When it comes to creating content, writing is only one part of the process. It isn’t as simple as putting words on a page and releasing it to the world. You have to ensure the message is coming across in the best way possible. And the only way to achieve that is with thorough editing.
It goes beyond simply cleaning up the spelling and grammar. The editing step is the perfect chance to reflect on what you’ve written, assess whether your point is coming across, and tighten up the overall piece. But if it’s not your strongest skill, it can be hard to know where to start. So here are 3 questions to ask yourself when you’re editing your own content.
“Is this written to my audience?”
In our excitement to write about an amazing new feature or a fantastic new product, we can spend too much time extolling its virtues. We know it’s brilliant, so why not shout about it? But by doing this, we write the content for ourselves, not our audience. If your dog food is the healthiest on the market and uses ultra-modern techniques to keep it fresh, that’s great. But it doesn’t tell the reader why that’s good for their dog. This is fine to do as you’re writing, but also shows why editing is so vital.
As you reread your work, ask yourself if every sentence is written to the audience. Focus on how you solve their pain points or address a problem they didn’t even know they had. Then tweak your language as needed. Here’s an example:
“Our dog food is the healthiest on the market, packed with vitamins, and kept fresh using our SuperFresh process.”
“Your dog gets all the vitamins they need to have healthy joints and a shiny coat, and the SuperFresh process guarantees it stays fresh for longer and doesn’t lose its benefits.”
Notice how it’s rewritten to talk about the audience, not to them, and it highlights the best parts for them.
“Am I saying too much?”
It’s easy to get carried away when we’re writing. We think the more we say, the more convincing it is. But too many words can be a turn off. Sometimes, that 1,000-word blog can be 500 words and still be effective.
As you’re editing, ask yourself if every word and sentence earns its place. Instead of rambling on, cut out sentences that don’t work. Or clauses that don’t add anything to the overall piece. You can also look out for adverbs too. Most of the time, they’ll end in “-ly” and don’t say enough to be worth keeping them there.
Take a look at this:
“This paragraph exists to show you how saying too much can be to your detriment. Unnecessarily long sentences that go on forever, and just repeat what you said previously, just drag out the piece and don’t improve its quality. When you want it to be shorter, you should instead cut out words that don’t belong or sentences that serve no greater purpose in the wider piece.”
“This paragraph shows you how long sentences just drag out the piece and don’t improve its quality. Instead, cut out words or sentences that serve no greater purpose.”
In this fast-paced world where attention spans are getting shorter, choose your words carefully.
“Is the language right for the audience?”
Speaking of which, you want to choose the words you use carefully too. Your content should speak in a way that reflects the audience. Serious blogs, say for a lawyer, are going to be formal. Whereas blogs aimed at mums looking for kid’s fashion are going to be more informal.
It’s not just the words. Sentence length and overall depth of detail play a part too. Let’s go back to the dog food example. Think about the audience: they could come from all walks of life, and they just want to know why your dog food is better than the rest. Now, you might think that being technical and scientific is the way to go. After all, you want to show them how well-researched your health benefits are.
But your chemistry lesson isn’t going to work for Katie the sales rep who just wants the best for her Chihuahua. She doesn’t want a lecture while she’s scrolling through Instagram. So your language needs to speak to her. No formality, just down-to-Earth chats.
Your first draft won’t be perfect; no one’s is. So don’t beat yourself up about it. Instead, recognise that your content will change and use these 3 questions to make it the best it can be. It will add more time onto the writing process, but you can’t underestimate just how important the editing stage is.
If time is an issue for you, Coster Content is here to help. As your content partner, our editing process focuses on exactly what’s needed to produce outstanding content. To find out more, get in touch with us today.