How Editing Could Make or Break Your Reputation
Let’s pause for a moment before I get into the important matters and appreciate how potentially risky this post may be. Writing of any kind is an invitation to be judged. As an editor, writing on perfect spelling, grammar and punctuation can be walking into a death trap. So, whilst I may possibly be on the path to my own untimely demise, I am choosing to go where some writers and editors dare not dream of going and write a post on how editing can really affect your content.
I’m sure you’ve heard some of the many tired old phrases highlighting the importance of punctuation, spelling and grammar, including “Let’s eat Grandma” and “Let’s eat, Grandma.” However, we still seem to take these things for granted and don’t understand their value when it comes to content marketing.
What’s the big deal?
I know, I know. “What’s the big deal,” you say, “the readers know what I mean.” But do they really? Can you afford to take the risk that the reader will be able to seamlessly decipher your information? More and more people are flocking to the internet for quick answers to queries and reliable information that suits their needs. Not many, then, will take the time to work through a page of errors to get to the good stuff, they’ll simply move on and find a page that is polished and professional.
It’s also important to keep in mind the reputation you’re pushing across every time you develop content. Each mistake—whether it’s poor spelling, grammar or punctuation—unfortunately knocks your reputation down a peg. Think about restaurants with spelling errors in their menus, advertising companies with mistakes on their homepage, each slipup is taking away your professional appeal.
So what can I do about it?
Pass it to a friend
You don’t need years of experience or a degree in editing to become proficient at giving your work a once over and polishing it a little. Actually, I highly suggest you get other people to do the work for you. It’s always easier to spot other people’s mistakes rather than your own. Getting a friend to look over it for you is a great way to pick up things that would otherwise be missed.
Take a look yourself
Don’t have any friends? That’s okay, there are ways you can still do it yourself. Taking a break from what you have written and coming back with fresh eyes is a great trick. For those with tight deadlines or busy schedules, this may not be plausible. An effective alternative is reading what you’ve written out loud. Sounds simple, but reading aloud helps you identify long, jarring sentences or bits that don’t sound quite right.
Don’t set out for perfection straight away
Excuse the language, but the famous Ernest Hemmingway once said, “The first draft of anything is s#!%.” Now, this doesn’t mean the whole thing needs to be thrown away and never looked at again. To me, it means any piece needs polishing. Creating content is one thing, presenting a perfectly polished piece is a whole other feat and one that many writers (myself included) struggle with at times. Give yourself some praise for thinking of a good idea and getting the first draft down, but accept that there will need to be changes and edits, whether it is to improve clarity or simply make it more concise.
Of course, no matter how long you stare at each piece and how thoroughly you scour through every page, inevitably there will be some things that slip between the cracks. The trick is to minimise the damage and fix up what you can.
Oh and if you do happen to find any mistakes in this, I was like totally testing you.