Since I was a professional copy editor and proofreader full-time for several years, I understand why this field is so popular. First, I can work from home, make my own schedule, and have enough money to buy a lot of cool toys. Below are some of the most frequently asked questions by wannabe editors, as well as my answers.

1. Who is a copy editor? What are the requirements for a copy editor?

Anyone can be a proofreader or copy editor. Although there are no universal standards for proofreading or copy editing, good grammar, spelling and attention to detail will help. A good grasp of English grammar, style, word choice and the mechanics of fiction and nonfiction writing is a must.


Although this is not a guarantee, the best proofreaders are organized and pedantic. It doesn’t work for me. There are many people who could be great copy editors if they get enough practice. It is important to be able to proofread and edit documents and get people to trust you.

2. How can I get started? What are the jobs available?

Most people start by applying for part-time or full-time positions with established editing companies. This is how you would apply for any job. You should show your accomplishments and sell yourself. To prove your ability as an editor, you’d likely need to take some tests and do sample edits.


A “Senior Editor” might be assigned to your work, which can prove stressful. Editing and proofreading for an established editorial firm will help you gain experience and improve your editing skills. The pay can be low, however. Depending on many factors, you could make between $5 and $15 an hour.

3. You can become a freelancer

If you are confident in your editing skills and have previous experience, I recommend that you go it alone. You can bid on editing jobs through several freelance websites like Guru, Freelancer or Upwork. You can also create your own website. You will need to be able to compete in this market.


If you’re the sole editor of your business, however, you may not require a lot of work. How to create a successful editing website. Your education, experience, and background are the first things you should consider. Or you can choose to go “personal”, i.e. You can choose to be “personal” (Laura Smith’s Editing Company) or “commercial” (XYZ Editing and Proofreading Company). Both have their benefits and drawbacks.


Your site should be clean and elegant. Many editing websites look bad and a good template will help you stand out. Keep it simple and not too personal. A white background, a few pictures and flawless text are all you need. Websites that offer editing and proofreading services are often full of errors.

4. Look local.

The internet is huge and scary. While you may get cases from all parts of the globe, it’s much easier to find success if your advertising is localized. People still use yellow pages, bulletin boards and flyers at local universities are all great ways to get business.

5. Develop a niche.

Selling “proofreading or editing” services is difficult because most people are looking for specific services. “Editing my thesis”, “manuscript editing”, “book or novel editing”, “essay editing and proofreading”, etc. You can claim a particular type of manuscript if you love it. You can become an expert in proofreading children’s literature, for example. Make sure everyone thinks of your efforts when this topic comes up.

How to Become a Successful Freelance Editor and Proofreader
How to Become a Successful Freelance Editor and Proofreader

6. What should I charge?

Many companies have different rates depending upon how extensive the edit is or if they need to proofread or copy edit. Some companies charge an hourly rate, which can range from $10 to $50. So that potential clients can easily figure out the exact cost of their project, I recommend that they be charged by word count.


The industry average is $0.01 to $0.02 per word. However, editors can charge as much or less. Do not worry about what others are charging. You need to determine how much time you are willing to spend on your work. To establish your pricing, you need to determine how many words it takes per hour.

7. How do you accept payment?

PayPal and GoogleCheckout are two of my favorite ways to get paid. They are easy to set up, trustworthy and simple to use. Register online for a free account. You can as well find better payment options that suit you.

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