In my very first Copyblogger blog post I wrote that web users were “mission minded, cramped for attention, bent on standards, and uninterested in learning new navigation methods.”
In other words, give it to them, and give it to them fast. They aren’t window shopping.
No. They are on a hunt. And simply obeying the unbreakable law of the web.
Like gravity pulls objects to the earth, the web pulls people across the landscape of connected information–whizzing by landmarks (content) at break-neck speed.
Thus, when people arrive at your blog they should be able to size up your content in an instant. From the headline down the subheads to the call to action. In other words, what’s in it for them? And is it worth their time?
It should be clear. And it should be concise.
First, Write Yourself Silly
I’ve got a habit of writing long content. But even in that capacity I try to be concise. However, if you can say in 200 words what you said in 1,000–by all means, do so (if you have the time–see below).
This is where you make your money.
Your first step is to do tons of research, take notes (on paper and in Evernote). Consolidate all those notes on a white board, and then let it sit for a day.
When it’s time to write your rough draft sit down in front of that white board and start writing. With the first draft the goal is to get everything down on paper. Use the notes on the white board to jog your memory and make sure you are covering all of your bases.
And keep your bottom in the seat until you’re done.
How to Edit Web Copy
When it comes to editing–you want to be ruthless. Go through the document dozens of time. Naturally you start at the top and rewrite. Work your way down.
- Eliminate petty sentences, use active verbs and get to the point.
- Cut your introduction and jump right into the meat of the story.
- Eliminate sections that are irrelevant (often impossible unless you leave your copy for a day or two).
- Use simple words, short sentences and small paragraphs.
If you get stuck on a particular part, jump to another section and edit from there.
Eventually you’ll connect all the sections with transition sentences so that you can read through the entire document without making substantial changes.
At that point you might move a paragraph here or a sentence there, but for the most part you are making small changes (like finding a better word than improves) that benefits the flow of the document or refines the originality of your content.
When Do You Abandon the Editing Process?
Simple. When you run out of time. Nothing magical about a deadline. It just is.
However, if you don’t have a deadline (or it’s an internal one you can break), you should abandon copy when you can read through the entire document without any major flags popping up.
Then read it a few more times. Next, proof it for spelling and grammar mistakes. Finally, publish.
If you hold onto it any longer than that then you are guilty of perfectionism. Don’t be guilty of perfectionism. Please ship.
Do you have an editing process? What does it look like?
See also in this series:
- Writing Clear Copy: The Only Rule You Need to Worry About
- The Art of Writing Concise Copy
- How Cancer and Death Can Make a Dull Product Irresistible