One of my freelance writing clients needed editing services and it has turned into a lucrative addition to my freelance portfolio
My freelance income comes from a variety of writing projects, but the bulk is from content managers and marketing managers. When one of them asked if I had time to do some editing of another writer’s work, I thought why not? Now it has expanded into a new source of revenue that is a nice break from writing.
It started with polishing work for the US market translated from other languages
The first doc I was sent had been translated from Spanish into English and it was quite awkward to my American ears. It was a blog post by a subject matter expert, so the content was solid but it read too much like a translation. So I ‘Americanized’ it, rewriting sentences with odd syntax, making it a little less formal and more readable, and doing a little search optimization (SEO).
It was kind of fun. It didn’t really need copyediting, it was more of a top level edit of the actual content to make it clearer to US readers. They didn’t want it to ‘sound foreign’. The work was fast and a nice break from writing from the ground up. And it paid pretty well, so I decided to be open to doing more of it. With that client, a content manager, it has turned into about thirty per cent of the work I do for them. It is important to note that this is in addition to the writing I do for them.
So I decided to add editing to my product mix
Professional writers are usually used to working with editors and as a result, we understand what goes into it. In my case it is making the voice friendlier and well-matched to the audience, tightening up awkward or run-on sentences (the bane of my existence as a reader), and other polishing. As a long time copywriter, I know what tight copy is and why it is important in marketing materials.
I don’t charge as much for my editing on a per word basis because it is actually easier for me. I can generally turn around something like editing a blog post in a relatively short time, which is important because the deadlines tend to be tighter (they have already paid someone else for the content and are ready to publish).
There have been several instances where the pieces required so much work that they became rewrites. In those cases, I’d give my client the heads up that this was going to be more time-consuming and more expensive and it has not been unusual for them to just ask me to write it myself. Because of the arrangement involved, the original writers don’t know who I am nor do I know their identity. This is good because I respect other writers and don’t need any bad karma with them!
My editing process
When I start with a new editing client my preference is to work in a Google Doc. I turn on the Suggesting function in the Editing pull down at the top right of the Doc. This shows my client exactly what I have done by highlighting changes while leaving the old version sentences in place but with a line through. The client can accept the changes one by one, or not.
I find the collaboration aspect of Docs really streamlines communications. If I have questions about something I can just add a comment. And, unlike Word, there is only one version of the Doc out there (no email attachments or confusion about which version is the correct one). BTW, I write all my Medium articles in Docs. I love that they are accessible and up to date on all my devices.
If I was asked to edit a book length manuscript…
I’m not sure I’d do it. I guess I’d want a sample to see what I’d be getting myself into. Book editing is a profession in itself and I really see writing as my freelance focus. But with these smaller projects I’m more than happy to add this service to my product mix.