How to Find Freelance Editing Work: A recap

by Celina Fazio

Greg Ioannou giving presentation on "How to find freelance editing work" for the Editors Toronto April program

The April program meeting featured Editors Canada co-founder Greg Ioannou. The topic of the evening was finding freelance work, and, in addition to listening to Ioannou’s talk, attendees had the pleasure of viewing a series of short video presentations by four freelance editors: Jahleen Turnbull-Sousa, Susannah Noel, Adrienne Montgomerie, and Carolyn Camilleri.

These guests shared some tips and strategies on how to generate freelance editing work and illuminated the variety of sectors that editors work in—everywhere from trade publishing to government branches. The question addressed was, how do we connect editors with people who need work edited?

Jahleen Turnbull-Sousa spoke about the importance of not being shy and reaching out to online networks: social media platforms are great places to meet people and connect with other professionals in the industry. Maintaining a presence online makes you easily discoverable by people looking for editorial services. She also discussed cold emailing ideal clients—in addition to the possibility of getting work, cold calling gets your name out and recognized. Turnbull-Sousa also suggested trying mentorship programs, such as the one that Editors Canada offers, to work closely with someone in the industry who can share their experiences and expertise. Finally, Turnbull-Sousa shared her number one tip: volunteering! By offering your skills and services for the greater good, you not only gain valuable experience, but also express your interest in becoming more involved in the editorial field.

Susannah Noel proposed that editors get a website or start a blog and advocated for building an online portfolio. She spoke about her own experience of clients reaching out to her after seeing her website. For those who are not technologically inclined, she recommended hiring someone to design their website. Developing and maintaining a professional website may cost some money, but it’s just one of those things editors have to commit to in order to present themselves well. She also recommended editors have a working knowledge of search engine optimization, as this can lead to more hits on their website.

Adrienne Montgomerie reminded attendees of the importance of having fun in this line of work. She also instructed editors to market themselves to the kinds of clients they wish to attract. Her final piece of advice was be yourself and build a reputation within your network.

The last video presentation was by Carolyn Camilleri, who discussed the financial side of having a freelance editing career. Camilleri advised freelancers to think of themselves as a business: to have as many revenue streams as possible—for instance, she is a copywriter, magazine editor, and freelance writer—to ensure that there is always a paycheque coming from somewhere. She also recommended tracking one’s time, not only for billing purposes, but also for being accountable and eliminating any inefficiencies.

The second part of the evening featured Greg Ioannou. The focus of Ioannou’s presentation was also how freelancers can generate work, but he addressed this topic by examining how Editors Canada connects editors to jobs. Ioannou noted that what the association already provides is credibility, knowledge, and bodies to do that work, but he discussed how the organization can broaden its scope and tactics to find even more work for editors.

Ioannou pointed out that some Editors Canada online resources need updating. Also, the organization is considering the idea of building editorial teams for larger projects, such as government projects. This strategy would ensure that everyone’s unique talents would be used and might allow the association to collectively land more projects. As he puts it, the broader the teams, the more projects we can land. He suggested that editors not consider each other as competitors but rather as collaborators who can find work together.

Ioannou proposed that untapped markets, such as those falling under the umbrella of new media, are another place to seek freelance projects. He recommended strategizing ways to meet the needs of various industries and exploring emerging markets where Editors Canada can extend their network.

Ioannou offered a personal anecdote to illustrate how editors can generate work. Some time ago, at the beginning of his career, he lived across the street from an ad agency. As an editor, he saw the opportunity to work with the agency. It took him a while to get the courage to walk across the street and drop off his resume; however, when he did, the agency had one question for Ioannou: when can you start?


Celina Fazio is a writer and an aspiring editor based in Toronto currently completing the publishing program from Ryerson University’s The Chang School of Continuing Education. In her spare time, Celina can be found reading anything she can get her hands on.

This article was copy edited by Joe Cotterchio.

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