In order to create good content, you have to edit it.
You may be thinking, “what does editing have to do with creating good content?” Creating and editing are a symbiotic relationship; you can’t have one without the other.
It would be wonderful if we could take our ideas and thoughts, put them down on paper, and be happy with the result. But the reality is we have to review what we have created in order to make sure it embodies our voice, represents our brand, and attracts our target audience.
Content that is lacking in flow and clarity, or rife with spelling and punctuation mistakes will not captivate your audience. Most likely viewers will click away and look for content that is more coherent and easily consumable. This adds to the struggle to reach the target audience, and achieve business and monetary goals.
So, how do we avoid this problem?
You make your content stand out by creating your content in a smart way and then editing the content efficiently.
Here are 7 tips that professional content editors use to create and edit content:
1. Find the time of day that you work best.
Do you work better in the morning with a cup of joe, or in the evening in comfy clothes? Discovering when your mind focuses the best will make your content creation better. Not only will you make less errors, it will take you much less time to reach your goals. You will also catch any errors easily and reduce your time spent editing. Working in the evening when the kids are in bed may sound like the best plan, but if you don’t work well at night then you will spend double the time and produce less quality work. Make your work shine by doing what’s best for you!
2. Print off your work.
Reading your writing on physical paper reduces eye fatigue and the contrast is much better on paper. Many times errors are caught on paper that were easily missed while reading on a screen. You will be able to catch errors quicker and make note of content that just doesn’t work.
3. Change the font of your document.
If you are unable to print off your work to edit, try changing the font of your document. You can also try changing the size and the colour. You’ll be amazed at how this tricks your brain into reading more slowly and allows for choppy writing, spelling mistakes, or formatting errors to be more visible.
4. Read your work out loud.
This doesn’t mean you have to shout it from the rooftops; even reading under your breath will do the trick. Often times our brain will fill in the space of missing word without us even knowing it. For example, did you catch the missing “a” in the previous sentence? Our brains are amazing tools but sometimes they work against us. By reading words out loud we force our brain to slow down, and our mouths catch the missing words that our brains may have simply skimmed over.
5. Take breaks.
Eye strain and fatigue can happen easily, especially when staring at a screen for long periods of time. This can hinder your creation process and lead to more errors. Also, tired eyes make it harder to focus on finding errors. Use the 20-20-20 rule to help with this: Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds
6. Make 3 passes.
It isn’t enough to go through your content once and then hit the publish button. You need to go through your work once for overall clarity, a second time for spelling/punctuation errors, and a third time for formatting issues (headers, links, pictures, etc.) By going through your work 3 times you are guaranteeing that you have caught most, if not all, errors. You will also be able to confidently publish your content knowing that you have flushed out all of your ideas properly and communicated them in an attractive way.
7. Use reliable resources.
Using the internet to check the spelling, grammar, and proper usage may seem like a quick fix. However, it is hard to confirm whether information found on the internet is accurate and up to date. Having a reliable resource in your hands is much more useful and trustworthy. You can be sure that you are editing your work based on proper language, style, and usage guides. I have these books on my editing bookshelf:
Dictionary – I use Nelson Gage Canadian Dictionary and The Merriam-Webster Dictionary
Grammar Book – I use Grammar Girl’s Quick & Dirty Tips for Better Writing by Mignon Fogarty
Editing Book – I use The Copyeditor’s Handbook by Amy Einsohn
Style Guide – I use The Chicago Manual of Style 17th Edition and The Canadian Style: A Guide to Writing and Editing
There you have it!
If you implement these tips, you will be creating your content in a smart way, which makes editing that content afterwards much quicker. Too many content creators make their content while they are overtired, rushing, and staring at a screen for too long. Don’t hinder your creative process and make more work for yourself. Start creating the right way, edit your content, and then enjoy attracting new customers!