There are over 30,000 content editors currently working in the US. That means there are plenty of people out there who are looking for this type of work. So, what is content editing, and what does it take to succeed as a content editor?
If you’re thinking about hiring a content editor, this article is for you. You’ll learn what content editors do and pick up some content editing tips along the way. That way, you’ll know what to look for when hiring for this role.
What Is Content Editing?
Content editing is one method of reviewing a piece of writing. It involves checking the readability of a piece, as well as how well the language flows and how easy it is to understand. Solo writers sometimes edit their own work, but many seek outside help from a content editor.
During the process, a content editor will ensure there are no logical issues or missing sections in the writing. They’ll also make sure the piece is concise and relevant to its intended audience, so readers don’t get bored or confused.
Learning about content editing can help you improve a piece of writing by applying a few rules to it. You can then change parts of it to get the writing to a place where a brand or organization might wish to publish it to boost their profile.
Why is Content Editing Important?
Content editing helps a piece of writing get to its final state, where it can be seen by readers. If you skip this step, your work might not fit your brand, or it might even offend your audience. Also, forgoing the content editing process means your writing may not be optimized for search engines, making it difficult for people to find it online.
If your content editor does their job, you can be sure your writing will be:
Accurate. Content editors can make sure your writing is accurate and truthful, helping you appear trustworthy to readers.
Consistent. You want your company’s unique voice to be preserved in each piece of writing you produce. A content editor can ensure your brand’s voice remains consistent from piece to piece.
Readable. Your writing should match the reading level of your intended audience. It shouldn’t be too technical for your readers, and it shouldn’t patronize them, either.
Search-engine optimized. With a good content editor, you can move forward knowing your work improves your visibility online. This means more eyes will be on the piece of writing, as well as the rest of your work.
Well-structured. A piece of writing should flow smoothly and introduce concepts in a logical order. If it doesn’t, readers may become confused and stop reading.
What Are the Benefits of Content Editing?
Having your work reviewed by a professional content editor has many benefits for you and for your business. Examples of these benefits include:
Higher Google ratings. A skilled content editor can help your writing become more visible online. This means people will be more likely to see your work in their Google search results. Improving your Google ratings can also increase your visibility on Google Maps, Google Business Profiles, and many other places online.
More website traffic. Being more visible on Google means your website will receive more traffic. Once readers navigate to your website, you can lead them to additional information about your company and its services.
More sales. As more people engage with your website and learn about your company, you can expect that some of them will become new customers.
More accurate long-term planning. More people visiting your website means you’ll have more data about who your customers are and how they learned about your company. This information will help you improve your online presence so you can continue increasing your visibility.
What If You Don’t Use Content Editing?
When you search for your own company online, do you often see your competitors come up too? If so, there’s a chance they’re putting out better content than you are, and they likely have their own content editors.
You can’t expect to rank well against other companies if you don’t put out the same quality of work that they do. Having your writing reviewed by a professional content editor will help you keep up with your competitors.
8 Tips for Effective Content Editing
If you’re thinking about providing your own content editing for your business, you should learn what to look for. The following guide will help you teach yourself to edit a piece of writing. Or, if you want to hire an external content editor, it will give you an idea of what the editor will do.
1. Read the Content Straight Through
One of the first things a content editor will do is read through the content without making notes. This helps them pick up some of the more egregious issues. Even the most advanced writers are likely to miss some things when reviewing their own work, as they have already read it so many times themselves.
During a first reading, an editor will often pick up simple errors such as obvious typos or spelling and grammar issues that were missed by the word-processing program. The editor can leave comments for the author to review, or revise the writing themselves, depending on the severity of the issue.
2. Make Sure It Flows Well
As the editor reads through, they should be ensuring the piece flows in a way that makes sense. There should be a clear introduction, main body, and conclusion. On top of that, each section of the piece should lead naturally into the next without any confusing gaps. The piece should also stay on topic so readers don’t get lost along the way.
3. Ensure Sentences Are Clear
Each sentence in the piece needs to make sense. While a long sentence might seem clear to the writer, readers may have trouble understanding them. An editor will read through each sentence with an analytical mindset. Each word must be well-chosen, purposeful, and unambiguous. This ensures that readers will understand exactly what the writer is trying to say.
4. Check for Passive Voice
Many people who aren’t writers don’t understand the difference between active and passive voice. A sentence uses the active voice if it describes the subject of the sentence as the one engaging with something else.
- This sentence uses the active voice.
- The passive voice is used in this sentence.
In both of these sentences, the sentence is the subject, acting on the passive or active voice. Here’s another example, written first in the active voice and then in the passive voice:
- Active: The boxer hit the man’s jaw.
- Passive: The man’s jaw was hit by the boxer.
Some sentences are more complicated than these, but a content editor will be able to spot the passive voice in writing and revise it if needed.
5. Removing Overused Words
There are several words writers should be careful not to overuse. One of the most common is the word “that.”
The word “that” appears frequently in writing, but it is often unnecessary, and an editor can usually remove many instances of the word in a piece of writing.
An editor will also check for other words the writer may have overused, as writing can start to feel stagnant if the same language is used repeatedly. One way to avoid overuse of a word is to use synonyms for the word instead. Instead of describing everything as “good,” for example, you could use the word “excellent,” “worthy,” or “competent.”
Every time the writer makes a factual statement, the editor should make sure that fact is true. This is especially important when it comes to grandiose claims, or statements that could make the writer seem untrustworthy.
If a statement appears untrue or the editor cannot find a source for a claim, the writer should be able to provide evidence for their assertion. If they can’t, the editor should remove the claim, and the writer may need to rewrite the section. Without this fact-checking process, a writer can lose credibility and harm the reputation of their company.
7. Ensure the Headline Turns Heads
It’s not just the main body of a piece of writing that needs reviewing. A copy editor should be looking at every aspect of the piece to make sure it matches the goals of the company. This includes headers, any subtitles, and even the title or headline of the whole article.
These are often the first things that readers will see. They appear in Google search results and can determine whether someone chooses to read your writing. Thus, you want to make sure you make them as appealing and relevant as possible.
8. Make Sure It Matches Your Brand
There’s no point in creating content if it doesn’t portray your company’s desired message. Your brand must be consistent with its voice so people will view you the way you want them to.
You also want your writing to appeal to your target audience. A content editor who knows the demographics of your audience can help you make your writing interesting and relevant to them.
Drive the Content to Better SEO
Now that you’ve read our guide, you should understand what content editors do and the basics of the content editing process.
If you’d prefer to hire a professional content editor, why not contact us? Our editing team is ready to take on this task for you. All you need to do is give us a call and we can start answering your questions today.