There is no such thing as a small step — every step towards a goal is important! In my latest interview, I chatted with Celina Sell about how her first step in growing her love of words led to a profitable editorial business.
Celina, a proofreader and copy editor, shares how she works from anywhere on her own schedule and prioritizes time with her family. Keep reading this post to learn what she loves about working for herself, read her advice for starting out, and find out how her editorial business has changed her life.
Hi Celina! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I always had books close to me while growing up, and as I got older, the thickness of the books I read only grew! My love of reading and anything book-related also came with a knack for a mastery in the English language. In my middle school and high school years, I was usually the first person to answer any questions about grammar, spelling, punctuation, or sentence structure.
I would raise an eyebrow any time I found an error in a book or newspaper article, and I was usually the one my friends would turn to for any kind of proofreading or editing. It continued to be the case while I studied Applied Linguistics & Discourse Studies and Political Science (try saying that three times fast!) at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
Shortly after graduating, though, I found myself leaning towards a government-related career within Canada’s House of Commons and took various volunteer positions to explore further options based on my educational background.
In the meantime, I worked various retail or food service jobs to help with my student loans and to get some administrative experience in my higher position jobs. Just before I started my editorial business, I was working as a receptionist and a retail sales associate.
What made you decide to get into proofreading and copyediting?
I had always wanted to be involved with proofreading or editing in some capacity, but I didn’t have a clear idea of what kind of editing I would want to do at the time or what steps to take. I was content with helping classmates or friends with their university work by merely suggesting sentence restructuring or pointing out minor spelling, grammatical, or punctuation errors at the time.
It was at the midway point of the lockdown here in Ottawa when I reflected on my job situation and my future career goals, and found that I had recurring thoughts about proofreading and editing. I didn’t want to continue down the retail career path with the educational background that I have, and I found that High-Level Proofreading Pro was the right course for me to take while I was still working my regular job.
I want the ability to work from anywhere because I want to expand my world knowledge with personal experiences, yet have the option to still snuggle with my two-year-old puggle, Stella, and be around for my family when I work from home.
I also want to have an extra source of income when I retire later in life; with a curious mind like mine, I can’t imagine myself sitting still for too long without being mentally engaged!
Having said all this, it only made sense to me that taking a small risk like this was going to be worth it in the long term, and the skills I gain from taking courses will only strengthen me as a professional going forward!
What do you like best about running your proofreading business?
The best part of running an editorial business is being able to learn new things related to the client’s project in order to help make their work stand out in their profession. I’ve always had a busy and curious mind; the moment I was told about a new subject or interesting topic in class, nine times out of ten I would go to the library immediately to look for books and read up on it for hours!
Nowadays, the internet tends to be the main research tool for the projects I work on. I’m looking forward to the days where I can go back into a library and experience the thrill of book-hunting for research!
Can you tell us about your editorial business? What kind of content do you work on, and do you have a niche or niches?
At Fox and Flowers Proofreading, I believe everyone puts a piece of themselves into the content they write, even in their professional writing! I ensure every project I work on receives quality refinement that showcases the content creator as both an original writer and a highly knowledgeable specialist in their profession.
I’m currently working on indie fiction, small-business content, and nonfiction writing projects, but my services are accessible to any content creator in need of a proofread, a copyedit, or a mix of both!
Want to take the first step towards an editorial business?
Note from Phon: If you want to learn how to start your own editorial business from home like Celina, sign up for my FREE masterclass that will teach you my 4-step framework that includes editorial skills, marketing and publishing knowledge.
What do you feel proud of having accomplished since becoming a proofreader and copy editor?
I would say the accomplishment I’m proudest of is establishing strong relationships with my clients in a short amount of time. I make a point of keeping in contact with them regularly when I’m working on their content, and I value friendliness, courtesy, and professionalism in everything that I do.
It’s admittedly different building a professional relationship with a client online or through phone calls compared to making in-person connections like I did in my previous jobs, but that’s part of professional growth; we have to step out of our comfort zones to truly know what we’re capable of!
I wouldn’t have known that I could run an editorial business from my own home had I not taken that small breath and clicked on Phon’s link for High-Level Proofreading Pro.
How has your editorial business impacted your life?
It has given me the opportunity to manage my own work schedule, and be my own manager. Having my own business is still a learning curve (as it is for any new business, especially under current global circumstances!) but I feel more empowered to truthfully pursue an editorial career because I love learning new things every day, and I get to know the content creator on a personal level through their writing!
What advice do you have for people who are considering getting into proofreading and copyediting?
I highly suggest taking courses that not only give you a general idea about the editing industry, but also give you the tools to develop your proofreading and copyediting skills over time with available resources.
I chose to enroll in High-Level Proofreading Pro for that very reason! I loved the fact that Phon was honest about industry expectations throughout her course, and she had several lessons that touched base on content that you as a proofreader/copy editor would most likely interact with regularly.
I also suggest connecting with other proofreaders, copy editors, or content creators within your target niche (if you have one) so you can be in the know about opportunities while growing a support system in case you run into complex editing situations.
How did High-Level Proofreading Pro prepare you for working as a freelance proofreader and copy editor?
The course helped prepare me for the job search expectations after I had completed it, with tips about resume building, gaining experience realistically, and networking. The networking has been the most important to me because I’m very much a people person.
Can you give us a peek at what your typical day is like?
My typical day starts at about 9am every day. Shortly after I wake up, I take Stella for a 10- to 20-minute walk around our neighbourhood. Once we come back home, I’ll make my breakfast and start thinking about the tasks lined up for the day.
I tend to start working on projects at 11am or 12pm, and I alternate the days I work from my home office or from a shared office space that’s a three-minute walk from my house.
I’ll usually work 2-3 hours on the project at hand with small breaks from the screen, and after I’m satisfied with the progress I’ve made, I’ll eat my lunch around 2pm. When I’m at the shared office space on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I’ll come back home around 3:30/4:00pm so I can help figure out dinner plans with my family before a workout on my own or via Zoom for a group class.
When I’m at home on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I’ll push to work until about 4:30pm and start making dinner. I usually eat dinner with my family by 5:30pm or later if I’m doing a workout around 6pm.
By the time it’s 8pm, I tend to go back on my computer to make sure any work from my more regular clients is done or if they have additional work for me. If I have the energy, I’ll plug away at some of the content until about midnight, then close my laptop for the night and sleep until the next morning!
About Celina Sell
Celina Sell is an Ottawa-based proofreader and copy editor with an editorial business called Fox and Flowers Proofreading, “where ‘whimsy’ and ‘refined’ coincide.”! She loves reading historical fiction, mystery/thriller, or supernatural fiction novels, as well as any nonfiction books with a focus on anthropology/cultures; history; political philosophy/satire; or sociolinguistics. Her favorite spot to read books tends to be outside on any bench with a beautiful view of Parliament Hill in Ottawa during the spring and summer! To learn more about Celina Sell, you can visit her website at Fox and Flowers Proofreading, or on Instagram.