Freelance Copy Editing Proves Lucrative for Former Newspaper Copy Editors

One thing about freelancing is that opportunities simply abound, whether people realize it or not. It’s just a matter of finding out where those opportunities are. This is exactly what’s happening to a number of former newspaper editors who’ve gone the freelance route—whether being forced to or by choice.

Many paper editors are finding success making the transition from a nine-to-five desk job to remote telework as freelance copy editors. Much to their surprise, the pay is better, and they’re moving out of their comfort zone into unchartered, yet lucrative, territory.

Such is the case with Jim Thomsen

A former copy editor for the Kitsap Sun, a paper in Bremerton, Washington, that covers general news. When Jim was laid off, it was a very morose time in his life, one that was characterized by a lack of direction and a seemingly endless job hunt…until he tried his hand at freelance copy editing.

As soon, though, as he got out of his ingrained mentality of looking at himself as a newspaper man, he discovered how lucrative freelance-editing manuscripts could be. Interestingly, before making the full-time transition to freelancing, Jim had already edited manuscripts, but only on the side. Today, he’s making more income than ever and is not looking back to being a “newspaper man” ever again.
Such a success story isn’t uncommon in the world of freelance copy editing.

Meet Merrill Perlman

A former regular contributor to the New York Times. These days, she, too, has entered the lucrative world of freelance copy editing, and she’ll edit “any communication” for her clients. Merrill claims that one of the reasons freelance copy editing can be so lucrative is that everyone requires good, clean copy that reads well. And that’s precisely where expert copy editors like her come into the picture.

It can be tricky to figure out just what to charge clients

Mark Allen, cautions newcomers that you don’t want to lowball yourself by charging a per-project rate to clients. In his case, he swears by charging clients an hourly rate, which he says allows him to properly adjust to extra work that may be tacked on to a project he’s agreed to take.

The big takeaway

Different freelance copy editors is that they’re mostly making more money freelancing compared to when they were going to a traditional office to copy-edit for newspapers. The pay structure is different, too. For instance, freelance copy editing doesn’t bring with it an annual salary, which a copy-editing desk job would. Charging by the hour is the usual practice, and freelance copy editors can charge up to $50 per hour, all depending on the nature of their service.

The freelance copy editors in this piece also agreed that networking is the way to go to land clients. Networking is all about putting oneself out there to allow potential clients to understand that one’s services are available. Something as basic and casual as going out to lunch or coffee with the book editors in one’s area can do wonders for drumming up business, too.

The success that various copy editors have experienced by going the freelance route is remarkable. They’ve demonstrated that it’s entirely possible to make more money freelancing than when you had a desk job at a traditional office. All it takes, though, to make this type of freelancing freedom work is the determination to get out of your comfort zone and marketing yourself. Then, the possibilities are almost endless.

Has freelancing improved your business? Share your experience with us in the comments below.

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