Freelance Niche: Editing

Editing is an important part of the freelance writing career, or at least it should be. If you know grammar extremely well, and you have a knack for making other people’s writing better, you may want to consider focusing on editing in your career. Writers with an eye for detail (ie. perfectionists) can most certainly earn a great deal of money as an editor.

What Editing Entails

Some editing jobs are simple proofreading, while others require rewriting. An editor may need to adjust the grammar, spelling, and awkward sentence structure of a piece that was translated from another language or clarify the thoughts written by someone who has trouble writing well.

Web copyediting is important, as many people need to make sure that their website content is appropriate, error free, and professional. I have seen some editing projects that require the daily editing of batches of web articles written by different people.

In the editing niche, you may find some academic editing work, such as dissertations, essays, text books, speeches and more. In some cases, editors are required to have some background knowledge in the subject matter so that they can verify accuracy in text as well.

Business documents such as proposals, white papers, letters and similar pieces may require and editor’s eye as well. Reports may require industry knowledge or experience, which can allow an editor to charge a higher rate for their expertise.

People searching for jobs may also look for an editor to assist with their resume and cover letters.

It is common that writers who want to get published will hire an editor to perfect their work before it goes to print. Writers can truly benefit from having an editor available to assist with proofreading and developing ideas, and that is a good selling point you can use.

How much are editors paid?

Editors sometimes charge by the hour, making $30-$100 per hour. Some editors charge a few dollars per page, depending on the amount of work that has to be done and their level of experience. Proofreading would naturally pay less than rewriting or restructuring a work entirely.

Editing Tips

It is best to try to change as little as possible when editing. Preserving the voice of the author is vital, as is making sure that the intent and meaning of the words remains.

Take your time and pay close attention to detail. As an editor, it is your job to pick up on things that the average reader would not.

Look beyond the internet for editing and proofreading jobs. While there are some available online, they may not pay very well, and there is fierce competition for those projects. Local businesses, magazines, newspapers, and other writers may have a need for editing, so try to network offline as much as possible.

Build a strong portfolio. Every writer is also an editor to some degree, so as someone who specializes in editing, you need to exemplify excellent grammar and polished, error-free work. As you gain experience, you may want to consider presenting some “before and after work” so that potential clients can get a sense of your ability. You must be able to prove that you can write well because a good editor is also a great writer.

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Using Multiple Freelance Writing Portfolios

Providing high quality samples of your work is a crucial element in gaining new business. While having a single portfolio can be extremely beneficial, having more than one portfolio can be a good idea, too.

Writers who take on a variety of writing projects can benefit from having separate portfolios. As a versatile writer myself, I have a diverse portfolio with individual samples that represent the range of styles I can provide. I plan to expand it, and separate academic writing form copywriting and sales, as well as apart from web article writing and newsletters.

I have found that not having a collection of samples from particular niches that I am quite capable of doing has hindered my ability to attract certain clients. I do have a range of samples, however, if a majority of my samples are different from the style that a client is looking for, they tend to move on to the next writer. I may very well have a single sample that is close to what they might be looking for, but two or three samples is always more reassuring to a buyer.

It makes sense to have groups of samples that reflect each type of writing separately. Buyers who are looking for a professional tone are not interested in seeing conversational style article on dating. A potential client looking for friendly and engaging blog posts don’t want to see technical reports. I think having mini portfolios that appeal specifically to certain buyers is a smart move, and I plan to take it. (I’m always looking for ways to improve.)

What is your portfolio like? Do you have a range of individual samples for different kinds of writing, or do you have sections with multiple samples for each type of writing? Do you have multiple portfolios?

Website of the month: www.thewritenetwork.com

The website of the month is The Write Network. It is a collection of the best writing tips from a variety of trusted websites. No matter what genre of writing you practice, The Write Network has tips for you. The feed is updated daily with old and new tips from all of the members of the website. It is a one stop shop for writing tips, business tips, productivity tips, and publishing information. There are more than 25 contributing bloggers, including yours truly, Men With Pens, and Get Paid to Write Online.

