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The 5 Types of Editors You Need for Compelling Content

types of editors
Updated: | Content Creation vincent d'eletto wordagents ceo Vincent D'Eletto

Congrats! You've started an online blog to share your industry knowledge with others. Now you need to ensure your content is primed to rank well on the oh-so-important Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Here's where an editor can come in handy. 

Even the best writers need some assistance editing.

Regardless of your experience in drafting online content, it's always a good idea to have a fresh pair of eyes review all of your blog posts and articles before publishing. However, editing means more than just proofreading. It's essential to have a clear idea of which types of editors you'll need for your project in particular.

While there are many different editors to choose from, not all editors are created equal.

What Do Editors Do?

An editor's services offer much more than just making simple corrections, tweaks, and suggestions. An editor can also be responsible for helping a writer rework the entire flow, structure, and narrative of a piece of content. 

In short, there's a type of editor for every step of the creative process of article development. It ultimately boils down to the type of content you want to create and the best way to capture the short attention span of viewers online.

Why Are Editors Essential to Content Creation?

Anyone serious about creating quality content and growing a substantial online following should invest in a quality editor. 

However, if you're on a shoestring budget you can also consider trying out a digital writing tool to help you with your content. Tools such as Grammarly, will work wonders in helping you correct and refine your writing - and at a fraction of the cost of professional editing services. 

However, be warned that, while we love Grammarly (in fact we require our writers to use it when developing our SEO optimized content), most online grammar assistants tend to only address surface-level cosmetic errors (especially the free versions). The service is ultimately nowhere near as robust as the aid professional editors. 

If you end up going the self-editing route, be sure to consult this editing guide for a full breakdown of the entire editing process. 

Traditional Publishing (i.e., Book) vs. Online

The publishing industry has undergone a major shakeup in the digital age. Gone are the days where publishing houses were the sole providers of content to the public. As such, there are a number of types of editors that you won't need on your quest to produce high-ranking content online.

  • The book doctor - this is a jack of all trades editor that can help rescue a manuscript considered beyond the point of saving
  • Beta-reader - typically someone without a ton of writing or editing experience, but a trusted professional that can provide you with a fresh set of eyes
  • Commissioning editor - this editor is the scout of the publishing house company, often found searching for possible talent or a promising manuscript 
  • Contributing editor - sometimes referred to as a “roving” editor, this editor typically contributes their services to specific writing assignments/niches 

The world of accessible, online platforms has democratized the process of content creation. And while certain types of editors have fallen out of fashion as content creation has gone digital, there are five types of editors that you will need to familiarize yourself with as you look to develop compelling content. 

5 Different Types of Editors

We’re focusing our list on the different types of editors that relate specifically to the category of online website content development only. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but a primer on the nuances between the different types of editors in the world of online content. 

Developmental Editor

People typically assume that the work of an editor starts off with a completed rough draft and rounds of feedback thereafter. However, developmental editors have the skill set necessary to work alongside your writer in their writing process. Ideally, the developmental editor acts as your writer's right-hand guy/gal, sharing ideas and feedback during each stage of the creative process.

Some of the tasks of developmental editors include:

  • Helping shape the foundation and outline of your content
  • Assisting your team develop a consistent tone in their writing
  • Working with your team to mold the direction of your content

Developmental editing is absolutely essential for long-form online content such as white papers or ebooks. Developmental editors are particularly effective in keeping a piece engaging and coherent throughout. A developmental editor will keep their eyes on the big picture and ensure that you stay on track and on time. 

Line-Editor

Many people often confuse the titles of line-editor with copyeditor (which we will cover below). The main distinction between these two types of content editors is that line-editors are often involved in the creative writing process. Some of the responsibilities of line-editors typically include: 

  • Reworking structure/order (i.e., sentences, phrase, and words)
  • Rearranging the order of certain passages 
  • Refining vocabulary choice

The role of the line-editor is to improve overall readability line by line in the copy by ensuring your style guide is adhered to while creating the smoothest experience possible for readers. Line-editors search for verbose grammar, words, and phrases and look to maintain a consistent tone in the prose of the copy. 

Copyeditor

On the other hand, the copyeditor is a perfectionist at heart. It is their job to review the project under a magnifying lens and check all the underlying mechanics of the piece for overall voice and term consistency. 

There has long been confusion regarding the similarities and differences between copyeditors and proofreaders (see below). However, it’s important to note that the copyediting role involves a more detail-oriented and nuanced skill set

This type of editor will: 

  • Rectify spelling, grammar, or language inconsistencies
  • Ensure compliance with general writing standards 
  • Create proper document formatting (headings, bullet lists, page number accuracy, etc.)  

The copyeditor has to address inaccurate typographic details, minor discrepancies, and unconvincing word choice as opposed to simply sifting through a piece of content for obvious typos or punctuation mishaps (i.e., more in the wheelhouse of a proofreader).  

