Imagine that you are searching for some information on the Internet and happened to hit a blog that contains exactly what you wanted. As you start scanning, you see that the content has a lot of typos, lack of proper punctuation, complicated sentence formations or grammatical errors. What will you do?
If I was in your situation, it takes hardly 5 seconds for me to hit the Back button of my web browser – not that I am particularly great in all the above aspects but as a consumer I wouldn’t like to see any ill-formed content. We are talking about copy-editing here. But as a blogger, you are your own ambassador and marketing professional and hence you need to have the traits of a copy-writer too.
Good copy-edited content enhances the readability and helps with the natural flow of scanning. I have been a bit too paranoid about punctuations from childhood and really hate to see non-copy-edited content (In fact, I keep telling this to my wife and kid all the time). What’s even more frustrating is the grammatical mistakes. Unfortunately, not all of us are having English as our first language but that doesn’t mean that you can write the way you speak. Classic examples (from India especially) for this kind of silly mistakes include the usage of ‘then’ in place of ‘than’ and wrong usages such as ‘one of my friend’ (my favorite example).
So what you do to improve your copy-editing skills? It’s a matter of a few weeks or months before you can be a great copy editor provided you want to improve yourself. All that it takes is the following.
- A good Word processor software with spelling and grammar check enabled
- Decision as to which English to follow – The American version or the British. This is a big step for people from countries with colonial past, we are confused!
- Get a couple of good friends who can help with proof reading once in a while, even if you are using a Word Processor all the time
- Read through your content two three times before publishing even if you have gained years of experience into writing
- Ditch the word processor once in a while and check where you stand
- Stay away from SMS or mobile texting lingo – This is the biggest menace that the younger geek bloggers are facing right now
The word processor can help you, 9 out of 10 times, with most kind of punctuation, grammatical and spelling problems. However, it’s better not to get addicted to the same unless you want to maintain and improve on versions of large amount of text (e.g. a huge book).
Copy-editor v/s Copywriter
Once you are a good copy-editor, it’s time to take another leap forward to become a good copy writer. Copywriting is more of a high profile profession by itself whereby the content being copy edited is not only easy to read and digest but also compelling and exciting. In the context of blogging (which is writing plus marketing at the moment), compelling content would mean:
- Content that sells to humans – usage of title, right set selling key phrases, Good introduction etc on top of being top copy-edited stuff
- Something that attracts search engine bots – SEO optimized content, that is
- Relevant to your niche
- Content that enhances your branding
Great copy-writing abilities is what distinguish an exceptional blogger from an average blogger though both might have much the same technical abilities of domain knowledge. Ever wondered why Brian Clark or Darren Rowse always write compelling content? If you read into their content probably they might have had the same bullet points that you or I had but exceptional copywriting made all the difference!
I would like to give an assignment to interested people (bloggers) from my reader community.
If you were to write this particular post, how would you do it from copy-writing point of view?. By the way, I wrote this in about 40 minutes without any draft and took 4-5 minutes to proof read it before publishing. I am hopeful of improving it with your help, as my proof-reading is not something that I am happy about.
Also, let me know, if anybody would like to be a copy-writer buddy. It’s not a paid job but something of mutual help that can be availed once or twice a month.