Author Topic: Anyone do free-lance writing and editing?  (Read 4627 times)

Monkey Uncle

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Anyone do free-lance writing and editing?
« on: June 28, 2016, 04:39:21 AM »
I'm planning on FIREing in the next couple of years, and I hope to be in a position that doesn't require me to work for pay ever again.  But sometimes my neuroses get the better of me, and I start thinking about a potential second-act job/career to serve as a backstop and a source of funding for travel.  I seem to have a natural talent for writing and editing, to the point that my boss and colleagues often seek out my assistance in turning their semi-random musings into something that is organized and that makes sense. 

I've done this kind of drafting and editing for so long that it is essentially effortless at this point, so I think I could tolerate doing this on a part-time basis after FIRE without it really feeling like work.  But I have no idea whether there is enough of a market for it to make it worthwhile.  Of course I would only want to work part-time (maybe 10-15 hrs a week on average) on a schedule that suits me.  Does anyone here do something similar?  How well does it work for you?

Gribble752

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Re: Anyone do free-lance writing and editing?
« Reply #1 on: June 28, 2016, 05:22:59 AM »
Hello,
I don't have any experience with freelance jobs but one my friend is a freelance writer who works for 3-4 hours a day. He has accounts in different freelance platforms including Freelancer.

trashmanz

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Re: Anyone do free-lance writing and editing?
« Reply #2 on: June 28, 2016, 08:28:37 AM »
Sometimes these things take time to build up a rep and client base.  If you have time, should startup from now so you have a nice flow going for FIRE.

Ellsie Equanimity

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Re: Anyone do free-lance writing and editing?
« Reply #3 on: June 28, 2016, 08:35:13 AM »
Sometimes these things take time to build up a rep and client base.  If you have time, should startup from now so you have a nice flow going for FIRE.

+1

It's something I have in mind as a possibility for the future. I haven't done much yet but I'm trying to start building it up now.

Manguy888

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Re: Anyone do free-lance writing and editing?
« Reply #4 on: June 28, 2016, 09:30:35 AM »
Hey - I'm a freelance writer on the side, writing somewhere between 4-10 articles per week. I didn't start on any of the fiverr/elance websites. Instead I just wrote articles for websites I liked and offered them for free, and the exposure from that eventually led to paid gigs. It all happened very organically.

I sometimes wonder whether that is a normal path for freelancers or whether I just got lucky. But I like the position I'm in. Because I burrowed my way into a niche, I get paid more than if I were to offer my services up on a task website.

I'm a red panda

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Re: Anyone do free-lance writing and editing?
« Reply #5 on: June 28, 2016, 11:22:08 AM »
I worked as a freelance writer/editor for 4 months (education market only) and made the pre-tax equivalent of $60k/year . I worked very very long and hard hours (as I wasn't doing it as 'extra', so I took any job I could find to make sure I'd be able to pay my mortgage if I didn't get another assignment.)

I hated it for a full time job, and was glad when I was able to find full time employment with benefits. But for a little bonus, it would be a great way to make a bit of money.  I can't do it now because of conflict of interest with my current job.

My husband makes about $1400 a year doing freelance editing from one of my contacts. But it varies, and it is based on their schedule, not his. Work is not always steady.

TravelJunkyQC

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Re: Anyone do free-lance writing and editing?
« Reply #6 on: June 28, 2016, 11:23:41 AM »
Hi!
I now work full-time for a tech firm in communications, but I used to be a full-time freelancer (writer and editor and sometime project manager in communications), and I still do some editing, writing and translation on the side.

I've used Elance/UpWork with success for several long-term and a few one-time stints, and now my only two steady part time clients are companies that I know personally (my old office as well as my partner's office - both in entirely different fields than my full-time work and to each other, so no conflict of interest). Just by talking to people, you'd be surprised at how quickly you can get started. Then, if you're looking to grow your business, it can be a bit more difficult. But... if all you're looking for is to make a few hundred bucks a month simply to quiet your nerves, it shouldn't be any trouble provided you're good at what you do.

If you have any more detailed questions in terms of pricing or what not, feel free to PM me!
« Last Edit: June 28, 2016, 11:25:12 AM by TravelJunkyQC »

startingsmall

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Re: Anyone do free-lance writing and editing?
« Reply #7 on: June 28, 2016, 10:14:14 PM »
I'm a freelance editor for Edanz Editing. Most of my work with them is editing manuscripts that were written by non-native English speakers in order to help get them published in English-language journals. I also do some other random tasks, like helping authors select journals for publication, preparing cover letters to be submitted with manuscripts, and recommending peer reviewers for publications. Edanz requires a background in academia or a PhD-level education, but the pay is pretty decent once you become efficient at editing. As an extra perk, I enjoy having the opportunity to read articles on a variety of topics ahead of publication and the work is interesting.

