How Can Freelancers Make the Transition from Writer to Editor?

Freelance writing can definitely be a rewarding career, yet at the same time, some freelancers want to move beyond writing and segue into editing. Transitioning from being a freelance writer to a freelance editor can be a relatively seamless process, provided that freelancers first consider several different aspects.

An Evaluation of Experience

Freelancers need to consider where their strengths lie, particularly regarding their writing backgrounds. For example, if a freelancer has been strictly doing SEO writing for a number of years, but wants to switch into academic editing, then there’s probably going to be a significant learning curve and/or an advanced degree required. Conversely, if a freelancer’s career has been based in journalism, and now wants to become a magazine editor, then there’s already more experience to work off of.

Knowing the Details

It’s one thing to write articles and spellcheck them, it’s quite another to edit material. For example, freelancers need to decide whether they want to simply edit for grammar/punctuation/syntax/spelling (which, actually, is considered proofreading), or whether they also want to edit content in terms of how well the content is conveyed.

Getting That First Job

Yes, companies (particularly the ones offering higher-paying editing jobs) will usually give priority to those with previous editing experience. That doesn’t mean, though, that there aren’t companies willing to hire freelancers who’ve only worked as writers – particularly if whatever they wrote was free from errors! In fact, freelance writers who have already established themselves with certain clients or companies might want to ask if they have editing opportunities available.

Another option is to initially look for jobs in which applicants are hired according to how well they do on an editing test. Job postings will, most of the time, mention which style guide prospective editors need to be proficient in. Companies might sometimes rely on certain standard style guides, such as the Chicago Manual of Style or the AP Stylebook, or might have their own house styles for editors to follow.

Keeping the Momentum Going

Freelance writers shouldn’t be discouraged if they find that the only editing jobs available to them as beginners pay very little. Instead, a suggestion would be to tough it out by editing for the sake of gaining experience, while still also writing. As that editing experience matures, so does the door open to higher paying jobs.

When freelance writers do fully make the switch to editors, they should do so humbly. As they provide feedback to writers, it will be important for them to remember how necessary it is to tactfully point out errors for the sake of encouraging the best work possible.

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