A Day in the Life of a Busy Freelance Editor
Below is my foundational schedule I used to work from every weekday. I used it as a guideline only—I did not literally work 70 hours a week every single week. Some weeks, I’d have priority projects that need to be done right then, so I toss away the entire schedule to do what needs to be done, then pick back up on it the next day. And I, of course, took breaks here and there for meals, errands, housework, etc. So, I was not a freelancing robot as much as I wish I could have been.
6:00 a.m. This is when I wake up seven days a week because I have dogs who don’t like it if I get eight hours of sleep. For the longest time, I was very much a night owl, but no matter what I do these days, my brain seems to want to get up and get going right away . . . you know, except that hour it takes me to wake up and accept reality.
Again, I’m not a robot, so I had some days that I’d go right back to bed after letting the dogs out and getting my daughter ready for school. I sort of took each day as it came as far as how strictly I needed to adhere to my schedule.
7:00 a.m. I work as a managing editor for one of my publishing company clients, so the first thing every morning, I check those emails, assign work to the assistant editors, and review any completed work those editors have sent back to me.
A lot of the work I do for them is similar to what an acquisitions editor might do. I look at brand new author proposals to see how well each author is connected to their message, and I give them feedback on where they can improve their proposal if it has any issues or missing information. Sometimes, I also look over their back cover copy closer to their publication date to let them know if it has all the right elements to be as engaging as it can be.
8:00 a.m. Next, I write on my own fiction for about an hour. This isn’t necessarily a money-making task, but it keeps me sane and happy, so I try to do it every day.
I try to write at least 2,000 words per day on my personal writing projects, either an adult thriller or a young adult thriller. This gives me a completed novel about every two months if I stick to my plan.
9:00 a.m. I have a year-long social media writing project that I work on for one of my clients, and I spend about five hours per week scheduling their blog posts.
This project is a lot of fun for me! The client gives me the topics that need to be posted each day, and they’ve given me complete control over the content as long as it falls within their guidelines.
10:00 a.m. Next, I focus for an hour on doing edits for my current clients. At any given time, I’ll juggle between three to five ongoing projects. I like to use a word count scheduling software to calculate how many pages I need to edit each day to hit my deadlines. This was a huge game-changer for me!
I personally prefer to edit fiction, but I work with a lot of nonfiction as well, doing developmental edits, line edits, copy edits, proofreads, or book formats. Lately, I’ve been enjoying my formatting clients the most because I get to see the final form of all their hard work.
11:00 a.m. I also work as a managing editor for a group of freelance editors and ghostwriters. In this time slot, I typically respond to emails, reach out to leads for my editors/ghostwriters, perform assessments of incoming manuscripts, and write up any documentation that my freelancers might need.
This is the group that really helped me get my start as a freelancer, so I feel like I also get an opportunity to give back to the systems and processes that allowed me to pursue my dreams. Of course, I get paid to do it, but I love the work I do to mentor other freelance editors and writers.
12:00 p.m. It’s time to write for another hour!
Honestly, since this is more of a hobby at this point, this is the first task to go if I need to catch up on some other project.
1:00 p.m. I have an ongoing client for who I write two blogs per week for, so I spend about 30 minutes each day on this task.
Before I became an editor or a published author, I mostly wrote blogs for several years, so that gave me the experience I needed to extend my business by offering a wider variety of services. And since I love blogging so much, this client is a win-win situation for me.
1:30 p.m. For the next 30 minutes, I dedicate my time to reviewing edits done by the freelance editors I manage.
This task involves a lot of mentoring, tutoring, and teaching, and I absolutely love doing that. Since I’m looking at books for a lot of the day, this can often get tedious, so I try to do it in small chunks of time.
2:00 p.m. I spend another hour here working on my current editing clients.
3:00 p.m. Another hour slot for some maintenance for my group of editors and ghostwriters, mostly responding to emails received.
[Two-hour break to breathe, eat, and relax.]
6:00 p.m. I write for another hour.
7:00 p.m. I work for about an hour on a personal project of mine—putting together an editing textbook for fiction editors. This is unpaid work, but it helps me build my skills, so it is ultimately beneficial to my business.
8:00 p.m. This slot is for working on random things for my freelance business: answering emails, doing sample edits for prospective clients, adding content to my website, connecting with authors and publishing industry professionals on LinkedIn, etc.
9:00 p.m. Last up in the day, I work for about two hours writing content for Medium. I like to post once per day on Medium, so this allows me to stay on top of that schedule.
The schedule I listed above is my old schedule. I’ve fought and fought since I started freelancing full time to come up with something that works out well, but I recently discovered that having a strict calendar-based schedule didn’t work for me. It might work for others, but it’s something I struggle with.
When people think about the term “freelance lifestyle,” they picture a much smoother life full of freedom, independence, and a better income. But the reality is much different, at least in the beginning. I’ve worked many 80–100-hour weeks, which really gave me no peace of mind or freedom whatsoever. At the end of the week, I’d be drowning in a feeling of . . . why the hell did I want to become a freelancer? But that wasn’t how I really felt deep down, so I kept digging and digging until the right experiment just clicked for me.
This is what I do now:
- I make/update a list of all the tasks/projects that need to be worked on, numbering them.
- I pull up Google’s number and set the parameters of how many things happen to be on my list that day.
- I click the button as many times as I have items on my list. (So, if I have ten tasks, I click it ten times to ensure a completely randomized number.)
- Then, I do that numbered task for 30 minutes. (I currently use an app called Flow, but I’m there are a lot of timer apps out there to use.)
- When the timer dings, it’s time to switch tasks.
- Then, I repeat three through five.
I like doing each project in short bursts because I need the variety to keep my mind engaged. (I’ve been told I’m a bit ADHD when it comes to productivity.) It’s a lot of fun for me as well because I never know what task is coming up next, so it removes the predictability that an organized schedule gives me. To some, it might sound random or weird, but it works really well for me, especially on those days that I have critical tasks that absolutely have to be done then and there. I can stop in the middle of what I’m doing, then resume my normal work routine without feeling like I was robbed of a lot of time.
Switch-tasking is not helpful for everyone, but as soon as I learned it was a thing, I absolutely fell in love with it. It’s given me a creative solution to solving the problem of over-exhausting myself with too much work.
I am a freelance editor, book formatter, and copywriter who works with authors, agents, and publishing companies to produce high-quality books and marketing materials.
If you’re an author and would like to work with me on any future projects, you can check out my Fiverr gigs: