Guest Post by Laura Bontje
You’re a communicator—even if that’s not your job.
Whenever you write a product description, a social media post, or a story for your website, you’re using the power of your words to inspire your readers to act. And whenever you write, you should edit.
Not all companies have dedicated editors (or writers!) on staff, and that’s okay! While you stay focused on your company’s mission, an editor can help you connect with your audience by ensuring your message is clear, compelling, and correct.
Here are the top three reasons your business or brand needs an editor.
1. You want people to understand your content
Pop quiz: How many Canadians aged 25–65 have low literacy skills?
The answer may surprise you: according to Statistics Canada, it’s more than forty percent. Stress and exhaustion can also affect information processing speed. No matter who you’re writing for, never assume that your readers are all starting from the same place.
Everything you write has a purpose, and your audience has to understand your content before they can act on it.
In other words, clarity leads to conversions.
An editor can help you refine your writing to make it understandable for your target audience. That can mean different things for different groups. For example, the way you would compose a car seat manual for an audience of child passenger safety technicians (CPSTs) might be different from how you’d write an article about car seat safety for new parents.
Format and structure also play a significant role in editing. Are people likely to read your content on their phones? Does the information need to fit in a small space like a product tag? Is your information organized in a logical order? Would headings or lists aid readability?
Whether you want people to learn, click, subscribe, or purchase, an editor can help you remove roadblocks for your audience.
2. You want people to remember your brand
You’ve written an article about your business. Your colleague contributes a paragraph about their specialty. You send it off to your boss, who rephrases a few sentences. With that kind of teamwork, your article is bound to be better . . . isn’t it?
Not always. People’s writing styles can be as unique as their fingerprints, and writing by committee often leaves those fingerprints smudged all over your work. When each author brings a new voice to the piece, the final result can seem disjointed to readers.
An editor will smooth out the different styles until just one voice remains: your brand’s.
Your brand identity is crucial to your business. It’s a promise of quality and consistency.
It’s also the tone that your audience comes to expect. Does your offbeat banter make readers laugh as they browse social media? Do your warm personal stories tug at readers’ heartstrings? Does your authoritative content make you a go-to source for reliable information?
Good editing will embrace your identity and help you craft memorable, effective content to keep you top of mind for your audience.
3. You want people to trust your authority
If you’ve ever chuckled at a sign that says “Fresh” Food or a headline that says Brian instead of Brain, you know that a small error can undermine the intent of a message.
We all make mistakes, but we also make snap judgments.
Even if your grammar has no bearing on your ability to make a quality product or offer superb service, some readers may subconsciously wonder if a lack of attention to detail in one area will mean a lack of attention to detail in another.
An editor will find those typos and grammatical errors before they reach the public. They’ll also focus on creating internal consistency. They’ll follow your preferred style guide or help you create your own, considering questions like these:
- Do you use the Oxford comma or leave it out?
- Do you talk about your company in the first person (“we”) or in the third person (“Company X”)?
- Which country’s spelling conventions do you follow?
Most importantly, an editor will be flexible, because sometimes a rule is made to be broken. At the end of the day, editing isn’t about fixing your work: it’s about helping you make your communication as clear and compelling as it can be.
How to find an editor
Editing is a professional process, but it’s also a personal one. You want to find an editor whose services and style are a fit for your company’s needs.
There are a number of ways to choose an editor for your project (and professional associations like Editors Canada have directories to help guide your search). Many people find it helpful to get sample edits from a few different editors to find the right fit.
If you’d like to see what professional editing could bring to your brand, let’s talk!
I’d love to learn more about your goals.
Laura Bontje is a freelance editor and a member of Editors Canada. She provides editing and content writing services for businesses, novelists, and picture book authors. You can reach her at www.laurabontje.com or follow her on Facebook.