How I Became a Freelance Editor

I am one year old this month.

Well, at least my editing business is. [grin]

There are several changes taking place during this milestone, many of which I’ll be sharing  in the coming weeks. In celebration, I thought I’d share how I became a freelance editor. I promise it’s more interesting than just picking up a red pen and reading a how-to editing book.

The Backstory

It all started in a galaxy far, far away… a young author sent her work to a freelance editor. It came back covered in red. The author studied the notes, she learned the concepts, she took a few classes and then started editing for friends, critique groups, and a few authors. Something in her mind awoke…a little editing bug. And from that day forward, it only grew until this author knew, deep down, someday she wanted to be a freelance editor, too.

Blog - How I Became a Freelance Editor 2

The Ordinary World

I was trapped in a side job. It had turned into an emotionally harmful environment and I  needed to quit. But my husband and I were barely making rent and my meager income covered the monthly groceries. I wondered, “Should I really leave? Or is this just a trial I need to push through?”

After a particularly crushing work day, I went home and took a long shower, praying, “God, what am I supposed to do? We need this income. Where will I get another job in this small town? Will I ever have a job that feels…right?”

The Call to Adventure

That’s when freelance editing entered my head. I truly believe God put it there — more accurately, he shouted it into my mind, echoing off the bathroom tiles. Aside from being an author, I’d always viewed freelance editing as a dream job. Who wouldn’t want to spend their time reading adventure novels and helping make them better?

The Hero’s Refusal of the Call

“I can’t do that,” I responded. “I have no idea how to start a business and I have no credentials to my name other than my word that I have editing skills.” No one knew me. I didn’t even have a book published. So I kept my side job, despite the urge that I ought to quit and trust God to provide.

Meeting with the Mentor (aka. God)

But then I thought deeper, prayed harder, and talked to my husband. Verses about God’s knowledge of my desires cropped up everywhere. We both came to the conclusive question, why shouldn’t I pursue a dream? After all, God blessed me with an eye for editing. He’s the only credential I need.

Writer's Journey

If you’ve ever read this book, you’ll understand why I chose the headings that I did. [grin]

Crossing the First Threshold

The confirming factor came when I was forced to quit my side job. If I didn’t quit, another employee would potentially lose her position, and she needed the paycheck as much as I did. So I stepped down and stepped into editing shoes. I threw a website and bio together within a week, slathered it in desperate prayer, and hit the internet with a launch week special.

The Reward

Clients flowed in. The first day of the special, I just fell backward on my bed and laughed, thinking, God, You’re amazing! It was working. I’d started my dream job.

I felt completely unqualified, despite my eye for editing. Surely people would dislike the fact I didn’t have credentials. Surely they’d receive my edits and say, “Hey, you’re a fraud!” But they never did. Authors came back again and a clientele grew. Every day, I was  reminded that God qualified me for this. He called me to it in my hour of need.

In the past year, I’ve yet to have a day that felt like “work.”


So how is this applicable to you? I learned that God wants us to pursue our dreams. I know this sounds a little like a Disney mantra, and maybe that’s why it surprised me. I somehow grew up thinking, “If I don’t like it, that must mean it’s God’s will.”

But He knows the desires of our hearts — He creates the desires of our hearts when we’re seeking him. He knows your dreams. In my mind, freelance editing was so far-fetched I didn’t even consider it might actually happen. But when it did happen, I realized I hadn’t even mentally given God the chance to show me it was possible. He had to make the suggestion before I listened.

My encouragement to you: listen. And don’t be afraid to pursue what you think is impossible.


When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongues with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad. (Ps. 126:1-3)


What dreams do you have, that you consider far-fetched? Do you ever see yourself doing them someday?



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About Nadine Brandes

Nadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. She never received her Hogwarts letter, but rest assured she’s no Muggle (and would have been in Ravenclaw House, thank you very much.) This Harry Potter super-nerd has been known to eat an entire package of Oreos (family size) by herself, and watches Fiddler on the Roof at least once a year. She writes about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. Her dystopian trilogy (The Out of Time Series) challenged her to pursue shalom, which is now her favorite word (followed closely by bumbershoot.) When Nadine’s not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, she and her knight-in-shining armor (nickname: “hubby”) are out pursuing adventures.
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  1. So when I first saw your headings, I thought you were referencing “Hero with a Thousand Faces,” which would be funny because I’m reading that book right now.

    Turns out “The Writer’s Journey” is based on “Hero with a Thousand Faces.” I’ll have to check it out when I finish “Hero,” which is a fascinating read.

    Great story. Thank you for sharing!

  2. That is an awesome testimony. Thank-you for sharing. It reinforces in me what Bill Meyers said at Idahope 2014. And what I’ve been privately hoping in myself for a couple years now. That just fills me up with hope. 🙂

  3. Pingback: Stop Putting Off That Professional Edit - Nadine Brandes

  4. I know it’s been a while since you write this post, but thank you for writing it! I am in a position to start a new career and I think I’ll like editing.I’m reading a couple books about the topic and really enjoy them, and I plan on taking copyediting classes next year. I’m always dealing with self doubt so your post is a nice one to read!

    • I’m so glad it helped you! 🙂 It has been a wonderful journey and I hope your own journey is blessed and filled with growth! Copyediting is a great class to take to really solidify that technical editing.

I love hearing from you!