Your first draft is always bad—even mine are. It’s a natural part of the writing process. That’s why editing is so important.
Just think about a piece of copy you’re writing now. Its concept might excite you, but consider how your audience reads it. Are you sure the vision or message you’re trying to convey is clear?
In fact, the way you’re writing now might cramp your copy’s readability.
Good thing editing saves copy. It helps you catch writing mistakes you’re not even aware that you’re making.
Well, you can use this article. I’ll show you 8 strategies that’ll help you self-edit your copy.
With this list, you can make sure you’re hooking in your audience and keeping them engaged with your words. You’ll learn how to clarify your message, read from your audience’s perspective, and create a lasting impact on them.
When you edit, make sure your main point is clear to the reader.
Since you’re the one writing, of course, you know what you mean to say. Unfortunately, it doesn't always translate through to the reader. Your message might end up reading too vague, inaccurate, or misleading.
That’s why it’s important to check if your main point comes through.
Think about what you’re trying to convince readers to do. Why are you trying to convert them? Do you want to persuade them to do business with your brand? Subscribe to your newsletter? Share the benefits of your product or service?
Now that you’ve honed in on your goal, reread your copy.
If you notice it takes a long time to get to the main point, you can bet your reader will lose interest, too.
Next, consider what’s slowing down the reading process. You may have buried your main point among too many sentences. Try trimming out the unnecessary information. It’ll just distract from your point and further lose your audience.
You want to make sure you’re conveying your message easily to the audience. So before anything, start here.
Here are some lesser-known copywriting strategies that help boost conversions.
Now that you're sure your message is clear, you can make it stand out even more. You can do this by using language that evokes an emotional response in your readers.
Writing emotionally compelling copy on the first try is hard, though. The good news is, you can practice crafting your words in a way that resonates with your audience.
Try changing up your syntax or word choice. Carefully choose the words that will strike an emotional chord in your readers.
For starters, think about what your audience really wants. More than anything. Also, what pain points would they pay anything to avoid?
When you tap into their deepest desires and fears, you can appeal to these emotions to strengthen your copy.
For example, say your customers are looking for fun group activities to do outdoors. Luckily, your business offers banana boat rides for a variety of customers, including families, local sports teams, and company outings.
Think about what your audience really wants. Chances are they’re looking to create positive memories and experiences that everyone can enjoy together. Ideally, ones that’ll make the group bond stronger.
With this in mind, you can choose the right words to appeal to your audience. An example of this for your banana boat business could read:
“Nothing brings people closer than riding a banana boat together. Check out our bundled packages for more thrill, fun, and laughs.”
The goal is to trigger your audience’s imagination by tapping into their emotions. Images of smiling people zipping through the water match the target audience’s deepest wants. That’ll make them more inclined to try your service.
If you don’t think your words are strong enough after rereading your copy, use this strategy to choose more powerful words.
Learn how to write powerful headlines that convert here.
We all have our biases. It’s natural to feel like our beliefs are right, relevant, and important. This extends to what we think our audience should know about our brand, product, or service.
Because of this bias, of course, you’d want to show why your business is the right choice for customers. That’s why it’s important to be vigilant about communicating information to your audience.
For example, don’t make sweeping claims about your product or service, such as “our finance tracking app will make you a MILLIONAIRE.”
Sure, it’s important to believe in your brand's offer. However, exaggerating the positives your customers can expect will hurt them. Not only that, it can damage your brand’s reputation.
To make sure you’re staying on track, use data and statistics from reputable sources. This will strengthen your claims without embellishing them. Here’s what a credible statement looks like:
“Recent data from the federal government shows that most Americans don’t have the money to pay a sudden $400 bill. Our finance tracking app will help you get ready for any emergency at any time.”
This claim is much more realistic. It doesn’t promise anything outlandish to get readers’ attention. Rather, it uses real data. Providing real and relevant numbers shows you understand your target audience. It makes your brand seem more legitimate and credible.
You can also provide findings from in-house research. This will make your brand seem like an authority. Plus, if you explain your process, your business will look transparent. Customers will feel your brand has their best interests at heart.
