5 Essential Steps To Starting An Online Editing Business

Are you craving more freedom and flexibility in your life? If you love to read, starting an online editing business can give you those things, and more. The traditional work routine of going to a physical workplace is gone. Now you can work from anywhere.

An editorial career can be done from wherever you are as long as you have an internet connection. The demand for proofreading, copyediting, and editing services continues to grow as more people publish books, write content, and start businesses. Keep reading to learn how you can turn your love of reading into a successful editing biz that thrives online.

5 essential steps to starting an online editing business

Step 1: Create A Plan

If you’re ready to start an online editing business, the first thing you need to do is come up with a plan. You want a clear idea of your goals and what it takes to reach them. 

When I worked in-office at a publishing house, I knew I would one day leave to freelance from home. The first thing I did when I made that decision was sit down and write a plan. I also set dates for each goal so I could mark my progress. 

Having a clear plan is important to staying focused and committed to your goals. Here are some questions to help you draw up your plan for starting an online editing business:

  • What type of editing do you want to do?
  • What kind of clients do you want to have?
  • Do you want to start a full-time editorial biz?
  • Or do you want to make extra money on the side to supplement your income?
  • How much money do you want to make a month, a year?

You also want to look at why you want to work online. Knowing my Why, and having it written on a Post-it next to my laptop, served as a motivator for me as I planned to leave. It acted as my North Star. When I was too tired to email someone back, I’d just have to see my Why, and get motivated to do a few minutes of work.

Step 2: What type of editing do you want to do?

If you love to read and want to run an online editing business, there are four types of editorial skills you can do: proofreading, copyediting, line editing and developmental editing. 

These skills are flexible and can be done from wherever you are. You do not have to work from one location or during certain work hours if you don’t want to.

All you need to operate as an editorial pro is your computer, an internet connection, and your resources. As you can see, it’s a pretty lean operation!

To help you decide what editorial skills you can work on, I wrote a detailed blog post breaking down what each of the editorial skills involve.

To touch on it quickly, if you enjoy spotting errors (and fixing them) in spelling and punctuation, proofreading and copyediting are two skills that allow you to work at that level. 

Working with content on a technical level, and addressing those issues, are proofreaders’ and copy editors’ jobs. Proofreaders and copy editors who know industry standards and can meet client expectations are in demand. In fact, these two skills are the foundational skills for any editorial business. 

To help you learn more about these foundational skills, I have a free masterclass that takes you through my 4-step strategy to launching and growing a successful freelance editorial business. You can sign up and watch it on demand here.

If you want to edit and rewrite sentences and paragraphs in order to make content shine, then line editing is for you. You can learn more about it in this detailed post about what line editors do and don’t do.

Proofreaders and copy editors do more than fix spelling and punctuation; they also work diligently to preserve the writer’s style. 

Other levels of editing, like line editing and developmental editing, help to shape the overall message or story. Line editors also preserve the writer’s voice through a deep understanding of the target reader and the writer’s goals.

Of course, you can do all three types of editing if you wish! In fact, doing so will lead to long-term success and profitability. I’ll touch on that more in Step 5.

Step 3: Get into a growth mindset

Have you heard of imposter syndrome? It affects all of us, and for many it can hold us back from even taking the first step. I hate to see anyone held back from creating a life that brings them joy, that’s why I think it’s important to get into a growth mindset. 

A growth mindset is believing that you are capable of improving, expanding, and transforming into who you want to be, and how you can achieve your goals. You’re willing to learn new skills, to think differently, and to try new things. Having a growth mindset also means you view failing as a necessary step in your evolution.

Why is having a growth mindset so important? As a freelance proofreader and editor, you are essentially an entrepreneur. Having an online editing business, including as a side hustle, is running a small business.  

You have to oversee various aspects of a business: project management, marketing, client relations, administrative tasks, and invoicing. Your schedule is flexible, so not every day is going to be the same. 

One day can be focused on marketing, and the next could be straight proofreading or editing. Maybe you take care of admin tasks once a week. Running your own editorial biz comes with the freedom to shape your day and focus on what you want.  

Learning new skills and being willing to expand your potential, even if you’ve never had your own business before, is empowering and freeing in so many ways. As Maria Chance, who runs her own editorial business says, “The ability to create my own hours — to wake up and enjoy my morning tea before starting work rather than gulping it down to get to a job that I hate on time – has given me a whole new outlook on life. I feel happier and freer overall.”

Step 4: Invest in training 

Whether your goal is to work in editorial full-time or part-time as a side hustle, having the right skills and knowing industry standards is crucial. 

Being trained in editorial skills doesn’t only build confidence, it ensures you meet client expectations. You can communicate and understand editorial processes and terms, and you can help clients achieve their objectives.

You cannot take a chance on a client’s content. Being fully trained at a professional level so you can work on all kinds of content shows clients you are trustworthy and know what you’re doing. Invest in a reputable editorial training program so you have a certificate to show your credentials. 

In my courses, High-Level Proofreading And Copyediting Pro, The Art Of Line Editing and Advanced Editing And Manuscript Evaluation, I share my 20+ years’ of knowledge with students through the curriculums, community, and live coaching calls. I know how vital it is for potential clients to see that you can hit the ground running with their content.

Pro Tip: Future-proof your editorial biz

To ensure you build a profitable and successful online editing business, you need to create something sustainable. The beauty of knowing how to proofread and edit is that you can work in any industry, on any type of content. 

Language is constantly changing, and as it does, so will your skills. This is why you want to future-proof your business. Future-proofing your biz means keeping up with the evolving nature of content and client expectations. 

Once you’ve learned how to proofread and copyedit, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on growing your business. Adding an additional skill like line editing to your services leads to growth. You will be able to make more money, work on more projects, take on more clients, and offer more services to existing clients. This is the path to having a sustainable editorial business.

Step 5: Market your online editing business

Part of running an online editing business means marketing your business. You can do this easily and quickly through social media. 

Unlike in-person conferences or printed directories, using social media means you can reach a larger audience faster and for no cost. A strategic social media marketing plan will help you reach your ideal client on platforms like Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and Facebook. 

You can even narrow your marketing efforts to reach a specific audience if you are in a niche. For example, if you want to edit content for health and wellness entrepreneurs only, you are able to do that through well-crafted social media posts that speak just to that group of content creators.

One of the best things about using social media to market your editorial business is that you can try different strategies until you find something that connects with your ideal client. 

To marketing your online editing business, you should be consistent. I recommend you set aside time every week or month to plan your content, and then work to create the content. 

You also want to post on a regular schedule. Avoid posting a lot in one week and nothing for weeks after. Stick with what is doable for you, and marketing will get easier as your business grows.

How To Start Your Online Editing Business

As you can see, a love of reading can open many doors for you. The key is to learn the skills so you can create a sustainable business that allows you to choose how you want to work and live. 

At Edit Republic, we cheer on our students and grads as they take the five steps above to create the editorial businesses of their dreams. You can see how their lives have been impacted here. What do you think? Are you ready to take the first step?

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The ultimate guide to freelance proofreading and copyediting

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