Ideally this is a task you can hand over to your Executive Assistant.
But back in the real world where you are simultaneously the CEO and the tea lady, proofreading blog posts is likely a task you must complete solo.
Fear not my entrepreneurial friend. I have some scorchingly hot proofreading tips to make the process a little less painful.
1. Know Your Faults
Be honest with yourself. Which errors are you most likely to make? Create a list and tape it to your laptop. Then when you’ve finished an initial read through, go through the text again and again, each time trying to spot a different type of error.
2. Do Not Create And Edit Simultaneously
It’s just not possible to do this effectively. Writing uses the creative side of your brain; proofing and editing uses the analytical side of the brain. If you keep switching between the two roles, you will be good at neither. Set aside time for writing fresh content, then take a break, before casting your critical eye over it.
3. Change Your Backdrop
How many times have your proofed something on your computer, only to see a glaring error the moment you’ve committed ink to paper. Your brain knows what you meant to write, and when you stare at the screen it overlooks your errors, substituting your mistakes for the correct version (thanks brain).
If you can, print the text out, grab a coloured pen and sit in another room. The different scenery will signal to your brain that the task has changed, and it’s time for a re-boot.
4. Check Your Facts
If you’ve used stats, figures, proper names or facts check your sources, then check you have represented the information fairly and used the correct spelling for all parties involved.
5. Make Your Sentences Shorter
I’ve reviewed lots of copy that clients have written themselves. Long, complicated sentences are the most common problem I find. This happens because the client has a concept in their head, and they want to communicate it quickly. And they want to make the copy friendly and conversational. And they have been taught never to start a sentence with ‘and’.
It’s your copy, so use your own rules. Your goal is to communicate effectively with your audience, not score points from your old High School English teacher.
Reading out loud is a good way to gauge the effectiveness of your sentence structure. If you find yourself losing track or struggling for breath part way through a sentence, it needs breaking up.
Ditch Your Spell-checker
Your spell-checker can only do so much.
I use Grammarly to check all of my copy. It checks for spelling, punctuation, grammar, word confusion, and overuse of words. The basic version is free. I’ve upgraded, so I can check my copy for similarities with other online content. This helps me ensure everything I publish is 100% unique.