For those interested, feel free to reference this in-depth guide published by the University of California Press which takes a detailed look at the responsibilities of a professional copyeditor. 

Proofreader

When you’re fully satisfied with the latest draft of your content, it would then be wise to hand it over to a proofreader for the final stage of editing. Generally, proofreaders will mostly focus on errors in grammar, spelling, and punctuation (i.e., "proofreading"). 

While it often seems that proofreaders are simply shadowing the editing duties of the copyeditor, it’s important to recognize that they complement one another. If the former were a general building inspector, then the latter would be the person in charge of reviewing the inner workings of the building (i.e., the lines of copy). 

This role is particularly important for drafting authoritative content where you or your company needs to appear as an expert in a specific field or as a credible source of information. 

For example:  

  • Informative articles
  • Technical reports
  • Ebooks or white papers

Proofreading is incredibly important, and it's the job of proofreaders to serve as the last line of defense to prevent typos and other grammar issues from slipping through the cracks. A meticulous proofreader normally allocates a series of at least two to three rounds of proofreading to comb through a piece before submitting the content for publication. 

Editor-in-Chief

If you’re outsourcing your editing to an agency, then the project will pass through a team of different types of editors and proofreaders until it reaches the final stage of editing. The editor-in-chief will typically be your point of contact at the agency throughout the entire timeline of a project.

Some of the responsibilities of the editor-in-chief include:

  • Establishing strict terms and style guides for a team of editors 
  • Assigning tasks to editors for team collaboration phases
  • Ensuring projects are on-time
  • Addressing any additional feedback or comments from the client 

This individual is the go-to editor according to the proponents of traditional content creation. However, an editor-in-chief is also likely to be the costlier option compared to hiring a freelance editor. For a first-hand look into how we develop and edit content for clients, check out our article on the topic.  

What to Look For When Hiring an Editor

Editing is a tricky business. The art of writing is plagued with a myriad of complex rules and dictates. However, it's not an exact science either. Ultimately, it's the content editor's role in question to use his/her own discretion when handling any type of edit. This is where finding a good editor and building trust makes a huge difference.

The next question that arises is what type of editor you want - a freelance editor or the services of an editing agency. 

An agency can offer the added benefit of having teams of editors looking over your work for that extra polished, final result. However, independent freelancers are typically more responsive to your needs and will give extra care and attention to the ideas you voice.  The following are some tips for hiring and working with editors.

Brief the Editor 

Once you have made your choice, it's important to clearly define the way you want the website copy handled by the editor (i.e the scope and focus). The more clarity and transparency upfront between the two of you, the better everything will flow on the copyediting journey.  

Are you open to comments on minor changes in the direction and phrasing of the blog content at large, or simply want a professional copyediting maestro to look over your work to catch any issues? Make sure you inform the editor how much creative freedom is acceptable while editing. 

Allocate a Budget 

Prices may vary greatly depending on your business needs and the scale of your project, so make sure to shop around with multiple copywriting editors or companies before deciding. Try offering a two-hour trial period to see which types of editing styles are better suited to your tastes. Remember, if you skim the internet for the lowest-priced editor available, don't expect a top-quality result.

Look for Red Flags 

Whether you are contracting with a freelance editor or employing the editing services of an agency, it’s important to work with a reputable professional. You can avoid future problems and save yourself a bunch of time by keeping in mind some common red flags/issues as you look to hire.

First, is the editor available immediately?

If you are able to book an editor immediately, this might speak to their lack of experience and pedigree. However, this shouldn’t be an immediate disqualifier either. If something sounds off, try to learn more. Get to know the editor personally through a lengthy correspondence (or perhaps an introductory zoom call) to build a trusting relationship. 

Second, is the quote too good to be true?

A quality, professional editor doesn’t come cheap. So if the price of their service is seriously undercutting the competition, then ask yourself if that gamble is worth taking. Chances are you’ll end up losing time and money in addition to an incomplete project. 

Third, are they making unrealistic claims?

An editor can only do so much. If they make outlandish claims regarding their editing skills or potential ROI, then maybe think again about hiring their services. 

Sound Editing Drives Compelling Content

Publishing content has never been easier with the plethora of online platforms to choose from. While it can be difficult to pinpoint the exact type of editor required for your project with the variety of options available (i.e., line-editor, proofreader, developmental editor etc.), editors are absolutely essential for avoiding mistakes and developing value-driven content.

Which types of editors do you use? Let us know in the comments!

vincent d'eletto wordagents ceo Vincent D'Eletto

Hey, I'm Vin. Founder and CEO of WordAgents.com. I create content that ranks really well on search engines for our clients. I'm also deeply involved with the SEO community; maintaining a portfolio of successful, profitable affiliate websites. You can find me playing guitar, drinking scotch, and hanging out with my German Shorthaired Pointer when I'm not working!


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