I also do a good bit of freelance writing in my field (veterinary medicine) and some in the human medical field. Most of my work in that area has come through Upwork.com (and previously Elance.com), with a mix of short-term and ongoing projects. Right now, most of my energy is going to an ongoing project with a company that advertised in the one of the veterinary journals. I currently make about $2-3k month in about 10 hrs/wk.... and that is with no active efforts on my part to seek out work, aside from the one application to the job advertised in the vet journal. (I haven't pplied for a job on Upwork in 6-8 months, but periodically I get "invitations to interview" that are worth looking into.)

I look forward to the day when I can give up my FT day job and go exclusively freelance, but my husband isn't going to be comfortable with that idea anytime soon. For now, I'll keep my FT job for the benefits, the freelance work for the mental stimulation and extra cash, and continue my quest for a FT home-based medical writer position!



Monkey Uncle

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Re: Anyone do free-lance writing and editing?
« Reply #8 on: June 29, 2016, 04:37:17 AM »
Thanks for all the advice, folks.  I'm definitely going to have to check out elance and upwork (obviously I have no idea what I'm doing at this point).  Sounds like many of you are focusing on subject matter areas that are related to your main/former career.  That makes sense; you are more likely to know what your client is trying to say and should be able to get to a good product faster.  I've considered doing that, and I've also thought about focusing on resume and cover letter writing.  As a hiring manager, I often shake my head in amazement at all the long, rambling resumes and cover letters that I have to read.  Seems like that should be an easy market to crack.

Monkey Uncle

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Re: Anyone do free-lance writing and editing?
« Reply #9 on: June 29, 2016, 04:38:59 AM »
I'm a freelance editor for Edanz Editing. Most of my work with them is editing manuscripts that were written by non-native English speakers in order to help get them published in English-language journals. I also do some other random tasks, like helping authors select journals for publication, preparing cover letters to be submitted with manuscripts, and recommending peer reviewers for publications. Edanz requires a background in academia or a PhD-level education, but the pay is pretty decent once you become efficient at editing. As an extra perk, I enjoy having the opportunity to read articles on a variety of topics ahead of publication and the work is interesting.

I also do a good bit of freelance writing in my field (veterinary medicine) and some in the human medical field. Most of my work in that area has come through Upwork.com (and previously Elance.com), with a mix of short-term and ongoing projects. Right now, most of my energy is going to an ongoing project with a company that advertised in the one of the veterinary journals. I currently make about $2-3k month in about 10 hrs/wk.... and that is with no active efforts on my part to seek out work, aside from the one application to the job advertised in the vet journal. (I haven't pplied for a job on Upwork in 6-8 months, but periodically I get "invitations to interview" that are worth looking into.)

I look forward to the day when I can give up my FT day job and go exclusively freelance, but my husband isn't going to be comfortable with that idea anytime soon. For now, I'll keep my FT job for the benefits, the freelance work for the mental stimulation and extra cash, and continue my quest for a FT home-based medical writer position!

Thirty grand a year for 10 hrs/week sounds just about perfect to me.  How long did it take to get to that point?

startingsmall

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Re: Anyone do free-lance writing and editing?
« Reply #10 on: June 29, 2016, 06:54:00 AM »
I started almost exactly a year ago. I was starting to feel desperate to get out of vet med and knew that I couldn't spend the rest of my career in practice, so I talked to a number of people who had successfully left and hit upon the idea of medical writing as a flexible way to use my knowledge.

I kind of lucked out a few months ago by getting in with that one company for ongoing work - they're one of the main producers of veterinary content (for both DVMs and their clients) in North America... and they pay significantly more than I really have any right to earn! (Seriously, $/hr that I earn writing for that particular company is over 3x what I make as a practicing small animal veterinarian with 10 years' experience.)  I currently have $1400 worth of assignments waiting in my email to be done over the next week or two; as soon as I finish those, they'll send me more. It's amazing.

Even before I hit upon that one awesome gig, though, I was consistently getting about $1.5-2k/month just with Edanz Editing and various jobs picked up on Upwork. (I've written veterinary CE articles for online providers, helped design a course on veterinary science for an online high school, and written marketing/educational material for a number of different treat/nutraceutical startups.)

aFrugalFather

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Re: Anyone do free-lance writing and editing?
« Reply #11 on: June 29, 2016, 01:08:20 PM »
Upwork seemed interesting so I looked into it a bit and found that they have a really horrible reputation.  Not often that I see such universal disgust for a company.  YMMV.

https://www.yelp.com/biz/upwork-mountain-view-2

Monkey Uncle

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Re: Anyone do free-lance writing and editing?
« Reply #12 on: June 30, 2016, 04:31:56 AM »
Upwork seemed interesting so I looked into it a bit and found that they have a really horrible reputation.  Not often that I see such universal disgust for a company.  YMMV.

https://www.yelp.com/biz/upwork-mountain-view-2

Wow, that's pretty impressive.  Guess I'll scratch them off my list.

