any house guidelines, free of plagiarism, and accurate in terms of grammar, spelling and punctuation.

“An editor makes sure the writer’s work says what the writer intends and says it in the writer’s voice and with his sensibilities.” – From The Editor’s Blog.

Some editors may also be responsible for choosing articles for magazines, books for publication, and even helping with design layout.

An editor’s job can vary widely depending on what type of editing they do.

What is an editor’s typical day like?

Just like with freelance writing, there’s not really any such thing as a typical day.

You might be doing client work for the majority of your day, but you’ll also need to spend time on marketing yourself as a freelancer, acquiring new clients, and the general admin, filing and accounts work that goes along with running your own business. Taking some time to look at how your business is doing, and planning for the future and where you would like to be is also vital.

You’ll work closely with clients to produce a polished, finished piece, whether that’s with fiction authors, non-fiction authors, website content managers, magazine editorial teams, in-house publishing houses… There are many people and types of business that might need a good editor. And that’s good news for you as there are a lot of opportunities in this field, and with the internet growing as it is, and more websites popping up every day, demand for good editing skills is only going to increase.

If you pursue this type of career, you’ll find that it can be a high-pressured job with long hours, especially when coming up to a deadline.

Types of editing jobs

There are more types of editing jobs than we have room for here, and as a freelancer, you may well find yourself offering several different types to your clients:


Sometimes known as proofing, or final edits, proofreading is the last edit before the copy goes to publication. A proofreader will look for any remaining errors in tense, grammar, spelling or punctuation, and depending on the type of job, may also check for accurate page numbering, indexing, that the table of contents works and links to where it should, consistency across headers and design elements, and more to produce a final, polished product to be proud of.

Copy editing

Becoming a freelance editor – what you need to know

A copy edit is not the place for huge structural changes or alterations to the story arc if you’re editing fiction. This is where you’ll check for grammar, punctuation and spelling errors, and ensure that all the styles are consistent, for example, the same speech marks are used throughout. You’ll check references, and perhaps look at where any artwork is placed.

Fact and reference checking

Pretty much what it says on the tin – ensuring all of the facts and statistics presented are accurate, and checking any references used for accuracy and validity.

Indexing specialist

You may go through a manuscript and produce an alphabetical index from the copy, or you may additionally use indexing software to actually create the final, formatted index that goes into the finished item.

Stylistic or line editing

Every writer has their own distinctive voice, and if you’re editing fiction, every single book, even from the same writer, will have its own feel and tone. Your job is not to edit that out of the manuscript, but to bring the individual voice and tone out even more and enhance the manuscript. You’ll remove clichés, smooth the writing, clarify what the writer means, work on polishing dialogue and description, and perhaps check that the reading level is right for the audience.

Developmental editing

This type of editing involves taking a project from start to finish and working with a team of people from the writer to the designers, and possibly with some involvement from marketers, too.

You might update and polish an already existing book or marketing brochure, assist the team to pull together their old blog posts into a book, or help the team work out how to get started with their project and what direction to take it in.

With fiction, you’ll quite likely work with the author to help them develop the story arc and the goals for the story. You might give notes on character development, themes, plot devices and dialogue. This is a very deep edit, and you do need to know what you’re doing to attempt this.

Substantive and structural editing

An author may need help with their story structure and style, and when doing this type of edit, you’ll use your copy-editing skills, but also look at the flow and the organisation of the plot and the style to make sure the manuscript gives a clear, coherent, compelling and well-styled story.

Again, this is a deep edit and not something you should attempt if you aren’t familiar with plot devices, story arcs and structure and the other rules of writing good fiction.

Further editing jobs might include acquisitions editor for a publisher, where you evaluate manuscripts and help to choose what books go through for publication. You might assist with magazine editing as an assistant or managing editor, or oversee a team as an executive editor. Some of those jobs may not be available to freelancers, depending on the company’s preference, but you may still find freelance opportunities if you look.

What do you need to become an editor?

For most editing jobs, you will need a degree in English or journalism. Membership of a professional body, such as The Society for Editors and Proofreaders, can reassure potential clients and also offer you training to expand your skills.

What traits and skills will you need?

