Five Easy Ways to Proofread For Content Writers

In a previous blog, I talked about some ways to proof and check your writing before you submit it for publication, either online or for print, but today, I want to talk a little bit about easy and fast ways to proofread, particularly for those of you who are submitting web content.

I know that web content doesn’t pay as much as print content, and as such, you have to increase your volume of articles written in order to bring in the same amount of money, or sometimes even less money. Now, I cannot stress the importance of branching out and trying to break into bigger markets enough, whenever you can spare the time. However, if you’re needing to speed up your submission and writing time, one of the most time-consuming activities is proofing your copy.

Unfortunately, a lot of the time, writers who do web copy will take the time to do the research and the time to write, but they fizzle out once it’s written and forget that properly proofing your copy and editing it is what is going to make the writer look good. It won’t matter how well you write, how good your copy is, how important the information is, if the reader can’t make it past the first few sentences or paragraphs because a typo that should have been caught gets their attention.

Most readers expect a few mistakes now and then from web copy writers. In fact, it’s common knowledge that the very nature of the internet itself lends to a acceptance of ‘reduced quality’ over print in anything from articles to ebooks. However, if you plan to grow as a writer, remember the internet also lends itself to a state of permanency of everything you put out there.

Ten years from now, in your writing career, how will you feel if this quick turnover for a buck articles still are associated with you?

Let’s look at five super easy steps to take to proofread your copy without taking too much additional time.

1. Learn to Write Better

I know, seems counterproductive to proofreading, right? Not really. Taking a few minutes every day to read about writing, learn some grammar rules, visit THIS BLOG and learn something knew and commit it to memory every day will actually speed up your writing eventually. The better you know the rules or writing, spelling, grammar and sentence construction, not only will you write faster, but you will also write better, requiring less time to correct errors.

The few minutes you spend every day to learn something new about writing will make a difference in your writing over time, and you’ll find yourself retaining more, writing better, and finding fewer things to correct after you’ve written, making proofing your articles much faster!

2. Wait a Day, or Two

After you write an article, wait a day or two before you submit it for publication or payment to your content site.

“What?” you ask. “I’m having to churn out dozens of articles per day just to make ends meet, and you’re telling me to wait? You’re crazy!”

No, I’m not. The first day you do this, it will be hard for you, because you will have one day where you don’t submit anything. It’s ONE day; that’s all. And on that day, you can actually write double what you’re used to writing, because you’re not submitting anything or proofing anything!

Here’s how it works. Set aside, let’s say, Monday of next week to start this process. On Monday, you are not going to proofread or submit any articles to content sites, period, at all. None. Zero. you are, however, going to write. You will write, and write and write, but you will not proofread or edit those articles.

Then, save the articles on your computer desktop (you are writing all your articles in a word processor, not in the online text editor at the content website, right? You should always write your articles in a word processor and save a copy on your computer. This will save you from time outs, internet interruptions, errors, etc, and it will give you a backup copy of all your work to prove you created it too. Plus, if the content site ever goes down permanently, you have copies of things you can post on other sites or your own blog!)

Where was I? Oh, yes, save all the articles on your computer desktop and ignore them until Tuesday.

Tuesday morning, you wake up, shuffle to the computer with your coffee or caffeine of choice, and the first thing you do is check email from the night before, learn your new writing or grammar rule for the day, and then you will open up your first article from the day before and proof it.

You will be AMAZED by how many things you will catch on the second day that you would not have caught if you proofed it right after you wrote it. Also, proofreading and editing are different mind skills than researching and creating/writing. When you force the brain to switch back and forth between the two, you are slowing down the process of both things.

So, Monday, you write, write, write, write. Tuesday, you proof, proof, proof, proof. Then when you finish proofing them all, you will upload them, copy and paste, fill in the forms, attach photos as necessary, and proof it one last time once it’s in the content website’s editor.

Remember, your brain works best when it can ‘repeat’ patterns instead of changing from one thing to the next. Try ‘processing’ your articles in ‘batches’ of ‘write-write ‘proof-proof’ ‘submit-submit’, and you’ll likely find you are processing a lot more articles in the same amount of time.

3. Print it out and read it.

If you have a printer, print it out on paper and read it with a ruler or another piece of paper covering everything except the one sentence you are reading. One line at a time. Your brain likes to ‘fill in the blanks’ with things on its own if it has a ‘big picture’. If you feed your brain only one line at a time, it is more likely to find the errors and missing words. (I’m the queen of missing words.)

If you cannot afford to print it out or if you don’t have a printer, try changing the font to larger or changing the font and background colors in your word processor. The ‘change’ of look and the larger font can do a similar thing as reading it on paper. If you can, cover the screen with a piece of paper so you can only read one line at a time, or set it so you have to scroll up to see each new line.

4. Read it out loud to someone or to your computer.

We read different when we must speak what we’re reading then when our brain reads it and we speak it inside our heads. When we speak it out loud, we have to read each word. When we read to ourselves, the brain ‘connects’ meaning without reading each individual word.

If you feel silly reading out loud to yourself, read it to family members or call and friend and read it to them. Not only will you be able to proof it, but you get the boost of a ‘good job’ encouragement from the friend or family member. If you read to your dog, he might be the smartest dog on the block!

If you have Windows Vista, you can buy a microphone and turn on the voice recognition program and read your content to the computer without looking and then read it back to see what the computer came up with! BTW, you can use voice recognition to write your articles if you can speak faster than you can type and for many people, this really speeds up the writing process! (In Vista, you find this by going to Start >>> Settings >>> Control Panel >>> Ease of Access >>> Speech Recognition)

5. Let go of your need for perfection.

People on the internet can be brutal, but fortunately, they have short attention spans and even shorter memories when it comes to forgiving typos and little mistakes. Mak
your copy the best it can be, of course, but let go of the expectation of perfection. Save the perfectionism for your print ventures. In fact, what works for print doesn’t usually work well for internet and vice versa. When you let go of that inner critic and give yourself permission to loosen up on perfection, you’ll stress a lot less about proofing and can move through it faster. Plus, the more tense and frustrated you are when you are proofing, the more mistakes you’ll miss anyway.

Reading this blog post is proof positive that I’ve learned to let go of perfection in my blogs! (chuckle)

There, my rambling ideas for speeding up your writing/proofing cycle.

Anyone else have ideas you think would help content writers, post them here in the comments!

What has worked for you?

Keep writing!

Love and stuff,