How to become a freelance web content editor


While I'm on a roll with this employment thing, let me put on record what I say to all those people who want to start work as freelance web content editors. This is a question I'm asked often.

Some people segue naturally into content editing from journalism or PR work or web design or whatever. But others start from scratch or worse. For example, their main interest may be literature or poetry -- like mine was! Frequently people want to be web editors even though they rarely use the Web and may feel quite negative about it. Fascinating! They have a lot to give, but start a couple of paddocks behind the rest of the field.

Here is what I said to the last enquirer.

1. If you are not a web sort of person, become one. Spend lots of time online with a curious and critical eye.

2. You'd be crazy not to do the CONTENTED courses: they give you credibility and are great value. (Training in business writing and journalism are an excellent basis for CONTENTED.)

3. You need to read Better Business Writing on the Web. Don't worry about that word "business": both the book and the CONTENTED courses are relevant to any web content editing you will ever do.

4. Find and follow all relevant blogs including my one:

5. When you've done 1-4, start doing pro bono work. That club you belong to. The church around the corner. When you see a small site with badly written content, volunteer your editing skills. You'll need to be extremely proactive and persevering for this. When you can point to a few web sites whose content you have edited, that's a portfolio. Any potential employer will look at those.

6. Are you on MySpace, FaceBook, FlickR or any other social networking sites? Edit all your profiles and photos with a future employer in mind. That image of you vomiting in the streets of Barcelona, for example...

7. Get your own domain ( or whatever). One of the first things potential clients notice is your email address: your own domain shows you are a committed professional.

8. Get a small website, no matter how simple. Most potential employers and clients will google you, so you'd best be there. You don't need much information on the site, but this is where you show how good you are at writing content. Link to sites in your portfolio.

9. Finally, when you have a portfolio to skite about,
~ get yourself listed on
~ start guerilla marketing by sending out your cv, phoning, reminding people etc.

A few big clients can keep an editor very happy with recurring work. Try government organisations, businesses, web developers, PR companies, and any organisation you like.

Sounds like a lot? Best of luck and enjoy the life.

Cheers, Rachel

Photo: Castlepoint races

Rachel McAlpine
Rachel McAlpine


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