We’ve all seen countless examples of hilarious literary mistakes in text messages, and many a newspaper has had to print an apology following a poorly researched story.
In content marketing, it’s no different; a badly written blog won’t do your business many favours, and it’s therefore vital that you take the job of proofreading seriously.
Here’s my simple guide to one of the toughest elements of blogging:
Take time between writing and proofreading
If you dive straight from the task of writing into that of proofreading, you’ll probably hit a brick wall.
It’s hard to see the wood for the trees when you’ve been staring at the same article for what feels like a lifetime, which is why it’s vital to take a break between writing and proofreading.
Do something else entirely; go for a walk or start working on a different project. Whatever you do, give it a good hour or so (a day, if possible) before you start the proofread.
Ask for some assistance
You don’t have to do this alone.
Proofreading is best carried out by more than one person. Even if you think the blog is one-hundred percent accurate, it doesn’t hurt to ask someone else to give it the once-over, because they’ll almost certainly spot the stuff you missed.
Use a different device
When possible, always proofread on a different device.
For example, if you’ve written the blog on your laptop, use your tablet or smartphone to read it. You’d be amazed by how different a piece of text looks when presented on another screen; it somehow feels ‘new’ and consequently gives you a fresh perspective on what you’ve written.
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Add images later
Don’t add images to your blog until you’re happy the proofread has resulted in text that is one-hundred percent ready for publishing.
The reason is simple. Take this blog post, for example. It’s a highly visual piece, and if the author had started proofreading after the addition of the imagery (which probably takes precedence over the words in this instance), she would have almost certainly missed even the most obvious errors.
Providing it’s convenient to do so, reading your blog post aloud is a great way to proofread.
If a particular sentence or paragraph feels cumbersome and doesn’t slip off the tongue, chances are you’ll need to rewrite it.
Blogs are at their best when delivered in short, snappy sentences. If you find yourself having to gasp for breath halfway through a paragraph, you’ve probably failed that test.
Check it again after publishing
Although I noted the importance of proofreading text in isolation, it still helps to revisit it once published.
Give it a few days and read your blog again. The time you’ve had away from it and the fact it’s now in fully-published form will provide an even fresher perspective on the content.
Don’t be afraid to make further edits at this stage if it still doesn’t quite sit right with you – it’s what the best bloggers do.
As I alluded to in the intro, reading your own work and looking for errors is inherently difficult. You’re often far too close to the piece in question to be objective, and if you’ve spent three hours writing a long-form post, you’re unlikely to have the patience left to give it a thorough proofread.
However, use my tips above, and you should be able to make this essential blogging task just that little bit easier.