Being a good writer can only take you so far. To step up to a professional level, you need to employ the skills of a content editor. A good editor can make the difference between your content failing or succeeding.
To help showcase the benefits of working with an editor, I’ve interviewed Anna Chui, who is Editor-in-Chief and Content Strategist at Lifehack – one of the world’s most popular personal development websites, with millions of monthly readers from across the globe.
I asked her seven questions…
1. Please tell me a bit about yourself and your background to becoming an editor.
Since I was small I’ve always liked learning languages. My passion is in writing, and so I just naturally got myself into a career that revolves around words and writing. My first job was a copywriter for an IT company (a mobile game developer) but as I worked I realized I wanted to make a more positive impact with the power of words, and that was how I started my job in Lifehack. I want to help people improve their lives with words.
2. What type of editing work have you been involved with?
At the beginning it was mostly blog articles editing. Then I was also involved in copyediting Lifehack’s site and some newsletter editing. But now instead of doing copyediting, my role has evolved to become the one who plans for content direction and strategies.
3. What can an editor bring to the content table?
In my opinion, it’s not just about the grammar and sentence structure; it’s what a piece of content can deliver to the readers – the message and the (practical) value. A good editor should look beyond the sentences and know what makes a piece of content useful and engaging for readers.
4. Why should a writer seek out an editor?
To seek not only a second pair of eyes, but a second brain to review the content ideas!
You know, when you’ve finished writing something you’ll surely think that the piece is the best because you have really tried your best to do it. But since you’re the author of the piece you may just be blinded by your satisfaction of completing the work. This is when the editor can help you and give you comments from a reader’s perspective.
5. What is your approach to editing? And is this different for blogs and books?
I look beyond grammar and sentence structure and into the ideas – are these ideas unique? Are they presented in a way that readers would find them useful and engaging?
Yes, there are some differences between editing blogs and books.
Blog posts have fewer words than books so they have to be short and sweet – more to the point. But the pro of blogs is that they can support more formats and media such as videos, GIFs and different kinds of images. So when I’m editing blogs, I need to consider which other media can be added so as to make them more appealing.
For books, you can’t really add a video in the content but with so much text, you need to find ways to make the content flow better and not to bore the readers. That’s a different technique compared to editing blogs. Besides, since it’s easier to update a blog post than a book, you’ve really got to be extra careful when editing books to avoid mistakes.
6. What’s the most memorable piece of work you have edited?
I don’t have one piece in mind that is most memorable but I do have a lot of ideas I’ve learned from editing articles written by different experts that are memorable. For instance, some really practical ideas on improving a relationship, some productivity concepts and wellness tips.
7. Finally, please tell me about what you’re currently working on.
My current focus is on content marketing for Lifehack’s online courses. Now I’m managing not only blog posts but also the email newsletter and some social media content, with the goal to help more people achieve their goals in life with our practical tips and unique frameworks.
On the side I’m running my personal blog Small Happy Things – sharing some bits of my life and happiness thoughts.
Anna Chui is the Editor-in-Chief and Content Strategist at Lifehack and covers topics related to happiness and relationships. She’s also the owner of Small Happy Things, a blog dedicated to helping people appreciate all the small things around. She believes that by living a life with meaning, even the tiniest things we see, hear, smell and do everyday can spark great joy. She strives to help people define happiness on their own terms, and find joy even during the hardest of times. Connect with Anna.