Did you know that correcting grammatical mistakes in your copy could increase readers’ perception of your value by almost 10 percent? Using proper grammar makes you seem more professional, organized, and skilled. But what do you do if you don’t want to handle all your editing on your own?
Hiring a freelance editor can be a great way to tackle your company’s editing needs. Read on to discover the benefits of freelance work and how to find the right freelancer to meet your business needs.
Before we dive into the pros and cons of hiring out your editing work, let’s talk about why editing is important. No matter how strong a writer you are, you’re going to make mistakes from time to time. You’ll miss a letter in a word, forget to put in a comma, use the wrong spelling, or misplace a participle.
While these mistakes are perfectly normal, they can have a serious impact on your company’s reputation. When customers see these kinds of mistakes, they start to think your company is sloppy and has poor attention to detail. They’ll also assume these problems extend into your professional work and may lose confidence in your products.
There are several different types of editing that all focus on correcting different aspects of a document. The most well-known form of editing is copy editing, the practice of correcting grammar in a document. This division handles problems with punctuation, spelling, formatting, sentence structure, and more.
Content editing goes a little more in-depth, adjusting the structure of the entire piece of writing. A content editor may change the words you use for better tone or clarity, re-order sentences or paragraphs to create better flow, or suggest adding or removing content as needed.
Technical editors tend to work in the more industrial and scientific fields, including the technology industry. Their job is to make sure all terminology is correct and that the information you’re giving is accurate.
One of the biggest benefits of outsourcing your editing to freelancers is that it can help to reduce your team’s workload. As your company grows, your team members may be asked to take on more and more responsibilities. Eventually, things may start slipping through the cracks and morale may start to drop.
When you outsource to freelancers, you allow your team members to get back to the jobs you hired them to do. Not only can this improve their job satisfaction, but it can also raise your productivity! Your team members will be able to pour more focus into their jobs, which will mean fewer errors and faster turnaround times.
Of course, the other primary benefit of hiring out your editing work is that you’ll get greater accuracy. When we read our own work, our brains tend to automatically fix the little errors we’ve made. It’s almost impossible to edit your own work, and untrained editors are likely to leave at least a couple of errors behind.
But a well trained editor knows how to seek out those errors and correct them. They understand the latest grammar rules and know how to keep your copy clean and make it easier to understand. They can also help you to standardize your brand voice so your customers get clear, consistent messaging.
Improving your company’s communication can go a long way to growing your brand reputation. Think about how you choose companies when you’re in the role of a customer. Would you rather give your money to a company that doesn’t seem to put in any effort or care or one that works to provide a flawless experience?
Producing cleaner copy will show customers that you are committed to correcting even the smallest details in your work. It will make you seem more professional and like a more reliable expert in your field. The money you spend hiring a good editor can more than pay off in increased sales for your company.
In some cases, it isn’t only your company’s reputation on the line when it comes to having accurate grammar. Many legal documents require a high level of accuracy that can come down to the smallest details. Even tiny punctuation details can make a big difference in the way a document gets interpreted.
In 2017, a company made headlines when it had to pay one of its workers $10 million thanks to a missing Oxford comma. The Oxford comma is the comma that goes at the end of a list of items in a series, for instance, milk, bread, cheese, and eggs. Leaving out even a tiny detail like this could cost your company big in the wrong circumstances.
When you get ready to hire a freelance editor, there are a few things you’ll want to look out for. First and foremost, you want to be sure to check the quality of the editing a particular freelancer provides. While a good editor can be an invaluable resource, not all editors are the same, and quality can vary among freelancers.
Before you hire a copy editor, ask them to do a trial run editing a specific document for you. Send them a document with a number of known grammatical errors in it and see how many they catch. It’s also a good idea to include a variety of errors in this document comma errors, spelling mistakes, misplaced participles, and so on.
It’s also a good idea to check on where the freelance editor you’re hiring is located before you hire them. One of the benefits of hiring freelancers is that you can source the best editors from all over the country and the world. But it’s important to remember that multiple grammar systems exist, and these tend to vary by country.
For an easy example, take a look at the spelling differences between British English and American English. A British copy editor might make changes that, while completely correct in their country, are incorrect for an American audience. It’s always good practice to make sure that your editor is fluent in the system of grammar you use before you hire them.
Before you settle on a specific editor, its also a good idea to consider how much expertise you need. For the most part, this comes down to a question of what sort of editing you need. In most cases, if you just need a copy or content editor, a general expertise in editing practices will be more than adequate.
But if you work in a more advanced field or if you need technical editing, you may want an editor who has expertise in your industry. Look for an editor who has earned a degree in your field, spent time working in the industry, or worked for similar clients before. You may also want to ask for some previous writing samples they’ve worked on to check that their experience will work for you.
Once you’ve narrowed down your shortlist of editors, you’ll want to start asking some more detailed questions about production. One of the biggest things you’ll need to know is what sort of turnaround times to expect for your pieces. Not only will this help you to better manage expectations with your freelancers, but it can also impact your production times.
Talk to your potential editors and let them know what length pieces they’ll be working on most of the time. Then check on about how long it will take them to complete the piece and get it back to you. Keep in mind that there will be some wiggle room in these estimates, as every piece is different, but you can use this as a general metric to lay out your timelines and to decide which editor to hire.
After you select your freelancer, you’re going to need to set clear expectations for what you want to see in their work. Communicating your needs up-front will allow you to establish a better working relationship. It can also save a lot of time and headache on all sides and get your production numbers up faster.
If you have a certain brand voice, it’s important to let your freelancer know about this at the beginning of your working relationship. Discuss how often you’ll be sending them material and how extensive you want their edits to be. This can help you avoid confusion over how in-depth their editing should be and will reduce wasted time.
In addition to discussing your expectations for the role, you need to talk to your freelancer about which system of grammar you prefer. In the United States, Chicago style and AP style are among the most common, although depending on your area, you could also use APA or MLA. Each of these styles uses slightly different grammar and has different applications.
It’s important to let your freelancer know which style you use so they can make appropriate changes from the get-go. If you’re not sure which style you prefer, talk to your editor and ask for their recommendations. They may be able to advise you on which style is most appropriate and show you some of the differences between each style.
Part of the motivation to outsource your editing in the first place may be to help grow your business. While a freelance editor can certainly help with this, this model also poses a bit of a conundrum. There’s only so much work one freelancer can do, so what do you do when your needs grow beyond their capacity?
Some companies choose to hire additional freelancers to cover their needs as they expand. Others choose to work with third-party companies who hire teams of freelancers. Rather than dealing with a gaggle of freelancers themselves, they work with one provider who handles all the contractors and scales up service as needed.
As with any working relationship, it’s likely going to take you and your freelancer a little bit of time to settle into a solid rhythm. You may realize that certain edits need to be handled differently, or your deadline needs may change. You might also want to add new types of content down the road or change your content creation system altogether.
When these changes come up, it’s important to communicate them to your freelance editor. In most cases, they’ll be able to adjust their work style to better suit your updated needs. And if that isn’t going to be a feasible option, they can let you know as soon as possible so you can begin the hunt for a freelancer better suited to your work.
Working with freelance editors can be a great way to improve your productivity and build a solid company reputation. Before you hire a freelancer, though, you need to make sure they can meet your company’s needs and communicate clear expectations. Discuss which system of grammar you want to use, what sort of turnaround time you need, and how you’ll scale your operation and your business grows.
If you’d like to discover the benefits of outsourcing your editing work, check out our business services at Proofed. We place a fully managed team of expert editors at your fingertips.
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