The Ins and Outs to Become an Online Editor

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The job of editor often conjures up proofreaders that mark up writing, but it includes people who are in charge of content put out by a publication, as well. Online editors, sometimes referred to as online producers, web producers, or web editors, oversee the content on websites. An online editor functions as a magazine editor, blogger, journalist, and Internet marketer rolled into one.

Unlike traditional print editors, online editors have to track the results of the content published. Print publishers can know how many people receive a magazine or newspaper, but not what articles are the most popular within the publication. In contrast, online editors can gather data on its most read and popular content, and are expected to use the data to create content readers want.

Online editors also need to have a deeper understanding of how a website works, including the content management platform (how content is added and organized on the website), HTML, search engine optimization (SEO), and possibly photo and video editing.

Experience Needed to Become an Online Editor

The good news is that you don't necessarily need a degree in English or journalism to become an online editor, although that can help. To break into this field, you’ll need experience working online and in creating online content. Along with published clips, employers look for people who understand how users are reading online. Therefore, your writing samples and clips should be from websites, not print publications. Internships working for websites can be helpful. Additionally, experience with blogging, social media, SEO, and HTML will make you more attractive as a job candidate.

Skills Required to Become an Online Editor

Online editors need to be comfortable and familiar with both writing and technology. Because online editors are crafting stories—or editing the stories of other writers—they need strong writing and journalistic skills, along with a command of grammar and style. Further, an online editor needs to be experienced and informed of how technology wraps around the story. For example, should a particular story include a video component? Where on the site should a story be placed? If the story doesn’t include video, should it include pictures? An online editor needs to know the best way to present a story, and then either create it or arrange to have it created.

An online editor may also need to be comfortable with gathering and analyzing web data. Unlike writers and editors who work in print, an online editor might need to track what stories generate the most traffic to inform the creation of future stories. In other words, an online editor needs to understand and feel comfortable gathering and analyzing data, and then incorporating the information from the statistics in content creation.

Job Outlook for Online Editor Jobs

The bad news is that editing jobs overall are declining as print gives way to digital content. The good news is that online editors with good communication and marketing skills have opportunities for work. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), traditional print editors earned a median salary of $59,480 per year in 2018. The BLS reports that "Editors who have adapted to online media and are comfortable writing for and working with a variety of electronic and digital tools will have the best prospects in finding work."

On the Internet, content is king, which means there is a need for editors to write, edit, organize, and publish content that will generate increased readership to websites.