What goes into a digital content editor’s toolkit?

It wasn’t too long ago that I was editing other people’s writing with a pen. I would gleefully underline, circle, and cross out lines of text. Proudly utilizing all the proofreader’s marks I had learned from the Chicago Manual of Style, I would indicate where and how the text should be nipped or tucked. This mostly analog approach still works, but isn’t always efficient when creating content for digital media on tight deadlines.

The editing process has become increasingly collaborative, even with decentralized or remote teams, with changes happening in real time whenever possible. Whether you’re adding tethered comments to selected text, or making edits on the fly, things happen faster and lend themselves more to dialogue than just making corrections. But it’s not just the methods that have changed. Anyone who edits digital content has to consider more than the quality of the writing.

What digital content editors do?

Planning, ideation, and content strategy development, as well as mapping out editorial calendars can take place offline, and apply to both digital and print publishing. They are critical components of an editor’s role, which bears the responsibility for seeing all planned content in the context of a larger business or publishing strategy.

Unlike someone writing for print media, anyone who creates or edits digital content has to oversee additional content features.

  • Business goals. How will your content help the bottom line? Will it be through building brand recognition and sentiment? Will it be a sales enablement tool? Whatever it is, it should have a job to do.
  • Scheduling. Publishing cycles on the web are brief. Digital content editors need to map out content calendars that lead to a frequent, steady cadence.
  • Keywords. Content intended for digital media needs to be optimized for search. In order to drive new traffic to your website, content needs to be edited with SEO best practices in mind.
  • Cross links to other content. Each piece of content should fit into a broader context and provide an easy breadcrumb trail to other related pieces of content that keep readers engaged.
  • Publishing platform. If it doesn’t go to print, where does it go? Digital content editors need to manage a content hub—possibly a blog or entire website—and seek out opportunities to publish original or syndicated content in other places where it can be discovered.
  • Promotion and distribution. Hitting “publish” isn’t enough. For content to reach readers, it has to be promoted. Even if social media and lead generation campaigns don’t fall under the content marketer’s purview,
  • Effectiveness. Now more than ever, business outcomes and influence can be tied back to individual pieces of content. A content marketer or digital content editor doesn’t stop when the editing process ends. Their work spans the lifetime of a piece of content, from initial idea to resulting revenue.

What tools do digital content editors need?

If you can remember 15 years back or so, print content was still king, and QuarkXpress was the dominant player in publication layout—even if not everyone felt it was truly a gold standard. In the digital world, technology solutions crop up every day, providing an a la carte buffet of applications content marketers can use to get their work done.

Whether you prefer a mix of solutions for digital content creation and editing, or would like an integrated content marketing tool or platform to get the job done, it’s best to start with a list of tasks. When you understand what needs to be done and how, you’re better positioned to select the software that will meet your all planning and editorial needs. Include the following considerations in your assessment.

  • Strategy development and goal setting
  • Planning and ideation
  • Editorial calendar management
  • Workflow and process management
  • Assigning, reviewing, and editing content
  • Optimizing content
  • Publishing and distributing content
  • Promoting content
  • Measuring content impact on business

A digital content editor—or content marketer—has a broader and more technologically complex role than her predecessors. The scope of responsibilities and skills is larger, and the complexity can be a challenge, for sure. However, this role also has an unprecedented opportunity to set meaningful business goals and measure the effectiveness of content marketing—showing how essential it is to growing the bottom line.

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