This is often the most difficult part of any endeavor - getting started. There are so many resources out there for writing and editing, and it can sometimes be a little overwhelming if you're just starting out. I know it was for me! But I've been doing this for years now, and while I'm not where I'd like to be yet in terms of business, it's a lot better than it was when I started, so for that, I'm grateful. So this post is for my fellow editors who are looking to start a business themselves!
The first thing you need to do is brand yourself. Find your niche. And even if you don't think there's enough work. Believe me, there is. Plenty of people are writing and looking to publish, whether self or traditional, so there's not going to be a shortage of work, even with all the editors out there in the world! And if you ever feel like they're doing better than you (because there will be many that are doing better than you), they started out in the same place you are at one point.
Find what makes you the right person to edit. What do you love reading? That's what you're going to focus on editing. I've taken a few jobs here and there in genres that I don't necessarily read on a daily basis, which is fine, because it broadens your resume, but for the most part, I feel the most comfortable working on YA Fiction, and I have the most fun working on it! Showcase your skills and your personality. For me, I love making connections with people and being more than just their editor!
Set your prices. I started out way lower than I'm charging currently in order to get experience under my belt. This doesn't necessarily work for everyone, but I had steady income on top of editing, so anything I made from editing was just supplemental. Look around at other editors' prices and see what they're charging! You don't want to sell yourself short, but if you have no experience, you might find that clients don't want to pay your prices because they don't know how you work. Which comes to my next point!
Offer sample edits. This will also give you a good feel of the work you'll be receiving and it's an opportunity for a potential client to see how you work. Sometimes a client won't like your editing style after receiving their sample edit back and choose not to work with you. That's okay! I'd rather know up front than send them back a full manuscript of changes they won't like. Remember - it's their story. Not yours. If I was the one sending to an editor and didn't like their style, I'd definitely say so up front!
Make a website! Start out with a free one - there are plenty of sites that are easy to construct for beginners and offer easy site-building tools. This is a simple way to have everything you offer and your prices listed in one space, and it can show off who you are as an editor! Once you get enough business or feel comfortable, you can always purchase your domain so it won't have the host tag in it.
Promote yourself! This is a hard one, but most of your clients will come from social media. I've been doing this for six years and I've just now created a social media schedule and what to post every week/day/month so I stay relevant on feeds. Twitter is my main network, but I also post on Instagram and Facebook regularly - you never know who's going to see it!
And that's really it! You don't have to waste money on business cards or headshots or anything fancy when you're just starting out - that can come later IF you need it. Just put your name out there and start showcasing what you can do! You'd be surprised how much business will come to you by just advertising and connecting with people. Join editors' groups and writers' groups and make friends with people! There are postings all the time about editors who have a client they can't take on for whatever reason, asking for people to help. Maybe that's you!
All in all, make sure you have fun. Don't make it a chore. It will seem like it sometimes, but overall, if it's something you love to do and you're passionate about, let that show!