Hello freelance bloggers!
I know that you’re serious about being successful as a freelance blogger; you’re here, after all.
Now, I don’t want to distract you from this important work—but let’s be honest:
You know you can be a freelance blogger. Sophie knows you can be a freelance blogger. And I have no doubt in my mind that you can be a freelance blogger. But the fact remains that it isn’t always easy to make a decent income right from the get-go. Clients are sometimes few and far between, and even with the best pricing strategy, you won’t always be making as much as you want to.
Your bills, of course, remain largely the same. Groceries need to be bought, the mortgage paid, and the internet kept connected.
So sometimes you need a little extra.
Acquiring that little bit extra, and seeing it put to good use, is a passion of mine, and I think it can be done in a way that complements, rather than replaces or takes away from your freelance blogging work.
Specifically, I’m talking about editing. If you have the talent to be a freelance blogger, it stands to reason that you can also be a freelance editor—in your spare time, and without interfering with your real career.
It’s the little bit extra that not only provides much-needed flexibility in tight budgets, but enhances your credibility in the eyes of future clients.
Are You Raising Your Eyebrow at Me?
Let me tell you a little story…
My roommate, Anne, is a grad student, and you know what that means in terms of disposable time and money. Studying more or less professionally is exhausting, time-consuming work—and the opportunities to generate extra income can be rare.
You may remember how Sophie kindly included my guide, 20 No Bullshit Ways to Make At Least $30 Tomorrow, in her list of free resources for freelance bloggers – well, naturally I’d made sure that my roommate had a copy as well. (Her having adequate income is something we’re BOTH highly invested in!)
She took the idea of performing editing work on the side and just ran with it.
Three weeks in, Anne has earned $650 from a handful of editing clients.
Her very first client paid her $500 to edit his thesis in a weekend. That’s the kind of supplemental income I’m talking about.
It was a rough weekend, to be sure—but she got someone out of a jam by providing a necessary service they were thrilled to pay a premium for.
I don’t want you to get the idea that this was a one-off either. Over the last few months I’ve had not one, not two, but four people who had downloaded my guide reach out to tell me that they made money editing on the side. Four!
This works. It’s simple (not easy, mind, just simple) and you can start today.
Step 1. Identify a Rock Solid Niche.
When editing, one must specialize. I don’t mean you’ll edit blog posts, or undergrad papers. No. I mean you’ll be THE go-to person for fitness bloggers aiming to land guest posts on authority sites. Or local restaurants web copy. Or art students applying for grad school who need impeccable letters of intent.
There are a few things to consider when nailing down your niche market:
- You must have some kind of access to them—either on or offline.
- They must have something serious to lose if their writing sucks.
- They must be willing and able to pay you.
You want a niche that satisfies all of those requirements. Not one. Not two. All three.
This isn’t as hard as it sounds, but it might take a little time to land on just the right one. Here are some questions to ask yourself when evaluating the possibilities:
- Do I know they need this service?
- Have I ever met anyone who bought it, or who would have had it been available?
- Are there enough of them out there, and can I find them?
Now, generally, for a real business, I recommend doing a full customer profile on your niche. But this is a side hustle, and you’ve already got a main gig, so don’t stress out about what their favourite movies are or how many kids they have.
Focus on the pain they experience, and how you will be able to relieve it.
Some good pains to solve:
- Students getting low grades.
- Small business owners being denied grants and funding.
- Bloggers being constantly rejected for guest posts.
- Writers whose eBooks aren’t moving.
- Local business owners with sad promotional materials.
- Job seekers with unprofessional cover letters.
Pick a name that reflects who you’re helping and what problem you’re solving.
In fact, take a moment right now, and write down who you’re helping, and what problem of theirs you’re solving. This will come in handy.
Step 2. Set Your Prices and Your Terms
Life of course, is not all about the money, and neither is your real freelance blogging business – but a side editing hustle really is kind of about the money.
So you want to charge a rate that knocks the competition out of the water. You can do this because it’s a side hustle.
Unlike for your writing, this is an area where you want to undercut the competition, and premium level pricing is more of a hindrance than a help.
Look for similar ads and see what your local rates are.
For example, in Montreal, academic editing runs to between 5 and 10 dollars a page. My clever roommate charges approximately 3 dollars per page, sets flat rates for common projects (like 20 page research papers) and is willing to negotiate deals for rush work.
Of course, you have to make enough to make it worthwhile—you’re not setting up a charity here. Figure out how long editing the type of document you’re planning to deal with will take you, and assign yourself a decent, but not extravagant wage based upon it. Make sure to factor in a little time for marketing, but don’t worry, it won’t be that much.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Rush work is a pain in the butt, but worth a premium price to those who need it.
- Always list your rates, and follow these tips to make your best price irresistible.
- State how you’re willing to be paid. Paypal? Cash Only? Cheque?
Now, your terms. You need to make very clear from the very beginning that you have a way things work, and it is not up for debate.
Do you need advance notice? What are your refund terms? Do you require documents in a specific format? Do you make a results-based guarantee? (Hint: yes, strict, yes and no.)
You have to choose what works for you – but decide before you take on a client, and get it all written up.
Create for yourself a standard agreement that you’ll have people sign, or digitally agree to. We’ll get to when this happens in a few moments.
Here’s an example of what this might look like:
Agreement for Contract Work
[Your Contact Information]
[Client Contact Information]
I the undersigned agree to pay the amount of [TOTAL JOB PRICE] for the work of:
[DESCRIPTION OF WORK TO BE DONE].
