I never planned to be in marketing that long. A writer at heart, marketing hooked me early, leading to a nearly seven year long inbound marketing career.
While unexpected, the project management and content creation skills I've acquired have contributed a lot to my career...with one specific superpower.
I’m really good at editing crappy copy.
While it's preferable to keep writing in-house, there are instances that over allocated teams need additional support. This is where an outsourcer or freelance writer can be incredibly useful. But the internal team still needs to review and approve that content.
A lot of marketers feel nauseated by the idea of editing copy. At Huify, we get gleeful about it. We love the feeling of deleting overly used phrases. For us, minimizing run on sentences is as satisfying as popping bubble wrap.
For marketers that aren’t strong writers, poorly written content can be incredibly frustrating to manage. On a Friday, at 4 PM, when you've finally received an overdue blog post from a freelance writer, only to realize that it’s in absolutely no condition to send to a client, the responsibility to deliver high-quality content feels like a huge burden.
Or a terrible, burning, about to explode Alien chest-burster. Depends on your temperament.
So, to help out my fellow marketers, we’ve compiled our best editing strategies below. We should confess, however, our intentions aren’t entirely pure.
(We’re really tired of reading terrible, obviously outsourced content.)
Here's how you can quickly turn around a cringeworthy piece of content, quickly. If you do it right, this can typically be accomplished in a half hour or less.
Step 1. Run through this checklist.
For a lot of poorly written content, the problem is often just unsophisticated writing. Before sending something back to a freelancer or contractor, go through the post and remove:
- Metaphors and similes - Basically, delete any phrase you’ve read a million times before.
- Flowery language - Your content doesn’t need to read like a Beatles song. Too many expressive words and statements detract from the topic.
- Repetitive statements - Don’t say the same thing twice. Even when it’s slightly reworded, repeating the same idea will bore your reader.
Step 2. Think through the actual topic.
Ask, and apply the answers to the following questions:
• Is the topic expressed clearly, without talking down to the reader?
• What will the reader learn from this post, or what action will they want to take?
• Are any of the points clearly opinion based, without a statistic or link to back it up?
Pro Tip: As you’re reading content, frequently ask “is this the simplest way to say this?” whenever you get to a supporting point or idea.
SEE ALSO: 6 Steps To Building A Successful Webinar Outline
Step 3. Double check for vague or overused words and phrases.This is one of my favorite ways to clean up content. Run through the post, and rephrase, replace or eliminate:
- Phrases like “With that in mind,” “As you know,”, etc. They aren’t valuable and just make sentences longer.
- Describing your reader as “your business” or “your company”. Try saying “your team” instead, it’s more personal.
- Words like discover, journey, or explore. Aspirational language might seem fun and trendy, but can be distracting if not used effectively.
Step 4. Give the writer productive feedback.
After you’ve delivered your content (on time, hopefully), here’s how you can get better content from your writer.
- Encourage them to ask better questions. Lazy writing is an indication that they don’t understand the subject matter very well.
- Set up time for them to speak to/engage with a customer of your client. If your client isn’t okay with that, have your team do it and record the session for future use.
- Send them better industry examples. We send our writers a lot of examples of what kind of content our clients like.
Pro Tip: Make sure writers also have access to buyer personas, competitors, previously used content assets, as well as best practices.
By defluffing and simplifying copy, your content will help make the overly saturated internet a better, and more interesting place.