Whether you’re a seasoned professional writer or someone who has been asked to write a few blogs for your company’s website, there’s one task you’ll find virtually impossible.
Proofreading your own work.
We’re all pretty bad at this. Checking your own writing is incredibly difficult, because you’re so close to it. You’ll spot things others might not, sure, but you’ll also miss inconsistencies, glaring errors and spelling mistakes simply because you’ll have spent so long writing those words in the first place.
Getting someone else (or, even better, a content marketing agency) to proofread your copywriting is always the best idea, but you’ll still need to do at least one round of proofing yourself. Here’s how you can do it without tearing your hair out.
Let’s say you wrote this particular piece in your office. Before you start reading it, change the scenery and go somewhere else.
By moving to the canteen, your couch at home or a local coffee shop, you’ll completely change your perspective and the writing will feel fresh – we promise.
Take a break
Just stop! Writing is an intensive process, and if you dive straight into the proofreading after you’ve written the first draft, you won’t be in the best frame of mind to spot any errors.
Depending on the deadline, leave it as long as possible. Ideally, come back to it tomorrow, but if that isn’t possible, go for a stroll, talk to a friend, or work on something completely different.
Remember your weaknesses
A great tip for proofreading your own work is to hone in on your weaknesses.
If you focus on the stuff you know you’ll probably get wrong, you’ll identify any errors far more quickly. Perhaps you’re not great at rounding off a blog post, or maybe your spelling is poor on the simplest of words.
Whatever your weaknesses (we’ve all got them), look for potential banana skins first during your proofreading.
Read it out aloud
At first, this might feel a bit daft, but by reading your copywriting out loud, you’ll quickly stumble (literally) across problems.
This will help you to sniff out clumsy sentences or sections that simply don’t make any sense. So, after you’ve taken that well-earned break, read your blog, web page or letter out aloud to yourself (or someone else if they’re willing to help) and see how it flows.
Try backwards reading
Now time for a really odd one. But it might work brilliantly for you!
Reading something as it’s supposed to be read often allows our brain to fly through the words and forgive errors without even realising. By reading it backwards, inside out or in a completely random order, our brains spend more time on the structure of the words. It might not make sense, but you’ll probably pick out errors far more easily this way.
There’s no getting away from the fact that proofreading isn’t a huge amount of fun, but it’s an essential part of writing, and if you use our tips above, you’ll be able to check your own work far more effectively.