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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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 to create a copywriting contract - copify

How to create a copywriting contract

You’re a creative person, and you chose a copywriting career because writing and creating new copy is what you want to do. If creativity is your superpower, chances are you don’t really want to spend any time thinking about boring things like accounts and contracts.

However, the fact is, unless you create copy as a hobby, you are running a business, and with that comes the responsibility to have everything in place from a legal point of view.

You’re probably asking yourself, ‘Do I even need a copywriting contract?’ After all, you’ve already agreed with your new client what you’re doing for them and what you’ll charge, so why do you need a contract?

4 reasons you need a copywriting contract

1. First and foremost, a written contract that’s signed by you and your client is what you will rely on if something goes wrong. If the worst happens, you’ve got back up in court. Your client signed your contract, and they agreed to your terms, and that’s strong evidence in your favour.

2. If there are any disputes over work, your contract clearly establishes what the agreed scope of work was, and helps prevent scope creep. It gives you a clear point of reference to decide whether to throw in that extra bit of work your client wants for goodwill; or to firmly point out what was initially agreed, and say that you can accommodate the extra work for X additional amount.

How to create a copywriting contract - copify 2

3. A good contract helps stop the whole back and forth of what to do or what to say if your client has a problem or a disagreement with you. What was agreed is there in black and white, and what to do about that particular situation is right there, too. Does the client want a refund for some reason, for example? Instead of getting worked up about what to say or whether you should offer a refund, you can simply look at what the contract says your refund policy is and go from there.

4. A contract establishes boundaries for both of you. Ever had one of those clients that calls you several times a day and after hours to ‘just check up on how it’s going’? Your contract should lay out when and how updates will be communicated, and what your availability is.

Basically, your contract is protection for both of you so you both know exactly where you stand and what to expect. And it can take the heat and frustration out of a situation if there’s a problem on either side. Instead of having an argument, you can simply point calmly to the appropriate section of the contract, and there’s the answer.

What should be in a copywriting contract?

This isn’t an ultimate or exhaustive list of everything that should be in a contract, because your contract should be particular to the way you run your business, and what you want. It’s not simply about legal protection. It’s about writing down what’s acceptable to you, and how you want to work with your clients.

Also, we’re not solicitors or crystal ball gazers, and we couldn’t possibly know every situation that you might want to include for your specific circumstances.

Having said that, here are the basics:

• Your payment terms – how much the project is in total, when your invoices will be sent, i.e., if you’ve agreed an upfront payment; will your invoice be sent as soon as you finish the work, or on approval; are there staged invoice payments along the way? How will you get paid?

You could also include what will happen if your invoice is not paid on time, including late payment fees and possible further action.

And if you need further advice on that, here’s an excellent article from Carol Tice of Make a Living Writing on how to deal with a client who doesn’t pay on time. Note that she also emphasises that you do need a contract!

• The length and type of the project, and the deadline for delivery.

• When updates will be given to your client, and how communication will be done, whether by email, telephone, or online app, such as Zoom. When your office hours are and when you’re available to talk.

• How many drafts will you do? How many sets of edits will you do? How will you handle input and suggestions?

• Does copyright transfer from you to your client, and when does that happen?

• What happens if the client isn’t satisfied with your work, or decides they no longer need it when you’ve already started. This happens sometimes on magazines, where they’ve been planning a feature, but have made a decision for some reason that they are no longer running it. If you’ve already done the work, there should be room in your contract for a ‘kill fee’ so you still get paid. If you’ve done part of the work and they cancel, you should also get paid for what you’ve done up to that point.

How to create a copywriting contract - copify

• What happens if something happens to you part way through the work – accident, sickness, family emergency, etc. Will you give a refund in full, a partial refund, or offer an alternative such as credit towards their next project?

• What do you do if the client is very difficult to work with, or asks you to do something you aren’t comfortable with, and you want to cancel the contract?

There’s a lot more you could put in, and as we said, you need to consider your individual business needs, but if you have answers to everything above, you’ll be well on your way.

How to create a copywriting contract

Before you agree to work with a client, you should receive a comprehensive brief from them, covering what they want, what their goals are for the copy, and when they need it by. From this, you should be able to copy and paste a lot of the information you need to include in your contract. Here’s an article from Copify’s blog on how to create the perfect brief. While the blog does approach it from the point of view of a client, reading through it will also give you an idea of the type of information you can expect and will need.

You have several options when creating a contract:

• You could hire a solicitor to write one that’s specific to you and your company. It can be expensive, but you will get something completely individual to your business, with the security of knowing it’s been done by a professional, and you are covered.

• You could buy a ready-done pack of legal documents that you can amend to suit from someone like Ash Ambirge or Lisa Fraley.

Lisa Fraley is an attorney in the US and has written all the legal documents you might need for your business.

Ash Ambirge is an amazing woman who runs a business encouraging women to get out there and take the world by storm. That’s not quite how she puts it, which you’ll see when you click through (language warning!) but her business savvy and excellent advice are hard to beat.

She is firm on the subject of whether you need a contract and has also written a brilliant bundle of legal documents you can buy to use in your business. Get on her mailing list to find out more about the kit.

While you’ll probably still need a solicitor to go through and make sure the templates have everything you need for UK law, it will cost you less than starting from scratch.

• Finally, you could download the free template from ProCopywriter, written by John McGarvey, and change your details.

While you’re there, take a look at their other resources, such as brief templates and project trackers.

What sort of language to use

People tend to think of contracts as being scary things, stuffed full of impenetrable legalese and many-syllabled words, but they don’t have to be. A plain English contract is very often appreciated by your clients, and can even reflect your brand.

