Editor: Matthew Anderson Company: Freelance Number of years in editing: 20 years
Tell us a little about yourself, including how you got started as an editor?
Like many of my colleagues, I started out as a journalist. I wrote stories for local papers on the side while working full time as a garbage collector (the best job I've ever had, according to my kids). Not wanting to work in sanitation forever, though, I headed back to school for a degree in journalism. I transitioned newspaper work to a communications position at my alma mater for almost a decade before deciding I wanted a master's degree. My family and I decided to make an adventure of it; we moved to Hungary for two years while I went to school there. Working remotely as an editor was a natural fit for that lifestyle, so I decided to dive in. A friend had a part-time position open at her local PR firm, so I started there and have been taking on freelance clients on the side.
What is your area of focus and why did you select this niche?
I love editing academic works, government reports and similar pieces. Those are the works I find myself learning from the most while I edit. I've been able to pick up scads of fascinating info that way.
Walk us through a typical workday. How do you manage your time?
I work around 40 hours a week, spread Monday through Saturday. I work roughly 7 hours one day and 5 the next, generally. I like to get up early, so from 4:30 to 7 I can fit in a good chunk of work for the day. Then, depending on the day, I also work from 10:30 to 1 and/or from 2 to 5. Our children are fairly young, so more structured days are of benefit to them. Plus, my wife homeschools them, so I am able to work while they study. Without a commute, I'm able to spend a lot of time with my family, and I love that. (They do, too, I think.)
What is your favorite thing about being an editor?
My favorite thing is definitely the flexibility. Previous to this, I worked full time at a university, and I was gone from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. most days. Now, I get to be at home with my wife and kids all day. And on top of that, we're not tied to a location, so we can live in more places. We've lived in three countries since I've started working remotely, and we're hoping for more down the road.
What is your biggest challenge and how do you work through this?
I can be a pushover, and my biggest challenge is ensuring that I push back when necessary on unrealistic or unfair deadlines. Setting up unrealistic expectations for a job is not fair to the client, to me, or to my family. However, my first inclination is always to give away the farm, and I am working to fight that for the good of everyone.
What are you currently working on?
I have a large report on my desk now that is taking most of my attention. Also on my agenda are a number of smaller writing, editing and design projects for local businesses—through a part-time job with a local PR firm—that provide a good change of pace when needed.
What advice do you have for someone who is just starting their career as an editor?
Practice building client-specific style sheets. I learned early on that I didn't need to memorize a style book to be successful, but I did need to know what to look up and where to look. Over time, I've found myself looking up the same rules over and over. Client-specific style sheets that include recurring words or phrases (decision maker vs. decision-maker, flier vs. flyer, etc.) help cut down that time and make me a more efficient editor.