Other terms related to business copy editors: Business copy writing, business copy editing, business proofreading, business proofreader, business writing, business editor.
A business copy editor is the person responsible for enhancing and polishing your written business content so it’s perfect for your audience. A copy editor will review your work from the reader’s perspective and improve it so it gets your key points across, shows the benefits and features of your business, products, and services, and builds trust with users and stakeholders.
Here’s what’s covered in this in-depth guide to business copy editors:
What a business copy editor does.
What a business copy editor won’t do.
The differences between business copy editors and proofreaders.
How business copy editors can improve content.
The relevant skills and experience for business copy editors.
How much business copy editors cost.
Let’s get into it.
What does a business copy editor do?
Business copy editors can work on any type of business content, including documents, reports, plans, articles, blog posts, emails, newsletters, presentations, web content, marketing, advertising, social media, processes, policies, procedures, product descriptions, proposals, RFPs, training materials, and other copy. As part of the editing process, a good business copy editor will:
Move around sections of text so your business content flows logically from point to point.
Carry out minor rewriting of sections and paragraphs to strengthen how you share your business ideas, products, services, and other areas.
Understand the overall context of the piece so they can position your business copy for your audience.
Review the piece for any confusing terms and explain or remove jargon, acronyms, or other unusual language.
Ensure your business content is clear and concise by eliminating unnecessary wording.
Strengthen the outline of the piece so it covers all of the areas that your business readers are interested in.
Help you get across important business features, functions, ideas, or other key points.
Polish your formatting and headings so readers can scan the piece and know where they are.
Align your work with a style guide, whether that’s in-house or an established style guide like Associated Press.
Collaborate and communicate with you throughout so you always know what’s happening with your business content.
Meet the deadlines they have agreed with you for editing and returning work.
Use a professional, friendly, flexible approach that meets your business and content needs.
Have the right experience and expertise to provide high-quality business editing and add value to the finished content.
What is outside the scope of what a business copy editor will do?
Although business copy editors provide extensive services, they will not typically do the following:
Arrange or “flow” content into a specific design or format. Although business copy editors will carry out formatting like headings, bullet point lists, white space, etc., they are not designers and don’t typically have the skills to incorporate content into a design template or other style.
Localize content into another language or region (e.g., U.S. English to Australian English). For localization, you’ll need a specialist localization editor.
Fact checking. A copy editor will assume you’ve already checked the facts in your business copy.
Writing from scratch. Business copy editors will generally only work on content that’s already written.
Check for copyright or plagiarism. Most copy editors will assume you have not copied content from elsewhere and will not generally check for plagiarism or copyright infringement of other work.
Provide indexing of content as indexing is a specialist skill.
Make large scale structural changes to your business content, like moving entire chapters around.
Assist you in major development of your work. That requires the skills of a developmental editor who specializes in business content.
What are the differences between business copy editors and business proofreaders?
Business copy editors and business proofreaders offer slightly different services:
Business copy editors focus on the big picture by editing and rewriting business content so it meets the needs of your audience and gets all of your points, ideas, benefits, and features across.
Business proofreaders focus on removing mistakes by checking and correcting grammar, spelling, word usage, and punctuation to ensure business content is error-free.
Both services are designed to build trust with customers, stakeholders, and readers by clearly explaining your business in an error-free way. Some business copy editors, like myself, also offer business proofreading as part of their editing services.
How can a business copy editor help you improve your work?
Business copy editing will improve almost every type of business content.
Advertising copy editors
You need to get your advertising spot on. Although copy editors don’t write advertising copy, they will review your content to check that it reads correctly and doesn’t contain any errors. They can also suggest small tweaks that may help it land better with your audience.
Article and blog post copy editors
Many businesses are realizing the importance of content marketing and blog posts to enhance their readership and get visitors to their website. A business copy editor can review and enhance all of your online content to make it easy to read, understand, and act on. They’ll ensure your articles share your most important concepts in a way that builds trust and gets people to share your writing.
Business document copy editors
Internal business documents and memos are an excellent way to share key thoughts and insights with other stakeholders, and to ensure everyone is working to the same information. A copy editor will review and edit your business documents so they get your points across in the best possible way and make an impact with your peers, partners, suppliers, and other stakeholders.
