Written by Jayna Baas

Welcome to our bimonthly blog series for “newbie” editors. You’ve finally taken the plunge into professional editing—congratulations! Or perhaps you’re still testing the waters. In either case, you may be wondering, Where do I start?

It’s natural for beginning editors to feel intimidated at the idea of being a professional freelancer. Presenting yourself professionally will not only increase your chances with clients but also bolster your own confidence. Here are a few ways to strengthen your professional image:

  1. Don’t be afraid to charge what your time and services are worth.

Clients who truly value the expertise of an editor are usually willing to pay for that expertise. Clients who aren’t interested in valuing an editor’s insights are often more apt to look for the cheapest option. It’s fine to charge less than an established editor, but don’t sell yourself short. Research the rates of other editors in your field and set your own rates accordingly. (More on this in a future post.)

  1. Proofread fastidiously.

There’s nothing more embarrassing than misspelling a client’s name or committing a grammar faux pas on the front page of your editing website. Your advertising materials, website content, and email communications reflect on your skill as an editor and are often the best place to make a good first impression. Proofread, proofread, and proofread again!

  1. Communicate with clients in a friendly but confident and professional manner.

Be willing to learn, but don’t hesitate to back your comments up with industry-standard resources like The Chicago Manual of Style (online subscriptions are discounted for PEN members!), The Christian Writer’s Manual of Style, and Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. Invest the time and effort to know these resources well. Read our Essential Resources post for more on this subject.

  1. Treat your work like a job and yourself like an employee.

When you’re freelancing from home, it can be tempting to edit in your pajamas or mindlessly crunch chips during a stressful job. But that’s not going to help you succeed as a freelancer. Read Rebecca Faith’s recent posts, “Don’t Forget Your Uniform” and “Don’t Neglect Your Workforce,” as well as the upcoming posts in her series, to be reminded why this is important. 

  1. Pray and trust the Lord for each job he sends your way.

God will never give you a job to do and then abandon you to do it alone, and he has given us everything we need through the power of Christ. That in itself can boost your confidence when you’re facing a new challenge.

Your limitations as a new editor are really just opportunities to gain experience. Presenting yourself professionally while being honest about your current abilities will remind you: Yes, you are an editor.

Thank you for subscribing to PEN Tips, and we hope you continue to enjoy the education, tips, and inspiration we offer.

Jayna Baas is the current PEN Director and has been in love with words ever since she learned to use them. As a freelance editor, she specializes in copyediting and proofreading for a polished reading experience. As a Christian fiction author, she is passionate about helping fellow writers present Christ-honoring messages with confidence and excellence. Jayna lives in northern Michigan, where she enjoys gardening, good coffee, and time with family.