I recently got a great question through my “contact me” page on my website. It inspired a fairly detailed answer, so I thought others may benefit from this information.
It’s easy to show writing samples when you want to market yourself as a writer.
But how do you show that you’re a good editor?
First, I will post her question and my answer, then I’ll go into more detail about editing samples, and finally, we’ll dive into how to get editing clients.
“Hi, Jyssica! I’ve been following you on Medium for a while and really enjoy your articles discussing freelance life and tips. I’m messaging you because I’m considering trying to get into freelance editing with no prior formal experience as an editor, aside from some time as an editor for my law journal in law school (otherwise, I’ve professionally been an attorney for the past 6 years, and I really enjoy the time I spend reviewing and editing other attorneys’ work product).
I love your advice on getting started up freelancing before spending any money to establish a website, etc. and to essentially use blog posts or other writing you’ve done as sample work to get your first clients rather than doing work for free to develop a portfolio. However, I understand how this advice is particularly helpful if you want to do writing freelance, but I think I’m really only interested in doing editing, so I wanted to know what thoughts or advice you have on how to go about getting your first editing-only clients?
I could be wrong since I’m not experienced in the field, but it seems less straightforward than just offering examples of your writing to potential clients since that doesn’t directly show your work as an editor. I really appreciate you taking the time to read my message and offering any tips or advice for me. Thank you so much! — K”
This is a really great question, one I assume other aspiring editors would love to get an answer to, too!
Thank you for messaging me through my website.
That’s a great question, and honestly, you are right — it IS more difficult to show editing skills. These days, I am able to point to books I’ve edited but that wasn’t always the case but there are a couple of ways to show your editing skills.
The most effective way is to take a piece of writing and edit it using either Google doc “suggestion mode” or Word’s “track changes” and create an editing sample, as it shows the editing changes you make to a blog post, article, or document.
Another way to show your editing skills is — surprisingly — by having writing samples. By having well-edited and good writing samples, you are showing your ability to both write AND edit them.
If I’m being honest, when I first started editing, I did not actually have any editing samples. I only had writing samples and I explained that I am an editor who edits collaboratively (using suggestion mode and/or track changes) so that the writer can see the edits I make. I always edit that way for at least the first chapter/section of the work so the writer can “approve” my editing style and choices. After that, I make grammar/punctuation changes directly to any document but leave wording choices, rewrites, and structure changes as suggestions. I explain to the writer that this way, they can make the choice if they want to change the wording the way I suggest but that it’s ultimately up to them, as their name is on the work and I want it to reflect their voice.
A great way to get editing clients without needing a ton of examples is to be referred to. If you know anyone who has used your editing work, ask for a testimonial or for referrals to others who need help. When I get people referred to me, they rarely care about samples because they were referred by someone they trust and they only want to get to know me and my editing style.
You also need to make sure you are charging good rates. If you are too cheap, that is suspect and wastes your time — which is your main commodity as a freelancer.
Hope this helps! Let me know if you have more questions. And thank you for following me on Medium!
More Detail on Editing Samples
The three ways to showcase your editing skills are:
- Creating an editing sample
- Using your own written and edited pieces
- Doing a sample edit (which I forgot to mention in my answer! I hope she sees this!)
The best way to show your editing skills — and why I listed it first — is by taking any piece of writing and editing it, showing your edits with your “track changes” or “suggested” edits. This is called an editing sample.
This allows the client to see what the work looked like before you edited it and then also your actual suggestions and work.
When doing this, you can explain your thought process by including a paragraph in the email you send with a short explanation of the changes. For example, if you edited something to better fit a specific style or for consistency or to remove repetitiveness.
The second way to show your editing skill is by showcasing your writing.
When you write a piece, you also edit it to within an inch of its life. Clear, concise writing pieces also show your editing skills — though in a less obvious way than an editing sample as shown above.
And the third option to show your editing skills and get clients is to offer a sample edit. This is similar to the idea of doing a “trial piece” as a writer. You can offer a heavily discounted sample rate and take a few hundred words or a couple of pages of the client’s writing and actually edit it — still using track changes or suggestion mode.
Doing a sample edit shows the client how you can specifically work with their pieces and gives them a clear idea of how you two will work together and how you will improve their work.
How to Get Editing Clients
Attracting and securing editing clients is similar to how I recommend you to get ANY type of client: marketing yourself.
Marketing and sales can feel like a 4-letter word for some freelancers, but being proactive is the most important thing for finding new clients regularly at the beginning of your freelance career.
I found my initial clients on various social media platforms — Reddit, Instagram, etc.
I looked for prospects that fit my target client market and I sent them a direct message.
I still do this! I email, DM, or FB message people who look like they would be a good fit to work with me.
The point of marketing is that no matter how good you are at SEO or how great your writing is, (especially) at first no one knows who you are.
So, by being proactive and introducing yourself and your services to prospects, they learn who you are and may want to work with you.
Remember to focus your messages not just on YOU but on what you can do for THEM. How will using your services save them time, money, or frustration?
Specifically for editing clients, I like to search for new or aspiring authors or look at websites and blogs that have editing issues and would benefit from editing services.
Then, when messaging those people, introduce yourself and explain why you believe you’d be a great fit to work with them and how it would benefit them. Give an idea of something you might change and why.
An example of how it might benefit them: If it is a blog or website that needs work, you could suggest that tightening up and rewording the existing and upcoming copy would provide more clarity to their customers and encourage site visitors to stay on the page longer. If you don’t want to straight-up say that it needs a lot of work, try suggesting that updating their content will attract more site visitors and refresh their branding. Or that you came across their page and noticed there were some editing issues that distracted you from seeing how great their product/service is.
In the message, offer to send them your editing sample or even do a sample edit for them.
Go Forth and Edit!
I hope this helps you find ways to show your editing skills and get new freelance editing clients.
You don’t need professional editing experience on your resume to get clients! If you’re a good editor, that comes through in your work and samples.
Despite writing and blogging for many years before becoming a professional writer and editor, I did not have any “real” writing or editing experience — I had to rely on my samples and marketing skills! And you can, too!
Check out my book Concept to Conclusion: How to Write a Book and learn everything you need to know to conceive of, outline, write, publish, and market a book!
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