When you’re getting a business off the ground, it’s easy to want to pinch pennies. Especially in areas you think you’re pretty decent at. But we stick by our assertion that there are some things you just need to bite the bullet and hire a pro for. Just like hiring a professional photographer or using a visual designer for your website, having a copy editor polish your copy is definitely one of those areas.
The words that speak for you — from your website, to your blog posts, your PR materials, and even your product instructions — will make a lasting impression on prospective customers. Clear, succinct, error-free writing is critical to presenting your business professionally and gaining trust even from the first exposure.
“But I’m a decent writer!” you may be thinking. “What can a copy editor do for me?” As it turns out, plenty. Here are five ways a copy editor is a critical piece of your communications team.
What can a copy editor do for me?
- Catch your mistakes. Maybe you know your its from it’s and you never ever misuse their for they’re. But even if you’re a great writer and even if you reread your own work, you’re going to miss some of your errors and typos. Because your brain is generalizing while it writes, upon proofreading it will read what it expects to see. You know that you meant to write “Grandpa,” so that’s what your brain reads, even if you actually wrote “Granpda.” And a copy editor will not only be better at catching mistakes, they’re also trained in fine art of grammar. Breaking up sentences into readable bites, catching mistaken phrasing (“statue” of limitations, anyone?), and adding commas where the reader’s brain needs to take a break are all ways that copy editors keep your words from being a barrier to your message.
- Help you tell your best story. You’ve been part of your story from day one. The details that are most salient to you may not be the ones that are the most compelling on your website or tantalizing in a press release. You have a very short amount of time to hook your potential customers, appeal to their emotions, and sell yourself before they move on. A good copy editor will help trim, whittle, and shape your brand’s story, retaining the big picture through perfect placement of small details. As a reader, it makes the difference between feeling like you’ve digested information (possibly relevant, possibly not), or feeling like you’ve been taken on a journey. Help your readers connect with you on a personal level by giving them a great story.
- Find the holes. You know how to operate your widget, so you may not notice if your written instructions are missing a critical step that a customer needs. A copy editor is a set of fresh eyes, an unbiased outsider, coming at your copy like a potential customer would. They’re going to find these holes, and work with you to fill them, before you have 10,000 copies printed and shipped.
- Make it short and sweet. Blaise Pascal quipped (and many others have paraphrased), “I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.” Do you regularly write paragraphs with more than three to five sentences? Include all the details? Use four analogies where one will do? Your readers don’t have time for that. They’re inundated with words and information all. day. long. When faced with a “wall of text” on your website or in your marketing emails, they’re more likely to move on than to keep exploring. A copy editor will help you say exactly what you want succinctly and with no wasted words, making it quick, easy, and stress-free for your readers to learn about your products and services and take action.
- Refine your voice. A good copy editor won’t take your voice away. They’ll actually help you find it and polish it. Whether your brand’s voice is refined, authoritative, or whimsical, copy editors truly bring it out and help it ring crystal clear across all channels.
Whether you’re unveiling your website, alerting the press to big news, educating customers on a blog, or any number of other written communications, good, clean copy is worth its weight in gold. Don’t leave it to chance by rushing your words out the door. Hire a good copyeditor today.