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How to hire an editor

Updated: May 24

Hiring an editor for your content is crucial to gain a competitive edge in the content-writing game. However, determining who is the best fit for the job can be difficult. Editors play an essential role in content writing. They can help in both improving the quality of language and optimizing your blogs for SEO and factual or technical accuracy.


In some cases, they may even help in devising strategy and hiring or selecting writers for your content. So how do you go about hiring an editor?



Hiring an editor may mean selecting from numerous candidates


Hiring the right editor is a matter of understanding what your content strategy is or should be. And coming up with a process and qualification system that allows you to find the person that aligns with these strategic goals. Let's look at the eight steps to hiring a new editor to boost your content strategy and land you on the first page of Google:


  1. Understand your content needs

  2. Create a fail-proof qualifying test

  3. Write an appropriate job ad

  4. Find a platform to post your job ad

  5. Narrow down candidates

  6. Interview candidates

  7. Have a paid trial test

  8. Onboard the successful candidate

In this article, we discuss how to hire an editor, the benefits of hiring an editor, and what to look for in an editor. We focus here on content editing, as opposed to academic editing.


To learn more about such editing meant for theses and other academic documents, check out this article: Dissertation and thesis editing services: A complete guide.


1. Understand your content needs before hiring an editor


The first step to hiring a content editor is understanding your content needs. It is not enough to simply hire an editor who can improve the quality of the content. Think about to what end you wish to improve the quality of your content. Here are a few questions you should ask yourself to determine your content needs:


  1. What is the main goal of your content?

  2. Have you carried out the keyword research analysis?

  3. Have you figured out the weaknesses in your content strategy that can be fixed by an editor?


Perhaps you need an editor who can do a better of job of optimizing content for SEO. Or maybe the traffic to your website is fine but conversions are low. This means you might need an editor to help improve the copy to increase the conversion rate. In any event, you should have a clear idea of what it is you want from a professional editor.


2. Create a fool-proof qualifying test


After deciding what you want an editor for, the next step is to create a qualifying test to ensure that only the cream of the crop or the best of the best makes it through the process. It has been said and you have heard it before that this is an employers' market.


This means that there's an army of candidates who are going to flood your call for applications. To make the process as efficient and stress-free as possible, you should create a qualifying test that eliminates all but the best candidates.


This test could include a difficult-to-pass grammar and punctuation test through an electronic multiple-choice form. After all, you are hiring a professional editor. They should be able to know the English language inside out.


This has several advantages:


  • It significantly reduces the number of qualified candidates

  • It is ruthlessly meritorious

  • It saves time and effort

  • It ensures that only the best of the best get through

  • It reduces bias against those with ability but less experience

This qualifying test will be even better if it is accompanied by a requirement to show the level of experience in the form of writing excerpts or clips. This means the pool of candidates who passed the initial test can now be compared in terms of the metric of experience.



3. Write an appropriate job ad


Of course, you need to craft a job ad. A job ad should be written to include a proper job description, the required level of experience, and the preferred start date for the job. Here is a list of things to include when writing a job ad:


1. Begin by summarizing your company. Give a brief and concise description of what your company does. You should describe the industry that the company is in. You should also provide a quick description of the achievements of the company. Let prospective employees feel as if working for that company is being part of a winning team.


2. Summarize the benefits of working with the company. You should clearly show what the benefits are working for your company. Is it a remote job? Does it allow a remote work option? How many days off are allowed? And so on. Attractive job benefits also go toward making prospective employers feel that they would be part of a winning team.


3. Describe the job's requirements clearly. You should be very specific about the requirements of the job as an editor. Will the editor simply be focused on editing content? Or will they be required to hire new writers? Is there a daily or weekly word requirement in terms of the number of words that need to be edited?


What level or type of editing is required?


  • Is it substantive editing?

  • Is it lighter editing?

  • Is it editing for SEO?

  • Is it editing for tone and style?


All this should be made clear in the job description. The last thing you want is to have workers feeling betrayed by the job experience when working conditions and requirements don't meet the job description.


4. Provide a clear call to action. By a clear call to action, I mean how would you like candidates to apply to the job position? This should be made clear. And more than that, it should be sensible. Easy and reasonable methods of applying for the job include:


  • Providing an email address

  • Proving a Google Form link

  • Providing a company-specific form link

  • Providing application forms via job application platforms like Indeed or LinkedIn


By sensible, I mean you should try your best to avoid chaotic forms of communication. For example, on LinkedIn, there are frequent job posts that simply ask for job candidates to "DM me here on LinkedIn" or "Leave a message in the comments to let me know if you're interested in the position."


