How to hire a freelance editor for Sphinx-based docs?


I’m doing some background research on hiring a freelance editor. Our development team is ~50 people, but right now I’m the only person paid to care about docs (I’m working on turning our doc culture around!). My background is as an astronomer and software developer. I’m quickly learning that self-editing is tricky. As Jacob Kaplan-Moss said, ‘you need an editor.’

  • Are there freelance editors out there who are GitHub and reStructuredText (Sphinx) savvy? (E.g., edits in pull requests; sending PRs against existing docs). Is this a thing?
  • How do freelance editing contracts generally work? Per hour? Per word? What price range can I bring back to management?

Disclaimer: I don’t have any hiring authority within my organization so I can’t follow-up on any job proposals here. This is just to arm me with facts for management. That said, suggestions of editors would be awesome!


What I would look for is a good technical editor with experience with various software technologies, and then provide whatever training was necessary to work within your workflow. For example, I have worked with several SVN workflows, and somewhat less with Git workflows, but I am confident that I could learn whatever workflow you are using because I understand basic source control principles. I have learned reStructuredText in the last few months (as has my doc team, as well as several other people on the R&D team) at work, but for anyone familiar with markup languages, learning rST will not be a problem. So I’d look for someone with experience learning new technologies quickly combined with good editing skills, as opposed to someone knowing your exact workflow and toolset.

I think the contract should be on a per-hour basis, and an experienced editor should be able to give you a ballpark estimate. If you are concerned about it getting out of hand, you can have check-ins and caps.

For the price range, I’d probably look at senior tech writer rates to come up with an estimate.


I suggest that you put the description of your position here: there are a lot of freelance writers and editors who must be interested in such an opportunity. I believe you’ll find a right person. This job board is commission free and I’ve never been disappointed with freelance services there.