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Career profile: Web editor

web editorAre you a budding writer with an interest in the internet? If so, then a career as a web editor may be for you. Find out how to get started and where web editing can lead you.

A what?

Whether it’s a local authority, a charity or a business, most organisations have websites and need a web editor to write and manage content for them.
Web editors work freelance for several organisations or full time for a single employer.
They will write, commission, edit and update content across any number of websites. They may also be responsible for a team of assistant editors.
Web editors are also known as online content managers, web managers and web editorial officers.

On the job

Web editors have a varied job and so must be able to juggle a number of tasks.
They are often responsible for setting the tone of a website and writing content that fits in with the organisation’s aims and goals. As such they must have good written skills and a good eye for detail.
They may check or sub edit the work of other colleagues and then use a content management system to publish online content.

Imagination and an awareness of the field you are working in are both key to help generate good content ideas.
Web editors will likely be responsible for other members of staff, whether assistant editors or freelancers, so they must have good people management skills.
Although a high level of technical knowledge is not essential, it is important that web editors know how to apply search engine optimisation (SEO) techniques and have a good understanding of information architecture, accessibility and the latest online trends.
It’s useful to know a bit about the simplest web languages as well. Understanding xhtml and css can help you stand out.

Many websites now encourage user-generated content. A web editor must moderate this content and ensure it will not pose a legal risk to the website and its users.

How do I become a web editor?

Web editors can take different routes. Often they are former journalists and so have experience working in publishing. Others may be graduates who have started out as an assistant editor. There is no traditional path into web editing and so employers will often be more interested in a candidate’s writing and online skills and experience.
It is recommended that keen writers try to get as many articles published online as possible in order to make their CVs stand out.
Other key skills employers will look for in a good web editor will include:

  • good communication skills
  • detailed knowledge of their market and audience
  • attention to detail
  • good grasp of grammar, punctuation and spelling
  • decision-making
  • technical knowledge of web publishing (HTML, CSS, etc)
  • ability to work under pressure
  • interpersonal skills
  • ability to meet deadlines.

What does the training involve?

Training is usually on the job, but there are also short courses available, which are run by professional training organisations.
Most web editors start their careers as online editorial assistants in order to gain skills and experience. An editorial assistant could start on a salary of between £16,000 and £18,000. However, an experienced web editor can earn about £30,000.

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