Many students are interested in building a freelance editing network. Freelance work is a great option in that you can work from home, you have a flexible schedule, and you can control your assignments. That said, when you work in freelance, building a base of work rests solely on your shoulders. It can be a lot of work but fortunately, there are many methods you can use to connect with potential clients. This article will outline ten. My recommendation is to choose a few strategies that you will employ. If things don’t work, switch it up!
Determine Your Target Audience
If you have an editing niche (e.g. fantasy fiction for children), research where the authors in that niche interact. Do they talk on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn? Locate a common social platform or website and establish a presence there. Perhaps this means engaging in a local Facebook writing group or posting insights on your favorite fantasy books on Twitter. You might also research writer’s conferences tailored to fiction writers that you can attend and meet with potential clients.
Establish Yourself on Various Networking Sites
Once you have determined your audience for marketing purposes, create a profile on the networking sites that are most important to you. If you have accounts already, touch them up to be professional. Use copywriting principles and keywords to draw attention to who you are and what you do.
For example, this is the copy I wrote for my LinkedIn page:
Create Business Cards
If you have business cards, you can easily share your information with people you meet at networking events (e.g. conferences, recruiting events) or those whom you meet out and about. Share your cards with people already in your network who may be interested in your editing services.
On your business card, include a link to your portfolio or website, and any contact information.
Interact with Professionals and Potential Clients
Remember to interact with those who do something similar as you, and to interact with the potential clients (e.g. if your niche is fantasy for children, interact with other fiction editors AND with fantasy writers). Interacting with other editors will create a network of people with whom you can discuss editing questions that arise. Plus, if other editors in your network are swamped with work they may refer clients to you.
Share Helpful Content
Marketing isn’t all about asking for work—it’s about proving your desire to help others with the valuable skills you have. One way to do this is to create and share content that will help other people. If you are active on social media or networking sites, post thoughtful comments and experiences. If you have a website, you might start a blog with tutorials or other guidance. Perhaps you write a small guide for editors or writers based on your experiences and publish it on Amazon. Or, maybe you start a podcast. No matter how you choose to interact, find a way to offer a service free of charge that will highlight your skills and prove your credibility. Again, it can be as simple as a social media post, so find what fits your needs.
Reach Out to Companies That Hire Freelancers
Most companies hire freelance contractors nowadays. This is great for you because it means there are lots of opportunities out there. However, those opportunities have to be sought for. When you have your niche decided, research publishing companies or businesses that could use your specific services. Then, cold call or email them to ask about working as a freelancer.
Often, many companies have an editing test you must take before you can work for them. You could approach them with an interest in taking the test. Another way to reach out to these companies would be to find alumni from your college or network that has connections there and try to get an introduction. That’s a great way to start communicating with a bigger company. (See this article for some great ideas and templates to use when cold emailing a company.)
Reach Out to Professionals for Advice
Cold calls and emails can be scary, but if you have a purpose other than getting connections or a job, they can be meaningful and feel less threatening. Most professionals love to mentor and encourage beginners in their field. If there are professionals you admire or want to get to know, consider reaching out to them with a desire to gain some advice. Take some time to compose a list of questions that you could ask them and then send them a message. Go with confidence and make the most of your time!
Join a Freelance Website or a Job Directory
There are quite a few websites that cater to freelancers. Some act as directories, letting the clients come to you. Others allow you to bid for jobs that you want to accomplish. Some of these websites come with fees and so you may want to research each option before signing up. However, the following can be good sites to start finding work that will help you gain experience—even help you determine your niche.
Join an Editing Organization
Most organizations for editors and publishing professionals also have a directory of freelancers. While these organizations often have a yearly fee, they provide a chance to be listed on their site, along with trainings, conference discounts, and other perks. Here are some of the best organizations you might want to get involved with.
- ACES: The Society for Editors
- Editorial Freelancers Association
- Editors Association of Earth
- Copyediting L
- Latter-day Saint Publishing & Media Association
- International Society of Managing and Technical Editors
- Chartered Institute for Editing and Proofreading
Listen to People
The best opportunities are built on relationships. When you meet new people, listen. Get to know them. Find common ground and weave your love of editing/current projects into your conversation. Be confident in who you are. But most importantly, express interest in other people and they will be interested in you.
Hopefully something on this list caught your attention as a way to market yourself in the freelance industry. While some of these steps may seem like a lot of work and time, they will pay off. Start small and have fun! If you go forward with confidence that you are a good editor and you will do well.
WHAT YOU CAN DO NOW: Set 3 goals for your future work as an editor. Then, choose 2–3 of these freelance marketing options to try in your work (even if you simply want to use them for collegiate networking or finding an in-house job).
Written by Hannah Mortenson.