Elance Blog

Client Tip: The Difference Between Average Copywriters and Spectacular Copywriters

Looking for a writer? Or writing yourself? Freelance copywriter Bob Younce has some sage advice gleaned from years of real-world experience. Checkout some valuable insights from the wordsmith himself:

When it comes to creating spectacular copy, there’s one thing you can’t live without. It’s something that separates good copy from great copy, something that makes the difference between your writer’s words being read or being skipped over.

I’m talking about editing.

To be sure, there are a number of important skills that go into good copywriting. Your writer needs a mastery of the language. Your writer needs to understand the audience. And among other things, your writer needs to know how to use voice and how to structure copy.

However, even if your writer has amazing technical skill and passion, failure to edit the work will waste all that effort.

Here are some tricks to improve the editing process. Make sure you and the copywriters you hire follow these guidelines and you’ll improve the quality of your communications literally overnight.

  1. Start by doing it. Edit everything that’s written. Don’t skip it because it’s a small project, and don’t ignore it because you don’t think you have time. If you don’t have time to edit, the project wasn’t worth doing in the first place. Decide here and now that you won’t ever publish something or send it to a client without editing.
  2. Let it sit for 24 hours. Whenever possible, let the writing sit for at least a day before you submit it. Once you’ve slept, you can approach the writing with a more critical eye. Editing that’s done immediately after writing will almost always miss errors as well as potential areas for improvement.
  3. Before you edit, reacquaint yourself with the project specifications. Re-read the project specs before you edit. As you go through the editing process, keep those specs in mind. Look for specs you might have missed, and find ways to help the copy further meet your needs.
  4. Start the editing process with a desire for improvement. Everything written can be improved. Everything. No matter how talented the writer you hire, there’s always something you can say more descriptively or more succinctly, as the situation demands. Editing isn’t just about finding and correcting mistakes. In fact, finding and correcting mistakes is arguably less important than finding ways to improve the copy.
  5. Reread the copy before you start editing. A casual read will often identify problem areas that need to be fixed. Highlight them or mark them in some other way to be addressed later on. Identify passages or sentences that are confusing by reading complex sentences out loud to see how they sound.
  6. Don’t rely too much on spelling and grammar checkers. Today’s word processing programs do an amazing job with spelling and grammar, but they’re not perfect. There are times when the Microsoft Word grammar checker will indicate a problem when there’s not one. Likewise, there are a number of potential grammatical errors that it will miss. This goes back, in part, to mastering the language; but if you don’t go through the editing process, you’re almost certain to miss a mistake or two.
  7. Read through it again after you’re done editing. Once you’ve made all of your changes, go ahead and read through the work again. As you do, be cognizant of the project specs, the intended audience and the type of copy. Feel free to make any additional changes or tweaks at this time, as well.
  8. If possible, let someone else edit your work you’re editing. There’s a reason that the publishing industry has traditionally had editors as gatekeepers of what makes it into print: we’re just not as critical of our own work as someone else is likely to be. In some cases, it may even be worth looking on Elance to find a provider who can do your editing for you.

The quality of your writing project is determined, to a large degree, by the diligence with which you edit the copy. Don’t waste your time creating something that could be a masterpiece, and then watch it fail miserably because you didn’t take the time to edit. An unedited piece of copy is an unfinished piece of copy. You wouldn’t publish or deliver copy that was incomplete, and so you should never publish or deliver copy that hasn’t been thoroughly edited.

When you find a copywriter, make sure your editing is of the highest quality.

About the Author:
Bob Younce is the owner of Composing Business, a freelance copywriting firm currently ranked in the Top 50 writing providers on Elance. Composing Business is dedicated to helping other small businesses get ahead with high-quality, compelling copy. Contact Bob on Elance or visit his website at www.composingbusiness.com.

 

Comments

Fantastic article. ALL contractors should use these guidelines!

I am currently involved in an offline project where the developers are young and very creative, but as stated here, they are publishing without checking the work. Simple, obvious stuff:

Test "you" knowledge instead of "your", capitalizations and standard grammar. Things that the spell checker will recognize as correct, but wrong for the context.

As stated above, it blows the creativity out of the water...

Too often, simple and effective proof reading is "below the talent level" of strong technical people. One has to remember that non technical people are your consumers and the "simple stuff" is going to be more obvious than the technical wizardry...

Thanks again for a great checklist,
microchp

Actually great writing involves passion and you seemed to ignore that..... also, the simple rule of great writing is experience.... if you can manage experience with passion, the outcome is conspicuous and successful!!!

Thanks, Bob. This is a great outline of steps.

Editing seems so obvious, but it's often overlooked on the Internet. I'm kind of amazed at how many Elance contractor profiles I've seen that also need editing--including those for writers. \

Strange.

Wonderful article! Will be waiting for more tips from you, Bob! Thanks!

This is sound advice indeed. I loath the editing process, but it MUST be done to ensure quality content.

GO BOB!!! Nothing frustrates me more than opening an online article because a clever or catchy title caught my eye only to say "OMG who wrote this crapola???' Great ideas are poorly executed every day - it's about time we all bolster each other to make crapola content a thing of the past! Keep up the good work Bob! Your quest is right and true!!!

It always seems to be the rookies who insist that passion and creativity are all that matter. Bad editing just makes the work pathetic, sad and funny at the same time. Excellent points!

Very interesting and significant points are highlighted here. Thanks!