Freelance editors have a responsibility to thoroughly (and tactfully!) review content. That doesn’t mean, though, that they’re immune to receiving criticism of their own. As with freelance writing, it would be ideal for freelance editors to think of criticism as a way to improve professionally.
In fact, it would be ideal if freelance editors came from a writing background and are committed to being kinder than, perhaps, some of their editing predecessors were. However, at times conflicting viewpoints reach such a level that professionalism deteriorates into personal affronts.
In a perfect freelancing world, criticism is meant to help the freelance editor apply specific client/company guidelines. It could be viewed, then, as more of a learning tool than anything else. In fact, this is probably the best sort of criticism to get – mistakes are noted, fixed, and work goes on with a new understanding of what to look for.
Of course, some clients provide criticism more tactfully than others. I spent some years editing for a company that had a great manager. Any mistakes I made were politely (even humorously) pointed out in a way that didn’t make me feel silly.
Then again, I remember being part of an editing team for another, unrelated company with a project manager who really didn’t do an optimal job. We were regularly audited for the most inane things. One by one, some vague excuse was given as to why we couldn’t continue on the project. It was no surprise, then, that the company shut down less than a year later and tried rebranding itself, to no avail.
Other times, writers might disagree with how their work was reviewed, and, if possible, directly challenge the editor’s judgement. I know what it’s like to have my carefully researched work rejected by editors who gleefully hide behind the anonymity provided by a particular platform.
I also know what it’s like to be an editor who didn’t have the benefit of anonymity on a platform. It was the sort of platform where many writers thought they could get around the guidelines and provide filler content with affiliate links. It wasn’t my job to rewrite their articles, after all, so I would make constructive comments and send the content back for revisions.
As with anywhere, some people were great to work with, others not. In fact, a number of writers had the audacity to submit the content again, unchanged, sending me vitriolic emails, too. All I could do was report the writers accordingly, and, when it became apparent that the whole system was plagued with problems, I moved on as quickly as possible.
No one, writer, editor or otherwise, should be made to feel small for the benefit of others. Freelancing will only remain a viable income alternative so long as the participants are cordial to one another. Anything less than that? Platforms and startups can crumble all too quickly.
Keeping a clear vision…
The important thing to remember is that criticism is a matter of perspective. If freelance editors know they’ve given their all to a project, then harsh words can really hold no power over them. It then becomes about moving forward with optimism, not looking back angrily. Criticisms become nothing more than tiny hiccups in the overall freelancing picture.
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