Best ways to find online, remote, and freelance editing jobs right now

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March 19, 2021
5 minute read

The past year has upended our world. The economic changes are going to be felt for years and have permanently changed how we look at “work” and “the office”. Many, many people have been working from home for a year now. For some, working from home gave everyone a chance to try a side hustle.

There is no better time than now to try online and remote jobs like editing, proofreading, writing, and researching. The demand for great writing has exploded in the past year and so has the demand for great editing.

As budding writers of all stripes are working on their first books or articles, they need editors to get the books into shape. With good freelance editors in short supply, the only thing left to wonder is:

Where can I find good online and remote editing jobs?

Where to find remote and freelance editing jobs

As an editor, you can find freelance, remote, and online editing jobs all over, but your three best places to start are:

There are pros and cons to each approach, so you need to find the right balance that gives you the best results. Freelancing sites give you a quick way to get experience and earn some money, but might not be the most lucrative. Job boards are going to be hit and miss, and will likely have a bias towards full-time jobs. Remote-focused job boards separate the wheat from the chaff, but you won’t see a lot of jobs posted.

Using freelance sites to build your freelance editing career

Freelancing sites like Upwork, Fiverr, Freelancer.com, and Guru can be good places to pick up a lot of work quickly—but might not pay well. On these freelancing sites you’re competing with other freelance editors for a client you haven’t met or spoken with, and can encounter language barriers. You see the job, you put in your bit, and you see if you get accepted.

Editors who are successful on these sites do earn good money, but there is also a little more risk. First is the bidding war to the bottom. A freelance editor needs to have their “I won’t do it for less than…” number. And they need to stick to it. Sticking to staying above your bottom number isn’t about inflexibility. Every freelancer has rates that slide up and down depending on the work and client. Your bottom number is doing too much work for too little money, and leaves you little time to build your business. But if you're a bit too low too often, you’ll wind up editing pieces at a breakneck pace to earn enough to live.

That’s not living. That’s not why you are editing freelance. You’re becoming an editor to have a more flexible life and still earn a good living.

The second risk is the clients. You don’t have the same vetting process as an editor as you would if you had a call or Zoom meeting with them. All the sites have client ratings, but you still have to make sure you get paid and the client is good to work with. There are a lot of unknowns you need to consider. No matter how careful you are, you’ll have a bad client or two. At least when you connect with the client yourself there’s less chance of it happening.

Gig work sites give you a chance to practice, build a portfolio, and earn money too. And some people do make a lot of money focusing on building a reputation on gig work sites with content editor skills. If you find success there—don’t knock it! Give freelance gig sites a try, you might even find a great long-term client there.

Using job boards to find editing jobs

Job boards like Monster, Indeed, LinkedIn, and Glassdoor, are a staple of all job hunts. Using them to find freelance or contract content editing work can be trickier. Starting off with terms like "freelance editor" or "freelance writer" will get a lot of results, but to narrow your search your need to use filters.

Adding filters for region, industry, and making sure you weed out full-time permanent work (if you’re not interested in it) is the first step. These filters save you the time of looking through listings you’re not interested in. Don’t forget to turn on email alerts so you get a heads up when new editing jobs come up.

If you’re open to a full-time or part-time positions, apply to those editing jobs as well. Sometimes you might not be right for the role, but you can offer to freelance, part-time, or contract editing for them while they find a permanent person. Just be careful how you do it.

Don’t apply for full-time or part-time or editing jobs if you’re only using them to fish for freelance editor work. That wastes people’s time and would sour any company on hiring you in any capacity.

Remote-focused boards are a go-to in niche online editing jobs

In the past five years, remote-focused job boards—like WeWorkRemotely—have sprung up to serve remote-first companies. These job boards are only for remote jobs. Permanent, full-time, part-time, contract, and high quality freelance work are all there. But remote-focused job boards don't have the same volume "traditional" job boards do. You have to be patient to see what editing jobs pop up.

And that’s the catch.

Because this is a niche job board you might not find content editing, copywriting, or content writing job very often. And when a job does pop up from a good company, it might not fit (geographically or the kind of role). It doesn’t hurt to get email updates when editing jobs are posted, though.

Tip: Subscribe to email updates for the latest editing job postings

Make sure you sign up for email updates when new editing jobs are posted based on your search criteria. All the sites give you the option and it will save you from needing to visit the sites all the time to see if there is something new.

How to apply and get editing jobs

Finding freelance and remote editing work is step one. To get editing jobs, you often have to pitch or apply for them. Pitching and applying for editing jobs is the hardest part of the process. Far harder than searching for the jobs and certainly harder than doing the editing work.

When you put yourself out there for an editing job you’re taking a chance you won’t get it. You’re taking a chance on being rejected. And a lot of the time, you’re not going to know why you were rejected.

