The following are my 10 top tips for editing content…
Just write. Get your first draft down, if you edit as you go along you’ll get lost in the words.
Remind yourself about the intended audience. Before you start editing, take a moment to remind yourself of who you’re writing for. Remind yourself about the pain points, challenges or opportunities that speak to them. Remind yourself about the language you’re comfortable with. And remind yourself that they’re (probably!) not a copywriter, so won’t see the clever techniques you’ve used.
With each read through check for something different. For example:
- 1st read through: have you kept on-topic
- 2nd read through: have you repeated yourself
- 3rd read through: are your points clear
- 4th read through: have you structured your argument clearly
Read your words aloud. This is great for reviewing, but it’s good for editing too. If you read your copy aloud, you’ll hear if you start to waffle and if your point becomes unclear, and you’ll pick up on any repetition.
Remove uncertainty. If you’ve used words like ‘possibly’, ‘probably’, ‘might’…etc, get rid. It will instantly strengthen what you’re saying.
Cut it down. You want to make your copy easy to skim read, so don’t present your reader with a wall of text or lengthily paragraphs. Keep it short and sweet.
Be smart with punctuation. Becoming a copywriter I finally understood the importance of using punctuation to guide the reader through your copy – use it wisely!
Take a break before editing. If it’s a big project, like a white paper or a case study, I like to edit my first draft and then sleep on it before performing a second edit. This allows me to approach the piece with fresh eyes. If time doesn’t allow, I’ll at least get distance from the piece by breaking for lunch, writing something else, or reading an article to clear my head before coming back to it.
Silence. When I’m in research mode I don’t mind having some light background music on, and even writing the first draft I find it actually helps to keep me focussed. But when it comes to editing, I need complete silence so the copy has my full attention. This might not match your preferred working style, but the priority has to be no distractions.
Give yourself time. If anything, I think the editing process is more important than the actual writing. When you’re in writing mode, usually the thoughts are flowing and you just need to get them all down on paper. But when you start editing, you’re massaging those words into a specific structure and tweaking things to employ different copywriting techniques. This can’t be rushed in a quick 10-minutes before you head out for the school run, so make sure you have enough time before starting.