It happens to all of us. Spelling mistakes. Grammar errors. Copy mistakes. So what does a good content strategist do?

Recently, we sent out a newsletter that had a spelling mistake in the very first paragraph. The minute I saw it, I immediately emailed my team and said, “What happened?”

And even better, several of you, my fabulous readers, wrote to me and said, “Ahava, was this a test?” (So fun to know you’re all keeping us honest!)

Why Mistakes Happen

One of my staff members responded to my email and said, “It’s my fault. I was rushing to get it out the door, I made one change, and forgot to look at in a test.”

Great answer. But there has to be one more leap, which she had already covered in her next sentence, “And I will never EVER email the newsletter without testing it first.”

And that’s why mistakes happen. So we can learn from them. But your first priority is to avoid mistakes. So, here are some tips to getting your copy right the first time:

  1. Always have three sets of eyes look at something: I write the newsletter, one of our fabulous editors reads it, someone else lays it out and also proofreads, and then sends me a test. Invariably, if more than one person looks at it, any mistake gets caught.
  2. Follow the rule of 24: I like to write something and wait at least 24 hours until I send it out. In fact, Aha Media content never sees the light of day until it has aged at least that long and more than one person looks at it. It’s just smart to sit on things for a while.
  3. Read it out loud: There’s nothing like reading content out loud to hear how it flows. Reading it yourself in your head isn’t enough. It’s more important to hear it being spoken—the cadence and rhythm of the words and how they sound strung together. Reading it out loud will also help you spot mistakes.

What techniques do you use to avoid copy mistakes and catch them in your content the first time? Tweet us @ahaval with your tip and the hashtag #copyrules and you could win a free hour of content consultation with me, Ahava Leibtag. I’ll look at any five pages of content and let you know what I would do to “Ahavatize” them. (Translation: Apply web writing best practices and in general, make it rock.)

 

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