Business letter copy editors
Some correspondence is too important to leave to chance. A copy editor can review all your communications and help you edit and polish them so they’re perfect for the recipient.
Business plan copy editors
Your business plan sets out how you’re going to start and run your organization to make sure it succeeds. A business copy editor will help you tweak and rewrite your business plan to share the most critical facts and information with the people who can make that happen.
Business report copy editors
It’s easy for business reports to become just background information. A good copy editor can enhance your reports by editing supporting information and helping you with the overall context of the report. They’ll sharpen your key insights and make it easier for stakeholders to take action based on the statistics and facts you’re sharing.
Company profile copy editors
You want to present your company in the most powerful and positive way. Whether you need a polished “About” page for your website, a good overview for LinkedIn, or a company profile, a copy editor will help you present your business in the best possible way.
Marketing materials copy editors
Your business probably produces a wide range of marketing and promotional materials. From traditional advertising to lead magnets like white papers and ebooks, you need to make sure everything reads perfectly. Well-worded, pristine copy will build trust in your brand and encourage people to try your products and services.
Newsletter and email copy editors
Direct-to-customer marketing relies on your business content being easy to read and error-free. A copy editor will review your email campaigns and newsletters to strengthen your copy, get your points across, and ensure everything reads well. This all builds trust and encourages your reader to follow the call to action.
Policy and process copy editors
If you’re documenting policies and processes for employees, partners, or external customers, you want everything to be easy to read and understand. A good business copy editor will review your policies, processes, and procedures, then edit with the end user in mind. The result will be clear, concise wording that makes the statement you need.
Presentation copy editors
No one wants to suffer from death by PowerPoint! A smart business copy editor will help you tighten your presentation so it focuses on your most important points and maintains interest with your audience.
Press release copy editors
Press releases are a popular way to share your latest business developments, products, and services with an increasingly wide range of media outlets. You want to ensure that your press release grabs the interest of a busy journalist and makes it as easy as possible for them to publish your information. A business copy editor will edit your press release so it gets details across in the most efficient way and has the greatest chance of making it to publication.
Product description copy editors
There’s plenty of competition in traditional retail and eCommerce. You want to present the features and benefits of your products and services in the most feature-rich, compelling way possible. A copy editor will ensure all your product descriptions read well, explain the benefits, and present your business offerings so your potential customers click “buy.”
Proposal and tender copy editors
If you’re responding to an RFP with a proposal or tender of your own, you want to maximize your chances of success. A business copy editor can review your RFP, strengthen the way you put your business across, and offer suggestions to enhance your proposal. You’ll have the confidence of knowing your proposal reads perfectly and highlights your business capabilities.
Request for proposal (RFP) copy editors
If you’re requesting proposals from several organizations and vendors, they’ll need high-quality information to provide the right type of proposal and pricing. A copy editor can look through your RFP, remove any confusion or ambiguity, and strengthen your wording to ensure that proposals meet your expectations.
Social media copy editors
Regularly posting to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram is an essential part of your online marketing strategy. Whether you’re using paid ads or relying on organic reach, you want to ensure your copy is correct, interesting, engaging, and compels users to click through. A business copy editor can sharpen your wording and help your social media content land with your audience.
Staff and employee handbook copy editors
Employee handbooks contain your most important staff policies, practices, processes, and procedures. A business copy editor will make sure your employee handbooks are written well and easy to understand. They’ll remove any confusion, duplication, and ambiguity, so staff know exactly what’s expected of them.
Training material copy editors
Training materials are essential for teaching your staff how to perform specific tasks. When it comes to teaching new skills, you want your support materials to be as clear and straightforward as possible, so they’re easy to follow and implement. A copy editor will look at your training information, lesson plans, and courses, then edit them to make them clear, compelling, and concise.
Web content copy editors
Your website is your most vital asset for persuading online consumers. You want to ensure every web page is perfect, from your home page to your about us, mission statement, product pages, and more. A website content business editor will tweak your web content so it reads perfectly, is internally consistent, and shares what makes your business unique and able to meet the needs of your customer.
What skills, experience, and approach does a business copy editor need?
If you’re looking for a business copy editor who can help out your organization, it’s worth looking into their background to check they have the right talent, background, and attitude to meet your needs. Here are some areas to focus on.
