Back in 2018, I dabbled in freelance editing and writing—and I continued to dabble well into 2021. But I always had a steady, part-time job to provide some baseline measure of security. If I’m honest, fear held me back from diving fully into the freelance world. Truthfully, it’s not always an easy world to be a part of, but the typical nine-to-five in the sterile office building with the endless fluorescent lights just didn’t do it for me. My brain quite literally protested, in the form of one to two migraines a week. So, I left. I’ve gone the eighty-five days since without a single inkling that a migraine might hit.
The first two months, I almost had more work than I could stand and we nearly doubled our income. I began building relationships with repeat clients and received good reviews and recommendations. Still, there’s an ebb and flow to the publishing world. I’ve known that since I first dipped my toes into the publishing pools in 2014, but try telling yourself that when you’re striking out on your own. Those ebbs create panic. Then again, so do the flows.
Either way, since I’m riding out one of those ebbing flows, here are some awesome resources that have made my freelancing life so much easier.
Asana. I learned about this project management system during my time at Lifeway. It allows you to be part of multiple teams (you can even create your own) and track several projects at a time. You can also assign the appropriate team members to each task and give a deadline. When the task is complete, the assignee can check it off. You can view your tasks as a list, board, or even on a calendar. Every team I’m a part of uses this system and it surely makes my scheduling much easier during those busy seasons!
Quickbooks Self-Employed. Ah, I LOVE quickbooks. Seriously. I debated the expense because I’m all about the budget friendly options, but this app just does so much of the work for me that my husband and I decided it was well worth the cost—which actually wasn’t that expensive at $120 for the full year. They have three membership options, and the basic plan is a perfect fit for me. I can categorize expenses as business or personal, create rules so it automatically categorizes business expenses; it catalogs my freelance income; and it even calculates my federal tax payments. With the upper-scale versions, it’s my understanding that you can file directly through the program as well. I don’t mind taking the extra step to file my quarterly payments with the IRS since I have to do the same for my state. (Note: Quickbooks does not calculate state income tax payments.) Other nifty features include time and mileage trackers. Though I have no need for the mileage tracker, many clients pay at an hourly rate, so I use the time-tracker daily. It allows me to separate work into clients and projects, assign different pay rates for each project, and even helps me easily and quickly create invoices. Since I found taxes the most stressful part of becoming a freelancer, this site has been such a blessing for me.
I also use both Google Drive and Dropbox for safe and secure file storage and sharing between multiple teams. Although I do use the desktop app for my Dropbox account, I keep the files stored online only so they don’t take up space on my computer’s hard-drive.
Communities of Like Minded People
Business Boutique Facebook Group. You don’t have to be a Christian or a woman to join this group, though most members are both. While this group isn’t exclusively for writers and editors, it is for entrepreneurs. I’ve learned a lot from women who have great ideas in other businesses too.
Christian Writer’s Network Facebook Group. In this group, writers might ask for feedback on titles, book covers, advice about editors, recommendations for editors, publishers, etc.
Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA). I only have a free membership here, though there are paid options as well. As a Guest, you can view any of their helpful articles (like the table of average pay rates, updated in 2020) and sign up for webinars and courses, though you won’t get a discount like members. They even have their own page of helpful resources here. If you need further assistance in determining what to charge, check out these articles by Miranda Marquit and Mary Kole.
*As a note, I purchased most of my books secondhand, via Amazon, Alibris.com (they usually have the lowest rates—even with shipping costs), BetterWorldBooks.com, and Lifeway.com.
Copy Editing and Proofreading
The Chicago Manual of Style (CMoS), 17th ed.
The Associate Press Stylebook, 55th ed.
The Best Punctuation Book, Period. by June Casagrande
Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary
The MacArthur Bible Commentary by John MacArthur
Word Pictures in the New Testament by A. T. Robertson
The Apologetics Study Bible
The Spurgeon Study Bible
Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem
Vines Expository Dictionary on Old and New Testament Words by W. E. Vine
Pocket Guide to World Religions by Winfried Corduan
*Bonus: These are digital, but Word Search Bible and BlueLetterBible both give you access to quite the library of resources. You’ll be able to search thousands of commentaries, Bibles, and other Christian books.
