“My business has given me the ability to control my life. I know that I can make my own path and am not stuck in the traditional work routine.” If these words resonate with you, you’re going to enjoy this inspiring interview I had with Anna Nelson. She loves how her editorial biz is the flexible freelance job she was always looking for.
Anna was led to start her freelance editing business when she realized “life is too short to not control your own future.” Her desire to live on her terms led her to Edit Republic, which led to Anna launching a successful editorial career, and now she’s here, sharing her story with you. I can totally relate to how Anna felt, and I’m sure you will too.
Hi Anna! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
While I’ve always liked reading and writing, my background is more on the math/science side of things. My career includes working in engineering, education, and aviation. Helping people has always been a passion of mine, though. I’m the kind of person that likes to organize things, be it my house or a work project or fine-tuning a written report. I can spend hours tweaking the details till I get something just to my liking. I really enjoy the opportunity that editing gives me to bring all those things together — I love working with content like scientific articles to make them more concise and understandable so the author’s work can shine through in their writing.
What made you decide to get into proofreading and editing?
When COVID hit in early 2020, I knew I wanted to make a career move. Because of the pandemic, I gained a sense of clarity about work — life is too short to not control your own future. I started looking at options for freelance work and jobs with a flexible schedule. I found Edit Republic’s courses and they just felt right to me. I did a lot of research before I signed up and am really happy with my decision. Editing is one of those things I’ve always had a knack for. While certain aspects of the work are really challenging for me (I’m a truly atrocious speller, so I use all the tools at my disposal to help with that), other aspects just make sense to me (like how to present something technical in clear language).
Can you tell us about your business and what you do?
My editing business is called One Small Step Writing Services. We help scientists, entrepreneurs, and self-published authors produce polished written content and win grant funding so they can focus on what they do best: change the world. We have had so many great clients in the last year; their success makes all the hard work worth it. Oh, and we are taking on new clients at this time, so if someone you know could use our help, please get in touch!
Want a flexible freelance job by running your own editorial business?
Note from Phon: If you want to learn how to start an editorial business like Anna, sign up for my FREE masterclass that shows you my 4-step framework that includes editorial skills, marketing and publishing training.
What do you like best about running your freelance editing business?
My favorite part is being able to help people accomplish their dreams. When a writer approaches me with their content, or an organization comes my way that needs help with funding, I get very excited to manage the details so a project can go from the concept phase to complete success! I also love that I get to work with a variety of clients and that I’m always learning something new. Things are never dull in the life of an editor (at least in my experience).
How has your editorial business impacted your life?
Editing has taught me that I have a unique viewpoint and skill set that can be used to help others. It’s given me the confidence to know I can achieve what I want if I work hard. Without editing, I never would have considered launching my own business. Now I can’t imagine life without it, and I’m thrilled to take it to the next level.
I’m ready to live a life where I set my own schedule and choose my own projects. I never would have gotten to this point without my editing skills. My business has given me the ability to control my life. I know that I can make my own path and am not stuck in the traditional work routine. Now I’m just about ready to fully embrace that freedom.
I know you are doing this as a side hustle. What are you doing in addition to your editing business?
I currently work full-time as a helicopter pilot in addition to my technical writing business. Many people wonder why a helicopter pilot would want to be a technical writer… For me, I get bored if I’m only flying helicopters. I don’t feel intellectually challenged. My business, One Small Step Writing Services, which offers editing as well as funding research and grant writing assistance, gives me the opportunity to use my intellect and technical knowledge. Plus, it allows me to help my clients succeed, which provides me with a huge sense of accomplishment as well.
How do you balance your time between both jobs?
Honestly, it’s hard. My full-time job has some downtime, so I use that to help me rest and recover. But most of my time off from work is spent focused on my side business. My end goal is to run my business full-time and to establish a flexible, lower-stress work/life balance for myself. My motivation to get to that point is what keeps me going through this difficult in-between period.
What advice do you have for people who are considering getting into proofreading, copyediting and editing?
My advice would be to take a class and give it a try. If you think you might be interested, then there is a solid chance it will be a good fit. But you don’t know unless you try. Don’t be afraid to connect with people and tell them about your skills once you have them, but first start by developing and advancing your knowledge.
There are a lot of poorly trained editors and proofreaders in the market right now who are making a bad name for the rest of us. Put in the work to build your skills and then reach out to people through your network and success will come your way.
How did our course, High-Level Proofreading Pro, prepare you for working as a freelance proofreader, copy editor and editor?
High-Level Proofreading Pro taught me so much about both the technical side of copyediting and proofreading, as well as how to operate a freelance business. Without the class, and the community group of students, I would have had so many questions go unanswered. I never would have been confident enough to think I could edit on a professional level. When I completed the class, not only did I feel like I knew how to approach copyediting and proofreading, but I also had a good feel for how to connect with potential clients. I’m very glad that I took HLPP; it has definitely helped make my business a success.
Can you give us a peek at what your typical day is like?
Here’s a typical day-in-the-life of one of my editing days (when I have off from my full-time job):
I’m a morning person, so I typically wake up around 6:30 or 7:00 am. I often meditate and do some yoga or go for a walk first thing. I’ll have a little breakfast and some tea, and then get straight to work.
I like to do the bulk of my focus work before noon. I can either be found editing a book manuscript or researching funding for a client or something similar. My brain seems to work best right after I wake up, and my house is nice and quiet during that time so I can focus. I try to work for about an hour at a time, then take a break to stretch and walk and maybe have a snack. I find I need regular breaks from work if I want to stay as focused and effective as possible.
By about noon, I move on to other menial tasks like email, social media, client outreach, etc. If I have to schedule a Zoom call or meeting, I aim for early afternoon. I try to finish up most everything “business” related by 3 pm. My goal is to do one thing every afternoon that feeds my soul – be it going for a hike or a bike ride or cooking a great meal. I’ll often fit in some garden time and chores around the house in the afternoon too.
My evenings are spent with my family. We eat dinner and watch tv shows or a movie together. I get tired early, so I’m typically off to read in bed or take a nice relaxing bath around 9 pm. I struggle with sleep issues, so I try to keep a consistent and relaxing pre-bedtime routine going. This also sets me up well for my next early morning focus session.
About Anna Nelson
Anna Nelson, owner of One Small Step Writing Services, has a passion for helping scientists and entrepreneurs win grant funding and produce polished writing so they can focus on their dream. She is a skilled grant writer and funding researcher, as well as a professional editor and proofreader. Her career includes over 20 years in the engineering, science, and aviation fields. When you add to that her background in education and the outdoor industry, you’ll see why her diverse experience can help provide insight to almost any project. She spends her free time gardening, hiking, skiing, or doing almost anything outdoors. She has a passion for helping people fine-tune their vision so they can accomplish their goals, and she is excited to bring success to your project. You can learn more about Anna on LinkedIn or Facebook.