You can subscribe to the daily updates at: http://www.thewritenetwork.com

Honest Academic Writing

I have to make a correction to yesterday’s post about academic writing online. While a majority of the opportunities I have seen are unethical, not all academic writing opportunities are bad. As one of my commentators pointed out (thanks John) there are academic writing jobs that pay well and are not morally questionable. These include text book writing/editing, test and quiz question writing, study guides, instruction manuals, and other educational materials that are used in the classroom. Personally, and I wasn’t thinking about this yesterday, I have done lesson plans/study guides for pay.

I was so passionate about speaking against the sites who sell papers to students, that I overlooked the fact that there are plenty of legitimate academic writing opportunities. Normally, if you are required to write a specific essay or term paper, MLA or APA format and all, chances are some student is paying to cheat.

Freelance Writing: Finding Your Voice

Have you ever wondered how you can develop your own “voice” as a writer? There are different ways to experiment with tone and style that can help you find your unique voice. In reality, there is really only one true way to find your voice, and that is to write as much as you can. That is such general advice, but don’t worry. Here are some more specific tips that can help you find your voice.

Read a variety of tones, styles, and genres of writing. It is common to fall into the habit of mimicking someone else’s voice if you read their material long enough. This is especially true if you feel that someone else’s style is particularly good. If you constantly read different authors, it will be harder resort to mimicking any one style. At the beginning, you may find that you will mimic the most recent author you read. After a while, you may be able to pinpoint the consistencies in your own writing, which will be the early development of your writing voice.

Write about things that you are passionate about. You don’t have to publish these things online or share them with anyone. Select an audience in your mind to address with your piece. Then, let loose about something you are extremely opinionated about. Write in the manner that you would speak. One of the best ways to find your writing voice is to express what is in your heart. You may not know that you had it inside of you.

Experiment with different voices. You can sort of “try a voice on” to see how comfortable it is. You may be able to find something that suits you and comes naturally to you in this way.

Your voice will flow out of you naturally. Read your writing and compare it against other things you have written. You may have already found your voice, but you don’t use it all of the time. Perhaps your voice is there, but it needs fine tuning so that others will better understand you.

Just keep writing, and your voice will call out to you.

Query-free freelance writing

Jennifer Mattern has a new website: http://queryfreefreelancer.com/

I just read the post about reasons why you may want to learn how to freelance without queries. Personally, I have been freelancing for a few years and haven’t yet sent a query. I do plan to incorporate it down the road, however. This new website is an excellent resource if you don’t want to spend hours on queries only to get rejected or get accepted and have to wait months for payment. Registration is required for all of the goodies, but it is free.

It is perfectly fine to continue to query if you have been successful at it. I plan to do a combination of both that method and other marketing methods that I have already employed. Check out the website to learn more about building your own writer platform and other great tips.

Freelance Writer’s Schedule

I came across an interesting post asking writers whether or not they use a set schedule. It really made me think. There is a set of questions to answer for those who do follow a schedule and a different set of questions for those who do not. Here are my answers to the questions for writers who do not follow a schedule.

1. Why don’t you force yourself to work a schedule? Have you ever tried?

I don’t have an hour to hour schedule because I work better without one. I have tried a million times to set specific hours and create some sort of consistent daily routine, but I always felt restricted by that. I enjoy being a freelance writer because I don’t have to work at the same time everyday or for the same amount of time everyday. I am able to plan the rest of my life around work much better.

2. When do you do your best writing? Are you able to do it then, or would working a schedule around that time work better?

I do my best writing when my house is clean, I’m all showered, and no one is around. This can be at 7 in the morning or noon. This time may even be at 8 pm. I do my best writing when my chores are out of the way, the apartment is quiet, and I have energy. As you may be able to tell, scheduling wouldn’t work because I really don’t know until that day when my most productive wave will come. That is not to say that I don’t sit down and write unless the mood strikes (that is hardly the case), but my best writing comes on demand. All I have to do is clear my head of the rest of my busy life, sit down, and focus.

3. Does it make you anxious to not have a set schedule? Why?

No, not at all. I plan to work to meet deadlines, and I use any extra time to write for myself. (Blogging, posting articles online about topics I enjoy, etc.) I make sure that I put in the time to finish what needs to get done, and then I do the writing that I most enjoy. I break when needed, and that works for me.

4. Have you ever had a problem as a result of the lack of a schedule?

Yes. As I indicated before, I do my best writing when my chores are done. If my chores fall behind, my writing may fall behind as well. I can get really stressed out if things pile up. I have overcome this problem with discipline and eliminating procrastination. Rather than forcing myself to write x time to x time, I get rid of excuses like laundry, mail sorting and vacuuming.