When customers feel like they can trust your brand, they’ll be more likely to buy from you. To build strong customer relationships, be careful to catch inaccurate information during the editing process.
Let’s roleplay for a bit. You are your target audience.
Think about where your target audience is when they’re reading your copy.
How did they come across your copy? Why are they reading it? What is going through their minds? How do they feel?
Now that you’ve adopted their thoughts and emotions, reread your copy.
Is it hitting all the points your readers need to see? Is it filling in their information gaps? How about meeting their emotional needs? Are there areas you could be stronger in, or should you pull back in others?
The goal of this exercise is to make sure you’re writing with your ideal reader in mind.
Reading with their eyes will help you make sure your copy reads the way you want.
This might sound counterintuitive, but stop looking at your piece.
Take a break. Try something else. Maybe grab a cup of coffee and a snack. Do some laundry. Smell some flowers.
It’s true, editing requires constant effort, but the more you read your writing, the less it makes sense. It’s possible to get so caught up in editing that you can’t tell the difference between your screen and your elbow anymore.
That’s not the best mindset to edit your work.
Instead, come back to it with a fresh pair of eyes. When you’ve given your brain time to rest, you can reread your work more objectively. This will also help you get into your customers’ headspace.
If you never give your brain the chance to breathe, you’ll just keep reading it with your own perspective. Again, you already know what you want to say. You’re inclined to think your writing reflects that when it actually might not.
So, get up, move around, and come back to your piece the next day. 24 hours is the normal recommendation. If that’s not possible, though, make sure you’re refreshed before trying again.
The best writing reads like you’re hearing someone speak it. To ensure this, read your writing out loud.
It may sound too simple, but it actually works.
As eloquent as we like to think we are, we’re only hearing it in our minds. When you read your writing out loud, you’ll find a lot more things to fix than if you just read it in your head.
You’ll often catch more grammar mistakes, repetitive words or phrases, or other writing crutches. It’ll be much easier to remove any awkward language or interruptions.
If something makes you pause while reading out loud, it’ll trip up your readers as well. That’s a clear sign you need to change something.
Reading out your copy will also help you make sure you’re writing in the right tone. For example, are you trying to sound more serious and professional? Or quirky and funny?
Hearing your words can help you make sure your words are landing the way you want them to.
Plus, reading out loud helps you make sure you’re staying on message. You can catch if you’re deviating from your previous sentence or point.
The benefits of reading out loud are endless. So make sure you incorporate it as a part of your editing process.
We’ve all been guilty of packing in extra words to reach the word count. While this might’ve been okay for school assignments (or maybe not), it won’t fly with customers.
Let’s examine what a fluffy statement looks like:
“Our fitness packages have a variety of features. There are many things you can do when you sign up with us.
You can definitely get ripped, you can get buff, and you can work on your cardiovascular health, all in our 50-minute sessions. You can make sure you’re maxing out your gains and powering through your day with our expertise in physicality. So what are you waiting for? Join us today!.”
A lot is happening in this example. Some immediate things to point out are that it’s long, repetitive, and too many details bury the main point.
If you cram in too many words, you end up saying nothing. The last thing you want to do is waste your audience’s time. It’ll not only kill your chances of conversions but also hurt your brand’s reputation in the long run.
If your copy keeps straying from the point, it’ll look like you don’t know what you’re talking about. People will be less likely to take you seriously. Potential customers will have an unprofessional impression of your business.
Now, here’s what a clean version of this statement looks like:
“What you’ll get in our fitness package: customized full-body workouts that focus on building strength, mobility, and flexibility. You’ll also get a personalized nutritional plan with me (your humble trainer) on call for any questions.”
This version is much shorter, includes way less detail, and leaves more of a positive impact. It tells you everything you need to know crisply, concisely, and with humility, too. As a result, people are more likely to finish reading the copy and get more information out of it. That’s your goal when you self-edit.
Below are more ways to help you reduce your copy’s fluff level. Editing with these things in mind will make your copy more direct and effective.