Monkey Uncle

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Re: Anyone do free-lance writing and editing?
« Reply #13 on: June 30, 2016, 04:37:34 AM »
I started almost exactly a year ago. I was starting to feel desperate to get out of vet med and knew that I couldn't spend the rest of my career in practice, so I talked to a number of people who had successfully left and hit upon the idea of medical writing as a flexible way to use my knowledge.

I kind of lucked out a few months ago by getting in with that one company for ongoing work - they're one of the main producers of veterinary content (for both DVMs and their clients) in North America... and they pay significantly more than I really have any right to earn! (Seriously, $/hr that I earn writing for that particular company is over 3x what I make as a practicing small animal veterinarian with 10 years' experience.)  I currently have $1400 worth of assignments waiting in my email to be done over the next week or two; as soon as I finish those, they'll send me more. It's amazing.

Even before I hit upon that one awesome gig, though, I was consistently getting about $1.5-2k/month just with Edanz Editing and various jobs picked up on Upwork. (I've written veterinary CE articles for online providers, helped design a course on veterinary science for an online high school, and written marketing/educational material for a number of different treat/nutraceutical startups.)

That sounds like a pretty sweet deal.

Another question for all of you: What sort of contracting arrangement do you use?  Are you just contracting personally?  If so, are you taking on any personal liability?

startingsmall

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Re: Anyone do free-lance writing and editing?
« Reply #14 on: June 30, 2016, 06:14:07 AM »
I don't have any writing-specific insurance, no... just my veterinary malpractice insurance and a personal umbrella policy. I suppose it may not be a bad idea, but I haven't felt any need yet.

When you go through Upwork, all of the contract/ billing arrangements are handled by them (although a number  of companies have also had me sign supplemental paperwork). With the other jobs I've done so far, the companies have had their own contracts for freelances.

Most of those Yelp reviews specifically discuss the transition from Elance to Upwork. Yes, it was a pain and resulted in my rating getting unfairly lowered a bit. Yes, their take of the job money has now gone up. And yes, there are tons of dirt-cheap overseas writers on there. Even so, I still manage to find work (well, get offers based on my profile... I don't actually apply for anything on there anymore) and I have always been paid accurately and on-schedule. I wouldn't expect Upwork alone to provide a $2-3k income stream, but I think it can be a useful supplement.

Manguy888

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Re: Anyone do free-lance writing and editing?
« Reply #15 on: July 01, 2016, 08:53:08 AM »
Another question for all of you: What sort of contracting arrangement do you use?  Are you just contracting personally?  If so, are you taking on any personal liability?

I have one customer that I make most of my money from. I do contract with them personally, though there's no formal contract written up. They could drop me whenever they see fit. I did fill out a w-9 with them so that they could pay me officially on the books. At the end of the year I receive a 1099-MISC with that income. Unlike my other income, it's not taxed automatically, so I have to keep that in mind and pay quarterly (last year I got a 3k tax bill).

It's one of those things where I love the work, love getting paid for it, but I'm so glad I'm not relying on the job to pay the bills.


Inaya

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Re: Anyone do free-lance writing and editing?
« Reply #16 on: July 01, 2016, 09:03:12 AM »
Posting to follow. I did some freelance stuff for "fun money" during college (company is now defunct), and I'd like to be able to get my foot back in the door at some point.

Monkey Uncle

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Re: Anyone do free-lance writing and editing?
« Reply #17 on: July 02, 2016, 04:22:55 AM »
Another question for all of you: What sort of contracting arrangement do you use?  Are you just contracting personally?  If so, are you taking on any personal liability?

I have one customer that I make most of my money from. I do contract with them personally, though there's no formal contract written up. They could drop me whenever they see fit. I did fill out a w-9 with them so that they could pay me officially on the books. At the end of the year I receive a 1099-MISC with that income. Unlike my other income, it's not taxed automatically, so I have to keep that in mind and pay quarterly (last year I got a 3k tax bill).

It's one of those things where I love the work, love getting paid for it, but I'm so glad I'm not relying on the job to pay the bills.

Would you be willing to share how much you make and the hours you typically put in?

Manguy888

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Re: Anyone do free-lance writing and editing?
« Reply #18 on: July 05, 2016, 09:07:39 AM »
sure - I've been charging $100 for a 600 word article, $200 for 1200 words. Self employment taxes make that number less attractive than it looks.

If I have the general outline of the article in my head I can write 600 words in less than an hour, then put it aside and look at it for a few minutes the next day to edit and reshape it. If I don't have an idea I can sit at the screen for hours like anyone with writer's block.