The Christian Writer’s Manual of Style, 4th ed.
Everybody Writes by Ann Handley
On Writing Well by William Zinser
*2022 Update: These are great resources for beginning freelancers, but because of the cut they take from your pay, I’d say move away from these once you have a solid client base.
Because I have been able to dig through the free sites to find work, I haven’t tried any of the paid websites (like Freelancer, FlexJobs, or Contena). However, I’ll review the few I’ve tried—and even those that just didn’t work for me—here.
Upwork. This was the first freelancing website I ever used. I had much more luck on it back in 2019 when I first joined, but I connected with two great clients there. One client hired me to complete two ghostwriting projects (SermontoBook.com/Speakittobook.com), and another I have an ongoing relationship with. I check in on Upwork about once per week and try to submit at least one proposal then as well.
It’s free to create and set up a profile. You also have a certain amount of free “connects” (you use these each time you submit a proposal) each month.
The search feature is easy to use, and you simply make a pitch to the client and wait to hear if you’re selected for the job.
Some clients will reach out to you, as happened with me and my long-term client.
Once you’ve passed the two year mark of working with a client, you can move communications and payments off-site.
The market is competitive and it can be difficult to find work.
If you’re inactive on the site for a month or so, they remove your profile from searches. This is why I try to check in once a week.
Upwork does take a percentage of your earnings, but the percentage is based on your lifetime billings with a client. For example, if you’re just starting out, they’ll take 20% of your earnings. However, once you move past $500, they only take 10%. If you hit $10,000 plus lifetime earnings with a client, they only take 5%.
Reedsy. I’ve actually had the most luck with Reedsy in finding clients, but I like it the least of the sites I use regularly.
Ratings from clients are prompted. They immediately become public, and the more positive ratings you have (and the higher your response rate) the more potential clients see your name in the marketplace.
They are more selective with their editors. It took three attempts to get my profile in good enough shape that they deemed it acceptable.
You can communicate with the client to request additional information before submitting a proposal.
I like it because the client finds you, unlike Upwork where you have to find the clients.
I dislike their rules about the “finders fee.” You see, their percentage isn’t that bad (10% of your earnings, plus an extra 10% paid by the client), but they do not have an endpoint for communicating through and being paid through their site. I’ve met some awesome clients through them, and we wanted to keep working together offsite, but legally, that isn’t allowed. Unlike Upwork, there’s not a two-year limit here—it’s forever. To me at least, the wording describing this particular rule was ambiguous.
Mandatory training on how to use the site before your profile goes fully live.
If you don’t respond to messages within 48 hours, your responsiveness rating goes down. This affects how clients will view you and find you in their searches.
They have not updated their average rates for editors, and they’re way under the current rates. So, clients often think you’re charging too much. You’ll have to point them to the EFA, which was updated in 2020.
- Unlike Upwork—who allows you to work off-platform after two years on platform—Reedsy has no limit. If you have a profile with them and met a client through that profile with them, you must work with that client on Reedsy as long as you’re on Reedsy.
I’ve also set up accounts on Fiverr and Contently with little luck on either. The setup process was also difficult and limiting on Fiverr—at least for an editor, who specifies rates based on per-project quotes. Contently, I just set up, so I’ll report back on them later.
Alright, this post has officially gone on long enough—it’s wordy just like me. See, even editors need editors. So, to wrap things up, here’s a good rule of thumb for life and freelance work: treat your people well. Because as helpful as all of these things are, I wouldn’t have ventured very far into this world successfully without word-of-mouth recommendations and repeat clients. So, to my current clients: Thank you! You are all wonderful, and I appreciate each one of you!
Next time, I might dive into the somewhat intimidating pool of pitches, proposals, and prices. Maybe I’m crazy, but someone’s gotta do it, right?
Also, I keep hearing about the editing tool “PerfectIt.” Do any of y’all have thoughts on this particular resource?