While the writing process is about getting your ideas on the page, editing helps you prioritize smoothness. Particularly, a smooth reading process for the audience. One way to ensure this is by writing short sentences.
If readers see a dense wall of text, they’ll feel put off from the start. On the other hand, short sentences and paragraphs make your copy look approachable.
Try to keep paragraphs 3-4 lines long across the page. Any more, and it’ll seem daunting to the reader.
Think about how your copy looks on the page, or rather, on the screen. Is your copy screen-friendly on both the computer and the phone? If not, try cutting unnecessary words or phrases.
Doing this will also make your sentences and paragraphs more direct. Fewer words mean you can get to the point faster. That will make for a smoother reading process for your audience.
Again, when you edit, prioritize the reader’s experience. For example, changing sentences to active voice will make them read smoother.
Active voice is when the subject acts out the verb toward an object. For example, “I ate a banana.” Here, the “I” is the subject. I did the action, which is “ate.” And the object I ate was the “banana.”
Not only are sentences using active voice shorter, but they also sound more direct. This makes you sound more certain — like a credible source of authority for the reader.
Passive voice is when the verb acts upon the subject, i.e., “The banana was eaten by me.”
Both sentences mean the same thing. However, the passive voice sentence is less direct and more complicated. They’re usually longer, sound more roundabout, and take more effort to interpret. Overall, it makes for a slower reading experience.
If you can't use cliches in a way that isn't overused, avoid using them like the plague.
See what I mean? There’s a reason they’re called cliches, after all.
The term "cliche" refers to overused statements. They’ve lost their original meaning and impact. So logically, using cliches can signal that your writing is unoriginal.
Readers will think your brand is unprofessional if you can’t come up with a new way to say something. Or worse, like you don’t know what you’re talking about.
This doesn’t mean every word you write needs to be witty or clever, though. It just has to be clear and consistent with the tone of your brand.
To avoid the risk of sounding cheesy, gimmicky, and off-putting, avoid using cliches.
Along with cliches, another thing to avoid in your writing is adverbs.
Adverbs include -ly words. They’re words that change a verb, such as strongly, hopefully, hourly, fully, and cleverly.
The problem with adverbs is, you’re telling instead of showing. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase: “show, don’t tell.” Unfortunately, adverbs fall into the “tell” category because they don’t add new or important information to the reader. Instead, they’re often used as writing crutches or filler words.
For example, the sentence “he wrote clearly” doesn’t describe much. What does “clear” even mean? Compare that to this sentence: “he wrote in a way readers could understand his message right away.” Now that’s clear.
To replace adverbs, write sentences that explain what you mean by them. It’ll provide the right kind of information to the audience.
Here's how you can copyedit and tweak your copy for better conversions.
You might think all the steps above fall into proofreading, but it isn’t. Proofreading specifically involves checking for spelling, grammar, and formatting errors.
During the revision process, you’re constantly adding, cutting, and changing sentences. So it's a good idea to check for surface-level issues at the end.
If you proofread in the middle of the editing process, you’ll just fix things that’ll end up getting cut. That takes your focus away from making more important changes.
During the proofreading stage, make sure you’re using words correctly. Here’s a list of the most common mistakes people make when writing:
This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but as you can see, there are a variety of spelling, grammar, and definition mistakes that many people make. For you, that means you need to carefully edit your copy before it’s published. Make sure you’re using the right words at the right time.
Bottom line, if re-reading your copy makes you pause at any point, double-check it on the internet. Make sure the words you’re using are correct. This will help ensure a smooth reading process for prospects.
Now that you’ve learned the best ways to self-edit your work, you can refer back to this article whenever you’re writing.
Again, we all have our writing go-to’s and crutches. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer, though. Instead, think of them as temporary placeholders during the writing process.
When you’re ready to edit, you can use the strategies from above to clean them up.
With enough time and diligence, your final copy will look more polished. Not only that, the strategies in this article will help you make sure your copy impacts the reader in the ways you want.
They’ll feel moved and compelled to trust your brand’s credibility and authority. They’ll also feel convinced to try your product and service, which will drive more conversions to your business.
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