Errors, however small, can have a massive impact on your reputation. Just ask Penguin Australia. In 2010, they released the much-anticipated The Pasta Bible. Soon afterward, eagled-eyed readers spotted a mistake. In a linguine recipe, the authors accidentally advocated for racist cannibalism, recommending that readers add “ground black people” to their pasta. Naturally, Penguin recalled the books, but it was too late: news outlets had picked up the mistake, and even over a decade later, people use it as a warning against skipping the proofreading stage.
So, how do you ensure that your business blog is well-edited and error-free? At Proofed, we’ve edited over 10,000 business blogs, so we know how hard it can be to proofread and edit your writing. What we’ve found is that having systems in place will help considerably to produce consistently high-quality content. The question is, how do you create these systems? This blog will present a workflow you can adopt when you need to proofread and edit your business blog.
The best thing you can do when creating any content is to establish a workflow. A workflow will tell you what needs to be done by whom and when, taking the guesswork and confusion out of blogging. It might take some time to find a workflow that works for you and your team, and you might need to tweak it as you gain experience, branch out into different content, or hire other writers and editors. Having a workflow has many advantages, so it’s something you should consider while writing and editing content.
If you don’t already have a style guide, we strongly recommend creating one. A style guide lists the punctuation, grammar, and formatting rules that a content team should follow. As a company, you can create your own style guide, or you can use one of the established guides, such as The Associated Press (AP) Stylebook or The Chicago Manual of Style (CMoS). Using a style guide has many benefits, not least of which is consistency. Once you’ve written your first draft, you should take time to go through it and make changes in line with whatever style guide you have chosen before moving on. You could do this while you perform the copy edit, or you could do it as a separate step.
Before you even start writing, you should create an outline from which your writers can work. The outline can be as detailed as you like, but it should lay out what you want to achieve in the blog. The outline can also lay out ideas for the argument you want to make, the information you want to include, and perhaps the order in which you want to make your points. To save time in the long term, you should consider adding a template to your workflow for your content creators to use.
Once you have an outline, it’s time to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and write your blog. Writing is probably the most time-consuming part of the process, but it’s worth taking time to craft a well-thought-out post. Your first draft is never great, and that’s okay because first drafts will get better the more you practice, but take some time to make sure all your ideas are on the page in a coherent way. As number one best-selling author Jodi Picoult says, “You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.” So, get the words on the page and worry about the technicalities later.
Different types of editing exist: developmental/content editing, line editing, and copy editing. Developmental/content editing is typically for substantially lengthy works, so unless you plan to write a blog of over 10,000 words, you probably won’t need to undertake this type of editing. But you will need a line editor. Line editing focuses on how the writer has used language to convey their message: it adjusts clarity and focus and ensures that the tone is right for the intended audience. Line editing is also a good way to check that your blog contains all the information you need it to. You don’t want to add information in the latter stages of this process because then you will have to repeat the subsequent stages (and who has the time or money for that?), so taking some time now to check for information gaps will save you time later.
Now you’re onto the more technical aspects of written content creation. If you don’t have a team and you’re doing all these steps yourself (we really recommend asking a professional to at least proofread your work for the reason we state below), then take a break between the line editing and the copy editing so you’re fresher when you get to the latter stage. Copy editing focuses on the mechanical elements of language, such as grammar, punctuation, and spelling, ensuring that the writing is correct. Copy editors should also check syntax and consistency in terms/phrases and dialect. They should make as few changes as possible to the content, instead focusing on the correctness of the writing.
The final step in your blog creation process should be proofreading, your last chance to catch any mistakes before you publish to the world. Ideally, you should have different people undertake the copy editing and proofreading because, by the time an editor has completed a copy edit, they are already too familiar with what’s on the page, meaning that they are less objective. They risk seeing only what they think is there rather than what is actually there, allowing mistakes to slip through. And you don’t want mistakes to ruin your reputation, potentially.
Editing and proofreading are two of the most important steps in the content creation process, but they are also the most challenging. We recommend establishing a workflow, an outline, and a style guide to take the guesswork out of creating content. Then you need to write, line edit, copy edit, and proofread your blog. Each of these steps has distinct requirements, and if possible, you should have different team members complete them (though the line and copy editing can be done by the same person). Doing this limits the chances of losing objectivity and allowing mistakes to sneak through that could ruin your reputation.
We know that creating top-quality content is hard. Then there’s the challenge of maintaining this quality throughout your content. If you’d like to learn more, check out our guide to creating and maintaining a business blog.
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