Freelance Editing for Dummies

Tuesday, January 12, 2021


I mean the title of this post as a joke and in the most loving way possible. I had lunch recently with a friend and she was asking what tasks fall under my job as a freelance magazine editor. After I finished firing off a list of the tasks, she gaped at me. “That’s a lot of work, Renee! I had no idea all those things were part of an editor’s responsibility.” 

My "day job" is being editor for two monthly magazines in my area. One is a lifestyle magazine and the other is a smaller publication focused on residents of the community who are 55 and older. For each issue, I’m responsible for planning out the themes and content, getting approval for each article (from businesses, people profiled, etc.) assigning articles to freelance editors and photographers, writing additional content where necessary (I write the editor’s letter, a regular column and calendar of events for one magazine and at least one feature article and a calendar of events for the other). Once articles are completed, I edit them and upload them to Dropbox so our creative director will have everything in one place. When photographers share galleries of their assignments, I select my favorites and upload them as well. Once an issue is laid out on the page, I go through three to four rounds of copy editing the pages, and this includes captions for each photo and cover blurbs for the issue. 

I collect invoices from the writers and turn them over to the publisher for payment, and also reconcile any missing payments and invoices when those issues arise. I work to develop good relationships with writers, and welcome them to submit relevant pitches that our magazines can use for future issues. In addition to these two monthly magazines, our company also produces annual newcomer’s guides for two area Chamber of Commerce offices. When we’re working on these, I look over the content we already have on file and see what needs to be repurposed and what new articles we can assign to freshen up the guides. These editorial budgets are a lot smaller, so it requires creativity to give the guide a new look while continuing to share the same information about real estate, the school systems, healthcare, the dining scene, etc. 

There are always things for an editor to do. While I don’t manage our social media channels, I send a weekly list of five fun community events to our social media manager so she can share them with our followers. I also send her any relevant posts I think may help her with social media planning. I’m always looking through story pitches from PR agencies and writers to see if there’s anything I can assign ahead of time. I stay networked with local businesses and organizations to see how we can mutually help one another. 

It’s a lot. I’m fortunate the role of technology allows me to work remotely and set my own hours (some weeks require more hours than others), but there is a lot more to the role than just copy editing stories or writing a few articles each month. 

Do any of these editorial responsibilities surprise you? What would be your favorite part of this job?

Renee Roberson is an award-winning writer and editor who also hosts the podcast Missing in the Carolinas. Visit her website to read more about writing, reading and true crime.


Jeanine DeHoney said...

Wow Renee, I applaud you for the many hats you wear as not just a writer but as an editor.

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

None of them really surprise me, because you've talked about most of them. But to see them all in one place? I think I need to go pour myself a dram.

What would be my favorite part? Sending on the invoices to get everyone paid!

Cathy C. Hall said...

I'm not surprised because I've worked on regional's A LOT. You have to be detail-oriented, don't you? I find the older I get, the more I want to be the big picture person, come up with ideas...leave all the pesky details to someone else. :-)

I AM surprised that you get anything done after all this work, especially your podcast. The world needs a new superhero: Wonder Writer Woman!

Renee Roberson said...

Jeanine--Thank you. It's a lot of hats, and there are definitely parts I'm not as comfortable with!

Sue--It's a crazy cycle. I love submitting those invoices, but I sure don't love when writers don't get payments after I turn them in and then I have to work to reconcile missing payments with the publisher!

Cathy--The funny thing is, I don't consider myself to be detail oriented! I have spreadsheets I work off but that's about it. I also dream of being more of a "big picture" person in the future.

Vingt Trois²³ said...

Going through this site makes me want to make writing a career even more!!! Writing has stolen my heart❤

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