Portfolio: Editing & SEO Experience

Present Editorial Duties

In the role of Editorial Director, my third role at Wonderful Machine, I am ultimately the comprehensive editor, copyeditor, occasional factchecker (a result of all of my teaching experience, checking on students’ sources), and format editor.

With certain newer writers my role was as a comprehensive editor, walking the writers through the article’s organization and focus. Then I would copyedit to correct all line-level errors and imprecisions. After the writer loaded the article onto the CMS, I became the format editor, where I continued copyediting but also paid attention to (1) the way images accompanied the text, (2) the file size and presentation of images, and (3) the SEO features of the text (effective slugs, meta descriptions, properly formatted links, keyword density, structured data schemas, alt text).

Previous Editorial Experience

When I taught at NYU, Fordham, and Villanova, my opportunities to edit were primarily as a sort of developmental editor, showing students how their essays did or did not fulfill the prompts. When I was grading their work, I paid attention to their language and composition mechanics and did factchecking.

At C2 Education, I have prepared students for the verbal portions of the SAT and ACT, which requires knowing and explaining all of the rules of grammar, concise and precise language, and thematic organization and focus. This is the knowledge necessary for an effective developmental and/or copy editor. I also worked as a developmental editor (and copyeditor) when I helped students write essays for their high school classes and college applications.

When I began working at Wonderful Machine, my first role was Internal Documentation, which meant that I was both a technical writer and a technical editor. I both wrote documents explaining step by step the different functions of individual staff members, but I also went through and edited staff members’ drafts of documentation.

My second role was as the Client Blog Editor, for which I was the copyeditor and format editor. The client blog promoted recent projects by member photographers to potential clients. We called these “Photographer Spotlight” articles. The writers I oversaw were generally experienced and didn’t need shepherding through the composition process. This was where I learned a lot about the importance of the format editor to be mindful of SEO goals and opportunities.

Articles Edited

Around June of 2019 I began editing all of the articles—literally hundreds of articles—that have been posted on both the Intel and Published blogs at Wonderful Machine.

This means I have taken responsibility for having read through and improved the articles that others have written so that they reflect the tone unique to Wonderful Machine and the quality we aspire to in our published works. It also means I’m responsible for the errors that slipped through.

Here are a few that represent some of the best we’ve published:

How I Copyedit

As copyeditor I strive to make others’ writings as clear and effective as possible (I will not use the word impactful). I try to do that with a light touch because I do not want to distort the writer’s voice. With that said, words have resonances and connotations (inflections, if you’re feeling poetic) over which we have no control. One of my jobs is to think about how diction may convey inapposite connotations. And fix that.

For example, photography uses the word shoot a lot. Q.E.D.

On the most basic level, my job is just to make syntax and punctuation work. I watch out for connected independent clauses that are missing punctuation, restrictive and non-restrictive clauses, the inconsistent verb tenses, and—of course—spelling. As well, I think about how the images complement and break up the text.

Style Guides, Pet Peeves

The 16th edition of the Chicago Manual of Style guided the composition of my dissertation, which is a way of saying that it’s had a deep impact on my writing. On WonderfulMachine.com we adhere to AP Style, with only a few exceptions.

One exception is that we employ the Oxford comma because we are civilized …

One pet peeve: I dislike that the em-dash (and ellipses) in AP Style has spaces surrounding them. I’m a partisan of the non-spaced em-dash of the Chicago Style.

Speaking of the em-dash: it’s the Swiss army knife of punctuation. It can do practically anything. It should not set off non-restrictive clauses—that’s what commas are for. But it can set up lists and certain modifying phrases and whatever else.

Google Search Console data, not how to edit
Photo by Stephen Phillips – Hostreviews.co.uk on Unsplash

Editing for SEO

These days editing means paying attention to the SEO effects of the text. So I am mindful of strong slugs, meta-titles, meta-descriptions, anchored texts, follow and nofollow links, alt text for images, and structured data schema.

To help me I’ve used WordPress plugins like Yoast, Rankmath, etc., but I am not averse to going into the html to fix the page.

Talking about SEO

At Wonderful Machine I have audited various photographers’ websites to assess their present SEO strategy and recommends changes to achieve their unique goals for their career and in their specific market(s).

Wonderful Machine Member Open House Event,
July 1, 2021

During the Member Open House I reviewed the sites of Alex Buisse, Chona Kasinger, and Nicole Loeb. I always learn a lot when I get to talk with photographers about their business and their websites.

Wonderful Machine Member Open House Event,
May 21, 2020

In the video below, I provide “real-time” SEO reviews of the websites of Simon Plant, John Davidson, and Inti St.Clair.

Sprout Studio Interview Podcast

In the summer of 2020 I was interviewed by Sprout Studio to talk about the specific challenges faced by photographers when thinking about SEO. I enjoyed being able to share a little of what I know with Sprout Studios CEO Bryan Caporicci. To listen, follow the link.

Screenshot of the Sprout Studio interview of Ashley Vaught by CEO Bryan Caporicci

Want to know to know about my writing experience?