5. How do you benefit from not keeping a schedule?

I am able to relax more and I can write better when my stress level is low. I am able to go out during the day and take care of errands when most people are at work. I have actually grown in discipline because I can honestly buckle down when deadlines are approaching or I can get ahead of deadlines because I can focus on productivity and not logging hours. It is less stressful to me to focus on getting work done as opposed to feeling guilty if I didn’t write from one specific time to another. It is also less stressful to work long hours because I don’t feel like I am putting in overtime.

6. Are you a part time writer or full time?

Full time.

I would love to read answers from you freelance writers out there. Check out the post for the other questions if you do follow a schedule.

Guest Post: Usha Krishnan Sliva

If you’ve decided to start a career in freelance writing, then you’ve selected a very satisfying career option; which can prove to be rewarding, both personally and monetarily.

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, and reading too. In fact, you’ll probably find me with my nose buried in a book when I am not working or spending time with the family. Reading is probably what distinguishes most serious writers from those who are looking for a quick-rich earning scheme. If you find yourself gravitating towards a book as opposed to the TV, then you know which direction your career could possibly be heading in.

Yet, I didn’t always think of becoming a writer. In fact, I have my Masters degree in Anthropology and had visions of working in Africa in the 90’s. But fate dictated otherwise and I landed in Dubai and began my first real career move in an advertising agency as a print sales executive. From there, I moved to television and soon after, began dabbling in events and conferences. It was however only when I joined a PR agency in Cyprus, that I began to realize my passion lay in words after all. Since then, I’ve never been without a pen (and keyboard) in hand.

Launching a freelance writing career is no different than launching any other business. And you have to view it as a business, even if you are working only a few hours each day. It’s an ideal job not only for a stay at home parent, but for those looking to dive into something they are passionate about. And that’s the key to succeeding in any career or business move in life- passion! Do anything with enthusiasm and love and you are bound to reap its rewards. In this instance, be good at writing, and you will get paid your worth.

The second point to remember is to be knowledge driven. Read as much as you can and undergo courses to improve your writing skills. Just because you may speak English, does not mean you can write it with fluency.

Find a niche. What do you enjoy writing on? Look for topics that interest you and try and develop your skills and knowledge in them. Specialists can command a higher price than writers who have no focus. Likewise, recognize your limitations. We all have limitations no matter how hard we try. I for example, do not write technical documents as I have no experience doing them. I however can command a higher rate for writing articles on coaching and motivational topics. Stick to what you do best and diversify only if you find a new passion.

Go the extra mile for the client, but know where the finish line is. Just because you freelance, does not mean you spend all your working hours on a single project. The client needs to be given 110% of your effort for two reasons-a) You are running a business and the client is your  bread and butter. No matter the payment, if you’ve elected to take up a job, then you need to deliver it to the best of your abilities and b) As a freelance writer, you will be competing with not hundreds, but thousands of people from around the world. If you don’t do a good job, chances are you will lose the client to someone else who will.

At the same time, you are also making a fixed income depending on what you charge. Make sure your rates are something you are comfortable with and don’t hesitate to say no to a low-paying client. Sure, you may lose this particular project, but you can devote your time saved towards finding something more worthwhile.

And finally, believe in yourself. There is no greater failure than the person who fails to believe in himself! If you love what you do and do it to the best of your skills, abilities and knowledge, there is no reason for you to be anything but a success!

Usha Krishnan Sliva is a freelance writer with over 10 years writing experience. She has lived and worked around the world, in countries like Dubai, London, Cyprus and India, for major Public Relation agencies and clients, including British Airways, the Australian Oil and Gas Company, OMV, the Maybourne chain of hotels and the Four Seasons.

She currently lives in Vancouver, BC and has begun offering writing coaching and mentoring services to select clientele. To get onto the bandwagon, subscribe to her weekly free ezine-Getting It Write on www.writechoiceforyou.blogspot.com or visit her on www.writechoiceforyou.com

Guest Post: Jayne Hawkins

My Story: Four Shots at Freelancing

When I was eight, I was invited to read one of my short stories in front of the entire grade four class. Although I loved to write, as it turns out, I wasn’t the greatest public speaker. I fainted within the first two minutes and from that point forward, I decided I was better off keeping my collection to myself… but that’s another story for another day.

