Freelance Editing

I posted a while back about how great my freelance editing job was. The sad thing is, the writers I was working for are now working on a project with its own editor, so they don’t need me for the time being. I don’t know when I will be needed again.

Since then, I have been applying to one or two freelance jobs per week. I only apply to jobs I feel well qualified for, but I have yet to hear back from any of them. Well, there was that one guy who wanted me to edit his website. He emailed me back asking for rates for proofreading and a heavy edit, and I gave them to him. Then he said he’d do the html part, and I wrote back asking if that meant he wanted me to do the rest. He never wrote back.

I’m beginning to wonder what the freelance market is like. Do most people start freelancing after their careers are well established? Are most of the people competing against me editors with over ten years of experience? Are my rates too high? Am I missing out on jobs simply because I’m not local (even though the ads say that telecommuting is okay)? I know my resume and cover letter are strong for someone of my experience. So why does no one want to hire me?

I kind of suspect it’s that I’m not local to many of the jobs I apply for. Some jobs explicitly say they need someone to work on site, and these jobs are always in New York City or Boston or Washington, DC. I have to wonder how many freelancers there are in these cities. There must be enough that companies can say they want someone local and actually get it.

And that makes me wonder if trying to get several hours of freelancing per week is foolish for someone who lives far from any major publishing city. Maybe I should give up and go work for the gym my friend told me about. They hire mothers to watch other people’s kids while they exercise, and you can bring along your own kid. Thing is, it pays dirt. But dirt’s better than what I’m getting from the freelancing I’m not exactly doing right now.


  1. yes, there are a lot of freelance editors in the cities you mentioned.

    The job market here is very strange – it is much more fluid than in Utah and Dallas, in my experience. Over a quarter of the work force in DC have advanced degrees, and almost 75% have college degrees. That is many times what the national average is. I think New York, manhatten, anyway, is the same way. People leave jobs all the time for something better – there is no assumption of staying for a while. It isn’t because working conditions are necessarily bad, but because there is such competition for workers. When there are a hundred places in town to work, there is a lot more shuffling. Since this is where the work is, a lot of people in graphcs and publishing professions collect here.

    You know the saying “If I can make it [in New York], I can make it anywhere”? I don’t think it’s true – New York has more competition, but orders of magnitude more opportunities. It’s certainly to break into these professions when you can apply in person.

  2. No advice, just sympathy. When I was trying to get into editing/proofreading a few years back, I had no luck. I was strongly advised that if I really wanted to get into the field, I should move to NYC or D.C.

    I eventually decided that I didn’t want to get into the field THAT much.

    Good luck!

  3. I had similar problems getting any sort of work in the software industry. There are a lot of requests for labor from companies that don’t have a software department, and don’t know how to recognize quality, and maybe don’t care, and just want something cheap.

    Then there are job hunters that pad their resume with all the keywords, even if they aren’t really experienced in those areas. Many times, managers who don’t know anything about programming do the interviewing, and doesn’t have the ability to screen these guys out.

  4. In my opinion (TIFWIW), don’t stop applying and trying. You’re right that a lot of successful freelance people go solo after a corporate career, because in that career they have developed contracts. A lot of writers and editors are freelance because a lot of companies stopped hiring full-time and instead rely on freelancers, some of whom may have been their full-time employees. I hate that part of it is who you know, but then, I can’t really fault companies for going with a known quantity over an unknown one.

    Since you ARE qualified, when you have made contacts, they’ll recommend you. You said you had regular clients? They aren’t using you right now, but you could ask if they know of anyone who is looking for something. And keep applying. Once you build up a client base, then the freelancing thing will be fantastic.

    If, however, you want a source of income before that building up of a client base has happened, it is NOT giving up to take a different opportunity in the meantime.

  5. You know, my freelance has largely been luck. Melyngoch sent me some references from her department’s email notifications when she started grad school, and a year and a half later, I still get freelance work from them or their friends and relatives.

    I wish I knew how to tell you to break into that sort of thing.

  6. I’ve never read your blog before now, but I was excited to find it. Also, the picket fence header is way cool. You win 100 design points for the day.

  7. Hey, thanks. I like the header and the blue background, but I’m having a terrible time figuring out what to do with the font and link colors. I hate the orange, and I’m not sure I like the brown lettering on the picket fence header. The light gray font and the electric blue headers are leftover from Jon Boy’s blog, and I haven’t fixed them because I don’t know what else to do with them. I’m considering scrapping the picket fence and going with a red, coffee brown, and light tan color scheme instead, but somehow that doesn’t really feel like me. Hm.

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