The Society of Professional Consultants

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Effective Business Writing Tip 5: Don't Go It Alone

Monday, February 07, 2022 3:20 PM | Erica Holthausen

Hiring a good writer or editor will elevate your business writing. But the idea of working with a writer or editor can be scary for a lot of business owners. What if the writer you hire is not very good and you’ve invested time, money, and effort into a project and have nothing to show for it? What if the editor you hire tears your writing to shreds so it no longer resembles what you wrote?  

We’ve heard the horror stories, so we know your fears are valid.

But we also know what you should look for when hiring a writer or editor, and why the writer or editor you hire does not need to be an expert in your field. 

What Should You Look for When Hiring a Writer or Editor?

  • Look for active listeners. Writers and editors are curious by nature. Our job is to ask good questions so we understand your business and perspective. Good questions stem from active listening. If you speak with a writer or editor and don’t feel like they listened to you, don’t hire them.
  • Ask them about their process. Every writer and editor has a process and a slightly different style. To find the writer or editor whose working style is compatible with your own, ask them to share their process with you. 
  • Do your due diligence. Hiring a writer or editor is an investment in your business that directly impacts your reputation. Review their website and published writing samples. Steer clear of marketplaces like Fiverr and Upwork that prioritize speed and quantity over quality.   
Do I Need to Hire a Writer or Editor Who Is an Expert in My Field?

The relationship between a business owner and the writer or editor they hire should be collaborative. Professional writers and editors want their clients to succeed, so it’s worth taking the time to find the right person. When hiring a writer or editor: 

You rarely need to hire a writer or editor who is an expert in your field. In fact, depending on your audience, it may be much more beneficial to hire someone who knows relatively little about your field because they share the perspective of your audience. 

You are the subject-matter expert. The writer or editor you hire makes sure that the work puts the reader first — regardless of whether that reader is an industry insider or not. 

As the subject-matter expert, you have the information and knowledge that needs to be communicated to the audience. A writer knows how to ask good questions and craft a clear and compelling story based on the information and knowledge you share. An editor knows how to take that written communication and clarify it so the reader understands the point you are making. Together, you make an unstoppable team. 

Next month, we’ll share some of our favorite resources, including writing and editing advice, reference tools, and where to find quality freelance writers and editors.

Sophie Michals is a writer, editor, and writing coach who helps subject matter experts deliver clear, concise writing with a consistent brand voice. Learn more at (SM) Edits LLC.

Erica Holthausen is the founder of Catchline Communications, a collaborative of writers and editors partnering with executives, consultants, and coaches to transform their ideas into published articles.

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