Becoming a freelance editor – what you need to know

• Obviously an excellent command of the English language, grammar, punctuation and spelling
• Adaptability
• Excellent computer skills
• Reliability
• Accuracy
• The ability to work under pressure
• Thorough and detail-oriented
• The ability to stick to deadlines
• Being a people person, as you’ll need to work closely with others to do your job
• Creativity

How to get started

If you know what you want to do early enough, you can get experience by working on the school or student newspaper or perhaps do some work for a charity to get some experience.

You could start at entry level as an editor’s assistant and work your way up, and then branch out on your own as a freelancer once you have enough experience.

With such an array of different editorial jobs out there, you’ll need to pick what appeals to you. A fashion editor for a magazine, for example, will need different experience and knowledge than a book editor for science fiction.

While this earlier post from our blog is about becoming a freelance writer, a lot of the advice will apply to you as an editor, so it’s well worth a read. You’ll need a website, samples of your work to show to prospective clients, and testimonials from satisfied clients.

Where to find editing jobs

You could start with the freelance job sites, such as Upwork, and browse boards such as the Problogger job board.

Once you have some experience under your belt and some great feedback you can use as testimonials, start looking for companies that might need your services – marketing agencies, publishers, magazines, and even businesses – and start pitching them your services via email, or on the phone if you’re feeling brave!

Want to read more? Try this excellent guide from CopyPress on how to be an effective editor.

And to close, here’s another perfect quote from The Editor’s Blog on what editors really do for their clients: “Editors are enhancers. They work to make what is good better, what is great, outstanding. They challenge writers. They challenge themselves.”


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Image credits: Markus SpiskeNic McPheeChris Dlugosz

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how to become a freelance writer in 4 easy steps copify

How to become a freelance writer in 4 easy steps

With increasing numbers of graduates entering the job market and economic uncertainty within the UK, going freelance is proving to be an attractive option for some. Not only can freelance writers gain experience quickly within their chosen field, but there are plenty of temporary and contract positions where writers can earn more than they would in a full-time position.

Freelance writing has plenty of advantages, from being able to use your creativity to make your own hours, but it can provide unstable income. If you’ve been thinking about embarking upon a freelance writing career, then it pays to know the steps required in order for you to turn your ambition into reality. To help you along the way, we’ve put together a guide on what to do so you have an answer to the question of how to become a freelance writer.

1. Show off your experience

how to become a freelance writer - copify 1If you’re just starting out then it may pay to take on some work for free or for little pay. This may involve providing some copy for a friend’s website or simply starting your own blog. Not only will this help to familiarise you with the world of web content, but it will mean you start to build up a portfolio. In most sectors, it’s unlikely that a client is going to take a chance on someone without seeing their past work, and copywriting is no different.

As you gain experience, you may find that your work becomes indexed in search engines. That means potential clients will search for your name and review some of your more successful articles. The best way of showing off your experience, however, is on your own website. On your own site, you can control the content. A well put together online portfolio is the best way to introduce potential clients to your work, and whilst copywriting doesn’t necessarily lend itself to portfolios the same way graphic design does, it’s still important to have a body of work you can show off.

2. Refine your writing skills and stay ahead of the trends

One of the tips that is often overlooked when you’re searching how to become a freelance writer is how refining your writing skills can make you stand out from the crowd. As someone with aspirations to be a professional writer, it’s a good idea to take time out every week to refine your skills and study your industry.

Due to the ever-changing world of SEO, the freelance writing market can change quickly, so you’ll need to be adaptable. Top influencers such as Dave Chaffey, the man behind the market-leading Smart Insights, publishes articles on the top marketing trends for the year. These are well worth reading because they indicate how content marketing may evolve over the coming weeks and months.

If you know the trends, it’s far more likely that you’re going to produce SEO friendly content for your clients. Quite often it’s not merely about keywords, but about how you communicate with the client’s core audience. Read Smart Insight’s guide on marketing trends for 2018 here.

3. Find clients

how to become a freelance writer - copify 2Having good copywriting skills is all well and good, but you need clients in order to pay the bills. It’s a very crowded marketplace, so you’ll have to do everything you can to grab the attention of potential clients. When you start out creating your portfolio, try and get as much feedback from your clients as possible. It’s one thing to have some impressive clients, but showing potential clients that your previous clients were satisfied with your work is much more likely to gain you some work.

