When you’re working on a content project — whether that’s a large website, an e-book, a magazine or a blog — you might be responsible for hiring a content team to help with your copy. But what kind of help do you need, and what will your budget allow?
Not all content professionals bring the same skills to the table. And savvy project managers need to understand what skills are needed and how to maximize them. Here are a few things to keep in mind about key editorial roles as you build your content team.
There are a two basic types of content strategists. The front-end or creative content strategist will analyze your marketing efforts and audience, and help you generate great story ideas and possibly even execute on a content plan. Then, there’s the back-end content strategist, who’s focused on how we deliver content — the technology. (Check out this article from the Content Marketing Institute to learn more about these two types.)
Strategy work can be tricky to outsource because it is often the work you really enjoy doing. And sometimes it feels like an outsider couldn’t possibly get far enough inside to figure it out for you. However, for many fast-paced organizations, there simply isn’t time built in for creative strategy on top of the regular day-to-day workload.
In cases like this, content strategy might make sense and be something you hire for annually, quarterly or on an ongoing basis. And while content strategy isn’t cheap, you may be able to get a bigger bang for your buck by working with an agency or individual who can handle strategy and help with execution, too.
There are many types of writers with varying skill sets — and certainly, varying rates. But in general, you should expect to pay somewhere between $.50 and $1.50 per word, depending on the type and complexity of your project. A skilled writer can synthesize information you’ve already created, organize and rewrite information, and even create fresh content based on meetings, research, interviews and other input. A writer can also present ideas for other stories and offer insights on your messaging.
An adept content editor or line editor will provide an exhaustive review of your copy, repairing typos and errors, and suggesting other improvements. They’ll ask questions and identify holes in your content. Effective editors are excellent writers, they’re strategic, and they see the big picture.
Proofreader or copy editor.
The last stage in any process should include a solid proofreader (or copy editor). A traditional copy editor will be less involved in rework than a content editor, but should still be able to identify holes or other significant problems with copy. A copy editor will catch typos and enforce a style guide. A proofreader will catch typos and misspellings, but is not reading for content. Generally, they won’t spend time making sentences better if they don’t read well, or calling out any logical problems or holes in the copy.
The upside of proofreading, however, is it tends to be the least expensive of all of your backup options and is absolutely essential to the quality of your final product. Depending on your budget (and who else you have on your team), it’s ideal to have a content editor as well as a proofreader at your disposal, in addition to strategists and writers.
Certainly, any number of wordsmiths are adept at more than one of these roles. And a professional writer or editor should be able to tell you what he or she specializes in. So, don’t be afraid to ask (and do your research!) to ensure you’re getting the content skills you need for your project.