- Freelancing as a copyeditor can prove to be a six-figure career option, but staff positions can also command a high salary.
- These two successful copyeditors said you shouldn’t undervalue your work and should set fair but competitive rates.
- But be flexible with your pricing and provide options for clients to choose from while offering bonuses and discounts to draw them in.
- Continue honing your editing skills by reading and taking classes and consider offering other services like ghostwriting and writing social media copy.
- Click here for more BI Prime stories.
With COVID-19 changing many jobs that were traditionally done from an office into virtual positions, roles like copyediting that can be done remotely are becoming increasingly more in demand.
While full-time (and part-time) positions exist, a more common way to take on copyediting is to explore freelancing.
What’s more, freelance copyeditors can potentially bank more than their staff editor counterparts, since they can set their own rates and command as much as $100 an hour, according to American Journalism Review. This gives freelance copyeditors the potential to earn six figures (or close to it), depending on how many clients they engage and the number of hours they work.
Business Insider asked two long-time professional copyeditors with experience in both staff and freelance positions to share their strategies on how they built up to high earnings.
Don’t undervalue your work
Jenna Rose Robbins has taken on freelance copyediting, writing, and ghostwriting gigs on and off for more than 20 years.
After paying her dues for over a decade in positions that included managing editor, content manager, senior editor, and senior editorial producer and working for big-name companies like AOL and Disney, Robbins left her last full-time, salaried gig in 2012 and has been a freelance editor and editorial consultant ever since. She is also the founder and principal of her own firm, Siteseeing Media & Web Consulting, through which she helps clients manage all aspects of online content.
Robbins explained that over the course of her career she’s edited for a wide range of companies on many different types of projects — from businesses looking to have their marketing materials proofread to individuals in need of having their self-published books reviewed before print to educational institutions updating their online presence.
Of particular relevance in the face of a global pandemic that has forced many more people to work remotely, her online editing gigs let her get her clients’ projects done from anywhere — these days, from home, but in easier times for travel, her freelance role has allowed her to live in three different countries and visit more than 20.
In her decades of freelancing, Robbins said she’s made well over six figures in certain years. However, after leveraging her job’s flexibility and choosing not to work full time last year, she said she made less than $100,000 in 2019 — but did so working for only about six months.
“I took off several months to work on my own project, promote my book, travel, and volunteer in Sri Lanka,” she said.
While the amount that she makes each year varies widely, Robbins noted that variation is mainly because she sometimes chooses to work less in some years than others.
“I rarely advertise my services and get most of my work through word of mouth and former clients, which has always proven to be enough,” she said. “However, since the pandemic, things have slowed down quite a bit, so I may have to start advertising.”
The freelancer now recognizes that her wide range of experience gives her credibility for requesting higher rates — her hourly rate is currently $150 — but she didn’t always have this perspective or confidence.
“I learned the hard way that I was undervaluing my own work,” Robbins said. “When I first started out, I was afraid to ask for more money.”
What turned her approach around was when she had a prospective client whom she thought might be more challenging to work with. Instead of turning them away, she simply quoted a rate that she thought they would turn down. Instead, they accepted.
“After that, I began asking that rate of all new clients, and none of them ever blinked, so I began asking for a little more with each new client I brought on board,” she explained.
Robbins recommended not shying away from requesting market rates for your work and pricing yourself higher as you gain expertise. In Robbins case, she has been asking for more than $100 an hour for the past eight years — increasing her rate every year by $5 or $10 — after having started her career at $20 an hour.
“In my 20 years of freelancing, I have had very few prospective clients ask for a reduction in my rate,” she said. “Those who did turned out to be less than desirable to work with, so I see a client who tries to drastically negotiate on rate as a red flag, and I find a way to politely bow out of the relationship.”
But be flexible in your rates
While Robbins knows how to properly price her work based on her experience and skill set, that doesn’t mean that she never offers flexibility with her pricing.
For example, the freelancer offers all of her new clients a five-hour trial period at her full rate. After the five hours are up, she and the client each decide if they want to continue the relationship. If they decide to move forward together, then Robbins offers them retainers, which are reduced hourly rates in exchange for a guarantee of a certain number of monthly hours for a certain length of time (for example, 10% off for three months, with a minimum of 10 hours per month).
“I usually provide them two or three such retainer options, with larger discounts for more hours and/or longer time periods,” Robbins explained. “After they’ve worked with me for the trial period, they generally value my work rather highly and are happy to sign a contract, thereby guaranteeing me steady work for the foreseeable future.”
Below is the template Robbins sends to clients to offer her retainer options:
Here are the retainer options. In each case, the entire monthly amount is paid by the first of the month. Any hours over the purchased amount get billed the following month at the same rate. Hours can be rolled over only one month.
Example: You purchase Option 2. On the first of the month, you pay $1,350 but only use seven hours. Two hours roll over to the next month. The next month, you have 12 hours at your disposal; you use 14. The additional two hours are billed at $135/hour.
Let me know which sounds best to you.
Option 1: Hourly basis at $150/hour, no minimum commitment.
Option 2: Hourly basis at $135/hour, 10 hours per month. Up to two hours can be rolled over.
