So your content marketing strategy is in place, your writers have been hard at work, and the first pieces are starting to roll in. Looking good! Now it’s time to finalize all this content and get it ready for publication.
There’s just one last step you have to take … editing.
Editing projects can seem simple at first, but if you’ve ever tried managing one, you know they can quickly become overwhelming.
This is especially true if the project involves many documents, people, and teams. You may find yourself in a position of not knowing the first thing about who should be assigned certain editing tasks or what the workflow should look like.
Fortunately, editing projects aren’t as complicated as they seem once you nail down some of the basics of properly managing one.
Keep reading to learn seven tips on how to assemble and manage a copy editing team so you can deliver editing projects that produce clear, error-free writing.
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While many companies and agencies may be tempted to assign editing to writers, hiring a separate team of dedicated copy editors is always in your best interest.
Because even though writers may know more about grammar, word choice, and run-on sentences than the average person, their main focus is still on writing. Their specialty is to focus on big-picture ideas and communicate concepts properly—not comb through a document for mistakes.
Writers are also prone to missing writing errors when reviewing their own work. They may subconsciously gloss over awkward phrasing or spelling mistakes because they know what it’s supposed to say since they’re the ones who wrote it.
So how do you know which editors to hire?
- Look for editors with at least a few years of editing experience, which will provide them with the skills and knowledge needed to tackle complex editing projects.
- You can also look for people who have editing certifications or training programs completed, such as those offered by universities and colleges.
- A degree in writing- and editing-related fields, such as journalism, English, communications, linguistics, or even marketing, is also a good sign.
- Another option is to hire freelancers or companies that specialize in editing. This is a good choice if you have editing projects with short turnaround times because editing companies will often assign multiple editors to your project to ensure it’s completed accurately and on time.
The Super Copy Editors team has extensive experience editing text in the advertising, marketing, and education industries. Learn more about how we can help you.
Once you’ve assembled your editing team, the next step is to create a style guide that outlines your brand’s preferred language and editing style.
The more information you include in this style guide, the less time you’ll spend going back and forth later. There will also be fewer consistency errors in your final product.
Your style guide should include things like:
- Formatting guidelines, such as those involving fonts, spacing, line length, page margins, and headers/footers.
- Grammar rules, including subject-verb agreement, pronoun use, and possessive forms.
- Punctuation guidelines, such as which types of punctuation to use in certain cases (e.g., ellipses) and how to handle quotations.
- Spelling preferences, such as whether you prefer U.S. or UK spelling.
- Style and tone guidelines that specify whether writing should be formal, casual, fun, or serious, or use specific keywords.
- If applicable, SEO guidelines, such as keyword density and use of internal links.
Although creating a style guide may seem like an extra step, it’s well worth the effort, saving you time and headaches in the long run by establishing editing expectations upfront.
Plus, it’ll ensure your documents are formatted and written consistently so they’re easier to read and understand.
A reliable workflow is key to getting any project done, and editing projects are no different.
When you create your workflow, you need to establish a clear process for how your editing team will approach each project from start to finish. It should be as detailed as possible and include protocols for how each step should be done.
Key factors to consider when creating your editing workflow include:
- How many stages of editing your project will contain.
- How many people will be involved in each step (and what roles they’ll play).
- What communication channels you’ll use to communicate with your editing team, such as email, chat tools, and phone calls.
- Any specific technical requirements for editing documents or content files, such as obtaining file-sharing permissions and ensuring account passwords are available to those who need them.
- Timelines for how long each step should take.
- Details on which person each editor or writer should communicate with for questions, concerns, or passing along their work to the next step.
The more details you include, the more you can eliminate miscommunications, confusion, and delays.
Even with careful planning, editing projects can still experience potentially unavoidable hiccups and setbacks that need to be addressed.
Occasionally, a project won’t be delivered on time, whether due to technical errors, family emergencies, miscommunication between teams, or other issues.
A good project manager will anticipate these hiccups and build them into the workflow. As a rule of thumb, always assume some aspect of the project will be late and set your internal deadlines earlier than needed.
When you do this, you set up a win-win situation. The best that could happen is you get the project done earlier than expected.
The worst that could happen? You still get the project in on time, even if it’s late according to your internal deadlines.
One of the most common mistakes in writing and editing projects is not keeping track of the version history.
Sure, this might seem tedious if the document is on a streamlined path and doesn’t require revisiting past versions. But what if your boss suddenly wants a deleted section added back in? What if you need to revisit a past version to investigate an internal dispute over who wrote or edited a certain section?
Just as you save pay stubs, code commits, and records of employment, having a good way to keep track of old versions of your editing projects pays off.
To do this, you can use several methods. Some writing programs, like Google Docs, automatically save version histories of documents. You can also create an internal spreadsheet where each editor saves the version of the document they worked on while noting the changes they made.
Not only will this help you save your version history, but it will also help you keep track of productivity.
Poor communication among editing staff, writers, and stakeholders can turn an easy project into a nightmare.
Even a small dispute or miscommunication about something like formatting can mean redoing hours of work. In the worst cases, it can even cause unnecessary friction or animosity among different members of your team.
To avoid this issue, it’s important to have clear protocols for communication, such as weekly check-ins or daily editing meetings with your editing team to ensure everyone’s on the same page.
Practice doing a daily or weekly debrief that explains where a project is at and gives everyone the space to report on any issues, victories, or productivity updates.
If you’re working with a remote team, it also pays to have established communication pathways where writers, editors, and other stakeholders can quickly discuss any issues that come up.
It’s no secret that one of the most universally disliked aspects of the working environment is micromanagers—people who want to control every little move their team makes.
While it’s important to stay on top of what your team is doing and be aware of any potential problems, it’s also important to realize when you need to take a step back and let your writers and editors do their thing.
This can be a tricky balance to strike, especially for editing projects with tight deadlines and high expectations.
However, once you implement the proper guidelines, workflow, and communication channels and incorporate some wiggle room for error, you can create a team that works fairly autonomously.
You should also foster a culture where your team feels comfortable coming to you when there’s an issue. That way, you won’t have to check in as often.
Don’t forget! Download “7 Expert Tips for Managing Editing Projects With a Team” to keep it handy and take action on it. Click here to download it now.
Of course, the best way to conduct an editing project is to leave it to someone who already knows what they’re doing.
If you feel overwhelmed with managing a team of copy editors, don’t feel pressured to do it all yourself.
Super Copy Editors offers extensive editing services for business and marketing writing done by skilled experts who can ensure your content has the right tone, spelling, grammar, and everything else you need to get great results. Get your free quote today.