As an editor and writer, there’s nothing more cringe-worthy than reading a poorly written piece of copy—whether it’s a blog, brochure, or even a sloppy social media post. To be fair, social media often gets a pass due to character counts and the very succinct nature of that type of content. Still, there’s no excuse for careless copy, unless you’re actively trying to lose the faith of your audience.
Why would they stray?
Bad writing is confusing. You’re supposed to be an expert in your field. Showing little regard for how you present yourself to clients or prospects doesn’t sync with that persona, and you run the risk of alienating the individuals you’ve worked so hard to entice. At worst, your reputation becomes irrevocably damaged—and even if redemption is forthcoming, you’ve still wasted precious resources creating ineffective copy.
Here are a few simple steps to prevent any of this from occurring.
Keep Copy Clear And Concise
We are inundated with words. In marketing messages alone, the average person is exposed to between 4,000 and 10,000 per day, not to mention all the other personal communications we engage with (text messages, emails, Facebook, Instagram). It’s unlikely your audience is poring over every word you publish. They’ll grab what they can from the title, bullet points, or bolded sections and skim the rest. Complex jargon, run-on sentences, and excessive use of buzzwords can come off as irritating and gratuitous. You’re asking the reader to invest way more than they signed up for.
There’s no excuse for careless copy
The best advice I ever received from an editor I worked with was “good writing makes reading it effortless.” It shouldn’t feel like work. Remember, your content marketing goal is to enlighten, entertain, and educate—just not in a way that requires much exertion by the end user.
Another lesson I’ve learned working with freelance writers from all over the world—particularly in cases where English is not their first language—is that the most effective way to present your idea or argument is in short, clear, and concise sentences with easy-to-understand words and phrases. Make the dictionary your best friend, not the thesaurus.
For The Love Of All Things Sacred, Spell Check
Simple spelling errors are unacceptable when one click will alert you of questionable words. If you skip the check and overlook easily fixable mistakes as a result, you’re giving the impression that you really don’t care to devote attention to detail. Why would you want to represent your company in that way?
Make the dictionary your best friend, not the thesaurus
Don’t forget to also do your own manual spell check of names. In a world where the name Ashley can be spelled Ashleigh, you can’t assume. I’ve had my fair share of Starbucks drinks with my name spelled S-h-e-e-n-a. Trust me, people notice when their names are misspelled.
Give Your Eyes A Rest, Then Do Final Looks
Even the best of editors need a second pair of eyes, but sometimes you have to fill that role yourself. Give your brain a break before approving final copy. There’s only so many times you can read over the same paragraphs before you’re cross-eyed, so don’t force it. Coming back with a fresh perspective allows you to catch mistakes you previously failed to notice—such as a missing comma or erroneous use of a term.
With the overload of information we encounter daily, the power of quality content can’t be underestimated. Performing a thorough review of your forward-facing copy is well worth the time investment.