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Careers in Editing on the Web

Web content is an emerging field. The number of sites launched is growing daily, and content is becoming more and more of a commodity.

Below is one possible career arc toward becoming a senior-level employee at a company as an Editor/Content Manager. It is by no means the only path, but it should prove instructive as a framework.

Undergraduate: It doesn't really matter what you major in, as long as you do a lot of reading and writing. You should feel pretty comfortable with your understanding of basic grammar principles by this point. Liberal arts majors do have a tiny advantage on this front (more reading and writing), but such a focus is by no means a prerequisite.

Right out of college: Keep reading and writing. Some folks even tutor students on standardized test to home in (see: not "hone in," a common mistake editors should be able to spot!) on grammar perfection.

First job: To become a "Web Editor" it is obviously important to get a job at a company that conducts its business online. The pros and cons to working at a traditional, brick-and-mortar publishing firm could and would fill an entirely different blog post, but let's just say that if you want to work on the internet you have to work on the internet.

It is common that many companies will hire career-starters as Proofreaders, and this might be a good bet for you as your first job. Proofreading is a vital but relatively thankless part of most companies, but if you do a good job you will a gain reputation as someone who is efficient and highly competent.

Second job (or new responsibilities at first job): While proofing and copy editing are certainly noble trades, many companies (for better or worse) do not view the tasks as vital parts of the business because they rarely generate revenue. Accordingly, at this point in your career you should expand your skillset to include proficiency in the following areas:

-Blogging platforms
-Social Media Optimization
-Minor HTML

Third job: By now, if you do indeed want greater earning power, your employer is going to expect you to be a revenue-generator. And we are fortunate to live at a moment in time where content can generate a great deal of business for Web companies of all kinds.

The most attractive skill within the space that people are looking for is knowledge of SEO best practices. Search Engine Optimization is the name of the game right now and the more you know about it, the more valuable you'll be. SEO has many components but one of the biggest is the production of quality content that will rank high in search results. This is a relatively inexpensive way to drive traffic to a website, and the difference between being ranked first for a specific search and getting buried on the 3rd page represents a significant difference in revenue.

By now your skillset could also include:

-Content Partnerships and Syndication
-Organization of a freelancer community and the content buget
-Command of metrics that zero in on the price and value of content items.

Again, this is not the only career path but it is an allegorical route to a senior-level position in the content space.

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