What is a content editor and what do they do?

Are you wondering what a digital content editor does? Welcome to the world of digital publishing, where editors make words sing and people buy.

A Content Editor (capitalized) in the publishing or journalism world is generally the person in charge of making sure that content is produced, edited, and finally published on the internet. They are sometimes also responsible for content ideation, writing, distribution of content, and even some SEO knowledge and best practices.

In the digital agency world, this same role is usually known as:

  • Content Manager
  • Head of Content
  • Content Marketing Manager

A content editor (lower case) is the term used for someone whose job is editing already created content to ensure it follows brand guidelines, is technically correct according to the prescribed style via copy editing, and is free of typos and errors after proofreading.

This editor may also make sure that the writer follows the writing brief. This editor is not responsible for content strategy, assigning work to writers, or the ultimate publishing of the content.

In this article we’ll talk about: 

  1. the various duties this job includes 
  2. the difference between a Content Editor and a content editor, and 
  3. how to know which type you should hire

We’ll also share some information about how to hire a content editor, where to find or post content editor jobs, content editor salaries, and how to prepare yourself to be a content editor.

What Does A Content Editor Do?

Content editing jobs can be broad or very focused, depending on the company and the team around the editor.

The role of a content editor could involve any or all of the following:

  1. Overseeing or owning the writing and editing lifecycle (from substantive to proofreading) of content
  2. Content planning
  3. Content writer management
  4. SEO checking (using Frase, Clearscope, or similar programs)
  5. Working with the design team or designers to produce graphics for content
  6. Analyzing content performance
  7. Writing blog posts, sales copy, and more

As you can see, the job of a content editor can be quite broad depending on the specific role/s they’re being asked to fill. 

What Is The Difference Between a Content Editor and a “content editor”?

Believe it or not, there is a difference between a Content Editor and a content editor.

A Content Editor (capitalized) is a formal title most often used in the publishing world. Much like an Editor-in-chief is responsible for overseeing the lifecycle of content production for a publication, a Content Editor is usually the person in charge of a specific section of a publication’s content.

Content Editors most often report to the Editor-in-chief. A Content Editor at a marketing agency is most often called a Content Manager or Content Marketing Manager to avoid confusing their work with the work of an actual copy editor.

A content editor (lowercase) is a more informal but no less vital role. While a Content Editor is accurately thought of as a manager, a content editor is responsible for the actual editing of pieces of content to make sure they do the topic justice, are grammatically correct, adhere to the tone of voice and style, follow the writer’s brief, and more.

How Do I Know What Kind of Editor I Need?

Every content team needs the following roles:

  1. Head of content/content lead
  2. Writers
  3. Editors
  4. Strategists

When building your content team, start from the top and work your way down as volume increases.

Your program will need someone in charge of content strategy and production. When output volume is low, one person can own all of it.

As needs grow, hiring freelance writers to increase your output will be key to scaling your program. The head of content can still own strategy and editing, but by growing the production team first you can reach new levels of output.

Eventually, the head of content will get so busy that their time starts to come at a premium. At this point, they should begin to hire editors. Editing can be outsourced before strategy because consistency of strategy is more difficult to achieve than consistency of editing. By hiring editors, more time can be spent on strategy and scaling up the organization.

Finally, hire strategists to continue growing the organization to handle increased capacity needs. Think of strategists on a content team as middle managers. Most companies hire individual contributors, then leaders, and then middle managers.

How To Hire A Content Editor

Before you set out to hire an editor, first determine whether you need a Content Editor to lead editorial, or a content editor to edit the content being produced by the writers on the team, whether full-time or freelance.

Regardless of if you’re hiring full-time, part-time, freelance, or contract, there is a process that you can use to be successful at hiring.

First, create a job description that accurately reflects the job’s requirements so that you can attract and hire the right candidates. A public job posting is required to properly market the role. Many states are now requiring that companies provide a salary range for potential employees.

Second, disseminate the role through your network and social media accounts. Both personal and company accounts can and should be used to tell others about the role and link them to the application.

Third, place the role on relevant job boards so that more people looking for that role can find it. Give them a date by which to apply to keep the search focused.

Finally, put together a short list of people you’d like to hire and try to recruit them for the role.

Where To Find or Post Content Editor Jobs

If you need a Content Editor to lead editorial, then this is likely a full-time job and should be marketed as such. We recommend using job boards like:

If you’re hiring remotely, as many companies these days are, then you can also use job boards like WeWorkRemotely and Remote.co. To make it easier to promote and hire for your open role, we also recommend using applicant tracking systems like Breezy, Workable, Lever, or Greenhouse.

Finding freelance content editors is an easier task than a full-time hire, especially since it means a lower commitment for a company.

If you’re looking for content editors to edit content, and not oversee content production for your company, then we’d love to speak with you here at EditorNinja. We make it easy to get started working with great, professionally trained content editors.

You can also find freelance content editors on platforms like:

  • Upwork
  • Fiverr
  • Guru.com
  • Local universities and colleges

Of course, if you go through those platforms, you’ll have to qualify them for required experience and training before hiring them. At EditorNinja, we’ve taken care of all of that for you.

What Is A Content Editor’s Average Salary?

A content editor’s average salary depends on the scope of the role and where their job is located.

According to ZipRecruiter, the average Content Editor salary per year for full-time work is $53,496 per year. This breaks down to about $26 per hour on average.

According to publicly available statistics provided by the EFA, copy editors make $31-36 per hour on average as freelancers. Many editors earn less than that per hour as a full-time employee in exchange for consistent work and health benefits.

If you’re hiring a content editor, expect to pay between $25-$35 per hour based on experience. The average editor can edit ~2,000 words per hour, so the cost per thousand words edited is approximately $13-17.

How To Become a Content Editor

It is much easier to become a content editor focused on proofreading and copy editing than it is to become a Content Editor at a publication. That said, content editing is a skilled profession that cannot be learned overnight.

To become a content editor, you should:

  1. Have a love for the written word and an understanding of the writing and content production process.
  2. Study language and learn to differentiate between different styles of writing, such as MLA and APA.
  3. Practice by first editing your own content or editing content for friends and colleagues. If you’re able, have a more senior editor review your work and give you feedback so that you can improve.
  4. Get more clients or find work as a junior editor at an agency or a publication to continue to hone your craft.

Our editors at EditorNinja are MFAs who are professionally trained writers and editors.

If you want to continue in your career and eventually rise to be a Content Editor, you will need to:

  1. Understand the full content process, including how to hire and retain writers and editors.
  2. Understand editorial and business strategies so you can craft content that drives results. You will also need to know how to execute those strategies so that the work gets done quickly and effectively.
  3. Familiarize yourself with many different types of businesses and content.
  4. Gradually move from being an editor to a strategist, then to a senior strategist, and ultimately a team leader.

Let’s be clear – content editing is not something that you can start doing without the proper knowledge or training. It is a professional role just like being a designer, a marketer, a software developer, or an accountant. Though not a licensed role, it is a role that requires applied practice and experience. While it is possible to learn some of the basics on your own, years of experience and likely some formal training is needed to become a true professional.

Needing a content editor for your content? Schedule a free editorial assessment to learn how EditorNinja solves this problem for you.