Finding work organically is tricky, but a public portfolio and a decent website is the best way to go about it. It’s also a good idea to start networking via social media. Utilising the power of social media can lead to you becoming an authority as a copywriter, meaning clients will look to you next time they need web content. You may want to consider coming up with a sales pitch too. As you grow your reputation, you may find yourself pitching or interviewing for contracts. Be sure to do your research so you can show how good content can help increase the visibility of your potential clients.

Whilst finding work organically is rewarding, clients can be few and far between at different points throughout the year. At Copify, we find the clients for you and allow you to build up a reputation as a reliable and talented freelance writer. Start your writer application here.

4. Secure repeat business

The best way to become a successful freelance writer is to earn yourself repeat customers. What you want is a handful of clients who rely on you to grow their digital presence. If you provide successful content, you can almost guarantee the client will be back to give you more work.

how to become a freelance writer - copify 3Aside from creating good quality work, the best way to secure repeat business is being reliable. If you are prompt and responsive to your customers, you will start to build trust, which is essential to gaining business time and time again. Being prompt means you will need excellent time management skills. If you are particularly talented, you may even find yourself in the position of turning down work. Before you start out, think about how much time you’re willing to devote to your business. Try and find a quiet space to do your work. This may involve renting desk space or creating a home office.

The whole point of going freelance is to give yourself a better work-life balance. It’s important that you don’t overstretch yourself and miss out on prior engagements because you constantly find yourself working late on a project. Mastering time management will make everything much smoother, and you’ll have happy clients because they know their work will be delivered on time.

Ultimately it’s your business, and the more you put into becoming a freelance writer, the more you will get out of it. Standing out from the crowd and securing yourself a healthy amount of clients isn’t easy, but if you have the required skills, stay on top of the trends and are persistent in your efforts, it can be a very rewarding career.


Main image credit: Dean McCoy
Image credits: Giles TurnbullJonoTakesPhotosXiaojun Deng

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5 best freelance copywriter courses on the web - copify

The 5 best freelance copywriter courses on the web

Copywriting is a brilliant career, but there are so many options to choose from that, when you’re just starting out, the amount of different job types and things you need to know can seem overwhelming.

Luckily, there are plenty of places on the web where you can learn, with some truly excellent copywriter courses available:

1. Copyblogger

No article about non-fiction writing is complete without mentioning Copyblogger, and they have an amazing free resource in the shape of My Copyblogger. This, quite seriously, is better by a mile than a lot of the paid courses out there. Devour every last word of this and put it into action, and you will know more about copywriting than 90% of the copywriters out there.

Here are just some of the topics:

  • A Content Marketing Strategy that Works
  • Email Marketing: How to Push, Send and Grow Your Business
  • How to Write Magnetic Headlines
  • Landing Pages: How to Turn Traffic into Money
  • Keyword Research: A Real-World Guide

And did we mention it’s free?

Following on from that, and if your speciality is content marketing, you could join their Authority training programme for advanced training on content marketing, and a supportive network of other professionals to help you build your career and improve as a writer. As their sales page reads, they have over 300 hours of marketing training already online, there are weekly sessions with the Copyblogger team, as well as forums, discounts on tools you’ll need and a whole lot more.

If you’re an advanced writer and really want to grow your career, Copyblogger also offer the Certified Content Marketer programme. It’s not open all year round, so you’ll need to keep checking back – either that or sign up for their mailing list for more copywriting goodness in your inbox, and they’ll let you know when it opens.

Why do this programme? This is for you if you’re a serious writer and are prepared to spend a considerable amount on your own education to learn and grow. What do you get? Extremely advanced training, a thorough review of your work by the Copyblogger team, and certification as a content marketer to the Copyblogger standard. This does cost a lot, but the kudos of being able to say you’re Copyblogger certified could add some serious zeros to your bottom line. And you get listed in their directory with a direct link from Copyblogger’s site to yours. How’s that for link juice?

2. Be a Freelance Blogger

Run by Sophie Lizard, BAFB as it’s known is another site with a brilliant blog where you can learn so much without paying a penny.

When you’re ready to look for paid training, however, Sophie has several options available, including live mentoring!

