What is the recipe for fantastic off-site content, like guest blog posts? It should be informative, engaging and ultimately turn the reader into a company lead. What’s more, fantastic content generates buzz, gets shared on social media, and makes other people and publications link to that content.
Behind all of these things there is a little secret that can get overlooked: clean, error-free copy. This is the special sauce that when neglected, can turn into a major source of embarrassment for a company.
Yet how do you make your off-site content yield leads? To navigate the process, here are five important proofreading tips that will make your content go from good to great:
1. Eliminate Run-on Sentences
Sentences longer than they have to be are confusing and boring. Write concisely. You will grab the audiences’ attention more easily. Take a look at the following:
Example 1: Yesterday, we went to see American Ballet Theatre perform “Swan Lake” in Chicago, the dancers and music were beautiful and we were all impressed.
Example 2: Yesterday, we saw American Ballet Theatre perform “Swan Lake” in Chicago. The dancers and music were beautiful.
Which one sounds/looks better? Hopefully, example No. 2. The same message is communicated, but more efficiently.
2. Extra “You”
Of course, the goal of a blog post is to offer something of value to an audience, so why not use “you”? While this reasoning is understandable, be careful when using “you” too many times in a blog post. It becomes unnecessary and will lose its effectiveness. Compare the following examples; you’ll see why example No. 2 is preferable:
Example 1: When going to your company meeting, you should always bring your pencil, your pen and your notepad.
Example 2: Be sure to bring a pencil, pen and notepad to the company meeting.
Keep paragraphs short, use bullet points to create “digestible” information readers can absorb, and always make sure titles and subtitles are consistent (for example, are subtitles always capitalized or are they all lowercase?). This makes the content look polished, and again, helps guide the reader through the content. An audience probably won’t even notice or appreciate formatting if your content is clean. However, if formatting is a mess, it could reflect poorly on your business.
4. Keep quotes to a minimum
A few resources are always great to help strengthen content’s authority, but when long quotes dominate a blog post, it can denote laziness. Make sure quotes and sources are truly valuable to your content and audience. As American humorist Josh Billings said, “There’s a great power in words, if you don’t hitch too many of them together.”
5. Remove redundancies and utilize an editor
When writing, it is easy to use the same words and phrases over and over, without even realizing it. This is where it’s helpful to have another set of trusted eyes proofread and/or edit your content. This helps take the content to the next level. Even if you’re an award-winning author, always get a second opinion from someone who has a true understanding of English and grammar.