Most professional editing careers require solid experience from potential employees. Breaking into the publishing world can be challenging. But after talking to editors and doing some research, I’ve found 5 great ways to build up your editing experience. These range from volunteering for publications to becoming a freelancer.

1. Volunteer for Publications

The internet is a great place to start. Research various online publications and familiarize yourself with the content. Search for publications such as:

  • Web magazines
  • Online literary magazines
  • Newsletters/News sites
  • Professional writing blogs

Contact the publications and ask if they take volunteers. Make sure you provide examples and evidence of your skills. If they’re interested, volunteer your editing services.

Even if you don’t notice particular mistakes, you could still pitch your services. Many publications would appreciate the extra help, especially for free.

A great place to search for online independent publications is This site allows you to search through hundreds of magazines, including literary journals. Volunteer to help edit, and learn from the other editors.

2. Apply for an Internship

If you’re in college or just graduated, consider applying for an internship. You will gain inside access to a publication or company and learn directly from other editors. Some internships may even allow you to continue working for the company permanently.

An internship is especially useful for gaining experience within a publishing environment. Don’t just limit yourself to internships for magazines or publishers. Research internship opportunities within companies that have communications departments. is a wonderful blog and job directory focused on magazine editing. Check out the job listings to find numerous paid and unpaid internships available across the country.

Success stories are inspiring! Learn about Natalie Sportelli’s internship experience at Forbes magazine.

3. Join a College Publication

In my experience, this has been incredibly helpful. Start out by submitting your own work to the publication, if possible. Writing articles for a university newspaper, for example, is a great way to start. Joining a college publication pushes you into a publishing environment.

Even if you’re not editing right away, you can learn from the editors working on your articles. Your starting position isn’t as important as what you learn from the environment.

Check if your college or university has a literary magazine, and offer help. Getting involved with the school newspaper may be an easier way to break into the field.

Want to start your own college publication? Check out this amazingly detailed article by Aaron Gertler. Starting a publication requires hard work, but you’ll gain valuable experience.

4. Become a Freelancer

One of the most common ways to gain editing experience is by freelancing. Indie writers are always looking for an editor to check their work. Here’s where you come in. Offer your services to these writers, and make sure you sell your skills and knowledge.

They want an editor they can trust to do a good job, so examples of your work are important. There are many freelancing websites available online to help you get started. One in particular is, where you can search for writers looking to hire an editor.

Becoming a freelancer involves a lot of research. You need to know how to price your services. You especially need to know how to make yourself stand out above the rest.

Develop a portfolio website that showcases your work, and provides information to clients. Seek out writers who are looking for editors and pitch your skills. Freelancing requires you to go after your jobs, but freelance editors say it’s a rewarding experience.

Check out this interview with freelance editor Michael Larocca. He’s got lots of valuable information about how to start freelancing.

5. Take Advantage of Resources

Publishing is a huge industry, and there’s lots of professional editors looking for work. The bad news is this means constant competition. The good news is there are plenty of resources for aspiring editors.

The best resource online is the Editorial Freelancers Association website. Join the EFA and utilize the variety of resources they offer for editors. These resources include:

  • Courses taught by professional editors
  • Job listings
  • Conferences and events
  • Sample contracts and documents for new freelancers
  • Articles and booklets with how-to info

Most of the information on the website is directed to emerging freelance editors. However, any aspiring editor can use these resources to gain insight of the field. The editing courses are especially useful for supplementing your education. The best part is, the courses are online!


Becoming an editor requires plenty of experience. The key is to take advantage of any opportunity to enter the field. Do some research, and find creative ways to get your foot in the door. You’ll be exposed to other editors and learn their process.

Want to learn more about how to get editing experience? Read this article on for more info.

Do you have other tips for aspiring editors? Please leave a comment and let me know!


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