The role of editing in any copywriting company likely makes or breaks the flow of business. Consider this: Even individuals who struggle to write or spell, point out (often in a jeering tone), the written mistakes of others.
In general, we do not like typos.
Next, think about the impression people tend to hold of companies with misspelled website content, grammatical errors in emails or inaccurate social media posts. If it were natural to think, “Oh, we all make mistakes.” editing might lose its high position of power.
But, as it stands, the response which darkens our spirits includes assumptions about the intelligence and perhaps character of the writer if not the company itself. Unfortunately, these thoughts prove to reveal not-so-pretty details of the reader’s character.
In fact, a North Carolina State University study ran an experiment on impressions of a new hire given a mistyped email. Readers of the email judged the writer to be less intelligent and trustworthy as well as less conscientious.
Another study at the University of Michigan found typos to impact the likelihood of funding. Similar to the first experiment, inadequately edited work led to worse outcomes. In other words, less or no funding and longer time for funding decisions.
Yes, negative perceptions accompany poorly edited material. Assumptions regarding the quality of a writer are made based on the text he or she pens.
So, whether you write text yourself or hire someone to do so, the reputation of you and your company are on the line. Editing and editing well are worth the time, effort and even dollars if need be. Your credibility is at stake.
Let’s discuss editing secrets which build your content and your reputation.
Trustworthy, relevant content earns you positive attention from your target audience and Google. As indicated above, mistake-free copy works hard to get you to the point of being sought after. With a content edit, ask the question, “Is everything necessary to the focus included?”
Focus on the Purpose
Your business objectives drive every piece of content you create. And, the purpose of individual copy along the sales funnel provides measurement as to its efficacy. After all, why create content that fails to reap positive results?
Know your purpose prior to typing the first line of text. Keep it in front of you (on a Post-It note stuck to your screen if need be) as you edit. Eliminate information which fails to support your purpose and align with your business goals.
Evaluate the Points
Each heading and subheading need to be purposeful as well. With more readers interacting with titles than content, this rough outline may offer your only contact with consumers. Also, these elements create skimmable content, a desired feature for attention-span-less-than-a-goldfish readers.
From here each point made reflects the purpose as well. Busy readers possess no time to deal with fluff, and Google is not fond of it either. Look at your basic points to determine if they:
- Make sense?
- Are audience relevant?
- Deem worthwhile?
- Stand out as unique?
- Prove correct?
Reading for overall content also enables writers to identify any missing information in regard to purpose. Remember, target audiences and Google algorithms like content rich in information and reader value, no fluff.
Read through your content as a novice. My boys used to get poor marks on essay tests with the explanation, “Well, the teacher already knows it. Why write it out? She (or he) knows what I mean.” My advice to them is the same to you, write and proof as if you know nothing.
The big picture or vision of each content piece requires editing thoroughly. Looking at the material as a whole and how the parts play into the central message is by definition structural editing. As you edit for structure, answer the question, “Does this work on a foundational level?”
Clean up Angle
The concept of angle tends to arise with negative connotations. Ulterior motives undergird this concept. However, an angle is simply the direction from which you approach a story. And, Google and readers enjoy a unique angle.
A few things to consider in editing along this line:
- Is your voice represented in the writing?
- Do you consistently present the same angle throughout the piece?
- Are you in need of a fresh angle?
If you broke the content of a blog or landing page into an outline, would the flow of sections make sense? This is part of your role in evaluating the structure of any copy. In other words, do the parts need reordering for clarity or to reveal purpose?
If you begin a piece with an outline, simply review it before publishing to be certain you followed its intent and that it still makes sense. On the other hand, quickly drafting a rough outline of the currently written content presents a picture to edit as well.
Each section of a work contains varying points. For shorter word counts, likely the number of points per section is one or two. And, longer content pieces raise that number. Points offer greater detail to your outline.
Again, the goal in editing is to ensure the points flow well within the larger context of the piece. And, furthermore, check that each one makes sense where it is currently located. In other words, are points ordered with style and logic to the purpose and flow of the content?
Word choice, language, voice, plus sentence structure, arrangement and fluency come together to set the mood and meaning of the content. Style editing ensures the copy fits the context and speaks to the audience. You ask yourself, “Do the elements flow to clearly reveal the purpose of the piece to the reader?”
Assess Reading Flow
Flow draws a reader along the storyline and increases engagement. Pacing plays a role in this concept as well. While flow is somewhat instinctive, practicing particular skills and strategies works to develop a natural progression in writing.
Again, the reverse outline concept works well here. Identify the main idea in each paragraph with one to three words. Do any paragraphs need to move for greater clarity or flow? Are any paragraphs simply duplicate information? If so, make the necessary adjustments.
