All you need to know about freelance writing and editing jobs
One of the most appealing qualities of the writing profession is the ability to work from anywhere in the world. With advances in technology, it is now possible to read material written or edited by individuals from across the globe. Another tempting aspect of a career in writing or editing is the opportunity to work on a freelance basis, setting your own hours and employing yourself. In fact, according to the 2012 Freelance Industry Report, nearly half of all freelancers across North America operate in the field of content writing.
However, freelance work is not all fun and games. It requires dedication, discipline, and motivation to tackle an assignment through your own initiative. As well, freelancers often have other full-time careers, depending on the amount of freelance work available.
But what do freelance writing and editing jobs entail, and what are the differences between the two?
Becoming a freelance writer or editor
To begin a career in the writing or editing industry, freelance or not, an education is likely required. Often, freelancers in the field will possess a university degree specializing in English or linguistics. Other freelancers have similar backgrounds, with degrees in such disciplines as journalism, communications, or marketing. You must have a strong grasp of the mechanics of English and the skills required to communicate effectively.
Important traits for the field include clarity in writing, good judgment, initiative, and leadership. It takes more than articulation to thrive in this line of work. Writing and editing require unique personality characteristics, particularly creativity, which is not always needed in other industries but is critical to success in this field.
What to expect
Freelance writing and editing jobs are not for everyone. While creating your own schedule may sound easy, freelancing requires you to take on additional roles. For example, freelance writers and editors also become accountants during tax season. Without a personal payroll department, this responsibility falls on the employer: you. You will need to maintain detailed records and develop a good knowledge of tax laws and the deductions for which you qualify.
Despite the added accountability, freelance writing and editing jobs can be very rewarding. Another benefit of freelance work is the chance to write your own contracts and set your own rates. Keeping an up-to-date portfolio of your best work will show employers that you are knowledgeable, professional, in demand, and capable of setting your own working parameters.
There are some drawbacks to freelance writing and editing jobs, including financial insecurity. Steady work is not always guaranteed. There may be times when you are behind on bills and times when you can’t plan that dream vacation. In the freelance industry, situations can change quickly and without warning.
Most important, when taking on freelance writing or editing jobs, stay passionate and involved in your field. Otherwise, your drive may dwindle, and you may struggle in your work. Keep yourself informed about changes in the industry, and never end your educational journey in your discipline. Constant learning will keep you engaged and prevent burnout on the job.
What’s the difference?
Freelance writing and editing jobs might sound similar, but the nature of the work differs greatly. Freelance writers, for example, are not necessarily limited to the opportunities that appear on job boards and freelance sites. Writers can create pieces out of thin air and sell their work to publishers, producers, or businesses, even when they might not be looking for such material. They can closely watch the market and anticipate what material will sell, which means the freelance writer takes on a much more sales-focused role than an editor does. For the freelance editor, market demand, when low, can be limiting; if no one requires editing services, your workload may suffer.
While the two positions are different, freelance writing and editing jobs do share some similarities. Often, while working on a piece, a freelance editor may take on the role of a writer in revising unclear wording or replacing awkward phrasing. Writers, however, can certainly edit their work, but as the old adage goes, two pairs of eyes are better than one.
Freelance writing and editing jobs are both in demand at companies that employ medical and scientific professionals, as they tend to avoid the softer arts of writing and communication. In addition, with the expansion of English as a second language programs, editors can find ample work handling papers, essays, and documents from ESL learners.
Finding freelance writing and editing jobs
Taking the plunge into the freelancing world can be daunting. It is always useful to look to others who have made the same career choice. How did they overcome the obstacles? What were the biggest challenges? How can you avoid making common mistakes? The Internet, and even blogs, can be particularly useful as resources when you’re looking to follow the lead of others. In the end, though, becoming a freelance writer or editor is as simple as changing your job title on your LinkedIn profile. Getting the word out about your expertise? Now, that’s another article.