I dreamed last night that I was editing web copy. It is possible that I had been doing that for too long yesterday; they say that dreams are the brain’s way of processing leftover stuff from the day that couldn’t get fully sorted out during waking hours. So there I was, still editing, but I had special tools that allowed me merely to think the edits, mentally click the button, and have them turn up corrected on the page.
How cool would that be? You’d think, “This needs to be warmer, livelier, and come in at under 375 words,” envision the radio button, and the text would be perfected.
Not actually going to happen.
Short of that, here are some ways to make editing as easy and successful as possible:
- Have a clear goal for your edits. Right now, I’m working on projects that need to be shorter, have a more natural sound, fit in with the rest of a website, and lead to more conversions — respectively. These are all great goals, and I appreciate my clients for having them so clearly defined. A general desire to make something better, a feeling that something needs changes because it hasn’t been changed for a while, or “Make it pop!” are not useful goals.
- Save your edits with different yet clear names: Homepage1, Homepage2, things like that. I’m currently working on a project which has been edited by several people under names like “services_draft,” “services2,” and “new_design_services.” At this point, it’s impossible to tell which is the current version. However, it’s always possible that people — including you — might choose to return to an earlier version, so saving with different names is a very good plan.
- Go first for errors. If you’re doing general editing to improve something, catch as many grammar and spelling errors as you can, and update any inaccurate or outdated information. This will make the biggest improvement.
- Next, make some common fixes. Most web copy needs more direct and active language, parallel structure, and consistent phrasing. Make these improvements without taking out the essential keywords for search, and you’ll have something better.
- Have someone else proofread for you. It is almost impossible to catch all your own typos and small errors, if only because you know exactly what you meant to say. Having someone like me edit the things you’ve written (or the things your staff person or even your inexpensive bulk writer has written) is a very affordable option because it’ll be done very fast. But even if you don’t choose a professional for this work, someone else will be able to catch the things your eye slid right over because you’d been looking at it for so long.