When the going gets tough…let someone else do it

Productivity image of man on woman's shoulders

Mike Vardy recently posted about using a professional editor for blog posts and it got me thinking:

Is there value in outsourcing an activity like this in a non-commercial environment?

So I thought I’d put it to the test: I gave Jason Rehmus at Sweating Commas the draft of my Write Better Emails article and asked him to put his editorial skills to work.

I was impressed by the results.

The Process

After paying the fee via PayPal, I sent Jason a plain text Markdown file containing my article. Six hours later a revised file was in my inbox, complete with supporting notes and suggestions (Jason guarantees to return your article by 12pm the next business day if it’s in his inbox before 2pm EST).

A technical comparison of the two files indicated that Jason had made 249 changes to the text, ranging from the simple:

  • capitalisation of title cases
  • single quotes and double-quotes
  • spelling errors

to the more complex:

  • tense changes
  • hyphens and en-dashes
  • restructured sentences

These “out of the box” changes were useful, but I found Jason’s “supporting notes” the most valuable. He made a range of suggestions that ranged from how I had emphasised certain points to suggesting I cut entire sentences.

I agreed with and implemented all of Jason’s suggestions.

The Price

Jason charges:

  • $17.50 (just over £11) for a single 1,000 word article
  • $150 for 10 articles, which equals $15(£9.50) per article

Or:

  • $165/month for up to 12 articles, which equals $13.75(£8.75) per article if you make full use
  • $250/month for up to 20, which equals $12.50(£8) per article

If your blog is making you money then I think spending £8-11 per post could be economical. As a recreational blogger I couldn’t justify spending the £100 per month to have all my posts professionally worked on; however I could see myself using Jason’s services if I had a particularly important post – such as a guest post – that I wanted to get absolutely spot on.

Jason offers bespoke pricing for lengthier documents, which could offer some possibilities if you’re writing an ebook, thesis or similar document.

Something I’d never considered previously but will certainly do now is using Jason’s services to review a report or presentation for work (though I’d be constrained in what material I could ask him to look at without a more formal non-disclosure agreement in place).


“I could see myself using Jason’s services if I had a particularly important post – such as a guest post – that I wanted to get absolutely spot on.”


The benefits

I wrote “Write Better Emails” on the train using my iPhone and a bluetooth keyboard. That environment was not conducive to top-quality writing and I think it showed in my first draft. Knowing that I was going to get it edited enabled me to:

  • Skip the fine-tuning stage. I was still proof-reading as I wrote (Jason’s an editor, not a secretary) but I didn’t have to worry about the fine tuning and re-reading that I normally apply prior to publishing a post. This saved me an hour or so of work.
  • Get a fresh perspective. It’s hardly surprising that I really like my writing style so I’m not exactly a harsh critic. Getting Jason to review it gave me a more rounded perspective.
  • Improve my overall writing quality. The tips Jason had to offer me will undoubtedly carry forward to those posts that I choose to publish unedited. This is why I would recommend to anyone serious about writing: get at least one article edited in this way – it’s a great learning tool.

“I would recommend to anyone serious about writing: get at least one article edited in this way – it’s a great learning tool.”


Summary

I would say that editing is a more specialist service than the more mundane tasks Bojan of Alpha efficiency has been writing about in his outsourcing articles and requires more careful consideration. As a productivity tool I would say its value lies more in raising the quality of your output than in time-saving (although it does do both).

Jason delivered an excellent service for a reasonable price. If it were economical to do so I would happily have him edit every post. The challenge for me will be to identify those occasions where either my time or the quality of my output have sufficient financial value to warrant hiring a professional like Jason.

If you haven’t previously had an article professionally edited, I recommend doing so at least once to get some impartial feedback on your overall writing as well as the post in question.

If you’re looking for friendly, professional and smart feedback I can certainly recommending contacting Jason at Sweating Commas

Would you use a professional editing service? Have you considered outsourcing to improve your productivity? I’d like to know!

Image © Fotum | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

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