 5 best freelance copywriter courses on the web

If you’re just starting out as a blogging freelancer, her course on getting started is ideal. You’ll learn all you need to know from getting your website sorted, identifying your markets and topics, and setting your rates to setting up your accounting, and growing your business.

If you’re further along, you could take her The Freelance Blogger’s Client Hunting Masterclass if you’re having trouble finding clients on a consistent basis. Find out where to get better-paying clients, how to negotiate, how to pitch, and more.

And if you need further help, or want to chat about something not covered in the courses, you can pick Sophie’s brains by signing up for a mentoring session or two.

3. Make a Living Writing/The Freelance Writer’s Den

Both run by Carol Tice, a hugely experienced freelance writer, these sites are designed to ensure you get paid proper rates for your writing, and learn everything you need to know.

Make a Living Writing is the main site, where you can read the blog for free and learn from some brilliant and well-experienced writers. You can also find a list of all the books Carol has written and buy some of those if they fit the subjects you need to learn about.

If you’re just dipping your toe into the freelance writer life, this is a great place to start for advice and education, and could save you from getting burned by poor paying or unethical clients.

For taking your career further, Carol offers 2 options – The Freelance Writer’s Den, and The Freelance Writer’s Den 2X Income Accelerator.

The Freelance Writer’s Den is a paid membership site ($25 per month – about £20), with a very active forum filled with writers at all stages of their careers. You can have your website critiqued by Carol, ask for help on your pitches, and find advice on just about anything else you can think of related to writing.

Not only that but Carol regularly runs courses for writers on a variety of subjects, which for non-members can be anything up to several hundred dollars, but are often included in the Den membership for no extra charge. Access to the forum alone is well worth the membership, but the addition of these courses makes membership a no-brainer.

Courses include:

  • How to Write a Sales Page Bootcamp
  • Self-Publishing 101
  • How to be a Well-Paid Blogger
  • Close the Sale
  • Article Writing Masterclass

And so much more, you’ll be spoiled for choice on where to start.

The Den 2X Income Accelerator is for writers further along in their career who are already getting regular clients and making 5 – 6 figures a year but want to move up to the next level.

In Carol’s own words, the Accelerator is:

“…a 6 month, small-group mastermind with 1-on-1 coaching and my exclusive Road Map program. Den 2X guides and supports you through a series of simple steps designed to double your income within 1 year.”

There’s direct support from Carol via coaching sessions, Skype calls, monthly masterminds, and access to the Den 2X Grads group for ongoing support after the Accelerator finishes – all that, and access to the Freelance Writer’s Den, too.

4. Bushra Azhar’s Persuasion Revolution

This is not technically a copywriting course, but if you’re trying to sell anything as a writer, you need to know how to persuade, and Bushra is a master persuader. She’s also hilarious and completely outspoken, so you’ll have fun while you learn!

5 best freelance copywriter courses on the web

Again, there’s a free blog you can start off with to see if you like her style and to learn without having to pay if you’re on a budget.

Her paid Persuasion Hacks Lab is a masterclass in what to say to persuade people to open your emails, sign up to your course, join your webinar, and more. It also covers dealing with clients on things like raising your rates or asking for testimonials, along with scripts you can use straight away.

5. Ittybiz

As a freelancer, you’re also running a business, and Naomi Dunford’s Ittybiz is perfect for learning both how to do that well, and how to write great copy.

The blog is free to read and brilliant whether you’re trying to learn how to blog, figuring out what to say to your clients, or finding out how to write better copy.

And in the store, you’ll find an array of products and courses designed to help you produce great content quickly and get products out there, such as ebooks, templates on digital marketing, and courses on building your list, getting more clients, and doubling your sales.

And if you’re thinking ‘how does any of that teach me to be a better copywriter?’, if the only thing you do is read Naomi’s blog, you’ll come out of there a better writer for reading her fun and amazing style, and soaking up her knowledge. Apart from that, looking at the topics above, don’t you think your clients might want you to be able to write better emails to build their list, and copy that can get them more clients? The answer, in case you were wondering, is ‘YES!’.

The very best copywriters are always learning, and one of the best ways to do that is to follow other freelance writers who’ve been there, done that and started earning the big bucks! Here’s a list of the 10 of the best blogs about writing to get you started.


