How I Self-Edit as a Freelance Writer

My three-step editing process

In addition to editing as I write, any assignment draft typically goes through three stages of self-editing before submitting it to a client.

  1. Basic proofreading and a run through Grammarly and Hemingway for any “dumb mistakes” (typos; homonyms; stray, excessive, or missing commas, etc.) (Caveat: I don’t suggest total reliance on Grammarly; it’s helpful to catch simple errors but I reject 80-90% of its suggestions)
  2. Line editing to improve flow, reduce passive voice (my nemesis), ensure adherence to the client’s style guide/consistency with other posts, fact checking, proper sourcing, etc. If time permits, I nap (and the inclusion of an office couch has helped!). Seeing a draft with fresh eyes helps me come up with edits and revisions I may have otherwise overlooked
  3. A final edit to ensure it’s as polished as possible, carefully uses targeted keywords without stuffing or falling short, meets the client’s requested WC length and readability level, includes relevant internal and external links, and includes notes/suggestions for formatting, graphics, or clarification

(If available, I also run a draft through ClearScope, which I highly recommend. ClearScope is amazing and I think it’s had a marked impact on how some of my content has ranked.)

I’ve found that this process often results in content that’s publish-ready (or near enough), with any further request for edits to be stylistic or preferential in nature. In other words, I cut down the time I’d spend perfecting a piece post-submission and save my clients time and effort readying a piece for final publication. Win/win!

(A variation of this post was originally shared on my LinkedIn.)

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