My biggest client (which won't be hard to discover if you follow my website link) basically lets me write about any PF topics I want. I like that freedom, but since no one is telling me what to write about what they're paying for partly is my ideas. That can take time, as coming up with ideas can be hard.

justajane

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Re: Anyone do free-lance writing and editing?
« Reply #19 on: July 05, 2016, 09:22:46 AM »
I edit dissertations and usually make between $25-$35 an hour depending on the project. I've been doing it on the side for about five years. I work with one agency exclusively right now but have worked with individual clients in the past. It would absolutely kill me to do this full time. It's exhausting to edit others' work at a fast pace for 8-10 hours a day. And you have to edit fairly quickly to get your hourly rate up.

I would say I make between 5-10K a year for very part-time work. Some weeks I don't work at all.

Monkey Uncle

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Re: Anyone do free-lance writing and editing?
« Reply #20 on: July 06, 2016, 04:40:48 AM »
I edit dissertations and usually make between $25-$35 an hour depending on the project. I've been doing it on the side for about five years. I work with one agency exclusively right now but have worked with individual clients in the past. It would absolutely kill me to do this full time. It's exhausting to edit others' work at a fast pace for 8-10 hours a day. And you have to edit fairly quickly to get your hourly rate up.

I would say I make between 5-10K a year for very part-time work. Some weeks I don't work at all.

Interesting.  Do you have to have a subject matter background or any specific credentials to edit dissertations?

justajane

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Re: Anyone do free-lance writing and editing?
« Reply #21 on: July 06, 2016, 05:36:45 AM »
I edit dissertations and usually make between $25-$35 an hour depending on the project. I've been doing it on the side for about five years. I work with one agency exclusively right now but have worked with individual clients in the past. It would absolutely kill me to do this full time. It's exhausting to edit others' work at a fast pace for 8-10 hours a day. And you have to edit fairly quickly to get your hourly rate up.

I would say I make between 5-10K a year for very part-time work. Some weeks I don't work at all.

Interesting.  Do you have to have a subject matter background or any specific credentials to edit dissertations?

I do. I have a PhD in the humanities and mostly edit dissertations in education, psychology, theology, business etc. But I have edited dissertations in public health and other more technical fields as well. I take whatever strikes my fancy, usually based on the quality of the prose and how quickly I think I can edit. Sometimes I also have to do consults on the phone and help the client formulate their arguments. Basically I'm a sounding board. I hate doing that and normally avoid projects in which I have to spend much time at all on the phone.

If you want to edit, I would suggest learning the basics of style guides. For whatever area you edit, AP Style and Chicago come in handy. If you want to do anything academic, APA is almost required. MLA would be helpful too. 75% of dissertations I edit are APA Style. At this point, I know it like the back of my hand, but it would behoove non-academic editors to know Chicago Style instead. 

Monkey Uncle

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Re: Anyone do free-lance writing and editing?
« Reply #22 on: July 07, 2016, 04:37:29 AM »
I edit dissertations and usually make between $25-$35 an hour depending on the project. I've been doing it on the side for about five years. I work with one agency exclusively right now but have worked with individual clients in the past. It would absolutely kill me to do this full time. It's exhausting to edit others' work at a fast pace for 8-10 hours a day. And you have to edit fairly quickly to get your hourly rate up.

I would say I make between 5-10K a year for very part-time work. Some weeks I don't work at all.

Interesting.  Do you have to have a subject matter background or any specific credentials to edit dissertations?

I do. I have a PhD in the humanities and mostly edit dissertations in education, psychology, theology, business etc. But I have edited dissertations in public health and other more technical fields as well. I take whatever strikes my fancy, usually based on the quality of the prose and how quickly I think I can edit. Sometimes I also have to do consults on the phone and help the client formulate their arguments. Basically I'm a sounding board. I hate doing that and normally avoid projects in which I have to spend much time at all on the phone.

If you want to edit, I would suggest learning the basics of style guides. For whatever area you edit, AP Style and Chicago come in handy. If you want to do anything academic, APA is almost required. MLA would be helpful too. 75% of dissertations I edit are APA Style. At this point, I know it like the back of my hand, but it would behoove non-academic editors to know Chicago Style instead.

I remember way back when I was in grad school the university employed a full-time person with the title "The Thesis Editor."  A trip to The Thesis Editor was required for every grad student before they would let you defend.  But she pretty much only addressed formatting.  You were on your own for content, organization, grammar, readability, etc.  Basically whatever you could get past your committee was good enough, and I didn't know anyone who paid an editor to clean up their work.  I guess times have changed?

I only have a master's degree, so I presume that would inhibit my ability to edit dissertations.