Are you available for work?

Posted: 16th Oct 2013

As a freelance proofreader and copy editor, I find it helpful to sit down and review the lessons I have learnt along the way. One that sticks out for me as a proofreader is that many people are unclear about how freelancers manage their time. As a result, one of the most frequent questions I get asked is:

“Are you available for editing/proofreading?”

If I wanted to increase my odds of getting the work, I could simply reply ‘yes’. After all, my current schedule shows that I have a certain amount of availability next week. However, what if the document needs completing sooner or later than that? What if it is a very long document? What if the potential customer asks for proofreading but actually means copy editing, due to the level of work required?

You can replace ‘editing/proofreading’ in this question with any other type of freelance work (‘design work’, ‘website construction’, ‘SEO services’, etc.) and it will likely cause the freelancer to type out the same standard response. For individual customers (e.g. students and authors), I usually ask:

  • When can you send the document?
  • When would you need the edited work back?
  • How many words (roughly) in total require editing/proofreading?
  • Do you have a short sample of the work (one or two pages) available so I can assess the level of work required?

Obviously there are projects where some of the above questions would not be relevant (e.g. if the work needs returning in instalments or has not been written yet), but simply asking these questions usually prompts the potential customer to provide enough details for me to confirm whether I am available for that particular piece of work. If (and only if) the customer then confirms they would like me to proceed with the work, I can reserve my time for them on the relevant day(s).

Whilst waiting for a response to the questions above from one customer, I have had another customer reserve the time that the first customer eventually told me they needed – indicating the necessity of including the important information when first contacting a freelancer. If any freelancer just replies ‘yes’ when you ask if they are available without you providing the important details, then be wary of the possibility that your work may not be given the care and attention it deserves.

If you would like me to check if I am available to complete your project, please contact me.


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