An academic degree in English, communications, journalism, or a related field
Although a degree isn’t strictly necessary to become a business copy editor, finding a copy editor with a higher qualification in communications or a similar field means they take their work seriously. Studying for three to four years in a field related to writing and editing means they’ve got an excellent grounding for editing, proofreading, and similar tasks and should give you confidence with your business content.
Note that many copy editors or proofreaders may have just taken a quick online course before offering services, so it’s always worth asking what formal qualifications your business copy editor has.
English as their native language
You’ll want to make sure your business copy editor speaks English as their first language. Although people who have English as a second or foreign language can become good copy editors, they can sometimes miss some of the subtle nuances and contexts that a native speaker will instinctively understand.
A deep understanding of the English language and how to connect with readers
A business copy editor’s job is to help your content resonate with your audience, whoever they are. They achieve that through editing and minor rewrites of your work. They need a deep understanding of how to use the English language. Look through their website and how they explain themselves—that’s a great first step to see if they’re right for you.
A fantastic eye for detail in grammar, spelling, and punctuation
Even though a business copy editor may not be a business proofreader, they should still have an excellent understanding of English rules and conventions. This will help them edit your work.
A relentless focus on your business content
Being a great business copy editor requires plenty of concentration. Your editor will spend hours with your work, checking through every single word, sentence, and idea. Focus and a distraction-free approach are essential.
A good knowledge of style guides
Many businesses work to either industry-standard or brand-specific style guides. A business copy editor will review any style guides you provide and edit your content to those guidelines. Most copy editors should have a good working knowledge of the popular styles guides: AP, APA, or Chicago Manual of Style.
The right balance of editing business content and preserving your tone and style
You want an editor to strengthen your content to put your business across in the best possible way, but you don’t want to lose the tone of voice that makes you unique. A good business copy editor will edit with that in mind.
A wide portfolio of business editing and related work
You’ll want to hire an editor who has some experience in your business field. Although editors don’t need deep knowledge to do good work, a high-level understanding will give them some useful context, both in terms of your work and your audience. Although business editors probably can’t share specific pieces of work with you (due to confidentiality clauses), you should get an idea of the type of subjects they work on.
An excellent communicator who keeps you in the loop
Running into a communications black hole can be frustrating! A good business editor will keep you informed, let you know if they run into any problems, and meet all their commitments and deadlines. Look for business copy editors who are responsive to your emails and other communication needs.
A professional, friendly, and expert approach
Most business copy editors take their own freelance business seriously. They understand the challenges you face and can be flexible and accommodating in how they work with you. This may include:
Collaborating closely with you on specific content.
Providing details of fees and pricing up front.
Timely communications, especially if they run into questions or problems.
A polite and professional approach to both you and your work.
Agreeing reasonable deadlines with you and always meeting them.
Building a positive, trusting relationship with you.
How much do business copy editors cost?
You might wonder how much you’ll pay for a business copy editor. Here are the answers you need.
What factors affect how much a business copy editor charges?
Fees for business copy editors do vary depending on several factors. Copy editors with higher qualifications and more advanced skills will charge a little more. Likewise, copy editors with plenty of experience may be priced higher. Business copy editors may also charge higher fees depending on what you need them to do. For example, I charge slightly more if you need some types of specialist editing like localization or working to a style guide.
Some business copy editing services will also charge more depending on how quickly you need the work returned. I don’t charge extra for returning work quickly, and always return your business editing as soon as I complete and check it.
How much should I expect to pay for a business copy editor?
As a guide price, most business copy editors (myself included) charge between $30 and $50 per hour, depending on the depth of editing that you need. Most editors won’t actually invoice you by the hour, but instead they’ll price depending on several factors including:
How many words you need copy edited.
The type and depth of business copy editing that you need.
How quickly you want the work returned.
Whether you need proofreading as well.
This allows a business copy editor service to provide a fixed quote for completing specific pieces of work. It also means you can budget more effectively, so it’s better for everyone.
Shouldn’t I just go for the cheapest option when it comes to hiring a business editor?
As you can imagine, cheapest isn’t always best. A good business copy editor will have experience and insight into editing for businesses, including understanding what their readers are looking for. You will pay a little more for for that expertise, but you’ll get more polished work which will work better for your audience.