Relative to someone who doesn’t know how to write, I am an phenomenal editor with inhuman sentence-diagramming superpowers.
Relative to a real editor, however, I am a 9th grade foreign exchange student who thinks APA is a type of monkey.
The answer to whether or not you, personally, right now, need an editor is going to come down to the classic question of ROI. Here’s how to break it down and decide if you should hire one:
Who Needs To Hire An Editor?
Do you need to hire an editor? The answer is “Yes” if any of the following describes you:
People with a good margin on each blog post. Penelope Trunk has an editor, Penelope Trunk makes enough to pay an editor (and would make so many social faux pas without an editor that it’s totally worth it).
I hired an editor for the first article I wrote for $650. I wanted to be sure it was the best thing I’d ever written and to deliver something that would impress the client so hard that he couldn’t help but hire me again. I paid $100, had a great experience, and didn’t get another assignment from the client.
People who don’t know how to write for the Internet. If you’re jumping into writing online with a writing background from academia or business and your income would be sufficiently damaged if you don’t get traction right away (AKA you write boring posts or you make formatting errors that eat away at your professionalism), you could use an editor or writing coach to help you through the learning curve when you start writing online.
People who are submitting to publications with strict guidelines or for whom errors are a huge deal. When you’re trying to get in with The Washington Post or you are running a presidential campaign where punctuation can be life or death to your reputation, you need to work with a “quality control” type person who can bring a unique perspective to what you write.
People who run a website with many authors. If you have a lot of people contributing to your site, errors and silly problems can compound over time when each writer doesn’t abide by the editorial guidelines. In this situation, an editor would bring a lot of value as far as consistency and saving you trouble down the line when you have to redo the SEO for all of your posts because your writers didn’t understand SEO.
Who Doesn’t Need To Hire An Editor?
You definitely don’t need to hire an editor if any of the following describes you:
People without money. If you’re writing for free with no income and no projected income (that is, it isn’t an investment in income you know is coming), you should keep your money or invest in a course that will help you make more money.
People who write for a company that has its own editors. I have two staff writing positions that come with editors for the work. I could probably get brownie points with my editors for paying an editor before I submit to my real editor, but this is simply a meta-expense that I’ll pass on.
People who have an English background and respect the process. Those of us who have a solid grasp of English grammar, tone, and who leave enough time in the writing process for multiple rounds of self-revisions can probably get by without an editor.
(After all, I have never met an article that wouldn’t improve from a week of distance, and that week of distance often lets you see the writing in a whole new light similar to how your editor would see it.)
Since this describes me, I rely on my long writing process and Grammarly for my day-to-day work and assignments. My writing process allows me to get the crap writing out, form them into great ideas, and then remove the clutter, overall removing the likelihood of errors in my writing.
The Grammarly software help lets me get an unbiased 3rd party perspective on all of my passive verbs and duplicate words and clean up otherwise long-winded sentences like this one. It’s saved me so many embarrassing errors that you wouldn’t believe.
Now for the Sweet Grammarly Giveaway
You read this post, so you deserve something for free. Share this post with a friend and leave a comment below with your thoughts on hiring editors (or just a funny emoticon) and you’ll be entered into a random drawing for a free 1-year premium Grammarly subscription. Bonus points for any editors in the house who would like to offer a rebuttal! Contest ends March 11th.