Tips for Editing Your Own Content

Creating valuable content for our businesses is an important part of our marketing efforts. But the actual act of writing is only the first half of the battle.

When we have finished writing, there is another task at hand that is of equal importance: Editing.

What is Editing?

Editing is making changes to a draft of your content, paying close attention to the accuracy of language, clarity of thought and readability. It goes hand in hand with proofreading, which is checking for spelling mistakes, grammatical errors and missing words.

We all make mistakes and suffer from inconsistencies in our writing from time to time. Finding these errors in our own writing can be challenging.

 

Why is Editing Important?

Writing is often the first point of contact with our potential customers. We establish credibility and resourcefulness by blogs we write, social media updates we post and emails that we send to our contact lists. Having blatant errors in what we write sends a message that we are not detail oriented, and do not take the time to make sure our work is the best that it can be. Writing is often our first impression, and we need to make it a good one.

 

Self-Editing Tips

Self-editing is a challenge even for the most experienced writers. Because we have written it and have spent so much time in the thought and creation, it can often be difficult to identify the inconsistencies, errors, typos and spelling mistakes in our writing. We’re just too close to it.

A coworker, a spouse or a friend can offer a fresh set of eyes and the perspective you need to make your content better and catch those silly mistakes. But if you’re under a deadline, you’ll need to do it yourself.

Here are a few tips to help you with editing your own content:

  • Observe the overall structure. Is your content well organized? Does it make sense? Does one idea or paragraph transition smoothly to the other? Read your content for the meaning and the flow first to make sure it says what you intended for it to say.

 

  • Check your links. If you’re writing online and refer to a website, social media accounts, blogs or an email address, make sure your links work and take your readers to the right place.

 

  • Don’t rely on spell check. Spell check in most word processing programs will catch the major mistakes, but they won’t identify words spelled right but used incorrectly. It won’t be able to decipher between words like desert and dessert; form and from; loose and lose. It won’t be able to tell you if proper names are spelled correctly or identify homophone errors (words that sound the same but are spelled differently) such as new/knew, through/threw, witch/which, meet/meat, etc.

 

  • Beware of autocorrect. Your word processing program may try to guess at the word you are attempting to write. Disable this. The Internet is full of examples of embarrassing communications when a device’s auto correct function tried to help.

 

  • Take some time away. If you are not on a deadline and have the luxury of stepping away from your content for a while, do it. It will allow you to take a mental break, gain perspective and catch the errors you didn’t see before because you had been looking at it for too long.

 

  • Read it out loud and like a robot. Slowing down and reading your content out loud in a short, choppy voice (like a robot) is a great way to catch missing words. Missing words happen when your brain thinks faster than you can write or type, and words get missed. Even when you reread, your brain has a way of filling in the words you neglected to type on the page.

 

  • Print your content and underline each word as you read it. For many people, there is nothing like reading on paper and it’s easier to find mistakes. Use a pen and underline each word as you read it. This will help you to find spelling errors and missing words.

 

  • Start with the last word and read to the first word. Reading the words of your content in reverse order will take the focus off the meaning of the words and allow you to more easily identify spelling errors.

 

  • Change the font size. Make your type bigger and reread it. Your mistakes will be more glaring.

 

  • Break it down into small chunks. It can be overwhelming to proofread a large document. Break it down into smaller portions, like paragraphs, and focus on one at a time. As you proofread the paragraph and correct any errors, put a big checkmark in the margin. This will help you feel assured that the paragraph was looked at and approved.

Editing is an important last step to publishing or sending your content. Take an extra few minutes and make sure your message is perfect.

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5 Qualities of a Landing Page

A landing page is a stand-alone website page that has a specific purpose for your company. It’s a special page your customers come across or “land” on because of a link you have provided to them.

Landing pages can be used to generate leads, by collecting your audience’s contact information in exchange for a free download. For example, you might want to create a landing page to promote an ebook you have just written. Your audience will provide their email address and any other information you require in order to download your ebook. Then you can use their information to contact them about different offers or content in the future. The purpose of this type of landing page is to get their contact information.

Landing pages can also be used to take your reader down a path to a purchasing decision. You might use a landing page to sell a new product you have developed, or a service you are now offering. You’ll be collecting more than just contact information with this type of landing page. Your goal will be to secure their order and obtain their payment information, too.

