Freelance Friday: Another Job and Diving Into It

17 May

ImageI’ve placed an ad online advertising my freelance abilities for any who might need them. I’ve gotten quite a few replies, but mostly they’ve been students asking me to do their homework for them (which, on a moral ground, I will not do!) and one from someone who wanted me to write out a pre-written poem that he wanted to give as a gift. It was a sweet idea, but I think he confused “freelance writer” with “calligrapher.”

Anyway, the other day I was offered a job that was almost-completely out of my depth: editing a nonfiction e-book that the author wants to get professionally published.

I say almost out of my depth because I worked as an intern with a publishing company for several months doing quite a bit of hands-on editing, and because I critiqued stories and poems every semester during university. In all other aspects, though, I had no idea what to do.

Problem #1: What if it’s boring?
Solution: Suck it up, princess.

Problem #2: What do I charge for this?
Solution: Googled it. Again, it’s hard to know what to charge. In my ad, which was specifically for writing but which I’ll be expanding to include editing, I said my usual charge would be $12 per 500 words. All the answers I found in my Google search said to avoid charging per number of words for editing and charge per hour instead. Okay–so what do I charge per hour? The suggestions ranged from $10 to $30. While I have some experience, I placed myself on the low end because I haven’t done something quite like this before. I figured I could manage a lower paying job to start in order to get some experience behind me. I decided on $12 per hour. To give the client an idea of how much the whole project would cost him, I Googled that too and found that on average, doing an average amount of editing, people can do around 7 pages per hour. A bit of math and voila, the projected amount for the project. (Side note: I am doing between 7 and 8 pages per hour, so that was right-on!)

Problem #3: WHEN do I charge for this? aka, What if I get scammed?
Solution: A payment plan. I didn’t want to wait until the end of editing the book to get paid–it’s 400 pages and that would put me out a lot of time if I edited the whole thing and got nothing for it! Not that I’m saying it would happen, but you never know. At the same time, it didn’t seem fair to charge the client before I edited, either–after all, how would he know that I’m not scamming him? So I decided on a system where I would edit two weeks’ worth (around 50 pages) and have him pay me for two weeks, and continue like that until the book is done. At worst, I’m out about 8 hours’ editing. Not a huge deal in the scheme of things.

Problem #4: How do I stay focused?
Solution: Unlike writing, editing doesn’t really have a specific end-goal. Getting paid by hour meant that I needed to be doing an honest hour’s work–but I have this horrible habit of wandering over to Facebook or my e-mail or YouTube. So I decided to set aside a specific time where I turn off the internet and knuckle down. It’s worked well so far. I usually do it in hour-long blocks with a ten minute break in between to satisfy my Facebook addiction.

I haven’t yet sent off the first batch of edits, so I might run up against other obstacles later. It’s been an eye-opening week for me, that’s for sure! On a side note, this “Freelance Friday” went almost exactly as planned. I wrote a Today I Found Out article in the morning and one in the afternoon, followed by an hour of editing. The only upset was going to the shops for some much-needed bread (we go through loaves like it’s no one’s business) and Vitamin C and cold drugs (husband’s sick now!), which threw me off my schedule by about an hour. Still enough time in the day to get everything done, though!

Oh, and I did it in my pajamas. At home. Which was a little embarrassing when the postman walked up to the house to deliver a package, but otherwise was pretty much the best thing ever.

I suppose my questions to end are these: if you’ve had editing jobs before, what do you usually charge? Do you have a payment plan that you use? Have you ever been scammed before? I’d love to hear your experiences!

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2 Responses to “Freelance Friday: Another Job and Diving Into It”

  1. graceaparis May 17, 2013 at 7:56 am #

    When I applied for an editing job that came into the Writing Center, Dr. Stevens said I should charge at least $20 an hour, and he charges $75 (he also has his doctorate, so there’s a huge difference). I still felt a little uncomfortable with $20 because I’m still a student, so I settled on $15.

    • inkhearted May 17, 2013 at 8:08 am #

      That’s the thing! I felt like because I was new to the whole thing I should charge less–but knowing what he charges and what he told you to charge definitely gives me some perspective! Thanks, Grace. Next time I’ll definitely charge more.

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