7 reasons to hire an ethical proofreader
Producing good quality, professional writing that upholds your business’ reputation and values is a key part of successful marketing. However, many business owners lack confidence in their writing abilities and worry that what they’ve written may not make sense or connect with their ideal audience.
But how do you know whether proofreading is the right service for you? When and how do you get started with a proofreader? And why should you work with an ethical proofreader?
Claudia from Translate Digital Marketing and I decided to produce a two-part blog to help answer these questions by providing an insight into the world of copywriting and editing. And if you stick around until the end of the post, there’s a little treat in store to help you on your way.
What is proofreading and how does it differ from editing?
If you have ideas about what you want to talk about but you just don’t know how to get them onto the page, then perhaps a copywriter is what you need. Claudia’s focuses on the hows and whys of working with an ethical copywriter.
If you have text but it needs some tweaking, these explanations may help you decide how much editing you need:
This may be where you have some writing and ideas but the structure, language and presentation of the document need work to help it flow. This may require some rewriting.
A copy-editor will make sure your sentence structures are grammatically correct and that they make sense and read clearly. They check for wordiness and that the tone of your writing is right for your audience – whilst you may be an expert in what you do, using jargon may make it difficult for customers to engage with your content and therefore you.
This is usually the final check before your writing is published or shared. A proofreader will check for errors and inconsistencies in grammar, spelling and punctuation. They may also check that your layout and formatting are consistent and your chapters/headings are where they should be.
I’m still not sure which level of editing I need – who should I contact?
To confuse matters, many editors and proofreaders have overlaps in the services they offer and may use different definitions for the services they provide. However, this is something that would be clarified in a conversation (see our free content toolkit download).
As an example, I refer to myself as a proofreader, but my services also include minor editing to make sure that your sentences flow clearly and that your messages aren’t hidden by wordiness, fluff or ambiguity.
When you reach out to an editor or proofreader, always have a conversation with them about what you think your writing needs. I always ask my potential clients about the areas of writing that they feel they struggle with, whether they just need a light-touch check for typos or whether they’re concerned about waffling or need someone objective to check that their writing makes sense. For longer documents, I always ask for a sample of the client’s project (usually around 1,000 words). I complete a test edit so I know how long it will take me to complete (and produce a quote accordingly), and so you know whether we’re a good fit.
5 reasons you should hire a proofreader
Outsourcing your writing to someone else can be daunting, but it’s so worth it! Here are a few of my favourite reasons.
You’ll feel proud of your writing
Writing for and about your business takes a lot of energy and creativity. It showcases your values and passions. It’s only right, therefore, that you produce something that is polished, accurate and something to be proud of. The writing and creativity come from you; I just help it to shine!
You’ll feel confident that your writing will connect with your audience
Most of my clients reach out to me because they’ve stared at their content for so long that they can no longer tell whether it makes sense. You know what you’re trying to say, but have you explained it in a way that your audience can relate to and understand? Hiring a proofreader is a great way to introduce some objectivity into your writing and determine whether it’s clear and relevant to your audience.
You’ll feel clearer about what you want to say
We’re all guilty of adding wordiness and fluff to our writing. Unnecessary repetition of words and sentences is something I often come across. Sadly, we’re all strapped for time these days and we need the facts – fast. Cut out the words that aren’t needed, and your messages and calls to action become so much clearer to your audience. This means they find what they’re looking for quicker and know what the next steps are. When you work with me, I offer suggestions for tightening your writing to make it flow more succinctly.
You’ll fall in love with your writing again
This was an actual testimonial from a website edit that I carried out earlier this year! The novelty of spending weeks/days/months pouring your thoughts and creativity into a website or document can soon wear off and your writing may lose its sparkle. The fresh eyes of a proofreader can take the pressure off. A proofreader can bring new life to your writing and remind you why you felt inspired to share your inspiration in the first place.
You’ll learn new skills to apply to any future writing you do
When I work on a project, I don’t just butcher your writing without explanation. Where I feel something needs a comment, e.g. a punctuation error you have made several times or a minor edit I made to clarify your meaning, I will offer a simple and accessible explanation so that you can take that gem away with you and apply it to your other writing.
Ethical proofreaders: 2 extra reasons to take the leap!
There are loads of proofreaders and editors out there, so why choose an ethical or green proofreader over the rest? Perhaps you’re exploring ways to green your business and reduce its impact on the planet. Maybe you feel more comfortable working with someone who shares similar values to you. I know I do.
Knowing the values and ethics of your service providers is similar to investing in a product. If it’s important to you to know the source of, say, your organic fruit and veg or to know how your clothing was manufactured and transported, then you may also be conscious about the businesses you work with and what they are doing to keep their environmental impact low.
Working with green and ethical businesses keeps your supply chain green and ethical. Perhaps this is also a selling point for your audience!
Here are some of the ways I try to keep my impact low:
I am an ambassador for Carbon Trap, who plant elephant grass and wildflowers to sequester CO2. So far I have planted 50 elephant grass plants and 1,000 wildflowers, capturing 1,330kg of CO2.
I recently reduced the carbon footprint of my website by 31% simply by focusing on my images (read it here).
My home is powered by renewable energy, and I use the Greener Hours app to run my larger appliances at hours when the energy is greenest.
I am the co-host of the Green Pea Podcast, which offers tips for being green and ethical in business.
When should I reach out to a proofreader?
Proofreading is often the last stage before publishing, so it’s common for clients to contact me at short notice. However, it’s good practice to start your search for a proofreader earlier in your writing process. If you leave it too late you might be caught in a situation where a proofreader suggests that you actually need a deeper edit or that a copywriter might be best for you. When you’re up against a deadline this isn’t welcome news!
The other issue to consider is your budget. Planning ahead and knowing exactly what your writing needs means that you can allow for this in your budget. Copy-editing and structural editing take longer and therefore come at a higher price. Speaking to a proofreader early in the writing process clarifies costs and avoids you being in a situation where you’re forced to publish unchecked content because you’ve not budgeted for the proofreading service – it happens more than you might think! (For a rough idea of editing and proofreading costs, check out the pricing guidelines from the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading.)
So if you’re looking for a green or ethical proofreader to help you create content that you’re proud of and confident to share with your audience, know that I am fully committed to my green business journey. You can email me for a chat or come and hang out on Instagram or LinkedIn.
Your content toolkit
If you want to know why to hire an ethical copywriter, head over to Claudia’s blog for the second part of our mini-series.
We also have a little treat for you. We know that outsourcing can be daunting, so we’ve put together a toolkit to help you prepare for a chat with your ethical copywriter or proofreader of choice. You can get your free copy here.
© 2021 Emma Hewlett Proofreading