Write … to the Point

– writing tips and tricks

Archive for the month “January, 2016”

7 top tips for proofreading

 

7 top tips for proofreading

Have you ever sent an email only to realise you have made a spelling error? Or worse, spent thousands on marketing material only to realise there is a glaring error AFTER it has been printed?

If you have, you’re not alone.

Proofreading may seem like a simple task, but it’s probably one of the most important. After all, misspelled words can make you look ignorant — particularly if they are common words.

Why proofreading is important

Proofreading is the final stage of the writing process. It’s the part that comes AFTER you have finished writing, editing and re-structuring your work. And it should only be done after you have finished ALL of your editing revisions.

Contrary to popular belief, proofreading isn’t just about picking up spelling and grammatical errors, although this is an important aspect. Proofreading ensures:

  • your message is clear, concise and easy to read
  • your message is consistent with your brand
  • your message is consistent with your style guide
  • you have included key phrases or terms
  • your message is unlikely to offend anyone
  • what you are saying is accurate and true
  • you look professional.

Tips for proofreading

Most people only spend a few minutes on proofreading, hoping to catch glaring errors. However, after spending so much time crafting your message, you don’t want it all ruined by a careless, slap-dash approach to checking your work.

Here are some tips for proofreading:

  1. Don’t rely on spell-checkers — While they are useful, spell-checkers are far from foolproof. Some of them won’t recognise particular words and they won’t catch the wrong use of words (e.g. ‘your’ VS ‘you’re’).
  2. Don’t rely on grammar-checkers — These too can be useful, but grammar-checkers can also be problematic as they work with a limited number of rules.
  3. Proofread for one type of error at a time —Check for punctuation errors in one reading, and spelling errors in another. Trying to check for too many variables increases the risk of something being missed.
  4. Read your work slowly and carefully — It can be tempting to rush proofreading when you are very familiar with your content, but look at every word.
  5. Read your work out loud — This will help you identify content that sounds clunky and awkward.
  6. Read sentences separately — Focus on one sentence at a time, instead of rushing to the next one.
  7. Read your work backwards — This is a tip I learnt when studying journalism. It may seem awkward, but that’s the point. When you read it backwards, the punctuation, grammar and content won’t make much sense, forcing you to focus on spelling errors.

7 top tips for proofreading

When you should hire a proofreader

Proofreading becomes easier over time. The more you do it, the better you become. However, there are some instances when you really should hire someone to do it for you. Consider hiring a proofreader if:

  • You struggle with correct grammar, punctuation and spelling
  • You don’t have time to thoroughly proofread your work
  • Your professionalism rides on the accuracy of your written content, and you simply can’t afford any mistakes
  • You are too attached to the writing and need a ‘fresh pair of eyes’ to look at it.

It’s far better to pay someone to check for mistakes before you publish, than realise you’ve made them when it’s too late!

If you’re in need of a great proofreader at reasonable rates, we’d love to help you out. Contact us today.

Cheers

Nerissa

 

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Are you a copywriter’s dream client?

Are you the ideal copywriting client

When it comes to engaging a copywriter, most people want to know how to engage a good one.

If you’ve ever contemplated hiring a copywriter, your main concern was probably quality and cost: ‘How can I find a brilliant copywriter who won’t cost the earth’. Am I right? Be honest!

As well as wanting someone to deliver high-quality copy at a reasonable rate, you are also looking for someone who will deliver it fast, be flexible to your needs, and provide excellent service along the way. You may even interview a few different people before you find what you are looking for.

Well, what you may not realise, is that good copywriters screen potential clients in the same way that you screen your copywriters.

Yep, that’s right. We screen our clients.

The question is, would you pass the screening test?

 

What copywriters really want

Many people assume that freelance writers are continually on the hunt for work. While that’s true in some cases, or at certain times of the year, it’s often not the case at all — which is why we can be fussy when it comes to entering a partnership with a client.

The ideal client can mean different things to different copywriters, particularly as many of us specialise in different areas. However, there are a few key things we look for, when taking on a new client:

  1. You are pleasant to deal with. If we are going to have an ongoing, or even short-term relationship (and of course I mean business relationship), then you need to be friendly and pleasant — both via email and phone. First impressions really count in this instance.
  2. You know what you want and why you want it. It may sound obvious but many clients don’t really know what they want. You need to be specific and be able to provide us with as much detail as possible. Some copywriters will provide you with a questionnaire/briefing document to garner information. Please take the time to fill it in. ‘Copy that pops’ or ‘Information for my webpage’ is not sufficient detail.
  3. You do not, I repeat, DO NOT haggle with a quote. Our quote is based on many things, including the complexity of the job, the hours we anticipate it will take, and the level of expertise we bring to our craft. We are professionals. Clients who haggle with a quote usually screen themselves out. If you wouldn’t haggle with fees set down by a doctor’s surgery or a legal practice, then please don’t do it with us.
  4. You happily sign a contract of agreement. Don’t worry, this isn’t a document promising your first-born. It’s simply a contract outlining the scope of the project, the agreed deadlines and fee structure — all of which has been discussed. By signing this, you are simply agreeing to engage us for the work required.
  5. You think of us as professionals. Copywriters might be a strange bunch to you, but at the end of the day, we are professionals. We have chosen to write for a living, which means we are probably pretty good at it, and have invested time and money in developing our skills. If you recognise and understand that, you already have one foot in the door!
  6. You meet all deadlines. That’s right — you have deadlines too! In order for us to meet your deadlines, you need to be able to provide us with information and feedback in a timely manner. Very rarely is your project the only one we are working on, so in order for us to meet your deadline, please help us by responding to us when we contact you.
  7. You don’t hover. You know those parents labelled ‘helicopter parents’? Well, there are such things as ‘helicopter clients’. These are the people who email their copywriter several times a day to ‘see how the job is going’ or to ‘remind you we need the work by next week’. We’ve got it! It’s all in the brief! And no, you don’t need to leave a message to make sure that we received your email!
  8. You pay your invoice, including any deposit required, by the due date. I’m sure most copywriters have been burned by clients who haven’t paid their bills. I know I have. That’s why one of the screening tools we use is an upfront deposit before any work begins. If you pay that, we know you are serious about us working with you. We also know you are likely to pay the full amount at the end, and we won’t have to waste precious time chasing money. If you balk at paying a deposit, then don’t be surprised if we balk at working with you.
  9. You provide referrals and testimonials. When you are happy with the quality of work and the service we provide, you happily refer us to other clients. You may not know anyone who needs our services immediately, but our ideal client will recommend us to other people for future jobs. Similarly, if asked, you will provide us with a testimonial that we can use for our own marketing purposes.

 

What if a copywriter says ‘no’ to you?

Sometimes we may elect not to take on your job. It can be for a variety of reasons — we can’t complete it within your time-frame, we don’t have the expertise that you require, or you simply haven’t passed one of our screening tools.

If we don’t take on your job, know it has nothing to do with you personally. It’s simply a business decision that we have made. However, where possible, we will refer you to someone else who may be able to help you.

So you if you are ready to work with a brilliant copywriter (who charges reasonable rates), contact me today….but only if you pass the screening test above!

Cheers

Nerissa

 

 

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