A key to well-written content is its concise language and presentation. Every line informs. Every word holds purpose. Clearing out any clutter becomes crucial in the editing process. In addition, look to create skimmable, clearly laid out copy.
Eliminate any unnecessary sentences or information even if it is interesting or written with excellence. Looking back to your business objectives or content purpose keeps you focused as you work toward greater precision.
Driving from one sentence to the next, one paragraph to another or section to section requires flow. Again, the word choice of one leads readers onto the next. The arts of persuasion and engaging dialogues become useful in this task.
Check the language you use to transition readers from sentence to sentence. Are more linking phrases needed for natural flow? Ask the same about paragraphs and sections remembering to maintain your voice and compel readers forward.
Improve Beginning and End
Humanly speaking, we remember what we hear or read first and last. Therefore, the start and end of each piece prove powerful. In short, spend extra time on these two elements.
The start of content pieces grabs reader attention and keeps them reading. And, the end clearly restates a necessary call to action. As you re-read each of these sections, ask:
- Does the first paragraph grab attention with a unique opening to the article?
- Are the keywords included in the first paragraph or 100 words?
- Will the opening paragraphs compel people to read more?
- Is the call to action stated clearly at the end? Do I know what the next step is for the reader?
- Do the beginning and end concisely state or recap the point of the content?
Finally, with the Internet’s emphasis on the visual, the appearance or look of content must be edited thoroughly. This process includes grammar and spelling, headlines and inconsistencies. In the end, the question to answer is, “Will the reader see anything which irritates him or her?”
Correct Basic Grammar
As mentioned, grammar and spelling errors irritate readers. And, truth be told, even with the brain’s autocorrecting features, these mistakes prove fairly simple to eliminate. Put simple editing tools and techniques into practice (likely you are familiar with some) to catch issues.
While built into most writing software, use spell and grammar check programs and apps. Furthermore, read slowly through each sentence with an eye toward corrections. Small style and structural editing misses may not distract reader engagement. However, blatant grammar errors will do so.
Partner Headlines With Text
Titles prove to be key features of content as 80 percent of readers get no further. If your audience stops at headlines, creating informative titles and taglines which draw readers in is crucial. Also, matching text with the content rewards readers and brings them back.
Use headline creation or analysis tools to develop titles which attract the attention of search engines. However, be aware that the quest to score high on marketing value runs the risk of separating headlines from the intended text. Be sure the two pair well together for the greatest impact.
Working in varying writing styles and with the fluidity of some content formats, writing inconsistencies are likely to arise. Hyphenation, capitalization, number use in sentences and bullet punctuation throw even strong writers.
For instance, the most common consistency error, according to Intelligent Editing, is capitalizing “government” at times and not at others. Find such discrepancies in the text and correct them. Know well the intricacies of the style you use to further eliminate such issues.
Ugh! I Didn’t See That!
If typos allude you until the copy hits the worldwide Web (or someone points it out), one of a few issues exist:
- You skipped the proofread. (Admit it, sometimes it is simpler and time-saving to forgo this step.)
- You failed to edit carefully on all dimensions.
- Your brain tricked you.
Yes, the third point is a viable reason. In fact, science backs up the fact that our brain is too smart to engage in editing. Think about the post you saw where the words were jumbled except the first and last letters of each one. Yet, you read it.
Our brain compensates, figures it out and moves on. With your personally written work, you tend to read the copy in your mind rather than the text on the page. To develop skills to the contrary requires training and practice.
While these brainiac facts prove useful in everyday life, problems arise with editing. This smart brain syndrome simply makes it difficult to edit, particularly if the work is your own. Read it three times, and typos still jump off the screen once it is published.
Editing With a Copywriting Company
Ugh! So, what are you to do? Are your editing efforts doomed the moment your brain engages? No. Strategies help override your brain’s hardwiring to effectively proofread. In other words, you consciously act to trick your brain.
Try these quick tips:
- Read through articles, blogs or any content aloud. Twice.
- Proof one line of text at a time, even backward.
- Print out the copy and proof with retro paper and pen.
- Ask a trusted colleague or friend to offer fresh editing eyes.
- Hire a copywriting company to edit your work after you do.
With the vast amount of work you need to get done, often the time to check and recheck blogs, email, landing pages and more is procrastinated. Copywriting company services fill the gap to ensure you are publishing and posting brilliant, error-free content to the Web.
For help with your editing and content needs, our team editors and writers are at the ready. Just give us a shout to get started with your free consultation.
P.S. What is your biggest editing irritation? Drop a comment below!