Main image credit: WOCinTech Chat
Image credits: Be a Freelance Blogger, The Persuasion Revolution

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how hard is it to become a writer - copify

Just how hard is it to become a writer?

Becoming a writer has the potential to be a fulfilling and exciting career where each week need not be the same, and you can work and live by your own rules. However, it is important to understand that achieving this dream is not something that happens overnight and will require a certain element of time and dedication.

When it comes to answering how hard is it to become a writer, the realistic truth is that it will depend on a number of different factors and there isn’t a simple answer. Here’s a rundown of the most important factors deciding how hard becoming a writer will be, and to help identify whether or not it is a career you would like to pursue.

Your perception of “hard”

how hard is it to become a writer - copify 2First off, it’s important to identify what you perceive as being “hard”. Imagine someone who has just graduated university and has decided that being a writer is the right career for them. They get to work writing blogs and essays and earn little or no money for a long time so must still live at home. They will likely find that being a writer is in fact very hard and something they’d underappreciated.

A second person may have spent 20 years working long hours training for and becoming a legal professional. They decide they want to pack it in, move abroad and start writing for money. They experience the same challenges as the first person and again it takes them a long time to build up clients and start making real money. However, they don’t find it very hard as their past job required them to work twice as many hours and take a 3-hour commute each and every day.

Your writing ability

Your level of experience will undoubtedly affect your writing career at the start, as it will be easier to convince clients to work with you. However, it should be made clear that, with the right amount of time put in, it is certainly possible to become a much better writer, even if it means enrolling in some courses. Just bear in mind that, when starting out, the task of becoming a writer will seem harder as you begin to develop your writing skills.

Your ability to self-motivatehow hard is it to become a writer 1

Being a writer has the joyous benefit of being able to work when you want and from where you want. However, the flipside of this is that you will need the self-motivation to make yourself work, even when times get tough. There will be no boss present telling you to get back to your desk, and no train to miss on the way into work. Instead, you need to be able to design a routine and force yourself to stick to it.

Your people skills

The journey to becoming an independent, well-paid writer means being able to build and maintain relationships with a number of different clients. This is regardless of what route as a writer you take, be it a content marketer or a fully publicised author. You need to have the hustle to get your foot in the door and meet the right clients, then you need to have that personal touch that makes people want to work with you and keep coming back for more work. Naturally, some people find this skill far easier than others.

Your ability to sacrifice

The very nature of being a writer will require you to be on hand for clients and to work hard at all hours of the day to get enough money to make ends meet. When starting out, you will find your hours likely jump to more than you would working a regular 9-5 in an office. Many find this hard as it puts pressure on their social lives, particularly relationships and the ability to go out on evenings and weekends. If you set out with a willingness to make these sacrifices, then you will find that becoming a writer isn’t quite so hard.

Dealing with rejection

Becoming a writer is almost akin to being a door-to-door salesman. You can expect to knock on 20, 30 or 40 doors in a row and face the same “no” each and every time. As a writer, you’ll find that you’re in a competitive industry and being rejected is commonplace until you get the big breaks you need. If you lack fortitude or have a tendency to take minor rejection personally, then being a writer will be tough for you.

Being alone

How hard is it to become a writer - copify 1It’s already been touched on that writing puts pressure on relationships with others. But you must also recognise that much of your time will be spent completely on your own, which tests your relationship with yourself. Yes, you will need to engage in conversations with people, but it will mostly be done via email and the odd telephone call. Beyond that, your writing will take place in your house or in a cafe, working by yourself. There won’t be any co-workers there to take lunch with or talk about your weekends. Being comfortable on your own is essential, otherwise, it will prove much harder indeed.

The above points are in no way meant to drive you away from your dream of becoming a writer. Instead, the idea is to provide a fair overview of how hard is it to become a writer, what becoming a writer is really like, and some of the difficult hurdles you will face and need to overcome. Though despite all of the above, there is one overarching factor that should help you overcome these difficulties, and that is a truly deep-driven passion for the art of writing.

This passion will help you through the hard times and make your writing sublime during the good times. So take some real time to be honest with yourself and examine your motives for wanting to be a writer. Then, set about preparing a routine for achieving your independence. After that, it’s simply a case of sticking to it and taking the good with the bad.


Main image credit: @markheybo

Image credits: Pat PilonDaily MotivationSimon Powell

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