You’re a WHAT?! A tiny pocket dictionary to help you hire the RIGHT person for your copy needs
Have you ever had the experience of hiring someone and realizing, halfway through working together, they just might not be who you thought they were?
Not that they’re a serial killer posing as a fuzzy college mascot or anything über traumatic like that…more like you misunderstood what kind of person you were hiring?
Yeah. That situation right there is a total buzzkill. (You saw that coming. Okay, enough with the dark puns…)
There’s so many different titles and roles and honorifics out there, it can be difficult to understand exactly what you’re getting.
I don’t want this to happen to you, so I thought I’d create a little quick guide to help you sort through all the people who could potentially help you with your copy. Kinda like a pocket dictionary. A very tiny pocket dictionary that would fit in that weird finger-sized pocket in your jeans…
A copy editor is the person who takes personal offense to Vampire Weekend’s verbal assault on the Oxford comma.
These are your grammar gurus, your comma commanders, your hyphen heroes. They’re gonna make sure your writing is consistent (for instance, you start off with no serial commas and then halfway through…they’re everywhere), and they’ll make you follow the style guide to the freakin’ letter.
They’ll also help with things you learned in English Comp but quickly forget as soon as you left your gen ed classes behind. Things like structure, tone, flow, voice, style…
You see a lot of copy editors when you’re talking journalism (newspapers and magazines) and books, but they definitely work in the online business space, too.
Not to be confused with an editor whose job is to wrangle writers and help them shape their ideas and words into something fan-freakin’-tastic.
An editor will review your work and load it up with comments, suggestions, advice, encouragement, probably some snide remarks meant to make your copy 70 bajillion times better.
They’ll plan content and ideas, they’ll brainstorm headlines and titles, they’ll call you on your bullshit. Like, when you forget your blog post was about how to take a non-awkward selfie and suddenly morphs into a commentary on the state of social media today and its effect on our psyche.
The editor is your best friend when you kinda sort might like to write but don’t always know the best way to go about actually extracting the ideas from your brain and crafting them into coherent thoughts that people will understand.
Sometimes you might see a title like “developmental editor” or “content editor” or even “assistant editor,” “associate editor,” and “senior editor” (especially if you’re working with an agency). Same deal essentially.
Now, the term “proofreader” is sometimes used interchangeably with copy editor. But it really shouldn’t be.
Yes, proofreaders are also word warriors usually perfectly capable of restructuring a sentence to make it flow better. But their main job is really to catch all the typos.
They don’t do any rewriting or revising because they’re like your last line of defense against errors. By the time the copy gets to them, it should be 99% final.
And that brings us to the writer.
The writer is the one who puts the words on the page. The one who communicates ideas by cleverly stringing together sentences (and non-sentences).
They can be artistic. They can be cranky. (Oh, hey…) They can produce a ton of content – blog posts, emails, newsletters, websites, pitches, show notes, funnels, sales pages, ads, books, articles, about pages, social media posts, product descriptions…all the things you can create with words.
Think of the writer as the person who’s going to do it for you. They’re going to take all the ideas you’ve spewed on them and turn them into something coherent and beautiful.
Other euphemisms for writer? Well, sometimes copywriter (see below). But also…content creator, content writer, blog writer, communications specialist, storyteller, content manager, technical writer, digital media specialist…not to mention all the meant-to-impress-but-leave-you-scratching-your-head titles like Blank Page Eradicator, Copy Engineer, Chief Copy Officer, Sentence Team Lead…
But, wait. There’s also a copywriter.
There’s some debate about this: What’s the actual difference between a copywriter and a writer?
Some argue they’re pretty much the same thing. Others claim they’re wildly different. (It doesn’t really matter what I think…this is all just for your own edification, k?)
If you wanna get technical, a copywriter is someone who specializes in writing copy that converts and makes money. So marketing type stuff like ads, sales pages, brochures, product descriptions, launch emails…
They’re bomb.com (do people say that anymore?) at using the persuasion power of words to get people to actually click that button you’ve got at the bottom of the page.
They sometimes masquerade (or maybe moonlight…) as technical copywriters or ads specialists. Among countless other creative titles I imagine.
Almost forgot the ghostwriter. I know, right?!
And, sadly, this isn’t that Ghostwriter show from the 90s. Which I totally watched, by the way.
Ghostwriters (the people) do have some things in common with Ghostwriter (the spirit) though. Like…they communicate in writing. And they share a name.
That might be where the similarities (and my memory of the show…) come to a screeching halt.
Ghostwriters are writers that get paid to do the writing for someone else without taking any credit. Someone hires them to write and that someone slaps their name all over the end product. A ghostwriter’s also pretty awesome at writing what said person wanted to but wasn’t able to do on their own, for whatever reason.
Most of the time, the ghostwriter isn’t allowed to even brag. Like, “Yeah, I totally wrote that best-selling novel you and everyone else was reading last summer.” They’re sworn to totally secrecy.
Some people specialize in just one of these. And…yep, some people can do more than one of these things (like me). Shock. Awe. Amazement.
So, next time you’re looking for help with your content, make sure you know what kind of help you’re looking for. You’ll be oh-so-disappointed if you need a writer but you ask for an editor. Lesson learned, eh?
If you’re looking for help with your copy – be it writing, editing, or proofreading – let’s have a chat about what you actually need and how I might be able to help you. I’m one of those multitalented (flexible, versatile, all-around) folks I may have mentioned above…😉