Right before a first date, we often wonder how the date’s going to go — will we immediately make a connection, or will things go horribly wrong? How will we find the right partner? What qualities matter to us the most?
When you’re trying to figure out whether you should hire an editor for your blog or to edit your manuscript, you’ll probably be wondering similar things. Not necessarily in a romantic dating way, but in a business relationship-type way: How do I find the right editor for me? Will we get along, or will they be vindictive with their red pen? Do I really need an editor, or can I do this by myself?
If a business owner or an entrepreneur is considering hiring an editor, they often ask, “Is quality content really worth the money to pay an editor? Will it make or break my brand if I have a great blog? Do I need an extra set of eyes to make my content better?”
Writing an article and handing it over to an editor means placing a large amount of trust that the editor’s out for your best interest when they’re responding to you and giving you constructive feedback. (That’s probably why it’s also hard to find the perfect dating match, too, huh?)
But the impact of an editor comes in when you need a sidekick who’ll whip your writing into shape to help you achieve those goals you set to produce a certain amount of content per week. Or maybe you’ve got a completed manuscript that’s been sitting around, gathering virtual dust in a folder labeled “Side Projects” — an editor can be a fresh set of eyes, and can help you make that side project into a reality.
But since editors are people, too, it may take some time to find the perfect match for you. Every editor’s got a slightly different style, and not all editors are made the same — some are experts at higher-level edits, while others have an eagle eye for even the slightest grammatical misstep.
Depending on what you need, and the goals you want to achieve, there’s an editor out there for everyone, from entrepreneurs to fantasy writers. And just like any strong relationship, priorities and values between you and your editor need to align in order for things to work out.
To find your perfect match, or your “editorial soulmate,” it’s important to know the difference between an editor and a proofreader, since the two get mixed up pretty often. Editors are looking at major things, like style and voice, organization and flow, and the overall development of your ideas. They’ll dive deep into your writing, picking apart areas that need to be strengthened.
This is why finding your match is so important — there’s a lot of communication between a writer or an entrepreneur and an editor, so if your personalities clash or the expectations aren’t clearly set from the beginning, it definitely won’t be a match made in heaven.
Editors will ask you questions to help guide you toward solving these issues, and after feedback has been implemented, they’ll often take a second look at your writing to then address any inconsistencies or confusing points at the sentence level, along with fixing any grammatical errors.
Proofreaders, though, are a whole different breed of detail-oriented.
They’ll also dive deep into your article or manuscript, but they’ll only be looking at the grammatical structure of your sentences, along with stylistic requirements, since different websites may have specific formatting rules. They won’t be commenting on things such as tone, organization, or development. That will come only from an editor, so if you’re expecting strictly proofreading from an editor, you might have mistaken them for a proofreader!
With an understanding of the difference between an editor and a proofreader, it’s time to ask yourself, “Which one do I need in order to meet my content production goals for my company, or for myself?” If you still have your heart set on finding an editor, then you’re in luck — I’ve got some ideas on how you can make your editorial soulmate search as painless as possible.
It’s important to start by asking yourself why you want an editor, because you might actually realize that an editor isn’t the person you want to hire.
In online dating, when you write “must love the outdoors” on your dating profile, you’re potentially eliminating awesome dates with people who hate the outdoors but enjoy something else you love, like board games. So you might ask yourself, “Is loving the outdoors that important of a criterion to me?”
But hey, I’m not in the business of giving dating advice, just editorial match-making advice … so maybe your romantic match does need to love the outdoors.
Anyway. Perhaps you’ve got it set in your mind that you must have an editor simply because your colleagues have one for their business. You also run a blog and have many guest writers who submit articles to your website. But when you really think about it, you’re just looking for quick fixes, like finding grammatical and typographical errors, rather than developing the quality of your content.
If that’s the case, an editor may not actually be the right fit for you. Quick grammar fixes are more of a proofreader’s job — and that’s fine and dandy, as long as that’s all you really need to achieve your goals.
If you’re planning to work with an editor, it’s important to consider specifically what you want, just like you would think about the qualities that you want in someone you’re dating. And even more importantly, these wants have to be made as clear as possible to the editor you’re going to work with.
You might want an editor who’s a bit more hands-on, someone who can multi-task as a writer and do a bit of research for you and your writing team. Or perhaps you want an editor who can help you develop your brand’s voice through editing for consistency in the tone of your guest posts. Maybe what you’re truly looking for in an editor, if you’re being honest with yourself, is someone who can take over the entire editorial process.
In today’s content-saturated world, there’s no way your content will stand out if you’re simply churning out article after article without considering if the piece as a whole is coherent and compelling, even if it’s grammatically correct. But it’s still quite a commitment (especially financially) to consider hiring an editor.
If you can find the best editor for your company, you’ll see exactly how vital that editor is to your content development. They’re going to dive deep into the content at multiple points, help you create consistency in your content, and potentially even manage the flow of the content, too, if that’s what you want.
Once you’ve established your brand’s voice, tone, and style, you can find an editor to keep your content in check with these established guidelines.
Having a blog is an awesome way to make your company’s voice stand out in the virtual crowd of professionals. But when you have multiple guest writers submitting articles to your site, there might be times where the voice of a guest writer doesn’t quite match up. Especially in those cases, you’ll need an editor who can key in on moments of inconsistency and coach a writer to help them develop a voice that’s in line with your company.
If one of your goals is to make your business a voice of authority, you can work with an editor to develop consistency in this tone across all guest writers’ posts. At Craft Your Content, we help business owners create a style guide based on their own Voice and Vision for their company — this keeps our editors informed on exactly what the business owner would like to see on their blog.
