No work? No problem!

Life as a freelance editor and proofreader can be unpredictable. From times of feeling swamped with work and under pressure to get it all done to worries about the future as you having nothing in your inbox.

How do you cope with the down time and what do you do to fill the schedule in the quiet periods?

First, though, let’s look at why there’s no work.

If you are a freelance editor or proofreader, or indeed any freelancer, a lack of work is not a reflection of you. It is not a sign of failure and it is not a reason to give up. Dry spells are going to happen, whether you are new to the profession or have been doing it for years.

Regular clients may not have the work for you. New clients may not be in a position to hire professionals at this stage. As I write this, in January 2021, the United Kingdom is in another lockdown and authors and corporate clients are all tightening their belts.

It is not a failure of marketing; it is not a reflection of your work; it is not a permanent state. It is, however, an opportunity.

When there’s no manuscript to work on, there’s time to do all the other things that I need to do, that sometimes get pushed to the bottom of the list. And some of those are vital to getting new clients, so it’s a good time!

Training and CPD

As a professional, you always want to be improving. Learning new skills, honing existing ones and finding out what’s new and developing in your field. And there’s no end of ways of doing this.

During my quieter periods, I am taking part in training courses (often from the CIEP), listening to podcasts and watching webinars and reading up on developments in editing, language and business practices.


Talking of keeping up-to-date with business practices, quieter periods are a time to review and assess my marketing strategies. It’s a time to write new posts, to develop new videos or find new opportunities for work.

Quiet periods are times to reach out to potential new clients and explain the services I offer. This could be new corporate clients, book packagers or publishers that I could work for.


It’s not just blog posts I write! Quieter editing periods allow me to write for my own projects. More on that later in the year!

Preparation and efficacy

No editing or proofreading work is a chance to update the documents and the systems I use to make sure that, when editing work comes back, I am at my most productive and most efficient. Recently, I’ve been updating the developmental editing feedback report, my terms and conditions as well as my client briefing form.

Like training and CPD, the more I am prepared and the more efficient I can be, the better the results for my clients.


Finally, if I’m all business-ready, there’s a chance to relax and read. Well, not totally relax. Reading for pleasure in this time is also coupled with a more active sort of reading, picking up on language and tone, dialogue and description, features for my own writing and to best support my fiction clients.

No editing work? It’s not the end of the world! It’s an opportunity.

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Published by Nick Taylor | Editor & Proofreader

Editor, proofreader and writer. Available for hire!

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