When we discuss content marketing, we mostly seem to focus on the creation and publication of awesome content.
And while this is, of course, true, it’s also only one part of the story.
If you want your painstakingly created content — whether it be a blog post, a website, a landing page, or any other written material — to hit the spot every single time, you need to ensure it is free from any errors and features clear, compelling, and SEO-friendly language.
The key to achieving this is to work with a freelancer.
In this post, we will cover everything you need to know on how to hire a freelance editor.
What is a Freelance Editor?
Simply put, a freelance editor is a professional figure who works on editing projects on a contractor, freelance basis. Generally speaking, these experts follow a project-by-project approach, and they may collaborate with a diverse number of clients all at once.
The Main Task of Freelance Editors
If you have always wondered what, exactly, a freelance editor does, then this next section is for you.
Before moving to the core part of their job — reviewing and correcting writing mistakes — a freelance editor must thoroughly read the editing project that they are about to work on.
Most freelance editors go through this process at least twice, to ensure that they have understood everything about it.
However, if the nature of the project requires it — like, for example, if the content is very complex or written using a specific jargon — freelance editors might decide to read through it a few extra times.
Identifying and Fixing Editorial Mistakes
Next, a freelance editor will identify any editorial mistakes.
These are varied and include spelling, grammar, syntax, punctuation, and more. To do so, the freelance editor will follow the precise rules and guidelines of the style guide that they have been asked to use.
Some of the most common style guides used in copy and content writing are AP (Associated Press) style, Chicago Manual of Style, APA style, and MLA.
For this reason, it’s paramount to clarify the style with your freelance editor before they start working on your project.
Ensuring Good Language Flow
Once the freelance editor has spotted and fixed any editorial mistakes, they will move ahead by re-reading the piece and make sure that the content flows naturally and clearly.
This is a very important step, as it helps ensure that the target audience will understand the piece and act upon it as required.
If the editor realizes that the piece features some major problems and requires some extensive editorial rework, they will communicate it to you.
In this case, the project scope, timings, and costs are likely to rise, as the type of work involved will inevitably be more complex and lengthy.
Assisting with Stylistic Choices
Interestingly, freelance editors do not simply edit content. They can also assist writers in finding and developing their unique writing styles.
When this happens, the figure of the editor blends with that of the ghostwriter, which is more akin to a copywriter while still offering all the expertise skills of professional editing.
Types of Professional Editors
Not all freelance editors are created equal! Read below to discover the three different types of editors that you can come across. This will help you decide which one, exactly, is best suited for your requirements.
Developmental editors are tasked with reviewing the overall structure, flow, and content of a written piece.
When a piece is ready for publication, a proofreader is asked to go through it all one last time and check for any typos and other errors which, at this stage, should only be very minor ones.
The responsibilities of a copy editor are a bit more complex and articulated compared to those of proofreaders and developmental editors.
Copy editors go much more deeply into the content of a piece by examining grammar, style, word choice, structure, and syntax.
In some situations, copy editors are also expected to perform some line editing work, which includes fact-checking and references, especially for non-fiction content.
How To Hire a Freelance Editor? Top Things to Consider
Now that you know, exactly, what a freelance editor does and why it’s so important to have a great one on your team, you will rightly be eager to know how you can hire the best professional for the job.
Our next section discusses four of the most essential traits that a great freelance editor should possess.
1. Qualifications and Experience
First of all, when you are in the process of hiring a freelance editor, you will need to find out about two essential aspects: their qualifications and their experience.
In an ideal world, you will be presented with an editor who boasts both excellent credentials in terms of academic studies or certificates, as well as a good few years of successful editing work under their belt.
The cherry on top, of course, would be an editor who also has particular expertise in your specific field, whether it be medical writing, fiction, marketing, or anything else. Nonetheless, it’s not always this easy, so what should you be looking for, really?
In general, experience (and expertise) seems to be more valued by clients compared to qualification.
A freelance editor with five or more years of solid work experience, for example, is usually able to land more work compared to a freshly-graduated student with zero experience yet.
Bear in mind, though, that the rates of a well-seasoned editor will also be comparatively much higher, and, if they are popular and are already working with a lot of other clients, they might not have a huge amount of availability right now.
So, you should always consider what type of budget you have and whether you are on a time crunch.
2. Free Sample Edits
If you thought that only freelance writers and content creators could provide you with free samples, then you should think again.
Gladly, professional freelance editors can do just the same when they are contacted by a new potential client.
However, free samples work a little bit differently in the case of editors. What usually happens, in fact, is that you send the first paragraphs of the content that you want to be edited, and they deliver their edits within a specified, pre-agreed timeframe.
This will enable you to work out these important things:
- Whether or not the freelance editor is an expert in your field.
- Whether or not their edits are in line with what you needed/expected from them.
- Whether or not they can deliver good-quality content in a timely manner.
Because you won’t pay the editor for this editing sample, make sure to keep it short and sweet.
Don’t send them more than, for example, 1000 words to begin with. Also, keep the deadline reasonable and realistic — two or three working days should be plenty, whereas a 24-hour deadline might feel too tight for even the most organized freelance editor.
Finally, bear in mind that any freelance editor who does not want to work on a free editing sample without providing good reasons is probably a red flag.
Thank them for their time and move on to the next candidate.
3. SEO Knowledge
When it comes to content marketing, we all know that one of its main goals is to help our brand rank higher in SERPs.
And what better way to achieve this than by creating and publishing SEO-friendly content?
Well, there actually is an even better way: working with a freelance editor who is also an SEO expert.
Doing so will ensure that your content that’s ready for publication is not only clear, catchy, and compelling, but that it also includes all the right keywords and key phrases, in the right places.
4. Client Testimonials
Lastly, just like with any other freelance professional, it’s important to check how well (or not-so-well) they did with other clients in the past.
Some freelance editors might feature client testimonials on their websites or social media pages, but you should also be able to find out more about them through a simple Google search.
If nothing comes up, and if you can’t find any client reviews on their official pages, you might want to ask them directly if they would mind putting you in touch with some of their clients.
A freelance editor who seems wary or reluctant, or who refuses straight away, is probably not the best pick of the bunch.
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If you want to create amazing content that your audience will love, you need to be sure that it is written in a clear, crisp, and compelling way.
To achieve this, you’ll need to team up with a freelance editor, as we discussed in our guide.
Check out the WriterAccess platform for a simple and effective way to hire the best freelance editors working today!