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Edit Your Online Content Like a Pro

Creating great content means more than writing. Every word needs to be edited and proofread before you hit publish. Writing gets all your ideas together, editing refines for impact and effectiveness, and proofing (hopefully) catches any errors before anything gets published.

First, Have a Content Writing Process and Assign Roles

The first step in publishing quality content is to have a process. Where will ideas come from? Are there specific topics that should be covered at particular times? Who will write? Proofread? Publish?

These are just some of the questions to address in your content process. The more clearly you define the inputs and outputs, the stronger your content will be.

For each task in the process, assign someone. It is best to have several people involved with content development. The more eyes, the better the results.

Edit Content Like a Pro

When you get to the editing step, here are the steps followed by the best editors:

  1. Know the goal and the audience.
  2. Read through first as if you are the reader. Use a similar screen size.
  3. Next, read as an editor. Change words that aren’t clear. Rewrite to improve flow. Remove extraneous details.
  4. Check the facts. Do numbers add up? Are references correct? Are all names, links, etc. correct?
  5. Read as if you are the reader again.

Wait, There’s Still Proofreading

After the editing steps, you aren’t ready to hit publish. Now is the time for proofreading.

Read the content to check that the flow has not been marred in the editing stage. Ensure that it is still on target for the stated goal and audience.

Check for typos and grammar issues. Spell and grammar checkers don’t catch them all, and they aren’t necessarily correct in all cases. Just today I corrected “house” that should have been “hours.” In context, the wrong word wasn’t flagged by spellcheck.

In the case of grammar checkers, you may disagree with the recommendation, but consider a rewrite anyway. Grammar issues are a flag that your content is not as easy to interpret as you might think.

Still Not Done – Publish and Check Again

With proofing end editing complete, you have a green light to move to publishing your content. Once you do that, check again! There is nothing like seeing something in it’s final form. Make sure it looks as you expected and tweak as needed.

Need a Little Inspiration?

Generating a consistent stream of interesting and insightful content online can be a grind. I’ve been feeling a little tapped out lately. The monotony of COVID restrictions, waiting for spring to arrive for good, and other factors are contributing to a sense of stagnation.

I went looking for a little inspiration to reignite my work in Q2. Here are some great places I found.

Be a Blog Reader

Subscribe to a variety of blogs related to your field and your target audience. Look to them for ideas that you can use for your next post. Sometimes you will find the same topic covered in different ways, giving you some good depth to draw from.

Be sure to look at the comments as well as the posts. There are often great gems in the comments that let you know what’s top of mind for your target audience.

Follow Aggregators

News aggregators pull blog feeds and newsletters together to provide a rich source of ideas around a specific topic. Just reading through the headlines can give you inspiration. Reading the posts can help with research around a specific topic.

Listen to Podcasts

Podcasts are really taking off. You can find them on every topic, even ones you never knew existed! Give some a listen. Sometimes just looking at titles and descriptions is enough to spark some new ideas.

Learn from Questions and Answers on Quora

The Q&A website Quora is a forum for just about everything. The questions and answers there will give you ideas.

Put that Email to Work

We mostly talk about the overload of email, but looking at all those messages as a place to mine for ideas makes the deluge seem a little more palatable. Subscribe to interesting newsletters. Click-through at least a few items every day.

Content Ideas Offline

There are plenty of offline ways to get some fresh ideas, too. A friend finds them walking in nature. Another gets energized with a little retail therapy. There’s inspiration all around if you open yourself up to the opportunities.

Go, and be inspired!

How to Write Great Online Content

What makes great online content? It’s not easy, but paying attention to quality factors can make a significant difference in reach and impact.

Great content helps you get more visitors, gets them looking at what you have to offer, and ideally makes them customers. The key is to provide your visitors with what they need, not necessarily what you want to tell them.

Write for Your Readers

As you develop content, understand and address what your users actually want to read about. What interests do they have? What events or news do they follow that you can relate to your business? What problems are they trying to fix that have led them to your site?

Understand what your target customer is looking for and address those questions and needs directly.

Make Content Easy to Read

No matter who you are talking to, we all want things to be easy to scan and read online. Think about the structure of your text and the words you use. Use paragraphs and several headings. Limit the use of long words and complex sentences.

Easy does not need to be boring! Have fun and make your content engaging.

Be Trustworthy

Write in a clear and user-oriented way to be transparent. State the facts, address issues. Use real photos whenever possible. Include testimonials as they were written. If you are real, people will connect.

Keep it Fresh

Great content is also updated. Have you given your website a read in light of the pandemic? Is your content sensitive to the current climate and the stresses your reader may be feeling? Keep your content updated so it always feels maximally relevant to the reader.