Once you identify why you need a landing page, you will begin to develop and design it. And as you are pulling together the information and writing the content, keep in mind the five qualities that every effective landing page should have:

  1. An offer. This is the hook – the item or service your readers will be getting by purchasing or providing their information. It must be something special, different from what your company normally sells.
  1. Clear, persuasive copy. The words on your landing page must convince your readers of how they will benefit from what you have. It should speak to them on their level, convey that you understand what they need, and help them realize that what you have is the answer to their problem. It should start with an enticing headline, and continue in a clear, trusting voice.
  1. Company branding. A landing page should have your brand’s stamp on it, so your audience recognizes it as a legitimate part of your company. Use your company colors, logo, and font, and keep the design clean and simple. Don’t include your main navigation/menu on your landing page. Leaving this out eliminates distractions and helps to keep them focused on what you are offering.
  1. An image. All landing pages should include an image that helps to illustrate exactly what you are offering. Try to stay away from stock photos if you can, and use the actual pictures of what you have to sell.
  1. Call to action. Arguably the most important part of any landing page is the call to action. This is the button, form or link you customers click on or fill out that get them signed up to receive your product or service. Be sure your call to action is big, clear, and all of your content and images lead your customers naturally to it.

A landing page is a springboard into future correspondences with your audience. It grants you permission to contact them again, or it sells your product or service. So make sure your landing page includes does its job, looks the part, and includes everything it needs to be a successful sales vehicle for your business.

If you have any questions about landing pages, please contact me. To stay in touch, join my email list below.

Engage Your Audience Through Your Content

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “Content is King” to describe the power and importance of your digital content.

I’d like to propose an alternative phrase: “Engaging Content is King.” Just because content on the Internet doesn’t necessarily mean it’s effective or well written. It can’t be king if it’s boring, copy heavy, or if most people who start to read it don’t get past the first paragraph.

Content is truly king when it provides value, drives traffic to your website and encourages an ongoing relationship with your reader.

Content is king when it engages your audience.

How do you engage your audience through your content? Here are seven suggestions for encouraging your audience to not only read, but also to interact, engage and take the next step with your content.

Write with a friendly, conversational voice.

No one likes to read dry, uninteresting content. You have the power to personalize your words by doing the following:

  • Use contractions. “We’ll” instead of “we will,” or “She’s” instead of “she is” rolls off the tongue and sounds more natural.
  • Use second person point of view. Make your audience the main character by using “you” and “your” instead of “them,” “they,” “he,” or “she.”
  • Avoid big words and industry jargon. Unless you are writing for a specialized audience, use simple words that most people will understand.
  • Get to the point. No one is going to read multiple paragraphs to find the information they’re looking for.
  • Use short sentences and short paragraphs. These are easier to read and digest in small chunks
  • White space. Content with white space is scannable.

Add a blog subscription form to your website.

Your readers can sign up to receive an email each time you post a new blog to your website. This keeps your name in front of them on a consistent frequency.

Ask a question that encourages your readers to comment.

Your blog and/or your social media profiles are prime real estate for customer engagement. If you wrote a blog, ask your readers for their thoughts on your article. Do they agree or disagree with your opinion? What has their experience been with the topic you are writing about? Polls and surveys on social media are another way to start a conversation with your followers.

Encourage your readers to sign up for your email newsletter.

If they like what they’ve read, there’s a good chance they will want to read more. Asking your readers to opt in to your email list is a powerful and effective way to continue your engagement with them. It’s a humble honor to be allowed into their email inboxes, so be sure the content you send them is valuable, and consistent without being too frequent. It’s a delicate balance that you’ll learn quickly. Your followers have an easy way to disengage from your email newsletter – and that’s through the dreaded unsubscribe.

Suggest a phone consult.

Do you offer a service or advice that you could “demo”? A short, free consultation is a great way to speak one on one with your potential customer to determine what their needs are and how you can help them. It’s low risk for them, because there is no commitment to buy anything. And they will gain a better understanding of what you do. Speaking live time by phone or Skype is a personal level of engagement that could yield you strong results.

Offer a free download.

Most customers are searching the Internet for answers to something. You can provide those answers in the form of an ebook, a checklist, or a white paper that they could download for free. All you would require to access it is their email address. Now you can follow up through your email marketing efforts.

Provide a contact form.

A contact form is a simple engagement option for you to create and for your readers to complete. It gives them another way to get in touch with you about a question or problem.

You really only need a few fields for it to be effective– a name, email address, a space to comment, and a submit button. You may choose to make a few of the field required, such as an email address and maybe their first name. But additional fields or drop-down lists can give you more information about your reader, if you can convince them to fill them out.

Be careful how many fields you offer and require. Your reader may not be willing to provide a lot of information if they just want to send you a message. They might be willing to answer a few more questions if they are getting something for it, such as a free download.

Still have questions?

A successful digital presence demands content that’s helpful, interesting and engaging – and you’ll need plenty of it. If you could use some help creating content for your business, or would like more information about making your content connect with your readers, contact me, or fill out the form below.