More of a creative at heart, I've always had a fascination with marketing and the power it welds, this is my tenth year working in the Inbound Marketing world.
While it's preferable to keep copy writing in-house, there are instances that over pressured teams need the additional support. This is where a freelance copy writer can be incredibly useful. However, we still have the internal team review and approve that outsourced content.
A lot of marketers are not happy with the idea of editing other peoples copy. At our web design Auckland studio, we're not at all bothered about this. We love the feeling of deleting overly used phrases. For us, minimising run on sentences is as satisfying a ten dollar note in your back pocket.
For marketers and designers that don't have strong copy writing skills, poorly written content can be incredibly frustrating to manage. The last thing on a Friday afternoon, when you've finally received an overdue blog post from a freelance writer you've pressured all day, only to realise that it’s in absolutely no condition to send out, the responsibility to deliver high-quality content feels like an enormous stress.
So, to help out our fellow Inbound Marketers, we’ve compiled our best editing strategies below.
Here's how you can quickly turn around a cringe-worthy 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 simple writing. Before sending something back to a freelancer or contractor, go through the post and remove:
Metaphors and similes - Delete any phrase you’ve read a million times before.
Flowery language - Your content doesn’t need to read like a pop song. Too many descriptive words and statements detract from the topic.
Repetitive statements - Don’t say the same thing twice, repeating the same idea will bore your reader.
Read the post out loud. You’ll catch mistakes and awkward phrasing faster.
Step 2. Think through the actual topic
Ask, and apply the answers to the following questions:
Is the issue 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?
As you’re reading content, frequently ask “is this the simplest way to say this?” whenever you get to a supporting point or idea.
Step 3. Double check for vague or overused words and phrases
This is one of my favourite 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 discovery, journey, or explore. The aspirational language might seem fun and trendy, but can be distracting if not used effectively.
Keep it real and get to the point. No one has time for long, fluffy content.
Step 4. Give the writer productive feedback
After you’ve delivered your content, 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.
Send them better industry examples. We send our writers a lot of examples of what kind of content our clients like.
Make sure writers also have access to buyer personas, competitors, previously used content assets, as well as best practices.
By de-fluffing and simplifying copy, your content will help make the overly full internet a better, and more interesting place.