Option 3: Hourly basis at $125/hour, 20 hours per month. Up to five hours can be rolled over.
Thank you for your consideration!
Robbins also offers referral discounts.
“Almost all of my clients come through word of mouth, and since they generally have friends and colleagues with similar income levels, their contacts are likely to be able to afford my rates,” Robbins said. “So after a few months of working with a client, I’ll let them know of a discount I can give them if they refer a new client.”
Stacie Heaps has spent the last 14 years as an editor for a large international nonprofit organization, where she edits a wide variety of materials including print manuals, guidebooks, and user guides.
In addition to being an experienced full-time editor, Heaps also has a freelance editing and writing business, WriteAwayLLC, through which she has provided online copyediting services since 2006, as well as a personal finance blog, Families for Financial Freedom. This year, between her full-time job and side hustle writing and editing, she said she expects to make just under six figures.
While Heaps generally charges a flat hourly fee, she too allows room for rate flexibility, sometimes offering a 10% discount to new clients. She keeps her email about this discount to clients simple:
Thank you for your interest in working with me! I have worked as a full-time and freelance editor for more than [amount of years] years, and during that time I have worked on a wide variety of projects, including [describe examples of types of editing projects].
I charge an hourly rate of $[your rate] for my editing and writing services.
If you are interested in working together, I would be happy to offer you an introductory discount of 10% off my regular rate for your first project.
If you would like to see samples of my work, please let me know and I would be happy to send some to you.
Please let me know if there is any other information that you need.
I look forward to working with you.
Make sure you’re an exceptional editor — and offer bonus items to clients
“It is my firm belief that some people are born to be editors/copyeditors, while some just don’t have it in them, even if they have the smarts, as it takes a very specific skill set and temperament beyond just knowing the rules of grammar and punctuation,” said Robbins. “I can’t tell you how many clients have come to me after working with a lower-rate copyeditor whose work was so terrible that it had to be redone.”
Robbins explained that if you want to be a high-earning copyeditor, then it’s important for your work to be truly exceptional, and thus worth the rate you’re asking.
“When I turn in my work, I do so only when I know that what I’m submitting is something that will make the client more than satisfied,” she said, adding that one way to grease the wheels on client satisfaction is to throw in “little freebies” that they didn’t expect.
“For example, after editing a long manuscript such as a book, I’ll provide them with the style guide I compiled,” Robbins said. “I create these style guides anyway, so when a client gets this unexpected bonus, they not only have tangible evidence of my hard work, they also have an asset they hadn’t expected to receive.”
Continue to expand on the services that you can offer beyond copyediting
In addition to their everyday copyediting work, Heaps also offers freelance writing services, and Robbins offers various writing and ghostwriting services to pad her income. And through her media and consulting firm, Robbins lists a range of website development and content creation services on her website, including seminars for small businesses, consulting and training, and newsletters.
“Probably 75% of my work starts off as copyediting, but once a client learns about my other services, it expands from there,” Robbins explained. “I’ve been asked to copyedit manuscripts, but after I mention some larger issues, I’m then asked to come in as a developmental editor or even to rewrite those sections.”
She shared that another client originally hired her to copyedit their social media posts (which were written in house by an intern), and then eventually ended up shifting over the entire job to Robbins.
Actively look for opportunities to strengthen your editing chops
Heaps explained that one of the most important things she’s done to increase her income substantially over the years has been to actively look for opportunities to learn, grow, and take on more challenging projects.
“I have taken opportunities to go back to school and also taken many online courses to increase my knowledge and skills,” Heaps said. “I have read many, many business books to continue to learn that way, and I have attended conferences and workshops in my industry to help grow and fine-tune my skills.” All of these steps help make her a more valuable and experienced freelance copyeditor as well.
She recommended ACES online editing courses to beef up your skill set or even earn a certificate in editing. ACES holds annual conferences as well, which Heaps was planning on attending before it was cancelled due to COVID-19. And in terms of industry reads, “The Chicago Manual of Style,” the “AP Stylebook,” and “The Subversive Copy Editor” are three of her go-to guides.
Consistently scour for job postings and don’t be afraid to cold pitch potential clients
Heaps recommended not only checking popular industry sites for jobs like Indeed, Freelancer, and Monster, but also looking at your local classifieds and Craigslist postings to boost your chances of landing solid clients.
“Yes, you have to watch out for scams, but at least in my experience, I have found most of the postings to be legit,” Heaps said.
A final strategy that Heaps believes is very helpful is to not be afraid to let people know about your online copyediting services, even if that means making a cold pitch by reaching out beyond your existing contact list and previous clients.
“The worst thing that can happen is that you never hear back,” Heaps concluded.
#rhoa #maatiedtomedicine #couplescourttv @couplescourttv #gregoryevans #dating #datingscams #onlinedating #romance #romancescams #sexoffenfer #fakeprofile #fakeprofiles #boyfriends #cheaters #cheatingwife #swingers #swingercouple #pof #fakeprofile #cheatinghusband #scams #love #lovescams #worsedates #sex #ncs #metoomovement #metoo #muterkelly #activist #metoo #donaltrump #sextrafficking