However, I would recommend always providing potential candidates with a link to a Google form to direct them to sign up for the application. Asking candidates to apply via DMs and comments is a headache waiting to happen.


Example of job posting


Content Editor

 

Content Marketing Department

 

Remote

 

Contract

 

 

This role requires teh candidate to be fully remote.


About Content Engine

 

Content Engine has been operating since 2012. We produce content that both users and Google love. This means the content we create will help your website land on teh first page of Google, while providing readers with content that informs, educates, and drives them to buy.

We have offices based in New York, Mexico City, and Copenhagen. However, we are a truly global company with employees located in over 20 countries.

 

Job Description

 

This section should summarize what the new hire will be expected to do in two or three paragraphs. Consider talking about:

 

●        What the day-to-day might look like. 

●        What impact the role will have on customers and/or the company.

●        The opportunity/need in the company that justifies why the role exists.

●        With whom they will collaborate.

●        Who they will manage and/or report to.

●        What the ideal candidate is interested in/passionate about.

 

Duties and Responsibilities

 

In your role as a content editor for Content Engine:

 

●        You'll be expected to edit 10 articles per month.

●        You must ensure that every article published by Content Engine meets our high standards.

●        Your tasks include creating monthly content calendars.

●        You will report directly to the Managing Editor.

 

Required Experience/Skills


 

●        Experience writing content related to SaaS and HRM.

●        Experience as a content editor.

●        Experience managing a team of writers.

●        Experience with proofreading and editing software such as Grammarly.

●        The ability to adapt, communicate clearly, and pay attention to detail.

 

Nice-to-Haves

 

Although not a deal breaker, it would be nice if you have

 

●        Personal interest in HRM topics and SaaS would be a plus.

●        Creative writing skills

●        Experience working in a fast-paced media environment.

 

Education

 

A relevant degree in journalism, editing, or creative writing would be ideal.

 

Pay & Benefits Summary

 

Provide details on what the candidate will receive in exchange for their work, such as:

 

●        A pay of 5000 USD per month.

●        Health benefits.

●        Time off allowance.

●        Tuition reimbursement.

●        Perks like “free office snacks” or “flexible working location policy.”


4. Choose the best platform to post your ad


Now that your qualifying test is completed, it's time to post your job ad. There are several platforms to choose from to post your ad. It can be as simple as a LinkedIn post. Or you can choose from one of many job-posting websites. These websites include:


  1. ProBlogger Job Board

  2. The ACES Job Board

  3. Guru

  4. WeWorkRemotely

  5. Swipefiles

  6. LinkedIn

  7. Scripted

  8. Contently

  9. Cult of Copy

  10. Your careers page


And there are many others. You can choose the one that suits your needs and budget. LinkedIn in particular is a platform that is popular among writers and creatives. It is one of the few social media platforms dominated by writers, editors, and other such creatives.


LinkedIn is perfect as it offers several options for finding editing candidates. You can:


  1. Pay to post a job ad through LinkedIn's job platform

  2. You can simply post a job ad on the LinkedIn timeline or newsfeed for free

  3. You can use LinkedIn's search function to find people who match what you're looking for


More importantly, LinkedIn is a platform where writers and editors display information such as their experience and portfolio. You can even get an idea of what type of editor or employee someone would be based on their posts, LinkedIn Articles, or LinkedIn Newsletters. So, make the most of the LinkedIn platform.


5. Narrow down candidates based on who passed the test


After posting your job ad, you should take note of the crop of candidates who passed your qualifying tests. If the qualifying test was difficult enough that means you won't have many candidates to choose from.


You should contact these candidates and arrange for an interview. Now, the results of the qualifying tests are not the only thing you should rely on for this process. You should also take into account things like experience, personality, and the quality of samples.


Comparing and contrasting these various benchmarks can help you determine which group of candidates qualify for the interview stage. If necessary, go ahead and further reduce this qualified poll based on experience, scores, and personality.


6. Interview candidates


Interviewing the candidate for the editor roles is a crucial stage. You have seen what the candidate looks like on paper. Now, you get a chance to see what they are like in person. The interview could be in the form of a ZOOM call or other teleconferencing method.


