6 courses that help freelance editors level up their businesses
As a freelancer, you have two ways to improve: you can get better at your craft and you can strengthen your entrepreneurial skills. Both are critical to growing a successful freelance editing business. Thankfully, there are many courses - taught by both successful freelancers and reputable institutions and universities - to help you along the way.
The skills all successful freelance editors need
In order to succeed in the freelance economy, freelance editors need job skills and business skills:
Proofreading and grammar: This will be the basis of your work.
Storytelling and narrative building: You’ll use this for more advanced editing projects.
Strategic editing: Editing a single piece of content with an eye for how it fits into a client’s bigger content project or whole brand.
Subject matter expertise: Helpful when dealing with complex topics.
Personal branding: The number of freelancers is set to double in the coming few years. You’ll need to know how to build a website and portfolio that stands out.
Sales: Garnering interest is no longer enough. You have to know how to sell like a businessperson to succeed.
Administration: Once you close clients, you need to ensure you have things like invoicing set up so you can run your business smoothly.
Why paid courses are valuable for freelance editors
There is a lot of free knowledge out there, so many people might question why paid courses are necessary. But they can be incredibly valuable for four reasons:
- Structure: You learn the right things in the right order.
- Speed: Learn more quickly because someone else has curated the most effective pieces of knowledge.
- Pitfalls: Learn from someone else’s mistakes and avoid costly problems.
Accountability: Having a teacher and/or course community to support and push you.
Courses that help freelance editors level up their editing skills
Becoming a good editor requires a lot of theory and craft. There are a lot of courses you can take. Here are a few taught by academic experts in proofreading and editing:
1. The Proofreading Academy
The Proofreading Academy’s signature course—Becoming a Proofreader—teaches you all the basics of proofreading:
- Common spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes
- Proofreading for style
- Academic proofreading
- Proofreading business writing
What you get:
- 15 modules
- Assessment and certificate upon completion
2. Editorial Freelancers Association
The EFA Course library features multiple courses that teach different styles of editing, including:
- Line editing for nonfiction
- Editing in the Chicago Manual Style
- Book mapping for editors
- Copy editing fundamentals
What you get: Varies depending on each course.
Price: $80 to $300 per course.
3. University of Michigan via Coursera
The Good with Words course teaches more advanced editing skills, including:
- Stylistic editing
- Word choice
- Persuasive and creative editing
- Time management as an editor
What you get:
- 4 lectures
- Practice quizzes
- Access to an online group for other people taking the course
Price: Free access to lectures (no degree or certificate granted).
Courses that help freelance editors level up their businesses
For freelance editors that need help on the “freelancing” side, rather than purely the “editor” side, there are multiple hands-on and practical courses that teach you how to build your business. These courses are all taught by experienced freelancers instead of academic experts.
1. Kickstart a Freelance Editor & Proofreader Career on Upwork
This Udemy course is completely DIY and teaches you how to build a freelance editing business leveraging Upwork’s marketplace platform. It teaches:
- How to set up your Upwork profile
- How to bid for work on Upwork
- How to encourage repeat customers
What you get:
- 2 hours of video
- 1 how-to guide
2. Proofread Anywhere
The Proofread Anywhere course is explicitly designed to help people with existing editing skills start a freelance proofreading business. The course covers:
- Proofreading basics refresher
- Starting a freelance proofreading business
- Finding your first freelance clients
- Client project management for freelance proofreaders
What you get:
- 9 video lessons
- 3+ how-to guides
- Quizzes to test your learning
Price: $497 (or $597 including a certificate of completion).
3. Freelance Sales Blueprint
Freelance Sales Blueprint is an advanced level course intended for freelance editors that already have a few clients, but want to operationalize their sales process and grow their businesses. It teaches:
- The psychology of freelance sales
- How to use technology to automate parts of your sales and admin process
- How to scope large deals
- How to attract new, big clients
What you get:
- 15+ video lessons
- 30+ downloadable how-to guides and resources
- Sales scripts and templates
- Live regular 1:1 consulting calls for additional support
Price: $1,450 (or 6 payments of $300)
Pros and cons: Taking a course by a freelancer vs. an academic
A big question is whether to spend money on a course taught by an academic or by a fellow freelancer. Both have pros and cons, so it depends what you’re looking to get out of it.
- Resume booster.
- Good for learning the craft of proofreading and editing.
- They teach from experience, not theory.
- Business mindset is baked into their courses.
- Geared toward full-time editors, not freelancers.
- Limited (or no) talk about business and monetizing your skills.
- Their methods may not work for you.
- Harder to guarantee the quality of the course.
If you’re looking to really hone your craft, then academic courses will be very valuable. But if you’re looking to build your business, you probably want to learn from professional freelancers.
Freelance editing certifications
If you think you’re a great editor, you can get certified. Earning these certifications require passing multiple tests, but it gives you a recognized badge you can show to prospective clients as a credibility booster in sales conversations.
The Editors Canada Certification: Cost of $550 for non-members.
UC San Diego Copyediting Certification: Cost of $2,566.
University of Chicago Graham School Editing Certification: Cost of $1,300 per course, or $6,500 for the certification.
Writers Online Copyediting Certification: Cost of $799.
Test your editing skills for free
If you’re not quite ready for certifications or courses, test out your editing skills with different free online assessments.
- EditingTests.com assessment
- Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading assessment
- The New York Times copy editing quiz
- The University of Kansas School of Journalism editing quiz
- Proofread Now proofreading quiz
While none of these assessments or quizzes provide any designation or certification, they can be a fun way to level up your skills without taking a course.
Editors (desperately) needed
Editors are the hidden heroes of great copy. Every time you see a blog post that makes you smile, an editor was there. When you understand a difficult topic the first time you read about it, an editor was there, too. The world is filled with people who can rhyme off a few words, but far fewer people exist that can take a written draft and turn it into a masterpiece. That’s what editors are for.