Advice for a new freelance editor?

Hello! As the title suggests, I want to become a freelance editor. I use the word “editor” rather loosely. I still haven’t quite created a brand for myself or discovered my niche or selling point. I found a couple people who are confident in my editing skills, perhaps more confident than I am, and are willing to pay for them. The last thing I want is to take advantage of young, naive authors. I’ve made it clear as to what my credentials are. They simply saw my free work samples and decided it’s what they want.

I’m looking for any advice you could give. What are common newbie mistakes that I should avoid? What are things you wished you knew before making it to where you are? How did you find your niche and determine your sales pitch?

Anything you can provide about the industry as a whole would be wonderful! It’s hard finding objective information when everything comes in the form of opinions via internet forums.

So far, the only thing I’ve got going for me is “making it better than it was previously.” I can’t tell if I’m talking down my skills or just being realistic.

Bonus: If you know any subreddits aside from r/writing then that would be extremely helpful! Specifically for editing/industry related topics.

Are you going to use fiverr? That’s where I found my editor

I didn’t plan on it. I have mixed feelings about Fiverr. I don’t plan on using freelance sites as of yet - if ever. It’s not that I look down upon them. I would rather have a website/portfolio first and gain experience. I already have my first two clients in the work so I’m not looking into freelance websites yet.

Oh that’s good to hear.

Fiverr’s actually a good place to get experience if you’re just starting out because on the whole clients aren’t prepared to pay professional rates. I don’t know where you live but I’d suggest seeing if there’s a Society of Editors (and/or Proofreaders) or equivalent for you to join. They’ll have lots of advice of their website and usually offer training courses as well.

Work out what your specialty is: structural editing or line editing (or both, though most of us will be stronger in one or the other)
and what types of projects you’ll work on: fiction or non fiction,
and whether you have a particular strength eg particular genres or audiences


I got my start as a freelance editor and still edit on the side. In general I think the most important thing for a new editor to know is that the market is saturated with editors and it makes it hard to get steady work or make a living from it, especially when you are starting out. I know plenty of editors at the big houses who work for the houses and freelance edit on the side just to get by.

If you want more credentials consider applying to small publishing houses for freelance work. Keep in mind that while they can help build your resume they usually pay peanuts. Most reputable places will make you take an editing test when you apply too to test your grammar and other editing skills.

I agree with Adrianne on the specialties. Learning where your strengths lie and branding yourself will help you stand out as will gaining more experience you can use as a selling point.