When interviewing candidates look out for the traits that you believe would contribute to your organizational culture or goals. For example, here are a list of things to look out for:


  1. Does the candidate have the tact to provide feedback without being offensive?

  2. Does the candidate have enough knowledge and experience for the role?

  3. Does the candidate display team spirit?


Of course, you should take time out to come up with intelligent questions that can tease out such answers. Also, be careful to read body language to see how the candidate reacts to these questions and how much their answers match their behavior.

7. Carry out a paid test trial


After the interview stage, you would have by then narrowed down the selection to the final few candidates. The best way to decide who to select would be through a paid test trial. Perhaps you plan to hire only one editor. Perhaps you wish to hire a few more than that.


Either way, come up with assignments that satisfy your content needs. Preferably, you would want to create a unique trial for each one of the candidates. The candidates who perform the best in the paid test trial and who deliver on time will be the one most qualified for the position.


8. Onboard successful candidate(s)


After selecting the candidate for the trial, then you begin the process of onboarding your new editor. You introduce them to your content management system, the writers they'll be working with, and the processes and procedures to follow.


Often, in the remote-friendly environment that content writing operates in, there may be no need to physically meet the editor that you hire. The qualifying tests and trial tests should be sufficient to let you know the nature of the person you're hiring, and how they fit in your organization.


The benefits of hiring an editor


There are several benefits to hiring a professional editor for your content. A good editor is objective and critical, without stepping on toes. Let's face it. Writers can be a little sensitive. Criticism of their work should be approached with tact. So an editor should be simultaneously a wordsmith and empathetic.



Editing for grammar and punctuation is just one part of a content editor's job.



If you have a team of writers producing your content, you should focus on making sure that the work produced as a whole contributes to your broader content strategy. You should also make sure that the English being used is both impeccable and appeals to the target audience.


So what are the benefits of hiring an editor? Let's look at some of them.


1. An editor can help improve the level and quality of English


Members of your writing team may be beginners or lack expertise in writing in a certain style. An editor is there to iron out any kinks in their grammar or style to make sure that it matches the overall content strategy or vision. This would include:


  • Correcting for grammar

  • Correcting for punctuation

  • Correcting for proper sentence structure


SEO-optimized content can of course quickly rank on Google. But never lose sight of the fact that you are not writing for a search engine. You are writing for the people who make up your audience. To make sure you achieve high rates of sales conversion, the English used in your article should be easy to read. And it should also sound natural to the ears.


2. A good editor is also a mentor and teacher


Constantly improving and commenting on the writing of junior team members will have a cumulative effect on the ability of your writing team. There may come a point in time where the role of editor may not even be needed if your writing team learns fast and well enough under the tutelage of a professional editor.


A good editor will slowly teach your team how to become better writers. It would be like killing two birds with one stone. On the one hand, your content editor will be streamlining the content that you put out. On the other hand, your writers will slowly grow into a stronger and more reliable team of writers.


3. An editor can help with EEAT


EEAT is part of Google's Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines (or SQEG). It stands for Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. This is especially important for YMYL topics. YMYL stands for your money your life.


EEAT is required to give Google confidence that your website is qualified enough in terms of experience and expertise. This is crucial for YMYL topics, such as finance and health. For example, a writer with a bachelor of arts doesn't have much authority or trustworthiness in healthcare.


However, if your editor is a writer with a credible background in healthcare, then they can edit work written by a non-expert and sign off as an editor of that work. This is a strategy frequently carried out by websites such as Healthline.


4. An editor can help optimize for SEO


Many writers may not know how SEO works. Often the best writers or potential writers have backgrounds in literature or academic writing. Internet writing may be wholly unfamiliar for them and learning SEO may take time.


This is where an editor comes in. A professional editor can provide guidance from the beginning to the end of the writing process. They can help in writing outlines maximized for SEO and giving detailed instructions to ensure that writers not familiar with SEO can be guided in the right direction. They can also edit the final draft to make sure it meets SEO standards.


The different types of editing


There are different types of editing, and there are different ways of categorizing it. There is editing based on the intensity of the editing. This can be either proofreading, substantive editing, or developmental editing. 


There is also editing based on the purpose of the editing. An editor could edit to: 


  • Optimize for SEO

  • Increase inclusivity 

  • To improve tone and style

  • Improve the quality of language


Let's look at the various categories in turn. 