I was always one of the last few standing in school spelling bees, and I can remember finding mistakes on signs and packaging as a child. I haven’t read our local newspaper in more than ten years because the grammar is atrocious, and I was one of the rare students who truly embraced Shakespeare throughout university.

While I always dreamed of becoming a writer, I could never choose a specific genre. I decided to finish an Arts degree and apply to a school of journalism four hours away – the only one of its kind in Eastern Canada. Unfortunately, my marks were not up to par and I was rejected. I applied for a job at the same newspaper I loathed, where I was subsequently informed that staff writers cannot be hired without a journalism degree. Begrudgingly, I put writing on the back burner and enrolled in a web design course.

As I entered my 20s, I started moving from job to job. I was a grocery store cashier, I took on a six-month stint as an insurance broker, and I finally relocated to our capital city and settled on a legal assistant position, where I performed a few web design jobs on the side. I kept it up for three years, until I became pregnant with my second child. No longer enjoying city life, my husband, daughter and I moved back to our quaint Atlantic island to await the arrival of our next bundle of joy. The web design fell by the wayside.

Although returning home was great, the economy was not so fantastic. Facing one year of maternity time in an area that boasts a 15% unemployment rate left us financially strapped. In late 2005, I decided to rehash my love of the web and produced my first full-scale website. However, the market was impossible to work around and I eventually gave it up for a third time. The following year, I became reacquainted with a childhood friend, who suggested that I set up a business online. Armed with my web design skills, I threw together a site that showcased my writing, web, and yes, cake decorating talents.

Within one month, I secured four new clients and our finances began to improve, but my optimism was soon crushed. I became extremely ill and was forced to abandon my growing list of clients. I was sick for a year, then bedridden for six months. During that time, our money struggle peaked, and I tried to reconnect with my former clients – but I couldn’t sit up long enough to get through one e-mail.

In 2007, I was finally diagnosed with a Vitamin B12 deficiency. With treatment came some improvement, but not enough to combat the permanent nerve and vision damage that had been left behind. My doctor advised me that I may never be able to return to ‘real’ work and suggested that I apply for disability benefits; the application was denied a few months later. Left with no choice, I decided that it was time to return to my love of English and push my writing skills.

I began applying for freelancing jobs online, but I was lacking references and work samples. Fortunately, during my university years, I had worked as an on-campus magazine columnist and my portfolio of articles was enough to give me that added boost. With each month, my client base grew, until I found myself swamped with work. I eventually decided that it was time to return to school to finish what I had started, so I began pursuing my Master of Arts in English online.

Now, I keep four or five regular clients and squeeze a few short-term projects in between. I work with another great writer (thanks, Chesley), who was the source of my first long-term freelance relationship. My schedule can become quite hectic, but it comes with the territory. I wake up early, send my teenage daughter off to school, and spend the day with my preschooler. I fit a few work hours in throughout the day, and assume my regular typing position around 10:00 p.m.

Once the kids are settled, that’s when the real work begins. Most nights, I continue writing through to 4:00 a.m., then back up for the breakfast routine. I consider it a bonus that I function quite well on very little sleep, although I do start yawning somewhere in the early afternoon. Sure, I could take a few steps back, but for right now, it works. I’m paying off debts that accumulated during my illness, upgrading our ageing furniture, and it looks like we may finally install a front walkway (after three years of tracking mud into the house).

Freelancing is what you make of it. The beauty of it is that you can set your own schedule, control your workload, keep appointments, and spend time with your spouse or children. On the other hand, there are no medical or dental benefits (not as much of a concern in Canada), annoying and demanding ‘bosses’ still exist, and there is very little downtime. You see, when you work at home, your computer is always calling your name. Even when you take a break, it can be hard to separate yourself from your work, especially with a deadline looming in the background.

Those are the days where I leave the house. 🙂

Top 100 Books for Freelance Writers

InkThinkerBlog.com put together a list of 100 books that would be helpful to freelance writers. The topics include:

-freelance writing business

-marketing

-writing online

-writing for magazines

-writing books

-writing query letters

-copywriting

-good writing

-writing fiction

-editing

-copyright

See the list here.

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