If you write blogs, content for a website or even just status updates on social media sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or YouTube, readers of your content will consider this a reflection of who you are and the quality of your work. While this may or may not be important to you when your friends are reading your blurbs, what will you want your future employers or your loyal followers to think?
Here are a few suggestions on ways you can improve the quality of your public writing.
Get a Proofer or Copy editor
Give a deadline for everything you send them and make sure that your contract states that some items will need a quicker turn around. Learn from your mistakes. Read what the copy editor sends you back. Notice patterns in the corrections and areas where you can improve in order to avoid future mistakes. This will reduce your dependence on a copy editor over time.
If you don't have or want a copy editor, get a second pair of eyes. Give it to someone you know and trust to tell you if it makes sense, is congruent and to pick up any spelling mistakes and typos.
Know someone else who writes blog articles? Team up with them and proof read and give feedback about each other's articles.
Doing It Yourself
If you have to do it yourself, develop a routine that includes:
Step 1: Write it out and then take a 5 minute break.
Step 2: Spell Check. I like to copy and paste it into Word because has a better spell checker that also includes a grammar checker. Enable the Readability Statistics feature in Word 2010 to get even more information about your writing style. If you don't have Word handy, use the spell checker built into Google Toolbar or your CMS' WYSIWYG editor if you have one.
Step 3: Copy and paste it into a proof reading tool like Pro Writing Aid and address any issues that come up.
Step 4: Print it out on paper (not just on screen) and read it from the bottom up.
Step 5: Read what you wrote out loud twice. This will really help a lot to find structure issues and unclear points. If you can't read out loud, use Word 2010's "speak" feature to have Word read the text to you. Alternatively, save it as a PDF and use Acrobat Readers' Read Out Loud feature.
Note: If you made any changes, go back to Step 2 to ensure that you didn't introduce any new issues along the way.
How long should proof reading take? As a general rule of thumb, for each minute you write, proof read for one minute. So if it takes you 30 minutes to write, proof read for about 30 minutes.
Tip: If it doesn't sound like it flows or isn't clear, re-write it 5 times while improving it with each revision. You'll be amazed at how much better your last revision comes out compared to your first draft.