But if you don’t apply, you won’t get the editing job in the first place. You need to cast a wide net and take every opportunity you get to land more editor freelance work.

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” - Wayne Gretzky.

Here are some tips to land more editing work.

Build your professional online freelance editor presence

Every editor has a resume. Everyone has a bank of cover letters stashed away with smart bits you use and re-use. Those are table stakes. They are the cost of getting into the game. A successful freelance editor needs an online presence to back up their resume and a cover letter with more detail.

As an editor, having your own website is great, but you don’t need to start out with one. In the past year LinkedIn has exploded with conversations and connections. Building your LinkedIn profile and presence is a good substitute for your own editor website. On LinkedIn you can connect with other freelance editors and look for jobs to polish your editing skills.

On LinkedIn, you can post and comment on things you’re passionate about and write longer articles about how you approach editing, writing, or freelancing. Then, you can connect with people you know and start commenting on their posts. When you leave a comment, add value to someone’s day. Advice, tips, support—anything that helps another person out. If a writer asks about needing freelance editors, absolutely put your hand up. When you’re connecting with people, don’t connect and throw out a sales pitch right after you they accept the connection request. There are hundreds and hundreds of posts on LinkedIn complaining about this sales tactic. Don’t be that person. Connect with people. Start a conversation, then see if their is a good time to offer your services.

When you’re ready to create your own website there are lots of inexpensive ways to do it and don’t require a ton of tech skills. Squarespace, Wix, and WordPress.com are three of the best places to start for editors.

On your own website, make sure you include:

  • What you do.
  • Your background and experience (both as an editor and otherwise).
  • What kinds of clients you take on.
  • What you’ve done in the past.
  • How to contact you.

You can have all this info on one page or many. You can have a blog or not. Those are details. The five things above are what editors need on their site. The rest is bonus.

Build an editing portfolio and client list

As you build up a client list and portfolio of work, gather testimonials and examples of your work. You’re not going to be able to do this right away when you start out as a freelance editor. That’s fine, all editors started from zero at one point.

As you build relationships, try to get a testimonial from clients, so you can use it to win more clients. Freelance writers have it easier. They write something and they have work to show for it. Editing is a different game. Editors can’t show a client a piece before and after you’ve worked on it (that will not win you friends among writers). However, you can talk about about the kinds of projects you’ve worked on and your specialities, like copy editing, proofreading, and writing.

If you’re really good at editing ebooks, white papers, and other longer form content, talk about it. If your superpower is making sure books sound better—bring it up. Experience as a video editor? Include it. Freelance portfolios are examples of the things you’re most proud of—even if you can’t show the actual piece.

Apply for all the editing jobs you can

You can’t get editing jobs you don’t try to get. You’re going to have more pitches go nowhere than land. This is the life of all freelancers, whether it be writers, editors, or otherwise. To be successful as a freelance editor (or writer or designer) you need to hustle and get clients until you can’t take on more work, and then take on a little bit more.

Projects get sidelined. Content gets removed. There are always delays and setbacks. in an editing job The income you were counting on might not come when you expect it. So you need to have enough content in the pipeline to keep your life running. Until you have so many clients and referrals you’re turning away work—and then you should share with people you know—you need to apply for editing jobs, network with people, and hustle for work.

What to ask before taking a freelance editing job

This advice applies to freelance editing jobs. If you’re taking on a full-time editing job you don’t have to worry about these questions.

Or do you?

Let’s come back to that question in a moment. First, if you’re taking a freelance editing job, here are five things you absolutely need to make sure are discussed and understood before you start the work.

Is there an editorial or creative brief

Writers need a brief to create a piece. The brief covers the audience, the tone, the main points to cover, and deadlines. A really good brief has examples from similar pieces the writer can refer to when writing this piece.

But you’re the editor, why do you need a brief?

Because: Your job as an editor is making sure the writer followed the brief. Don’t turn down editing jobs because there isn’t a brief. Simply ask more about the piece so you know what to edit for. Even if you can get the writer brief, it's a big help.

Confirm the editing budget

If you’ve pitched and won the business from a gig site or gave the client an estimate and they accepted, this should be all settled. It doesn’t hurt to confirm though. It also doesn’t hurt to ask if the project takes longer than planned, is there budget for additional work? This is an important detail to cover if you’re working on an hourly editing contract. If the content needs a lot of editing, far more than you anticipated, you need to flag this with your client right away.

What’s the deadline?

Is this a rush job (you can charge more money) or do you have time to work it in with your other freelance projects? If you don’t have a date, get one. Answers like “get to it when you can” or “we’re not in a rush” are sure-fire ways to get into trouble. Don’t assume dates. Don’t assume everyone agrees on “when you can” is.

