4 things you should do before you hit publish or send
The blogging struggle is real. Sometimes a last-minute post or email happens.
But your procrastination or perfectionism or pure hatred of writing doesn’t have to result in a shoddily written, error-laced, incomprehensible piece of copy.
The best part? All you need is 15 minutes.
Let’s be real: We’ve ALL failed to batch our content, plan ahead, and schedule a post in advance. That’s just reality. But that doesn’t mean we should scrimp on all the QA/QC. Because nothing looks more last-minute than something loaded with errors even a third grader would notice.
And you know reviewing your content before it goes live takes time. Maybe you think it involves some sort of elaborate review process that means hiring a copy editor and a proofreader and being buried in all kinds of markups that will take you days to make sense of and so much red ink you’ll have nightmares forever. The truth is you don’t always have days.
Or maybe you’re afraid of what you’ll find. Sometimes, things sound better in our heads, and, when we put those words on paper, it’s not *exactly* what we were hoping for.
It’s possible you don’t even know where to start. What matters is you got some words down, not how elaborate or time-intensive your review process is.
Besides, you’re not a writer so why the hell should you dedicate precious minutes to perfecting some words and punctuation? Everyone KNOWS you’re not a writer.
Well, my friend, you ARE a writer. The mere fact that you’re putting words on paper (or screen, or napkin, or even just forming them in your head) means you’re a writer.
And you can become a stronger writer. All it takes is a few minutes and a couple quick to-dos to make your writing stronger, clearer, and more engaging for your reader.
So here are four things you should do before you hit publish or send so you look professional and smart AF without spending an entire afternoon debating over every last word.
Run a spell check.
Sure, sure, this one is obvious, and your word processor gives you all those squiggly lines to tell you what’s a word and what’s not, what grammar makes sense and what’s totally out of line.
But sometimes it’s easy to miss those lines. Especially when you’re focused on the content and the message.
Running a spell check will catch any obvious errors so take two minutes before you hit publish to run this oh-so-convenient helper.
Read it out loud.
You know how sometimes you type the wrong word but it’s still a word and spell check doesn’t catch it because, well, it’s a word? It doesn’t know it’s not the RIGHT word. It just knows you spelled it right. Bravo.
So after you run spell check, read your post out loud. Doing this will catch any of those slip ups and any extra words that might have sidled their way in.
I don’t know about you, but when I’m making edits I always seem to find a few extra “tos” and “ands” in there. And they’ll easily bypass spell check because they’re words. Sorry.
When you’re reading your copy out loud, make sure you actually take the time to read it. No speed reading, no hurrying through it because you know what it’s supposed to say.
That’s where you’re going to get in trouble. Our brains are surprisingly good at making us see what we want to see and what we expect to see.
Scan it for jargon.
Jargon is another sneaky customer, just like those extra words and that super sly brain of yours.
Unless you’re defining some concepts for your reader or doing some sort of deep-dive exposé on the terminology, your copy shouldn’t be jargon heavy.
Take a look through your piece of content and see where you’re using jargon and what easier-to-understand words you could use. Better yet, stick in some words your clients are using.
Send a test email.
Sometimes I wonder how many people actually do this. I probably do it too often. I actually ran out of test emails in MailChimp one day when I was doing some hard-core testing. Who does that?!? (Runs out of test emails, not limits them. I can see the benefit of limiting them because I was pretty much driving myself crazy…)
Taking a look at the preview version in your email marketing software isn’t gonna cut it here. Weird things happen when it leaves the software and it lands in inboxes.
Do yourself (and everyone else who might try clicking on a broken link or find themselves agonizing over that wonky spacing between paragraphs and bullet points) a favor and take just a few minutes to see what your copy looks like OUTSIDE of your software.
I bet you’ll find a few things that you wouldn’t mind fixing.
Bonus: Run it through a program like Grammarly or Hemingway App.
If you’re feeling extra spiffy, why not run your copy through a writing program like Grammarly or Hemingway App? Both are free platforms that check for spelling, grammar, word punctuation, sentence structure, and all kinds of other fun writing stuff you’d rather not think about.
My only advice here, if you go this route, is to not accept every last suggestion. If you do that, you run the risk of your copy not sounding like you. (And sounding weird, honestly.)
Just like spell check doesn’t get the last word, don’t let these tools run the show. You get to say what works for you, your style, and your audience.
Now that you’ve got a plan for what to do with your next piece of copy before you hit send, go ahead and schedule 15 extra minutes in to your schedule to run through some of these steps. Even if you don’t get to all of them, hitting two or three is waaaaaaay better than none.
If you’re kinda overwhelmed (and maybe even a little intimidated) by this whole editing thing, you’re not alone. I mean, we have editors for a reason. So if you’d rather not spend any more time with your copy, I’ve got your back. I can help you get that squeaky clean copy you want without the headache – just the fun of working one-on-one with me!