The Freelance Copy Editor Profession

You can work from anywhere when you're a freelance editor.
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The freelance copy editor profession has changed with the integration of the Internet into everyone's daily lives. Hundreds of thousands of websites need reliable content, which requires the services of a freelance copy editor. Beyond content editing, online book publishing has opened up a huge market for independent authors to get their work before a hungry public. The American Association of Publishers reported in its annual survey that in 2011 e-book revenue more than doubled compared to 2010.


    Wherever there is a demand for writers, there is a demand for copy editors. Freelance editors need to have a command of the language in which they edit, understand the style guidelines they edit by and meet publishing standards set by the client. Freelance editing involves proofreading for grammar, punctuation and misspellings. It also entails editing the voice of the article so that it fits the style of the website or publisher.


    Editors who come from journalism or book publishing backgrounds can command better jobs than those who don't. The editing experience gained at a newspaper, magazine or book publisher easily translates to online freelance editing. Freelance editors also require knowledge of search engine optimization that involves the placement of keywords in online articles for easy searching.

Flexible Schedule

    IRS rules require that freelancers provide their workspace, including equipment and tools. As a freelance copy editor, you can set your schedule to meet your lifestyle, as you primarily work from the comfort of home. Your client might require a deadline, but how you meet that is up to you. If you prefer working in the wee hours, you can work at 3 a.m. in your pajamas. Working online as a freelance copy editor significantly reduces transportation costs and wear and tear on your car.

Common Rates

    The Editorial Freelancers Association lists common rates for freelance editing in 2012 as follows: basic copy editing of five to 10 manuscript pages an hour runs $30 to $40 per hour. Heavy copy editing two to five pages per hour equates to $40 to $50 earnings per hour. Website copy editing runs $40 to $50 per hour, and proofreading nine to 13 manuscript pages per hour can garner $30 to $35 per hour.


    As a freelance editor, income and Social Security taxes become your responsibility. For earnings $600 or more, the client provides a IRS form 1099 reporting your earnings to the government. A good rule of thumb when doing any kind of freelance work is to stash 20 percent of your earnings into a savings account to pay for taxes. Social Security and Medicare taxes are paid quarterly, while income taxes are paid quarterly or annually. When you work from home, however, the costs of maintaining an Internet connection, your computer and supplies are tax deductions. It's best to consult with a tax accountant to ensure you receive the tax deductions you are entitled to as a freelance copy editor.

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