Do you remember, back in high school, having to produce three drafts of the research paper you had been writing? Draft one was full of mistakes, squiggles and side notes. Draft two was in a nice orderly format – without a single note, but with the occasional grammatical or spelling error. Draft three—perfection was expected.
Here at Fannit, we’ve seen proof editing in all sorts of forms and variations. We’ve seen sites that are ‘incentivised’ to ‘produce’ do so very quickly, but do not weigh in on the necessary time-gobbler of editing our work.
We noticed that this lack of proper proofreading and copy editing appears to be an internet disease. Much of the content contained in the vastness of cyberspace is, to put it bluntly, a miasma of bad writing.
Top 4 Ways To Kill Your Lead:
Nothing kills a client like a sloppy piece of content. Our last post by Lauren Frye (a brilliant writer) addressed the importance of creating good content and she briefly mentioned the necessity of ensuring your work contains no errors. Proper editing is vital enough for the well-being of your company that I propose we take this opportunity to delve a little more deeply into the topic.
If someone stumbles across your page and within the first three paragraphs finds three typos, your credibility as a writer, or as a company, just plummeted. Abysmally. Even if readers find just two or three mistakes in the entire post, their willingness to regard you as a voice of knowledge drops considerably. Unfair? Perhaps. You may be absolutely brilliant in your field of expertise. But, if your delivery stinks, it won’t matter to the readers.
Spelling errors can cause writers to look inept, or even, unfortunately, stupid. These days there are simply no conceivable excuses for spelling errors. Our computers, and even our smart phones, have the ability to underscore our phonetic incapabilities and suggest the correct spelling. Because of this, nothing can impact credibility quite as badly as a misspelled word.
This extends beyond the utilization of spell-check as well. Have you correctly spelled the names of individuals or locations? Companies? Are your acronyms correct?
Grammatical errors can signify an unwillingness to take the time to read through a first draft. Grammar is the concrete foundation of your creative infrastructure. Without the proper support beams and steel columns that are the rules of grammar, your superstructure construction won’t stand well – and may fall over.
While some rules are made to be broken, and there certainly are times in which creativity trumps technicality, there are rules that cannot be broken without your work appearing the worse for it.
Poor word choice can demonstrate a lack of intentional creativity. There are occasions in which you, as a writer, may use a poor word. I don’t mean an expletive. I mean that there could have been an amazing word choice, such as, let’s say ‘hegemony’. Instead, you used ‘power’. Power is still a correct word in your article, but it has nowhere near the flavor and imagery of the word ‘hegemony’.
To a reader, bland words are a sleep lulling risk. Repetitive words can put your article in the danger zone, so it’s important to have no reluctance when it comes to exploring synonyms. Boring words can indicate to the reader that you weren’t really writing with them in mind, but something else—mashed potatoes or taupe walls, for instance. The powerful vocabulary buried in your brain can’t be left to itself! Bring it out and put it to use!
Silly mistakes can make even good writers appear to be amateurs.
Not very long ago I was writing multiple articles for two separate clients, both of which were attorneys specializing in automotive related fields. I wrote the articles, sent them off to my editor, and blazed onto my next set of clients. Shortly after, however, my proofer sent me a message, “I think your clients are mixed up.” Indeed, they were — and I had accidentally used their similar names interchangeably throughout both blog posts. It was a silly mistake— but it would have had huge consequences had the articles gone out. Lost readers, lost client. The importance of proofing.
How To Proof:
Put it away! After you have written an article you should put it away for a while. When you’ve just written an article, your creative juices were flowing. You were caught up in the power of writing. This creative state is not a healthy state to be in while you’re editing.
Squirrel your article away for, at the very least, several hours and work on something else. If you can, put it away for a few days. A week. A month! Separating yourself from your creative intention will help you look at your work with a new and objective perspective when you come back. Also, your brain will have forgotten what it wanted to say, and will again notice missing words and unclear sentences.
Have Someone Else Edit Your Work:
Now that you’ve gone through your work yourself and made all the corrections that you see, send it to an editor. This is the piece that is often missed by authors online. This could be partially because we are always on a deadline that seems to never be further than two minutes away, and partially because it can be hard to find a good editor.
A good editor looks for:
Muddled thoughts or messages
Ways to improve clarity and voice
Allows for your creative license.
If you’re flying solo in your office, you must either be your own editor or find an external editor.
If you’re working with a team, trade your articles for editing.
If you are all too busy to take the time to quiet down and put in the time to edit, you may need to hire an editor.
Preferably, you should still give your article a once-over before sending it to your editor. I must confess my hypocrisy here—I don’t usually give my editor this courtesy, but rather in a flurry of documents send her whatever I’ve just finished writing as soon as I’ve placed the last period.
Once you have had your document edited, you now have the opportunity to examine your article through the eyes of another. You are forced to examine what you’ve written and the editor’s suggested changes. Sometimes suggestions are taken, sometimes not.
The grand point to all of this is that when your finished article is posted online, you have a refined piece of content that should be error-free with a clear and powerful message. No grammatical errors. No bungled punctuation. Excellent word choice. An error free piece of content.
Rather than a carbon lump, you shall have a diamond. Once you have diamonds, you shall have clients.