by Rebecca Florence Miller
In my previous post, I shared some important preparatory work you need to do as you begin your new career as a freelance editor. In this post, I plan to share more about how to develop your business after you have put those foundational pieces in place.
Once you have adjusted your expectations, educated yourself, and begun to zero in on the best genres that match your skill and the market’s need, you will need to start finding clients. How on earth do you do this?
First, build client testimonials that demonstrate your abilities. Do you have a friend who would be willing to write a testimonial for free or discounted editing work? Better yet if you have three such friends!
Second, think of organizations, groups, and companies that need editors. How about doing some research work in a department of a university or college? How about reaching out to a local nonprofit that is doing great work but has typos in their materials? Is there a community blog you could offer editorial skills to? Does someone you know need compelling website copy or a résumé revision? All this adds to your experience and gives you more authority.
Third, network, network, network. Most of my work has come from networking. It is not instant. It takes years to build up a good network. But the good news is, I’ve done almost all my networking online. Brainstorm deeply about who you know and who you could connect with to get a few opportunities to shine. Also, consider reaching out to publishers with whom you may have some affinity or relationship. After you study your stylebooks, contact some publishers and ask if they are looking for proofreaders. There will likely be a proofreading test. It’s not sexy work, but it’s great experience.
Fourth, set up a simple, elegant website. You do not need anything flashy, although a professional headshot helps. Just make sure your website contains no typos, is organized thoughtfully, clearly communicates your experience and expertise, gives a sense of the services you offer, and provides a way to contact you. Ask your friends to share your website. Put it in your saved email signature, add it to your social media profiles, and include it in your bio every time you write something online.
Fifth, find some sort of regular gig, if you can. For me, this has taken the form of writing and editing a business’s blog posts every month, editing a website devotional for a friend, connecting with publishers who send me work regularly, moving up to a regular editing position at a Christian organization for pastors, and doing regular writing and editing for a Christian ministry. Having at least one gig that provides some reliable income is extremely helpful.
Sixth, once you have more experience, join the Christian Editor Connection. You must do professional editing work for a couple of years first, take tests to qualify in specific genres, and pay a membership fee. If you are accepted, the CEC will forward you referrals to bid on, based on the kind of material you are qualified to edit. I’ve gotten two publishing house referrals through the CEC, as well as several private clients. The CEC charges editors a referral fee of fifteen percent (for the first year of working with the specific client)—but because they expect you to charge the clients healthy fees, not pennies, you still end up with a good sum.
Best wishes to you as you begin to explore a rewarding and challenging new career!