Let’s face it.

Not many of us have the privilege of editing on a full-time basis. I suppose it falls into the same category as writing, acting or dancing as a career. Such pursuits often require that we hang on to our bill-paying jobs and participate in these activities on a part-time basis only. It makes sense, right? I mean, when we have people depending on us financially, we can’t make bold decisions to give up a fixed income in the hopes of ‘making it big’ as an editor.

I don’t think any of us thought we would make it big going into this field. At the very least, we hoped (are still hoping) for an income that would cover our monthly expenses and possibly leave us with a little bit extra on the side.

Personally, I have not yet reached the stage where I can cover my monthly bills on an editing income alone. This means, of course, that for a number of years I have juggled my day job (in addition to being a mother to two young children) with that of a freelance editor.


It is quite a balancing act.


Woman balancing on pole: editing as a side hustle is a balancing act

Pexels_Sebastian Arie Voortman

In addition to maintaining professionalism and getting through an extensive daily to-do list, my day job and my first qualification in the field of health demands that I also maintain my continuing professional development (CPD) for this qualification. This entails attending in-person workshops, webinars, reading journal articles and completing online questionnaires related to these journal articles. That’s all part of my day job. Thankfully, I don’t hold fixed hours.

Editing is my side hustle. It has been for quite a number of years. With all the tasks required of me in order to complete and maintain my day job, I still feel that I work harder as a freelance editor. I’ve had to attempt to build a name and a brand for myself from scratch. I’ve had to draw up templates, contracts and invoices. Like most editors, I’ve had to complete editing courses. And I have burnt the midnight oil on countless occasions – trying to fit in my editing work after hours. As someone with not an inkling of interest in business or accounting, I think I’ve done pretty well at getting myself off the ground, albeit just a millimetre or so!

And yet, after all these years, editing is still only a side hustle.


I’m not sure at which stage of my editing career I will ever feel comfortable going into it full-time, ie, giving up a fixed income. Perhaps I never will. After so many years that I have been editing, I am now starting to see a slight change in attaining clients. In the past, I’ve had to send cold email after cold email in the hopes of finding at least one client. In more recent months, though, I’ve had a few clients contact me directly after I was referred to them via word-of-mouth. I am so appreciative of these referrals, but they are not consistent and I cannot rely on them financially yet.

Of course, there is always the option of applying for an actual editing job – perhaps for a journal or other sort of publisher – but that takes away the freedom of being my own boss, making my own hours (even if it is at  02:00 in the morning!) and taking on only the work I want to do.


This might all sound like a bit of a rant, but I assure you it isn’t.

Despite being insanely busy on a day-to-day basis, I absolutely love what I do. I thrive on being busy. Even if it is at a snail’s pace, I enjoy seeing my little business grow. I like being able to attend my son’s 14:00 cricket match on a Tuesday, or a school big walk at 9:30 on a Thursday without having to ask someone’s permission to go. Managing my own time and schedule is something I enjoy. I appreciate being able to diarise ‘leave’ days as needed.

I suppose it all boils down to what it is you actually want and what suits you during each season of your life. For now, with two young children, this busy, crazy, hectic lifestyle suits me to a tee. I enjoy editing as a side hustle. Perhaps one day, when enough people have made verbal referrals, will I consider dropping the ‘side hustle’ bit.


Photo credits:

Feature image: pexels.com_ Ekaterina Bolovtsova

In-text image: pexels.com_Sebastian Arie Voortman

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of PEG.

About Carmen Botman

Carmen has always been a lover of words: reading and writing them. She is a member of the Professional Editors’ Guild (PEG) and successfully completed an editing course at UCT in 2019. She edits in the fields of academics and fiction. In addition, she hopes to pursue health writing in the near future.

Carmen is also a writer of fiction and has a few self-published stories available online.

By day, she is a qualified occupational therapist, now working as a practice manager for a busy anaesthetic practice. She has two young sons, a husband who is supportive of all her whims, and two dogs named Juno and Vada.

About PEG

The Professional Editors’ Guild (PEG) is a non-profit company (NPC) in South Africa. Since moving to online activities in March 2020, PEG has been able to offer members across South Africa, and internationally, access to an extensive online webinar programme. Continuing professional development remains a key offering and the first PEG Accreditation Test was administered in August 2020 to benchmark excellence in the field of editing.