Editing to improve the quality of the language


The basic function of an editor is to improve the quality of the language. This includes fixing grammar and spelling issues, as well as improving the flow and structure of sentences. This function would be especially useful for content writing agencies, where some of the writers may not speak English as a native language.


Here is a complete list of when such editing is necessary: 


  • When some of your writers are not native English speakers

  • When your writers are producing huge volumes under tight deadlines

  • When some of your writers are junior with little experience


A hired editor in this role would help streamline the content-writing process. They would also assist in keeping things consistent in terms of the quality of the language being used. You would not want a website or blog, where readers jump from one article written in impeccable English to another article written in English of subpar quality. This would result in a bad user experience. 


Editing to improve tone and style


An editor can help to ensure that your content comes across in a consistent tone and style. Writing for the internet is unlike literary writing or academic writing. It demands that you write in a specific style.


You have to bear in mind how the Google algorithm works and the target audience you have in mind. Effective blogging is a kind of mish-mash style between writing for social media and writing for a target audience, without dumbing things down.


Often, you need an editor skilled and experienced enough to strike such a difficult balance or act. Your writers may be too busy researching and writing content to fine-tune their writing to match this purpose. Hiring a proficient editor means that you can successfully delegate this task and achieve a proper division of labor. 


Editing for inclusivity


Empathizing with and taking into account individual and group differences is essential in the modern age. There are continual changes in what is accepted as the norm when referring to and addressing minority groups. Such an editor is sometimes referred to as a Sensitivity Editor. They help to make sure:


  • That the language you use is inclusive

  • You appeal to a diverse audience

  • You avoid using language that may be offensive to certain groups

  • You avoid PR disasters associated with mistakenly using non-inclusive language


The emphasis is now on respecting differences and showing sensitivity towards others. The minority groups in question may be based on race, religion, gender, nationality, and sexual orientation. All manner of precaution should be taken against offending individuals who belong to such groups.


In a global marketplace defined by diversity and difference, inclusivity should be a top priority in your content strategy. It is simultaneously the right thing thing and profitable thing to do. Besides, you do not want to be at the end of a PR disaster simply because you have not done your due diligence regarding being inclusive.


Is it true that some of these issues are overblown and based on misunderstanding? Probably. That’s exactly why you should hire a Sensitivity Editor. To reduce the chances of this happening. 


Preferably, this editor would have some training in DEI. Also, this editor may have a background and history of working in diverse and inclusive environments. This editor would be especially useful if you target a global audience that includes a wide cross-section of various religions, ethnicities, and nationalities. 


Editing to optimize for SEO


As mentioned earlier, many writers may not be familiar with SEO and how it works. This is true especially if the writer has a background in literature or academics. SEO-based writing might be completely unfamiliar for them. 


These writers may have the potential to be great SEO-type writers who can drive views and conversion to your website or blog. However, in the meantime, as they grow and learn, you will need the guiding hand of a professional editor to make sure that the content they produce is something that will rank on the Google search engine. 


Developmental editing


Developmental editing is usually a term used in the world of academic editing or book editing. This involves drastically rewriting work or even starting from scratch. In the world of content writing, this would typically apply to repurposing content. There are several reasons why content should be repurposed. 


Here is a brief list: 


  1. Your content is too old and needs to be updated

  2. Your content has lost its high ranking in the SERPs

  3. Your content never gained any ranking in the first place

  4. The competition is actively trying to dethrone your high ranking


In short, a developmental editor would help you keep your competitive edge. The content that already exists on your website or blog may be awesome. However, the competition is so tough, you need to be continually updating it to make sure that it continues to perform. 


Final thoughts on hiring an editor


Hiring an editor can contribute significantly to streamlining and maximizing your content. But before you even begin the process, you should have a clear vision for your content goals. Then, you should come up with a system that ensure that only the best of the best even get a chance to interview.


The right editor can lead to several benefits. This includes:


  1. Ensuring consistency in style and tone

  2. Ensuring SEO optimization

  3. Ensuring that your content is updated

  4. Giving and maintaining a competitive edge for your website

  5. Supporting and training your writing team 


Hiring a professional editor should not be based on skills alone. You also need to ask yourself, "Does this person fit with our organizational culture and goals?" So, how do you determine this?


The paid trial test allows you to see for yourself whether the potential editor is competent enough for the job. However, it is the interview process that gives you a good idea of how a prospective editor can perform within the context of your organizational culture and values.



Written by Melchior Antoine


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