Writing and editing are two skills that will never go out of style. As brands try to tell their stories, they need effective communicators to help, especially in a digital format. Still, trying to find a job in editing can be difficult.
In this article, we’ll look at what different types of editors do, what skills and qualifications are needed to find an editing job, and where to look for freelance editor jobs. Then, we’ll answer some frequently asked questions about the profession.
We’ll also try to dispel some myths about the editing profession and help your resume stand out in a crowded field. By the end, you should feel empowered to begin your hunt for an editing job.
What Does an Editor Do?
There are many different types of jobs described as “editor.” These jobs include totally different responsibilities and skill sets, depending on what is needed.
Many people assume that an editor’s job, at least when it comes to writing, is merely to fix typos and make sure a piece of writing adheres to a certain style. That’s certainly one type of editor, typically known as a copy editor or content editor, and the job they do is an important one.
But there are also editing jobs that look much more like content strategists or project managers. For example, a managing editor or senior editor on a major project may be much more concerned with overall vision, messaging, and communications strategies, and she may delegate the line editing to a copy editor on her team.
That doesn’t even begin to cover what technical editors or editors in a specialized field do. But there is one thing that’s true of just about every editor, no matter the specifications of the job: Editors help people and businesses communicate more effectively.
Different Types of Editors
If you’re looking for a job as a freelance editor, you need to understand the different types of editor jobs and make sure you’re applying for jobs that are in line with your qualifications, skills, and experience.
A content editor is a catchall term that describes people who work with writers and digital producers to create clean, effective content for an audience. This work can cover text editing but can also include organizing content and assigning it to staff. For a more entry-level version of a content editor role, look for freelance assistant editor or junior editor listings.
Copy editing is much more refined work and tends to focus directly on words on the page. It can also be described as proofreading. Copy editors check for typos, make sure written content meets the style standards of a publication or business, and provide light edits that help a writer more effectively tell her story.
Managing Editor or Senior Editor
A managing editor or senior editor is usually a management level, strategic position. While some managing editors have copy editing responsibilities, the job is more focused on overall communication strategy, team management, content development, and project management. Essentially, a managing editor ensures that a group of content creators is effectively executing on a vision.
Social Media Editor
The social media editor position is a newer one in the editing world. It’s similar to that of a content editor or managing editor, but focused on crafting and executing content on different platforms. Instead of long-form text, a social media editor will strategize the best way to get a message across in an Instagram post, Tweet, Facebook post or other message delivered via a new media platform.
A technical editor is someone with training in content editing and copy editing within a specialized field that requires its own style rules, jargon, and expertise. Examples of this job can include medical editors, editors of academic writing, legal editors, or another related field.
Qualifications Needed for Editing Jobs
Editing jobs can be entry level, but many require some form of expertise or specialized training. And as we discussed in the last section, different editing jobs can have wildly different requirements.
It’s important to read the job description to find out exactly what the hiring manager is looking for. Just putting “editing skills” as a bullet point on a resume won’t cut it.
First and foremost, it always helps you stand out if you’re an experienced editor. A creative writing background can be helpful, but a strong track record of excellent editing work is what most places are looking for. Having multiple years of experience is the easiest way to show your worth on a job application.
Beyond that, a polished writing style, a strong command of syntax and sentence structure, and an understanding of a company’s in-house style guide is a huge plus. (Yes, there are multiple style guides, including AP, The Chicago Manual of Style, and academic style guides. Being comfortable editing in different styles is a huge way to stand out.)
Many editing jobs will require a bachelor’s degree, but experience can often cover up for a lack of formal education.
Where to Apply for Freelance Jobs
People on the hunt for a full-time or part-time job can find editor jobs all over the internet, but it helps to know where to look and what to look for.
In the United States, jobs tend to be clustered in bigger cities with more established publishing industries — cities like San Francisco, New York City, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.
But the power of the internet has created more and more editor jobs that can be done remotely. The only issue is that many of these jobs tend to be more limited in scope. If you’re looking for a senior editor job at a digital marketing firm, for example, many businesses will insist that you work in the office to better collaborate with the team and understand the communication goals of the firm.
If you apply to the same firm as a freelance copy editor, however, they might be much more comfortable with you working remotely. That being said, the virtual workspace is becoming more and more commonplace in business.
If you want to work from home, FlexJobs is a great online resource for remote jobs, specifically for people looking for a virtual or freelance position. There are also plenty of other job sites specializing in freelance positions.
Frequently Asked Questions
By now you should feel more comfortable with the world of editing and places to look for jobs, but there might be some other questions you have about specific type of editor roles, in-house style, and more. Let’s get to those.
What’s the difference between freelance writing and freelance editing?
On your hunt for a freelance editing job, you may see postings for a freelance copywriter, freelance writer, or technical writer. These jobs are similar to online editing jobs in that both work to effectively communicate a message. The writer, however, tends to provide the raw material, while the editor helps sculpt that material to effectively get the message across.
Will I have to take an edit test? What do those look like?
Some jobs will ask you to take an edit test. These can be timed or untimed. They typically work by giving you raw, error-ridden copy and asking you to fix it up to meet in-house standards. In a social media editor position, the test may ask you to come up with a social media messaging strategy around an event or product launch.
Is there a preferred in-house style right now?
What is the difference between a content strategist and a senior editor or managing editor?
These job titles can all be used somewhat fluidly, but a content strategist tends to be more focused on big picture communication goals and strategies, while a managing editor or senior editor will be involved with strategy but also with the day-to-day execution of that strategy.
Finding an Editing Job Online
Finding the perfect editing job is not only about having the right experience and skills, but also about understanding the world of editing and the many different types of jobs available. With this article, you should have a better understanding of different job types and a few places to start looking for the perfect editing gig.