It’s important to find an editor who wants to work with you and your guest writers, to help everyone sound like authorities in the industry through using stronger language and developing thoughtful ideas. By interviewing potential editors, you can ask the editor about their previous experiences working with guest writers for a blog — if the editor bristles at the mention of guest writers, or gives an answer that makes you feel a bit of doubt, then that may not be the editor for you.
If your goal is to make content a central marketing strategy for communicating your brand’s voice, you’ll want an editor who’s as invested in your ideas (and your guest writers’ ideas) as you are. And it’s super important to communicate your content goals to your editor so they can help you keep all the guest posts in line.
Being a fan of the outdoors and being a fan of board games don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Maybe you’re looking for someone who’s a fan of both, just like you.
Editors often come from the realm of writing. If you’re looking for someone who can also do research, develop ideas for content, or even contribute articles to your blog, then you can talk to your potential editor about their experience with writing and see if they’d be game for multitasking for you.
It’s also a great idea to do a little background research on the editor in question. (Because we’ve all snooped on the people we’re dating … ah, the magic of Facebook.) If you can find published articles by the editor, this can give you an idea of their writing skills and whether they’d be a great match for your editorial needs.
When you find an editor who can write about a business without being explicitly about the business, you’ll know you’ve found the right match for you — great content finds the balance between talking about your industry and not overselling your business.
This can be especially appealing if you run a blog with multiple guest writers, since an editor already has a great eye for understanding a blog’s overall style and voice. As long as an editor knows how your content functions in the bigger picture of your business, your editor can understand why you want to start producing the articles you’re writing and help you both as a writer and an editor.
An editor who isn’t interested in writing or researching and just wants to “fix” the errors in your articles may not be the best fit for you. Just make sure you’ve clearly communicated your wants to your editor so there’s no misunderstanding as to what they’re expected to do for you.
Sometimes it’s nice to let someone else take the lead and make choices in a relationship, like figuring out where you’re going for dinner. If that’s your personality, you might want to consider finding yourself a managing editor.
If you hate deadlines and organization makes you cringe, but you want to produce content consistently, you should try and find an editor who’ll jump in and manage your content from conception of an idea to publication on the blog. These types of editors are called managing editors; they essentially help run an editorial calendar for your blog, overseeing the content coming in from guest writers. Craft Your Content offers this service in addition to editing, making it ultra-simple for you to start doing content marketing.
But you’ll also have to be on top of some things, too — it takes two to tango and to produce awesome content. While your managing editor will oversee all the writers and editors, they won’t be able to write your articles for you — you’ll still need to write the content for them to work with or hire writers to do so.
A managing editor will also instill a set process in terms of content creation. It’s going to take more than one draft before an article is ready for publication, so if you want an editor who will approve and pump out articles before they’ve been reviewed, stop there and consider what that would actually do to help your business grow.
Working with a managing editor and a team of great editors will mean that the deadlines of drafts are set at specific times, allowing a seamless flow of content. Plus, it takes time to produce great content — while a multi-draft process might sound elaborate for your blog, there are so many things that editors can catch in between draft reviews. This way, nothing slips through the cracks, your content is published at consistent times, and it’s even more beautiful and sparkly after a few rounds of review.
Just like dating, it may take a few interviews (and possibly a few trial runs) before you find the editor that really makes you feel great about your content. Especially if you struggle with taking feedback from others, you have to make sure you “click” with your editor; otherwise, you’ll have a really hard time accepting feedback from someone you just don’t like.
One way to figure out an editor’s personality during the interview process is to ask them what books they like to read in their spare time, or what their favorite movies and TV shows are. Talk with your potential editor about something other than their work and their previous experience, and maybe you’ll find that you both quote the same comedy on an almost daily basis.
While it might seem unrelated to the work you’re expecting the editor to do, you need to make sure the editor will bring good energy to the process, rather than make the editing process worse for you. This type of rapport will help both of you achieve content goals!
Working with an editor might be an adjustment at first if you’re not used to receiving in-depth feedback on your writing. Although there’s no denying that it can be hard not to take constructive criticism personally, it’s much easier to be open and relaxed with an editor you get along with; just like in any strong relationship, honesty and openness are key. Have a conversation with your editor about how you like to receive feedback, and they’ll be able to keep that in mind when providing you with editorial comments.
Something you’ll need to keep in the back of your mind whenever you’re reading feedback from your editor is this: your editor’s there to help you, not hurt your feelings. If you take the time to understand their tone, whether it’s sarcastic and upfront or more casual and passive, it’ll be easier to interpret feedback without getting offended. Having a great personality match will ensure that there’ll be fewer awkward moments of misunderstanding tone and getting needlessly offended.
If you’re reading this and you realize, “I definitely hate getting feedback,” then you might want to consider hiring a proofreader — but just keep in mind, you might be missing out on major opportunities for improving your content if you don’t have an editor.
Finding the perfect editor for your company comes down to making sure your company’s goals align with your editor’s goals. And your editor’s goals should be to produce high-quality, original, and consistent content by working with a group of writers.
Editors want to help you produce the best content possible, but in order for the partnership to really benefit you and your business, you’ll need to establish a clear path of communication. Be honest with yourself and your editor, and you may find a happily-ever-after partnership.
Julia Hess graduated from California State University, Fullerton with a Master of Arts degree in English. She has worked as a college writing tutor and instructor, a contractor at a major tech company, and a freelance editor and writer. An avid podcast listener, Julia provides editorial feedback, consultation, and detailed show notes for CYC’s podcast, Writers Rough Drafts.