I have paid a deposit of [AMOUNT OF DEPOSIT], and will pay the balance of [BALANCE OWING] upon delivery of the completed work on [DATE OF DELIVERY].
I have been informed of and understand the conditions under which refunds are to be issued.
[YOUR NAME AND DATE]
[CLIENT NAME AND DATE]
If you’re working online only, create a similar PDF, and enable digital signatures.
Now, I don’t imagine that anything like this is legally binding. It’s just to make sure that you and your client are on the same page.
Don’t worry – it will make you look professional.
Okay, we’re ready to find our clients!
Step 3: Find and Impress Your Clients
This part is actually the easiest. (I swear!)
You see, unlike most side-hustle beginners, you selected a niche that is salivating to get their hands on your services—they’ve got a deadline this weekend and their work isn’t working. They need you.
You don’t need to spend hours researching and courting blogs, or build a list of thousands. You just need to be seen by 5 or 6 of the right people, and convince them you can do what you say you’ll do.
You do, however, need a website. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. It can be an extra page on your freelance blogging site, or you can even set up a quick wordpress.org blog.
Fill in your basic information, and edit something for a friend or colleague for free so they can give you a little testimonial.
This should take you a few minutes on the outside.
This is not your real business. This is not your real baby. So do not agonize over:
- The look and feel.
- What goes where.
- If it has the perfect plugins.
- If it properly expresses your vision as an editor.
It only needs to:
- Describe what you can do.
- State how much it will cost.
- Provide information on how you can be contacted.
- Talk about your terms for work.
- Link to your main freelance blogging site.
- Have a testimonial or two about your awesomeness.
WordPress.com has some pretty excellent instructions on getting these things set up, so if this sounds like a major challenge, get yourself a bottle of wine, head on over there, and devote an hour or so to playing around. It’s a skill that’s worth a little investment in time. (You’ll either have it figured out by glass three, or you won’t care. It’s a win-win.)
Now, for finding the clients – it’s even easier.
Write a scintillating ad describing the brutality of your prospective client’s current situation, and how you’re perfectly poised to erase all of that angst with a click of their mouse.
- Post the ad on Craigslist, Kijiji or another classifieds site. (Heck – post it on all of them!)
- Let your family and friends know what you’re up to, and ask them to refer anyone they know to you.
- Print out a couple of flyers, and place them in strategic locations around town. Think about where your client might be when the fear of failure hits them: café? Library? Local bar? Make a list and either go in person, or get a teenager in your life to do it for you.
That, unless you’re in a super-saturated area, should be enough to get the ball rolling.
Fill in the information for your side editing hustle. Now when people in your area look for editors – you will appear in the local results. This does wonders for your credibility, and doesn’t hurt your traffic either – although traffic alone isn’t your main focus. This just makes you easier to find.
Step 4: Make and Seal the Deal
Okay, if you’ve done everything right up until now, you should be getting the occasional email or phone inquiry about your services. Now you need to strike the deal, and make good on your promises.
I cannot emphasize this next part enough:
Get some of the money up front. At LEAST 20%.
If it’s possible to meet with your client in person, all the better, but even if it’s all digital, the following must be accomplished before you do so much as a stitch of work:
- They agree to the terms of work. X amount done, by X date for X dollars.
- They pay a deposit.
- They show you what it is they need edited.
Once these are done, edit the piece, deliver it and collect the balance of your fee.
That was easy, wasn’t it?
But of course, one $40 job won’t cut it—you need more than that for this kind of side project to be worth the time. Ideally, you’ll have several repeat clients, and a steady, but not overwhelming stream of randoms. Steady, returning clients who appreciate your work are ideal, so when you find one, try to get them to send you friends!
People adore being “in on” a little secret, and they love being able to refer someone to the solution to a problem. Make some little cards for yourself that you can give to your favourite clients, promising any new business they bring in a preferential rate on the first job you do for them.
Make sure to tell your client that you only do this for the folks who are a real pleasure to work with, and could they please not mention it to too many people?
Okay, we covered a LOT of ground here, so let’s re-cap really quickly:
- Choose a desperate and solvent niche that you have access to.
- Slap together a rates list and your terms, and pop it into your website, or a new one.
- Post ads on classifieds sites, and in select physical locations.
- Collect a minimum of 20% in advance, and agree to terms of service.
- Edit, deliver and collect the balance of payment.
- Repeat as needed.
I hope that you can see how effective and powerful this can be as a supplemental income source. But there’s a big fat gap in between knowing you can do something, and having done it.
So I’m going to leave you no excuses.
You probably know that Sophie pays her guest posters $50 for an article on Be a Freelance Blogger. But me, I’m not in it for the money. I’m in it to give you a tool you can use to fill in your income gaps while you’re building your freelancing business. I love seeing people making money on their own steam.
So Sophie has graciously agreed to use the $50 as a prize for one of YOU talented readers.
Here’s the deal:
If you think that having a lucrative editing side hustle can help you while you’re getting going with the freelancing, then I want you to act on the advice in this article.
To enter this $50 contest:
- Follow the steps above
- Post an ad on a classifieds site like Craigslist
- Post the link to it in the comments below
I will read them all over in 5 days, and the editor who has the best/most…
- Well-defined niche as evidenced in the post,
- Irresistible ad copy and clever headline, and
- Crystal clear prices and terms of service (in the ad or on a site)
…will get the $50 prize.
Now get to work!