You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the old model obsolete.Buckminster Fuller
Buckminster Fuller couldn’t have said it better. We’ve seen this happen with the gradual evolution of remote and hybrid work landscapes.
Online editing is among the many new opportunities that have been brought about by the rise of remote work culture.
In the past, editing was assumed to be reserved for people working in corner offices of big publication companies, but today, it’s easier for more of us to tap into it.
Whether you’ll be working as a full-time or part-time freelance editor, you can earn a decent living working from the comfort of your home or venturing out as a digital nomad.
Small Revolution is your hub for informative and educational content on all things online work. We share tips and resources to help you acquire necessary skills, score new jobs, and even guide you to those positions.
Today, we’d like to share four essential skills you must possess to thrive as an online editor. These skills include:
- Attention to detail
- Understanding of language and grammar rules
- Ability to countercheck facts and unfamiliar entries
- Ability to meet deadlines
1: A Keen Eye for Details
The one non-negotiable for editors is a hawkeye.
As an editor, your clients expect you to pick up the tiniest mistakes, be that a missing comma, a typo, an awkward sentence, or an incorrect dictionary spelling from any piece of writing.
Your job is to sift the chaff out of content, ensure that ideas flow seamlessly, and make sure the content is perfectly structured.
You can’t afford to skim over any piece of writing. Instead, you’ll be expected to go through every piece of content, word for word, sentence by sentence, and paragraph by paragraph, giving each article the exact same level of attention and fine-tuning.
Being thorough and detail-oriented when checking content is key to keeping your clients happy and gathering referrals to help push you to the next level in your career.
Your main job is to bring out the beauty of a piece by precisely correcting its flaws and weaknesses.
2: A Strong Command of Grammar and Language
Grammar exists to improve communication and standardize how we use any given language.
To succeed as an online editor, even at entry-level, you must have a clear understanding of the language a text is written in. It’s always an advantage if you’re a native speaker, because you’ll have been speaking, writing, and practicing it all your life.
But, if you take your time to understand the grammar of a foreign language, you’re more likely to make a killing as an editor. For example, if you’re a native French speaker and want to be an English editor, no matter how long you’ve been practicing, review the basics first.
Grammar is the foundation of any language. With a good grasp of grammar, you’ll be able to correct errors and add embellishments that turn a good piece of writing into a great one.
If you’re an English editor, you’ll benefit by taking some time to polish up on the following language and grammar elements:
- Parts of speech
- Word order and semantics
- Dependent and independent clauses
- Punctuation rules
Expert Tip: Grammar changes as languages evolve, so don’t get left behind.
3: Research and Referencing
It might sound like we’re saying that you need to perfect every piece that comes your way. But that’s not it, not at all.
Rather, we’re saying you need to understand your craft. And part of that is being able to seek help, support, and backup when necessary.
Nobody expects you to remember every grammar, style, and language rule off the top of your head, and neither should you.
It’s always a good idea to reference and research when questions pop up as you’re going through a piece. For example:
- Has a new phrase popped up? Research.
- Has a date or historical event been mentioned? Refer.
- Is a quote, statistic, or citation included? Fact-check.
Referring to other sources is an essential editing skill that ensures the content is accurate, credible, and up-to-date. It also helps to identify any gaps that could negatively impact the quality of the content by making it less comprehensive and factual.
Continuous learning and relearning are excellent skills to pick up because they’ll help you keep up with changes and trends, so you’re not blindsided at any point.
Small Revolution has a wealth of resources you can refer to to improve your skills and become a better proofreader and editor.
4: Effective Time Management and Organizational Skills
Creatives are known for botching deadlines. Unfortunately, missing deadlines as a freelance editor is even easier because of the freedom, flexibility, and autonomy that comes with the role.
Many times, you’ll be tempted to sit back and wait for motivation to strike.
Sadly, that won’t stop your editing pile from growing and your deadlines from getting closer. If you keep procrastinating, you’ll miss deadlines, which will result in delays for your clients. And that’s how you miss out on referral opportunities.
As a part-time or full-time online editor, poor time management will always be reflected in your paycheck. Use this as motivation to start working on those tasks you’ve been sitting on.
We asked our editors how to never miss a deadline—here are some tips they shared:
- Only accept work you can effectively handle within a reasonable timeframe
- Set clear boundaries with clients to establish realistic turnaround times
- Use a physical planner or an online calendar to schedule your editing tasks
- Schedule breaks to refresh your mind and avoid burnout
- Use productivity tools, like project management software, to help manage your workflow
Dos and Don’ts That Successful Editors Live By
Other than the basic skills we’ve shared above, there are a few more practices that we’d like to share to help you become the most sought-after online editor. We’ve highlighted some of the dos and don’ts in the table below to help you stand out from the crowd and land the best online editing jobs.
Improve Your Editing Skills to Find Higher Paying Online Jobs
Working online is the blessing of our time. While the freedom and money are quite appealing, it’s important to consider the demands of consistent learning and relearning it requires.
The online editing industry is also very competitive, so being complacent will affect how much you earn.
Small Revolution is a reliable partner for anyone starting out as an online editor/proofreader or anyone looking for growth opportunities in these and other online work fields.
We have numerous resources to guide you toward the right editing and proofreading courses that will help you acquire the skills to become a better editor.
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