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You won’t become a millionaire by working as a freelance copy editor. However, you can make a steady income with online editor jobs or even make it a career.

Here’s the kicker: you can do all this even if you lack a formal educational background or experience in writing and publishing.

However, not everyone with the eye for English grammar errors can become a copy editor. Without the right editing skills and experience, even educated professionals like teachers don’t do very well as freelance editors online.

Today, we’ll help you map out the path to success as a professional editor. Whether you’re a total beginner looking to earn online or want to move up the ranks of online work, this is the A-Z guide of remote copy editing jobs.

What a Freelance Editor Does

The day-to-day responsibilities of a freelancer taking online editing jobs include reading through articles, books, scripts, and manuscripts to:

  • Understand and help shape the big-picture story, character, plot, or message.
  • Define the structural and logical flow of the writing down to the last detail.
  • Fact-check any claims, data, and conclusions expressed in the text.
  • Polish the English grammar, writing structure, clarity, and style.
  • Catch any potential copyright and other legal problems.

That’s a bit more than just proofreading, isn’t it? Here is what one editor on Editors Canada  had to say about his job.

Dwain Richardson, Montreal, QC

“I became an editor, translator and copywriter because of my love for language and because of past job opportunities that allowed me to work with language professionals, including editors. Pointing out mistakes wasn’t enough: I had to correct them, suggest other word choices, and sometimes rewrite texts to ensure better readability.”

The easiest online editing jobs involve editing and approving content for email campaigns, website copy, ads, and other publications. While you don’t need a Bachelor’s degree in English for such jobs, training and experience are critical to get started.

How To Become an Online Editor

If you love reading, enjoy language, have a meticulous eye for detail, and can work within tight deadlines, you’re on your way to becoming a good freelance editor. All you need is the right training to get you started on the job.

Editing and proofreading training isn’t just about being able to diagram sentences or being conversant with the different writing styles — it goes beyond elementary-level language classes to cover elements of research, journalism, business, among others.

More importantly, taking a copy editing course gives you the legitimacy to work from home as a freelance editor. Many online clients require proof that you know what you’re doing, and having the right certification is one way to do it.

Niche Experience is Useful for an Editor

Training alone won’t give you the leverage you need to convince employers that you are the right person to join their editing team. Having practical on-the-job experience, however, puts you above the rest.

Getting started as a copywriter can give you a significant advantage in terms of experience. Some of the best editors started this way and worked their way up the ranks.

If you want to jump right into work from home editing jobs, the easiest way to acquire this hands-on experience is to volunteer or intern at a company of your choice. By working under a master editor, you get to apprentice and acquire practical editing skills on the job.

If you approach copy editing as more of a side hustle, you can gain experience by taking entry-level editing jobs. These have a low bar in quality requirements and payment, but they help you to rack up your experience points and spruce up your portfolio.

Where to Find Online Editing Jobs

There are many ways to get online editing jobs and career opportunities.

Set up Accounts With Freelancing Platforms

Platforms such as Upwork, Guru, FlexJobs, and Fiverr are marketplaces that allow you to sell your services to clients who need them.

Platform How it Works
Upwork Set up an account and fill your profile. You will be able to see and bid on jobs posted by clients. It’s free to join and bid, but Upwork gets a commission on your payment.
Guru Like Upwork, Guru helps you find clients easily. Guru clients tend to pay better and will potentially engage you on long-term projects. Guru facilitates your work and payment, but takes commission in return.
Fiverr Fiverr requires you to create a gig, which sellers look for and contact you if they are interested. That’s why you need a very strong profile to succeed on the platform. However, it doesn’t pay very well.
FlexJobs This is a subscription service with monthly fees. In return, you get connections to high-quality freelance editing projects and remote jobs.
Enago This is a platform that helps EASL writers and publishers. Thus, it is relatively easy to get online editing jobs on Enago.
Domainite This is a platform mainly for design and online marketing jobs. They regularly hire editors and proofreaders with no previous experience required.

Apply for Full-Time Copy Editing Jobs

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You can also apply for a full-time editing position with benefits. This is possible with companies such as traditional publishers, media companies, government agencies, non-profits, Fortune-500 brands, startups, and many others.

These lucrative opportunities are easily available on job search platforms such as LinkedIn, SEEK, Indeed, and Glassdoor, where you can set up a job alert for the latest posts.

As a case in point, Indeed Australia is especially good for those seeking full-time editing or proofreading jobs locally. You will find them under tags such as “managing editor,” “project editor,” “digital content editor,” and even “video editing.”

Source for Clients Directly

The most challenging and yet rewarding way of acquiring online editing jobs involves direct client outreach, also known as cold-pitching.

One way to do this is use a tool such as Hunter.io or Clearbit to find the emails of potential employers on LinkedIn. Then, use these emails to pitch your services, making use of smart tools to target the most likely employers.

Social media can also be a powerful tool to get clients. Try joining Facebook groups for freelance editors, create a detailed LinkedIn profile, and post frequently on Twitter to market your services.

There are also special platforms that share editing positions and proofreader jobs for freelancers. These include:

Also, consider joining editor networks and organisations such as ACES. and If all else fails, companies and digital marketing agencies such as Polished Paper are always looking for editors.

Getting Paid for Online Copy Editing Jobs

The average income of a full-time editor here in Australia is about AUD 39 per hour or 80,000 a year. Like other jobs, potential earnings are on a sliding scale, so this amount can range from less than AUD 50,000 to over 100,000.

However, you’re more likely to get your first paycheck from part time editing gigs. Platforms such as Upwork provide an easy way to start earning immediately, but the payment varies depending on the project and client.

Here is a screenshot of some of the jobs available on Upwork at the time of publishing.

 jobs available on Upwork
Source: upwork.com

As you can see, you will get paid depending on the number of hours you work or on a per-project basis.

Let’s Get You Started

Getting online editing jobs seems hard at first, but it’s not that bad when you get to it. The key is to have the assistance of experienced people along the way.

One of the best decisions you will make on this journey will be to choose the right copy editing course. The best proofreading and editing courses will teach you things no one else will, like how to pitch clients, bill for your work, and how to work with clients.

For more information on getting started with online jobs such as copy editing, check out Small Revolution’s library.


Photo by wayhomestudio / CC BY

Author

I'm Katrina McKinnon, founder of McKinnon Group and Small Revolution. I'm using my 20 years' experience in building and operating online businesses to create engaging educational materials that helps others become successful online workers. Find me on LinkedIn and Twitter.