My path into tech editing

I was inspired to share some details about my journey into tech editing by a recent blog post on the Tech Editor Hub website about how to become a tech editor. When I first started becoming interested in editing there were only a handful of resources I could find on how to become a tech editor so I hope that someone who is looking for the same knowledge I was earlier this year finds this helpful.

I’d heard of tech editing long before I got into it, but had only a vague understanding of what it was. I knew it was proofreading, but also something to do with math.

I’d been knitting sporadically since college, but during the pandemic I found myself without a commute and with a lot more free time so I got back into knitting more regularly. I created an Instagram to share my knits and through that I started getting into test knitting. One time after submitting my feedback, the designer messaged me saying that I always caught things that others missed. Very soon after I started considering learning how to edit patterns so I could actually get paid for it, and I began researching how I to tech edit patterns. Turns out it’s a lot more than just checking grammar and counting things…

At first I found only a few courses, but they seemed pretty pricy to me, and being both 1) a frugal person and 2) someone who cycles through hobbies quickly, I was hesitant to spend hundreds of dollars on a course for something I didn’t even know if I’d be able to make money doing. Luckily at the same time I stumbled upon an upcoming workshop Wool Enthusiast was doing. $35. That was a less scary initial investment…

The workshop was two hours long and the instructor, Luke Gilligan, worked through a pattern basically showing us how he goes through a tech edit. I found it really helpful at the time and it convinced me tech editing was something I wanted to go forward with. So I started with some practice patterns that Luke offered, then I tech edited some older patterns that I’d written, and created a simple little website to list my services, fees, and how to get in touch.

To get my first few clients, I posted on Ravelry offering to edit patterns for free in exchange for testimonials for my website. That way, I figured at least if I was bad at it, no one could be *too* upset because they were basically getting a free edit. I probably would have done these free edits for longer than I planned, but then a designer reached out to me through my website asking for a quote and when I told her I’d do it for free if she wrote me a testimonial, she told me she’d be happy to write me something, but that I also deserved to be paid for my work. I’m so glad she said that because it really did give me the confidence to go ahead and start actually charging for my work.

After I’d edited a few patterns for a few different designers, I was feeling good, but felt like there was still some uncertainty in my skills. I also figured if I ever wanted to edit garments I’d need to take a course since the workshop was focused on accessories and just thinking about sweater math made my brain hurt. I decided to finally purchase a larger course, since at that point I’d had a few clients and had edited a few patterns and was more confident in my ability to make back the cost of the course through editing. I decided to go with the Learn to Tech Edit course from the Tech Editor Hub.

(For reference, it was probably two or three months between that initial workshop and taking the Learn to Tech Edit course).

After I took this second course I felt waaaay more confident in myself. The workshop was great and definitely helped me with those first few edits, but in this new course I was able to build on that knowledge. I also am a hands-on learner so having assignments that I could work through and being able to compare my edits against a real tech editor’s edit made me feel a lot more sure of my skills. I even realized that I was overediting things before because I was so scared I was missing something.

It’s been about half a year since I began this journey and I’m focusing on continuing to grow my tech editing business. Some things I’ve found helpful to get new clients have been being active on Instagram and following other designers (one of my biggest clients found me through Instagram!), that initial Ravelry post, and being referred by existing clients.

Other resources I found helpful at the start include:

  • Kate Atherley’s book: The Beginner’s Guide to Writing Knitting Patterns: Learn to Write Patterns Others Can Knit.
  • Tech Tip Talk from Sarah Walworth and Kristina McGrath (they occur once a month and you can submit your own questions for them to answer. All past ones are on YouTube and I definitely binged them!)
  • Downloading patterns – I downloaded a bunch of free patterns that I wasn’t planning on knitting from really popular designers to become more familiar with pattern writing.
  • The Tech Editor Hub Facebook group is a great place to ask questions and get advice as well.
  • Google is your friend! If you’re going through a pattern and you’re not sure about something, you can probably find your answer in a blog post or video tutorial online.

I hope someone finds this helpful! If you’re interested in becoming a tech editor and are looking for advice on getting started, feel free to reach out to me with questions.

2 thoughts on “My path into tech editing

    1. Of course – I wish I could have found more posts like this when I was getting started so I wanted to share what my experience was like in case it can help others want to become editors too! And thank you so much, that is so kind of you to say 😊

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