INSIDE: One of the neat things about editing jobs from home is that you can go in a few different directions. Find out how to get what you want here!
Do you have a strong opinion of the Oxford comma? A preferred writing style (such as MLA, Chicago, or AP?) Does a shiver go down your spine as you spot glaring grammatical errors? Are you the constant source for copy editing the work of your colleagues and friends?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you may be royalty.
The Grammar King/Queen! If you find editing copy to be fun, a remote or freelance editing job could be a great way to earn extra income or even a full-time job.
Some companies hire traditionally, work-at-home editors on board as employees, while others hire contract workers for remote work doing online proofreading and editing. And when it comes to editing, there’s a huge opportunity for you to do well for yourself as a freelancer if you’re willing to put in the work.
What to Expect as a Work-at-Home Editor
Editing is a bit of a funny thing. Most people tend to see things in black and white, with grammar rules and style guidelines and a right vs.-wrong mentality. The truth, however, is that editing is largely subjective.
The way you edit a term paper is going to be vastly different from the way you edit a textbook, which will also be very different from the way you edit a memoir or a fiction story.
Some fundamentals don’t change no matter what you’re editing, but you also need to be aware that the grammar rules you learned in 7th grade English class aren’t necessarily the ultimate law in all of the grammar… they’re simply one set of rules. Different writers, publications, and publishers follow different sets of rules.
If you ever wrote a paper for an English class and also wrote a paper for a science class, you probably had to learn both MLA and APA styles – two different but equally “correct” types of grammar and punctuation. Neither one is wrong, but they’re different.
As a freelance copy editor, you’ll need to be prepared to be accused of making mistakes that aren’t mistakes. Editing is subjective, after all, and that means readers will come to the table with their own opinions of what’s correct and what’s not. It’s entirely possible that both opinions can be technically correct. It gets a little fuzzy sometimes, in other words.
The key to your success as a work-at-home editor is to know the specific grammar rules (called the in-house style guide) for the organization or individual that hires you. If you’re working with someone who doesn’t have a preferred style guide, you’ll need to be ready with your own.
Editing vs. Proofreading
While “editing” and “proofreading” are often used interchangeably, they’re two different things. Arguably, online editing jobs should be broken down even further, based on the type of editing that’s being done, such as developmental editing.
In short, an editor is someone who works with a manuscript (or draft) and recommends revisions and changes in addition to correcting things such as word choice and punctuation. (Click here for editing tips and techniques for freelance copy editors.)
A freelance proofreader, on the other hand, acts as the “last eye” on any draft. It’s the proofreader’s job to catch any errors, from page numbers to missing punctuation. In a proofreading job, you don’t make recommendations to improve the text in any way – you just catch the typos. (If you want to learn more specifically about proofreading jobs, my friend Caitlin Pyle has a great proofreading workshop for you right here!)
As you start scanning for editing jobs from home, keep in mind the distinction and be mindful of the type of work you want to do, whether it’s just one or both. For the purpose of simplicity, I’m just going to use “editing” in this post, but these tips can apply to both editing and proofreading.
Finding Work-From-Home Editing Jobs
If your goal is to work with a company that will send you editing work, you’ve got plenty of options for remote editing jobs. Many times traditional publishers will turn to at-home editors to work on their manuscripts.
Academic journals (i.e. research publications) also employ at-home editors, though they often want their editors to have specific training with a particular style guide (usually MLA or APA) and/or a master’s degree in something related to the journal’s subject matter.
Not all editing jobs require that level of education, though! The following companies are known to hire at-home editors, and not all of them require specialized education.
Book in a Box is now Scribe Media. It’s a ghostwriting company that is hiring freelancers for work-from-home positions. “Scribes” not only help with editing; they also help with co-writing client books. Currently, the site gives a pay range of $60 to $70 per hour.
Domainite is on the lookout for freelance editors and writers. The freelance editor position requires editing different kinds of text, mostly articles and blog posts. To apply, all you have to do is send over some sample work!
If you enjoy editing and have a background in science (or a Ph.D.), Editor World could be the perfect work-from-home job for you! You won’t have to bid on jobs with this company or pitch to clients, and you’ll be paid for your services right away.
Polished Paper is a newer company that has developed a great reputation. It doesn’t require a specific level of education, so it’s a great option for people who want to get their foot in the door. The company requires you to fill out a profile, attach your resume and complete a 35-question editing test to get started.
If you’re willing to put in the work with Proofreading Pal, you can earn anywhere from $500 to $3,000 per month! This position requires a graduate degree with five years of proofreading and editing experience.
Proofreading Services is a great company if you’re looking for a flexible part-time or full-time remote editing job. It offers competitive pay rates, ranging from $19 to $46 per hour, depending on the urgency of the online editing job. Jump on the quick-turnaround jobs to make the most of your time and get a hefty paycheck!
Scribendi prefers applicants to have a university degree and professional experience. As a freelance editor, you’ll be able to choose assignments that interest you and complete the work on your schedule. The company lets you know up front how much an assignment will pay. No bidding or pitching! It doesn’t hire in California, Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, or Wyoming.
Getting Freelance Copy Editing Jobs
If you’re the type who would rather go and find your clients (and generally make a much higher hourly rate) instead of looking for editing jobs from home, you might want to consider going into freelance copy editing.
Many of the freelancing principles that apply to other freelance work also apply to copy editing, including getting clear on who your ideal client is, what you can offer and how to price your services. My favorite place for information on the business and practice of being a freelance editor is the Editorial Freelancers Association’s website.
Join an Association
If you want to dive deep into your new editing gig, consider joining the Editorial Freelancers Association. When you join, you’ll get to add your name to its freelance directory, join its robust email list, where you can get to know colleagues from all over the U.S. and the world, learn more about the business of being a freelance editor, take valuable online training and (this is a great benefit) get access to its job board, which sends out job leads frequently.
Getting credentialed isn’t the only way to be a freelance editor, though. You can set up a website for yourself and start marketing yourself as one. Tap into your natural network and let people know that you’re a copy editor for hire! You never know who will pop out of the woodwork.
If you’re looking to get some experience under your belt, you can sometimes find paying editing gigs on sites like Upwork, though I would recommend that you avoid the “race to the bottom” and just get the freelance editing work, you need to build a portfolio. You may be able to find clients who are willing to pay decent rates on those sites, so it’s worth a shot in the beginning to see if you can get some traction there.
One Last Tip for At-Home Editors
There’s one tidbit I couldn’t recommend highly enough if you want to become an at-home editor: Join the copy editing listserv here. It’s called CEL for short, and it’s going to be a goldmine of support, information, job leads, and more. Many at-home copy editors don’t know about this list, but if you subscribe and start learning from people who are already in the field, you’ll be able to leapfrog over your competition.