How do you edit your content?
When you engage a copywriter, have you ever wondered why they couldn’t just knock out your content in a couple of hours?
After all, you only asked for a couple of articles. How long does it take to do some research and write it up?
Well, if you’ve ever tried to write yourself, you’ll know that the initial draft is usually rough around the edges and needs refining. And that’s the bit that takes time.
Asking for an article quickly, without giving your copywriter time to edit and shape it, is a bit like asking a sculptor to provide you with a lump of clay before they’ve had the opportunity to shape it.
You see, after spending hours researching, thinking, drafting and redrafting to generate a first draft that I’m happy with, I then have to edit it to create something I’m happy for my client to see.
The editing is the toe-curlingly tricky bit.
It is the process that turns good writing into excellent writing.
How to edit your content effectively
How you edit will be personal to you, but here are a few approaches I use that work for me.
Go from long to short
If word count restricts your project, ignore it for the first draft. Let your writing flow freely; the good, bad and ugly are all welcome in the initial draft. Then, once you’ve used up all your ideas, go back through it, remove the bad, and rearrange the good.
It’s much easier to cut down to your word limit rather than pad out what you have to reach it.
Don’t be sentimental
As a writer, it’s easy to fall in love with certain phrases and sentences, but there’s no room for sentiment in copywriting.
It’s vital to remain focused on the topic, the reader and the project’s aims as you edit. If any part of what you have written doesn’t satisfy the criteria, cut it, no matter how much you like it.
Most writers like to set the scene before they get to the main point. In marketing, there’s no room for this fluff.
Review your writing and see if there’s a better lead further down that instantly hits the reader. If there is, that’s where your writing should start.
Small and short is good
It’s vital that your writing is easy to read and understand. That’s why you need to ditch complex words, lengthy sentences and long paragraphs for something simpler and shorter.
Don’t overdo the punctuation
This one ties in with the one before. Excessive punctuation leads to awkward sentences that are difficult to read.
Keep your sentences short and use commas sparingly because they tend to slow down the flow of your writing. Another critical thing to remember is to avoid using full stops in headings. The last thing you want your reader to do is to stop reading after your compelling headline; you want them to continue straight into the body of your content.
Whom are you writing for?
Every writer understands that they have to write with their reader in mind, so it’s essential they use appropriate language. However, it’s just as important to remember whom you are writing as. Think about how they talk and the tone they would use and replicate that.
Be active, not passive
Active verbs give your writing impact. Passive writing is somewhat uninspiring, and you want your reader to be excited about what you’re telling them, so get active.
Editing is painful but will lead to tighter, leaner and more powerful writing. The best option is to put your initial draft aside for a day or so before editing, so you come at it with fresh eyes.
Sally Ormond, professional freelance copywriter.