Your Step-by-Step Guide to Editing Content Like a Pro


If you’re a self-powered blogger or entrepreneur trying to DIY your content, the process of putting your thoughts onto paper can be daunting. Sure, you’ve got a lot of know-how in your head, but how in the world are you supposed to get it out in a way that makes sense and actually...you know...gets people interested?

If you've found yourself in this boat, the good news is: you're in plentiful and fabulous company. The bad news is, it's going to keep slowing you down unless you put a solid process in place to guide your efforts. Since we know your brilliance shouldn't be missed, here's our 7 step process for transforming “brain dump" content into powerful, polished prose:

Step 1) After You Write It, WALK AWAY!

This step may seem unnecessary to the overachievers {or rush-and-get-it-done-rs} out there, but its importance CANNOT be overstated. After churning out a sparkling fountain of cognitive magic, your brain is creatively maxed out and less likely to:

a) See where you need to say less

b) See where you need to explain more

c) Catch syntax, grammar and spelling errors

d) See how you can hone or add content in a way that increases value

Truth be told, this is a step I used to ignore myself and when I revisit my high school essays, it shows. Luckily, I’m now a wise writing sensei and can pass this helpful tip on it you so you can avoid my erroneous ways. ;)

Step 2) Give Your Copy A Crystal Clear Voice & Direction

Once you’re ready to review your copy again, put yourself in the shoes of a reader who's never had an introduction to your business before or is coming into the “conversation” completely uneducated about your topic. Looking at your copy through this lens, ask yourself:

a) What is this copy trying to tell me / teach me / sell me?

b) Does this copy take me from an obvious point A to point B?

c) What takeaways do I have after reading this?

d) Is the intention of the copy clear? {i.e. to educate me on a process, to teach me a skill, to sell me a product, to tell me a story, to get me to subscribe to something, etc.}

e) Does it have a consistent voice throughout? {i.e. funny and informative, educational and reassuring, authentic and inspiring, etc.}

Step 3) Trim the Fat

One of the most common mistakes I see clients make when writing content for their business is not following Hemingway’s “Theory of Omission” approach; i.e. over-writing. It's great to get it all out on the first round, but when you go back to hone your content, look for overly wordy or repetitive phrases/sentences and cut them out.

OTHER VERBAL FAT TO TRIM:

1) The word “that”. 95% of the time, the use of “that” in sentences is completely unnecessary. Every time you run across an instance of “that” in your writing, try reading the sentence without it: if it still makes sense, take it out.

Example: “Offering you fully organic products that you’ll love, delivered right to your door.” vs “Offering you fully organic products you’ll love, delivered right to your door."

2) Unnecessary sentence lead-ins like “actually”, “generally”, “in my opinion”, “in order to”, “sometimes”. It’s better to get straight to the point of your sentence. This gives you a clearer voice and positions you as a confident authority.

Example: “Typically, it’s better to get straight to the point of your sentence.” vs “It’s better to get straight to the point of your sentence.”

3) Tangential sentences or phrases. A little zinger here or there is fine if humor is part of your writing voice, but otherwise, stick to the topic and save tangents you find for entirely new pieces of writing {new blog posts, new sales pages, new offer ideas, etc}.

4) Adverbs that don’t serve a real purpose; i.e. the words that end in “ly”. While they have their place every now and again, adverbs often come across as "amateur" writing and don't leave a strong impression.

Example: “Here at Such-And-Such Real Estate, we're committed to selling homes quickly.” vs “Here at Such-And-Such Real Estate, we're committed to selling your home for the most amount of money in the least amount of time.”

5) Minimize “very” and “really” as much as possible. Too much can get very, very distracting. ;)

Step 4) Replace Weak Verbs

Rather than using passive verbs that lack sparkle, wow your readers with verbs that make a statement.

Example: “A unique weight loss program designed to get you results” vs “A unique weight loss program designed to accelerate your results”. The first option isn't bad by any means, it’s just not as impactful as the second. Keep an eye out for potential swaps like this and remember, thesaurus.com is always there for you if you get stuck!

* For another great resource, check out the free downloadable at the end of this blog post.

Step 5) For the Love of English, Use Contractions!

Don’t torture your readers with constant instances of “do not”, “is not”, “that will”, “we will”, etc. Because we don't speak this way, it throws our brains off to read this way. Always use the contraction {i.e. don't, isn't, that'll, we'll}, unless you need to create an emphasis on a certain word, as in the example: “You do not want to go down that road, trust me”.

Step 6) Use Power Words

On top of replacing any “meh” verbs with “POW” verbs, you’ll want to look for additional opportunities to use power words in your copy. Power words are action-oriented, emotionally charged or communicate expertise. These words activate your audience’s desire to connect and make decisions.

* Steal my top 236 Power Words list at the end of this blog post.

Step 7) Arrange Your Copy for Easy Consumption

When considering how to best present your topic, service or product, it’s important to understand how your audience likes to consume content. You can have the most brilliant insights or life-changing products in the world, but if your copy immediately turns people off, ain’t nobody benefiting.

SOME EASY WAYS TO MAKE YOUR CONTENT MORE CONSUMABLE:

1) Use short paragraphs. Aim for no more than five sentences without a break.

2) Use numbered lists. This is especially effective for sales pages and blog posts.

3) Break it into steps. This is especially effective for blog posts or copy on your website.

4) Use bolded headers to break up larger points. This prevents text overwhelm by creating visual differentiation.

5) Insert images, videos or decorative design elements. Again, visual breaks allow your reader to consume without feeling bombarded by text.

6) Use underlining, italics and bolded text to highlight important information. This caters to those who prefer to "skim" to assess value before they dive into the meat of your content.

Steal my list of 236 POWER WORDS to get

your readers engaged and taking action.

Download now.

To get more in-depth strategies and before-and-after copy examples from real businesses live on the market today {plus a bucket load of other valuable tips on how to write copy that converts}, check out our Sales Copy Mastery ebook here.

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