What’s special about the compelling content you retweet, Like, bookmark, and email to your friends?
Those articles serve the audience, not the content creator.
Creative work that instantly captivates and holds an audience’s attention influences their lives.
So, you have to remember that transcribing the thoughts in your mind won’t always serve a purpose.
You must craft the right instructions and help a reader optimize a part of their daily life through the topic you share.
Here’s how you get there: Strengthening your ability to create content that spreads includes improving your editing skills.
Editors transform basic text into powerful stories (in all media) that persuade people to take action.
1. Walk away
Realistically assess your post’s urgency.
Unless you have a strict deadline, take a break for at least a day after you’ve completed your draft. You’ll find new ways to modify your writing when you return to it with fresh eyes.
2. Release attachment
Forget that you wrote the content and consciously assume an Editor Mindset that’s free from your Writer Ego.
As an editor, you have no problem evaluating and deleting to produce a more coherent and complete post. Proactive editing shouldn’t be devastating.
3. Create a new document
Prepare to save everything you remove because content that’s excessive or irrelevant for a certain post doesn’t always need to be tossed.
You can often use those ideas in future articles.
4. Indulge a bad habit
Perform one fast, superficial reading to gratify the impulse to skim your text.
Each subsequent reading should be a meticulous review of the text.
As you lightly read your post, write side notes without changing the draft.
If you didn’t communicate your intentions accurately, use these notes as an opportunity to record leftover ideas you thought you included but actually didn’t. You’ll use them in Tip #9 below.
6. Summarize your goal
Draft a straightforward headline in about 25 words, and then edit your summary until you have a succinct title that includes the “Four U’s” of copywriting: ultra-specific, unique, useful, and urgent.
Writers often assume that readers will quickly understand their main point even though they haven’t explicitly stated it, so make sure your intentions are clear and benefit-driven.
7. Avoid overwhelm
Weak sections may appear in final versions of blog posts if you don’t edit enough because reviewing the entire post in one sitting overwhelms you.
For example, I edited this post in five different sessions. Begin with your favorite part to generate editing momentum.
8. Pamper your audience
After each sentence, ask yourself: “How does this information help my reader?”
Each paragraph should satisfy an element of CMKR — provide Comfort, be Memorable, share Knowledge, or list Resources.
9. Consider alternatives
Incorporate the notes you made earlier as you reorganize or combine sentences, shorten or lengthen paragraphs, or change the order of the text.
If you often repeat a word, keep it in the most appropriate place, and replace it with synonyms in other instances.
10. Eliminate questions
Use the “Fifth U” that pertains to editing the body of your copy: unmistakable.
You never want your reader to guess or have the thought: “I don’t really follow. Is he trying to say ___?”
If a reader strains to comprehend your message, she won’t have any motivation to share your writing with others.
11. Don’t rush to proofreading
Your content doesn’t just need to be solid before you publish — it also needs to be solid before you proofread.
You’ll notice errors more easily when you’re not still rewriting and rearranging portions of your blog post. If you begin proofreading but find yourself copy editing too much, stop and dedicate more time to revising.
12. Be curious
Read slowly, as if each word is foreign to you. It’s time to scrutinize each word to make sure it’s the perfect fit for that sentence.
A slow proofreading practice also helps you catch real-word typos, such as “my” instead of “may,” “through” instead of “thorough,” “most” instead of “post,” or “to” instead of “too.”
13. Get mechanical
Proper writing mechanics ensure the effortless comprehension of your topic.
A few grammar, spelling, or punctuation mistakes won’t necessarily ruin your reputation, but they may ruin great ideas by making them confusing.
14. Value consistency
Create a style guide for your blog post that lists all proper names, terms, and phrases.
Professional, polished writing doesn’t have inconsistencies such as varied capitalization or punctuation when referring to the same word. For example, if “Walmart” is the correct spelling, you should never also write “Wal-Mart,” “WalMart,” or “Wal-mart” within the same post.
15. Categorize your progress
Stop proofreading a section of your text once you know it’s flawless and focus on weaker areas.
Highlight the text in green if it’s completely proofread, yellow if it’s partially finished, and red if it still needs a good amount of your attention. When all the text is green, read your post one more time out loud.
You should be able to read it without making any changes.
Effective communication is refined and optimized
Editing improves your writing because language that impacts readers doesn’t always materialize immediately. Your concepts become more persuasive when you refine your original words.
During in-person communication, you can rephrase your verbal speech if you observe a puzzled or clueless look on someone’s face. With writing, you don’t get the luxury of such feedback until after you’ve published.
At that point, you don’t get another chance to explain yourself — a reader will simply stop reading.
You have the power to keep them reading.