Copy editing services and proofreading are both good routes to take on your work at home path. As the world is moving toward a knowledge based economy, content creation has become increasingly important for most businesses. In addition, there has been a huge increase in the number of outlets businesses need to create written materials for. It's no longer a yearly catalog and an annual report. Now there's a constant stream of written copy from social media to product descriptions to the company blog and more.
The good news for moms interested in working from home, copy editing services can be a golden opportunity for freelance work. Many small to mid-sized companies don't need a full-time copy editor or proofreader. However they do need someone to periodically give their written materials extra polish, make sure they sound coherent and on brand while not making any embarrassing grammatical mistakes.
What is Copy Editing?
First off, what do copy editing services entail? Copy editors prepare written materials for publication. This can range from looking for grammar, spelling, style, and punctuation problems to rewrites to fix issues with confusing passages, awkward transitions, jargon or keeping the style and tone consistent.
What is Proofreading?
Traditionally proofreading took place after copy editing, when the written material was already designed and nearing its final state. For instance, a book printer sending pages to be double-checked before they begin the print run. While they might find errors, omissions and small corrections, generally they wouldn't deal with larger revisions. With digital media, there's less of a clear divide between the two these days and people will often use the terms interchangeably.
So if you're a grammar nerd with an eye for detail, here are some reasons to consider offering copy editing services:
4 Reasons to Offer Copy Editing Services
1. High Demand for Native English Speakers
Currently, a large and growing portion of the world uses English for their commercial transactions. However, there is a significant difference between someone who can understand and communicate at a basic level and one who knows how to fluently express complex ideas and interpret the ideas that others are trying to communicate. Because of this, someone skilled in English who is well versed in advanced grammar can provide services that many people and organizations need.
2. Preference for Freelance over In-House Hires
The people and businesses that need to hire outside copyeditors tend to be small to mid-sized operations (though some large companies hire freelancers as well.) While these companies may produce large amounts of content, it's often work that's more project-based and sporadic. Typically it is easier for them to hire someone outside the company who specialize in copy editing than try to find the skills and time to allocate it in-house.
3. Ability to Specialize in What You Love (and Earn More!)
Everyone has some topic that they inexplicably love. Maybe it was that major in college that your parents talked you out of, a career path or a hobby that's turned into a passion. For copy editing, this can be a huge plus. Having a deep knowledge of a topic will differentiate you from the other generalist copywriters out there. This helps you both find clients and let's you charge a premium for your additional insights. Granted some niches like legal, medical, academic or business-related might be easier to crack. However nearly every industry has a need for high-quality, reliable proofreading.
4. Easy to Get Started & Work at Home Friendly
These days, most copy editing services are performed on a computer rather than hunching over printed pages with a big red marker. If you have a laptop, a stable internet connection, lots of patience and above-average grasp on grammar, you have all the equipment you'll need to get started.
Of course, that's not all there is to becoming a freelance copy editor.
Skills of a Good Copy Editor
Obvious excellent grammar skills is imperative but being a good copy editor is much more than just being a human grammar check. You have to have a good grasp of the nuances of written communications so you can make revisions that don't alter the author's voice or meaning. If you're someone who likes to take the big view and to let the details work themselves out, this isn't the job for you.
Another critical skill for copy editing is time management and hitting deadlines. There's often a time crunch as the writer takes longer than expected but the business's marketing calendar doesn't budge. Being able to turn things around quickly while still maintaining high-standards will keep the clients coming back.
Copy editors also need a great deal of patience and diplomacy. You might also find resistance from the author or publication who have their set way of doing things. Perseverance and the ability to know when to argue your side or be flexible will help.
Finally there's the human element. Clients are humans and much of your success as a copy editor will be based on how well you communicate with them. Whether it's articulating that complex idea they couldn't quite find the words for, taking a pro-active interest in their business, or helping them appreciate the value of your work, these are the bonds that will keep your clients returning and referring you.
So if you're the mom everyone wants to proofread their resumes or join their team in Scrabble, you might consider a freelance career in copy editing. It's a job that's in-demand, creative and easy to do from anywhere.