As an entrepreneur, you may produce any of the following content: blog posts, email campaigns, social media posts, graphics, sales pages, website copy, or course content.
Yowzers, that is a lot! (And I’m sure I’ve forgotten some.)
So after spending hours upon hours producing this great content, you want it to be at its best. You know you should hire a copy editor or proofreader, but you can’t afford it. What should you do?
Here are some self-editing tips to make sure your content is the best it can be.
Write it and put it away
After you have finished writing anything, save it, and then put it away for a while—the longer, the better. When you come back to it, you’ll be able to look at it with a fresh set of eyes. The clarity you’ll gain and the amount of errors you can spot just a few days later is amazing.
Have someone else read it
After you’ve gone over it again, have someone else read it. This could be a friend, partner, or maybe a fellow blogger you swap posts with. They will see obvious things that you missed and can help fill in any gaps in logic.
Proofread after you are done editing
When you are editing, you are rearranging, adding, and deleting content. Wait until you are happy with your writing before checking the commas are in the correct spot or that you’ve spelled everything right. It will save you time and energy. You don’t want to waste time proofreading something you later ended up deleting or rewording (and introducing three typos in the process).
Change it up
Try looking at it in a different way—literally.
Change the font. If you are using Arial, try Times New Roman. Any font will do, as long as it is legible and different enough from your original font.
Change the spacing. If you have it single-spaced, change it to double. It will be a lot easier to read and see things.
You can also print it out. I don’t know what it is, but I always seem to find more errors after I print something out.
Read it out loud
Read it out loud to yourself. I know that may sound odd, but humor me. Reading it out loud helps you actually read each word instead of skimming over it while reading silently. This will prevent your brain from filling in what it wants to see.
If you despise hearing your own voice, have someone read it out loud to you. And there is no one around, use a program to read it out loud to you. Microsoft Word has a read-aloud feature. Two online options I’ve found that I like are Natural Readers and TTSReader.
You can also try reading it backwards. These will all help you find typos or odd word choices.
Run it through a program
Now that the words are the way you want them, try running it through a program such as Grammarly or Prowriting Aid. Both have free versions and can help you find any weird punctuation or typos you missed.
I personally have a love/hate relationship with these programs. On the one hand, they are very helpful for obvious misspellings and errors. But they also suggest a lot of things, and I often don’t even know why! So just remember that these programs aren’t infallible, and they don’t always make suggestions that are correct.
Keep a style guide. Start with a standard style guide if you don’t know where to start, such as The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th Edition (CMOS) or The Associated Press Stylebook (AP). They can help you decide how to handle punctuation, headings, captions, etc. This can grow to be a very useful reference doc and is especially useful if you have people writing for you.
There! Your content should now be in the best shape it can be without being professionally edited. Which of these tips did you find the most helpful? I’d love to know, so comment below!
**Audrey is a copyediting expert at Hodgepodge Copyediting and Proofreading Solutions (hodgepodgesolutions.com). She helps entrepreneurs present clear and consistent content, giving them more time, money, and confidence in their business, allowing them to clearly market to their target audience—attracting more clients and sales. When she’s not correcting commas and fixing grammar, she can be found taking walks with her family, gardening, or crafting. You can find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/hodgepodgesolutions