What’s the editing process?

Everyone has a process—even if it’s a broken one—for approvals and calling content “done”. When you kick off the project you need to understand the process and what your client expects. For example:

  • Will you be emailed a Word document to edit?
  • Should you use track changes (you should, but the client might say no)?
  • Are you working in a Google Doc?
  • How closely are you working with a writer?
  • Will you have to upload the document to a content management system like WordPress when you’re done?
  • What does “done” mean to your client?
  • Are you doing one edit and that’s it or will there be another round of edits?

Get this out of the way when you start so there’s no confusion later. Process is important, but communication is essential.

Invoices and payments

Here’s the most important part: how and when will you be paid. Part of this is on you. Things to think about when billing freelance clients:

  • Do you bill at the end of the project?
  • Do you bill a little up front and the rest when it’s done?
  • When is the invoice due? Immediately or after thirty days?
  • How will the client pay? Check? Bank transfer? Credit card?

Get these worked out at the beginning of the editing project. This is also a good time to re-confirm (see above) what happens if you go over time. If you’re billing hourly, the last thing you want is to send an invoice and the client refuses to pay because it’s more than they budgeted.

What if this is a full-time or part-time, remote editing job?

Do these still apply if you’re working for a single company (even on a contract basis)?

Yes!

With the exception of budgets and invoicing, all of these things to watch out for are essential to being productive as an editor. Creative work like editing needs to have a brief, process, and deadline. Without these, the work is going to be chaos, and the content will suffer. If you can bring one extra thing to a job (besides your skill at editing), it might be asking these questions and helping a company work more efficiently.

Set yourself up for freelance editing success

This post might be about how and where to find online and remote editing jobs, but finding the job is only half the battle. To keep getting work and make a successful career as a freelance editor; you need to build systems and process to support your success. Here are three tips for starting out right and creating a foundation to build a successful business on.

Track your time on jobs

Even if you aren’t billing hourly, you should track your time. Tracking your time gives you real data on how long it takes to complete editing jobs. When you give an estimate to a client and figure it will take you two hours to review the content, but it takes four, it’s unlikely you can double your price.

Knowing how to estimate your time is how you figure out how much to charge. But if you don’t know how long editing jobs really take, you’re only giving your best guess.

Guesses are wrong. A lot. Track time with a tool like Toggl and you will see exactly how long jobs take. You can also track your time for marketing, invoicing, accounting, and researching so you can how much time those things take.

Don’t overcommit to editing work

There’s a fine line between having more than enough jobs coming in to manage unexpected delays and having so much work on your plate you need 40 hour days to get it all done.

Not overcommitting to editing work ties right into tracking your time. When you know how much time work takes and how much time life takes, you get a good sense of when you’re at the limits of your time. We all get 24 hours in a day. In that time you need to work, eat, take breaks, recharge, and sleep.

You can push your limits on less sleep and recharge time for a little while, but you can’t keep it up forever.

If you overcommit to work, you will wind up letting people down. Deadlines will slip. Content will suffer because you’re always rushing. And you’ll start burning out. Some of those people you’ll be letting down are family, friends, and you. Commit to enough work so you can get it all done and earn the money you need.

Going for more never ends well.

Communicate with your clients

Finally, you need to communicate. Communicate to the point you’re almost over communicating. Tracking time and not overcommitting fall right into this tip. You will misjudge how long editing jobs will take. You will overcommit yourself to work. It’s going to happen, and when it does, don’t be hard on yourself. All freelancers go through it. The secret to getting out of it is communication.

Running over your time budget for a client? Tell them early. Took on more work than you could handle and need to push a few projects out and extend deadlines? Talk it out. Tell them what’s going on. You don’t need to go into your life story, but saying you overcommitted to work and could you push a deadline out a bit might get you out of a jam.

Now, some people aren’t going to be able to budge. There are some deadlines that just can’t move. However, if you’ve built a good rapport with your clients and know from the project brief what’s going on, you’ll know who you can ask to move things around and who you can’t.

The secret to all successful freelance careers is good communication. Be open. Be honest. Be as transparent as you can. You’ll be surprised how often a quick email, phone call, or Zoom meeting solves problems you thought were looming monsters.

Go from invoice to income with Wave

The fourth tip for being successful at freelance editing is making sure you get paid. It can be a hassle to generate invoices and remind clients when something is due. It’s not easy to set up online payments for any client in the U.S. or Canada.

Well, unless you use Wave.

Wave lets you send unlimited invoices and accept online payments with no surprises or hidden fees. With Wave you can take invoicing, accounting, and getting paid off your things-to-stress-about list and focus your time and energy building your freelance editing business.

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