How to create a copywriting contract - copify 1

If you look at the ProCopywriter contract template mentioned above, you’ll see it’s extremely easy to read, and there’s even some humour in there, but it still covers all the major points that it needs to cover.

Ash Ambirge even takes it further and uses every bit of her personality in her contracts and terms & conditions. It’s part of her brand. While you might not like the language, it’s hard to argue that it’s bland or boring.

Think about how you can do that with your contracts and other legal documents, so not only will you get documents that cover you and your business legally, but you could even enhance your brand, and show your potential customers your personality, and what it’s like to work with you.

* Please note, we’re not solicitors, and nothing in this article is intended to be taken as legal advice.


Main image credit: Jessica Spengler
Image credits: perzonseo.comKyle, Allen Allen

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What is an SEO copywriter

What is an SEO copywriter?

Most businesses know that SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation, and Search Engine Land defines it as “…the process of getting traffic from the ‘free,’ ‘organic,’ ‘editorial’ or ‘natural’ search results on search engines.”

Taking that a little further, SEO copywriting is a specific form of content writing that works to rank online content higher in the search engines, and drives targeted traffic from the search engines to your website. SEO copywritten content contains keywords and phrases to allow the search engines to classify content and decide how relevant it is, in order to serve up the best results to their users.

Put simply, SEO copywriting is the ability to write excellent content that suits both the search engine bots and human readers. It shouldn’t sound like it’s been written around keywords, even though it has. Great SEO content should sound entirely natural, while still targeting the required keywords and phrases.

According to HubSpot, “61% of marketers say improving SEO and growing their organic presence is their top inbound marketing priority”, so SEO copywriting is a skill that’s worth developing.

You can read about SEO copywriting in more detail on our blog.

What is an SEO copywriter?

Someone with the skill to manage the finely balanced art of keeping both audience and search engines happy. Someone who can produce educational, entertaining, authentic and authoritative content for their readers, while seamlessly blending the right keywords and phrases into the copy that will get that content rocketing up the search engine results.

what is an SEO copywriter

SEO copywriters are both experts in writing content and experts in search engine optimisation.

Some people still think that not caring about quality and stuffing a bunch of keywords into a blog post will fool Google and get their website found. While that might work for a little while, the second Google finds that sloppy, keyword-stuffed content is the second that business’s website disappears to the bottom depths of whatever passes for website hell, never to be seen again.

What does an SEO copywriter do all day?

Much like any other copywriter, they’ll have a variety of things to do that are nothing to do with writing: admin, sending out invoices and doing accounts, marketing their business, networking, taking client meetings, checking emails and project planning.

SEO copywriters often work with other professionals as part of a team to bring a project to a successful conclusion. They might work with web designers, content strategists, programmers, app builders and social media marketers.

And when they do get to the writing, just like any other writer, they could be creating anything from ebooks, blogs, sales copy, articles and web copy to social media posts.

The difference between an SEO copywriter and any other writer is that every brief is carefully researched to understand what keywords and phrases should be included to boost the content in the search engines (if the client hasn’t already supplied these). And an SEO copywriter knows how to smoothly and invisibly weave those keywords and phrases throughout the copy in a way that sounds completely natural and unforced.

What is an SEO copywriter That’s not to say that other writers ignore SEO and keywords, because they don’t, but SEO copywriters are specialists in this area.

It is the SEO copywriter who writes the type of content that will drive traffic, increase search engine rankings, grab the attention of the client’s audience and improve conversion rates.

Here’s an idea of the process an SEO copywriter goes through with a piece of content:

  1. Select keywords and phrases that people are actually searching for on your topic.
  2. Plan out the page or blog post to provide the best value for the audience, and to engage and entertain.
  3. Write, while weaving the keywords and phrases throughout the content so that the copy is completely seamless and natural sounding.
  4. The SEO copywriter will write a captivating meta description, which is what will appear in the search results and draw the eye to read the copy.
  5. The writer will also create title tags, select categories for the article, add the keyword to the alt text of any images and more, to get your article found.
  6. Add in internal and external links with converting anchor text.

Note that none of that has anything to do with keyword stuffing. It’s not forcing or attempting to cheat their way to a better ranking. It’s simply writing the copy correctly for both the human audience and for the search engines.

“72% of marketers say relevant content creation was the most effective SEO tactic.” – Ascend2 via HubSpot. Given that statistic, it’s highly unlikely that the job of SEO copywriter is going to disappear anytime soon.

If you’d like to learn how to make SEO copywriting your career, check out this helpful article from Heather Lloyd-Martin of SuccessWorks.

The benefits of hiring an SEO copywriter for your business

  • Higher ranking in the search resultsWhat is an SEO copywriter
  • More organic, targeted traffic
  • Lower bounce rates on your site, with people sticking around longer to read your brilliant content
  • Increase in social sharing
  • Better conversion rates, whether that’s reading another page, asking for a quote, signing up to your newsletter or buying something
  • More people contacting you via emails or phone calls – basically more leads!
  • Building your mailing list quicker
  • Having someone around who can catch any SEO problems on your site and fix them
  • Working with someone who can help you improve your site and your user experience
  • Less stress because you have someone you can rely on to do your copywriting so you can focus on other things
  • More income due to… all of the above!

SEO copywriting, like any other copywriting, isn’t just about being found in the search engines. It’s about providing brilliant content that grabs your readers, builds trust, and engages them by being authentic and passionate about your topic.

“When trust sells, what’s the real message the consumer is trying to convey to marketers? Make it real, and we’ll stick around.” – Marketing Insider Group

Main image credit: SandCrestSEO
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