Writing the first draft of a piece of content is usually the fun part – next comes the task of editing your content so that it is cohesive, tight, and stylistically flawless. This process can be relatively lengthy and may require you to eliminate ideas or passages you were attached to. But the results are well worth the effort, as well-edited content is able to more effectively get your message across to readers.
Use these 8 secrets of powerful content editing to turbo charge your content marketing efforts:
- Choose a style. There are a number of style guides, such as AP, APA, and Chicago Style. Your company doesn’t have to draw on any one official style, but the style choices you make should be consistent. It’s important to create a company style guide that addresses general writing style, such as citations and the Oxford comma, as well as company-specific issues, such as how your company should be referenced. Content editing should be done with your style guide in mind.
- Walk away. After writing your content, don’t move to content editing right away. Instead, walk away for a few hours or a few days, to allow yourself to step away from the content. This lets you approach it with a new perspective, in which you’re able to see the content for how it is written rather than what you intended.
- Read aloud. For your first comb through, read the content aloud. This will help you to catch any awkward syntax or grammatical errors. It can also be helpful in terms of identifying misspelled words. Your content should sound natural when read aloud.
- Read with an outsider’s perspective. As you take a second read-through, approach the content with an outsider’s perspective. Without knowing what you intended to write, would the concepts seem clear? Is what you meant to address present in the content? Are your word choices meaningful and intentional? If not, you’ll need to edit your content so that what you intended to write is present.
- Go in batches. Much like trying to edit directly after writing, attempting to edit an entire piece or series of pieces in a single go can become a cloudy, frustrating experience. You don’t need to go quickly when content editing. Instead, go in batches, taking a break to clear your mind after each portion of the content has been edited.
- Err on the side of deletion. After writing something, it’s common to want to cling to each word and idea in the content. Avoid this tendency, and be ruthless in your editing. In most cases, it’s best to err on the side of deletion when it comes to content editing, as you identify parts of the content that don’t quite mesh with the overall message.
- Save eliminated content. Erring on the side of deletion doesn’t mean you have to completely eliminate the content you remove. You can make further use of your hard work by creating a file for content you eliminate when content editing. These concepts may serve as great ideas for future content. When you’re approaching your next round of content idea development, you can pull out your eliminated content and look for ideas that can be tackled in their own piece or incorporated into another planned piece.
- Hire content editing services. Content editing is a skill that many businesses don’t have the time or inclination to develop in-house. Hiring content editing services can ensure that your content is in tip-top shape. Content editing services can take into account your company’s tone, voice, and style guide as well as the general rules of copy editing.
Once you develop a personal system for editing your work, you’ll find that over time the process becomes less arduous and more natural. While careless writing and sloppy editing can distract readers from the content at hand, the results of dedication to copy editing show themselves in high quality content that always engages readers.
How do you edit your work? Do you use any of these methods when content editing? Share in the comments!