Even though we here at Uncanny Content self-identify as professional content experts (sans the professionalism), we’re also human enough to admit that editing your own content can really sucks sometimes.
You second-guess everything you’ve written. You’re insecure about your writing skills. You re-read your content over and over again and start to wonder if it even makes sense anymore. You fight every temptation to just set your laptop on fire, run away, and start a pug farm in the middle of nowhere.
Yeah, we’ve totally been there.
Thankfully, because we take our jobs as content experts seriously (but not seriously enough to call ourselves professional), we’re here to tell you that you can edit your content! We have all the content editing tips to help you do just that — while keeping your sanity intact and preventing a devastating laptop fire.
Take a hike
Whether you’ve just written your very first draft or you’re adding fresh content to your site, it’s time to take a hike — metaphorically speaking. (Or literally if that’s your thing.) In other words: Walk away from your content and come back to it later. Why?
Approaching your content after a break is one of the best ways to edit. We’re talking anywhere from an entire day to an entire week. That’s because it gives you time to shift from writing mode to editing mode — as if you’re seeing and reading your content for the first time.
With this mindset, you’ll likely find mistakes you may have missed when you were more focused on just finishing the damn thing. Or you’ll catch sentences that don’t flow super well and pinpoint words and phrases that just sound…off.
Another hot tip for your post-hike editing sesh? Read your content out loud and ask yourself:
- Does it make sense?
- Did I trip up anywhere?
- Does it sound natural?
- Does it actually sound like me?
Remember who you’re talking to
Before you start editing your content (and, actually, before you write your content), ask yourself: Who am I even talking to?
Take the time to figure out who your audience is, the goal of the content, and the message you want to get across. Better yet, put yourself in their shoes to better determine what content will really resonate with them. Because, if we’re being honest, what sounds good to you may not sound good to someone else.
Here are some questions you should answer anytime you’re about to put words out into the digital sphere:
- Who is your audience? Is it a broad audience? A more niche one?
- What’s the goal of your content? To inform? Inspire? Convert?
- What message do you want them to take away from it?
- What action — if any — do you want them to take?
Get to the point
Let’s face it: Our attention spans aren’t great. With so many distractions all around us—OHMYGODLOOKATHATPUPPY—it’s really hard to capture (and keep) someone’s attention online. And the actual time it takes for someone to jump ship if they’re not interested? Let’s just say it’s not long at all.
The data is a little all over the place, but experts estimate you have anywhere from three to 15 SECONDS to win the attention of your audience. In other words: You gotta get to the point!
Don’t bury the lede (AKA the good shit) in the middle or bottom of your content. Come out swinging with a strong title, intro paragraph, HERO message — whatever it is that people will see as soon as they engage with your content. Because that’s what audiences are going to use to decide whether the rest of your content is even valuable to them.
Ditch the fluff
You know when you’re online looking up a recipe, and you have to…
…to get to the actual recipe? (See how annoying that is? But we had to prove a point!)
That’s because we have to scroll through so much fluff to get to the good stuff. With our attention spans seemingly non-existent, it’s not gonna take long for audiences to peace the f out if they can’t find what they’re looking for.
Our advice? Ditch any tangents or bloated sections that, to put it nicely, waste your readers’ time. BUT! That’s not to say that all fluff is bad.
Those tangents and bloated sections? Keep ‘em, and use or repurpose them as ideas for other content. How?
Let’s go back to the recipe example. Say you ditch all the fluff leading up to the recipe, like how you discovered this amazing dish while on an amazing trip with your amazing family and just had the most amazing time so you decided to recreate this amazing recipe — ope, we’re proving another point again, huh?
Anyway, use all that fluff to create other kickass content, like a travel-inspired blog post or a vacation guide about your trip. Then, link from the recipe to your new travel content (and vice-versa) to improve your SEO! Speaking of…
Tweak for SEO
When you’re writing your first draft, it’s cool to be mindful of SEO, but don’t make it your priority. You don’t want to compromise the quality of your content just because you’re trying to shove in as many keywords and phrases as possible.
But when you’re editing your content, see where you can add in more keywords and phrases naturally. WE SAID NATURALLY, PEOPLE! You can also rearrange the order of keywords and use different verb tenses for the same effect.
Allow us to demonstrate different ways to work in the keywords ‘tips for editing content’ into titles and phrases:
- 5 Tips for How to Edit Content
- 5 Tips for Content Editing
- “If you’re not sure how to edit your content, we’re sharing some hot tips.”
- “So, if you’re looking for content editing tips, start here.”
- “How should you edit your content? Here are our best tips and tricks.”
*Disclaimer: While this is purely an example, it may or may not be (definitely is) also a self-fulfilling SEO prophecy for us. We’re not called Uncanny Content for nothin’!
Some other SEO tweaks to make?
- Add links to credible outside sources
- Add cross links to other content on your site (like blogs, relevant pages, etc.)
- Add headers to break up sections
- Use a strong content hierarchy with said headers (like H1, H2, H3, etc.)
Make it easier to read
Unless you’re writing a dissertation or scholarly article, try to keep your content reading level anywhere from 5th to 8th grade. Now, before you think that’s an insult to your readers, hear us out.
When we’re online, we’re not reading content like we would a book — we’re scanning for information that’s most relevant to us. As a result, your content has to be really easy to take in and process.
So, once you’re in the editing phase, make adjustments like:
- Shortening paragraphs
- Using headers to break up sections
- Turning itemized lists and tips into bullet points (like we’re doing here)
- Adding images, pull quotes, or GIFs (our favorite) to break up the content and add more visual appeal
- Making sure your fonts and contrasting colors are easy to read and accessible for all readers
Of course, don’t forget to proofread for typos, grammatical errors, and anything else you may have missed along the way! (Or, have a robot do it for you. Shout out to our true love, Grammarly!)
Hire a copyeditor
We don’t provide copyediting services anymore, so this isn’t a pitch to our services. We just recommend that, if you don’t have the time to edit your own stuff, you hire someone who does. You can email the team at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want a list of our recommended copyeditors.