Ever wonder where an editorial career can take you? Do you want more fulfillment and to be in control of your life, including how you work? How about making an impact with what you do? As a proofreader or content editor, you can achieve all of those things by working as a wordsmith.
I recently interviewed Edit Republic alum, Samantha Burke, who is a content editor. When asked what her favorite part of working in editorial is, she replied, “I’d have to go with autonomy.” Clearly editorial life suits her— In the span of a year, Samantha has built a successful career for herself as an editor. She works as a full-time content editor for a company, while also managing her private proofreading clients.
Read my interview with Samantha to learn how she became a booked and busy editor, as well as her advice if you’re thinking of getting into content editing. And if you want to know what the day-to-day of a busy editor is like, read through to the last question for a peek at her average day.
Hi Samantha! Let’s start off by getting to know a bit about you…
I’m a content editor residing in a suburb of Philadelphia. I’m a forever student—I always did well in school and I’m grateful to have a few degrees….
Growing up, I loved reading more than anything. It’s still the easiest way I can get into a “flow” state. While my mom went to nursing school, my grandmother helped raise me, and she was always reading to me. I always loved the escapism of it. I remember burying my nose into Harry Potter 5 and finishing it in about a day. I just couldn’t be ripped away!
What made you decide to get into proofreading and editing?
As with many of your students, I think editing seemed like a natural fit because I simply enjoyed it. I like the immersive, ritualistic nature of copy editing. Plus, when you’re hugely introverted and like learning, getting paid to read is the dream!
Can you tell us about your editorial business? What kind of content do you work with and do you have a niche or niches?
I edit blogs and SEO content from a wide variety of industries, from beauty and entertainment to dentistry and law. Much of the work I’ve done in the past couple of years entailed full rewrites of non-native English content, but I also do a good deal of copy editing and line editing.
I landed [a] full-time job last year, but I intend to do some more proofreading on the side once I finish my current educational endeavor. Most of my editing side work has been resumes so far, which I like, but I want to start doing nonfiction books—especially about coffee, horticulture, or traveling!
I know you recently landed a full-time position as a content editor for a company. What is that like?
I work on a full-time, hybrid basis with a small SEO company. They offer me a lot of flexibility and the role has been great overall.
I feel I’ve grown a lot specifically in regard to global competence as a worker. We have teams and individual employees across the world at my company. My local colleagues and the Philadelphia neighborhood at large speak Russian fluently, so as a foreign language lover it’s been fun to pick up some phrases!
What do you like best about working in editorial?
I’d have to go with autonomy. Well-written, error-free content boosts brand trust enormously, and more people are catching onto this every day.
Despite the increasingly globalized workforce, English is still the reigning language of the internet. Knowing how to morph and wield it in a nuanced, skillful manner is like a superpower!
How did High-Level Proofreading Pro prepare you for running your own editorial business?
I think HLPP helped me gain confidence and make the commitment to turn my first profit from editing. Online learning can be affordable and pay huge dividends if you choose the right providers. I never studied business, either, so that section of the course about setting up your editorial business made it comprehensive and helped me feel more prepared.
Aside from the confidence boost, you also need to demonstrate to your customers that you’re serious about, and take pride in, your work—even if you already have some relevant experience. A reputable certification is a great way to do that.
How long after finishing our program did it take for you to make back your investment in our programs?
Hmm, let’s find out! *fishes through emails…*
I started the course in March of last year, a few days before my 30th birthday. So much has happened since then; it feels like it’s been much longer in hindsight!
I believe I had already agreed to begin editing part-time (10-20 hours a week) for my current boss. So after buying the course, I made back the investment within a couple of weeks!
To learn how you can start a proofreading and copyediting business, we have a free beginner’s masterclass to get you started. Click here to watch it now.
Want to learn how you can grow your editorial business with line editing? Sign up for our FREE 3-day editing course, Line Editing 101.
I know you started with proofreading and copyediting, and you’ve since expanded to include line editing. What made you decide to add to your skill set?
I was already getting paid to edit when I got the line editing course, but since much of my editing consisted of complete overhauls, I wanted to know more about where and how to make distinctions when it comes to the levels of editing. (And since this is something I realized editors around the globe are still arguing about, I wanted a trusted authority on the subject.)
Plus, with the autonomy that this field can offer, I simply didn’t want to stop at proofreading. I really like to switch things up throughout the week to keep boredom at bay.
How did The Art of Line Editing prepare you for working as a content editor?
As with HLPP, the course showed me how to do this work 1. without changing the writing based on my own preferences and 2. with an understanding of (and a toolkit for) the dreaded scope creep.
As someone who sometimes overprepares and then STILL lets imposter syndrome get in the way, I’d say that the courses are well-rounded enough to launch your own business or expand your reach without having to consult a million other resources.
How has working in editorial impacted your life?
It’s definitely made me more confident. After finishing my doctoral education in a rehab discipline around the time when COVID first hit, I was discouraged. I was having trouble finding a job as a new grad, all the while knowing that hands-on healthcare wasn’t where I wanted to be anyway.
Now, in hindsight, I see that dipping my toes in editorial was a pivotal moment. I’m a firm believer that when you’re on the right path professionally (or just in life), things begin to open up. It’s not to say that hard work isn’t needed, but circumstances and your attitude both shift for the better in order to get everything done right on time.
At this point, I can see where my career is headed, and I’m pretty excited!
What advice do you have for people who are considering getting into content editing?
I’ve always loved the simplicity of “Begin with the end in mind,” but I’m all for letting your curiosity guide most things in between. With this strategy, the worst thing that could happen is that you find out what you don’t want. It’s still great feedback.
It’s also great that, both with editing in general and with building your own business, you’re getting paid to learn. If you already embrace learning as a lifestyle, getting into editing is simply a great decision financially, personally, and professionally.
Can you give us a peek at what your typical day is like?
I get up between 6 and 8 am. It doesn’t always happen, but I try to start my day with either going to the gym or having a nice walk around my neighborhood, depending on the weather and amount of energy I have.
Then I’ll either head out for my morning commute (if it’s an office day) or start work (if I’m working remotely). Traffic going toward the city gets pretty rough, so I’m happy to have the hybrid setup.
Some days, I may have team meetings that last an hour or two, as well as a good deal of administrative work. When I’m working from home, though, I’m generally able to focus more on the content editing I have on my plate for the week.
After work, I’ll head home (if I’m not home already) and relax with a show or book…
Around 10 pm or so, it’s time to get some rest and get ready to do it all again the next day. Content never sleeps!
About Samantha Burke
Samantha Burke is a UX writer, content designer, and editor. She helps digital health and wellness companies boost their conversions with intentional, accessible content design. On and off the clock, she loves traveling, reading, em dashes, hiking, and visiting independent coffee shops. You can find Samantha on LinkedIn and Instagram at Burke Editorial.