Copy vs Content: How to Make Your Blog More Awesome

Coffee & Cake

Copy vs Content: How to Make Your Blog More Awesome

Subtitle

I was trawling through media and marketing job advertisements and I began to notice the apparent interchangeability of “copy” and “content”. Were these companies looking for a copywriter or a content writer? Both?

Then came the big question – are copy and content the same?

Whether you’re starting out in business, blogging, or marketing, you may have also asked the same question.

After some research, I’m here to tell you that no, they aren’t.

While some companies use “copywriter” and “content writer” interchangeably there is one huge difference.

COPY SELLS

Copy is traditional marketing. It’s designed to get the reader to perform an action. That action might be buying a specific bottle of wine, ringing you for a service, or signing up for an email list. It can even be something as simple as reading a blog post.

An example of copy is the title (or headline) of a blog post; it’s meant to make the reader click.

Many people fall into the trap of crafting a catchy and smart headline. It sounds good, but it doesn’t convince the reader to actually read the post.

Headlines that increase clicks should inform the reader exactly what they will get out of the blog post. If your blog post features a list of tips, add how many into the headline. Are they simple, easy or quick tips? Add that too.

How likely would you be to click on this:

10 Tips to Write a Blog

Compared to:

10 Quick & Easy Tips to Write a Successful Blog Post

Probably a lot more likely!

If you’re stuck coming up with successful headlines, try CoSchedule’s headline analyser.

This great tool rated the first headline at just 59; it relied on common language and lacked emotion and power. The second example scores a 71 thanks to some more emotional and powerful language.

Powerful headline copy influences the action of reading your content.

Many blogs also include copy. This can be a prompt to share on social media, join an emailing list, or comment. If your content leaves the reader feeling more knowledgeable, better about themselves, or affects their worldview, they will want to take your proposed action – no hard sell needed.

Your content should speak for itself.

CONTENT TELLS

I’m sure most people can agree that nobody likes pushy marketers. Not every sentence needs to be a sales pitch!

Smart content marketers create content to build rapport with their target audience.

A reader should come to your blog to enjoy what you have to offer, to grow a connection with you and begin to see you as an authority in your industry.

Rather than tell your readers to do something, arm them with information about the topics you both care about. They will want to share their great new knowledge, come to you for more, and follow through on your CTAs.

Drink Your Coffee & Eat Your Cake

Although they may be separate entities and fine on their own (like coffee and cake), copy and content work better together (yes, like coffee and cake). Blog posts are excellent examples of content and copy working in harmony.

A headline featuring excellent copy draws the targeted persona in.

The bulk of a blog post should be content; providing the reader with new information, tips, hints, news, or answering a question. It should provide what the headline offered.

Some more copy may make an appearance, perhaps in the form of a Twitter CTA. It shouldn’t be a hard sell – you provided the reader with some awesome content and now they want to share their newfound knowledge.

 

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Why You Need to Stop Relying on Spellcheck

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Why You Need to Stop Relying on spellcheck

Many of us rely on the spellcheck tools integrated into our favourite word processors. The helpful tool has become so popular and widely use that it’s now being blamed for poor literacy, particularly among students.

One of the main problems with spellcheckers is in the very name. With a focus on spelling, spellcheckers can ignore mistaken homophones and ignore (or even create) errors in grammar and syntax.

There’s nothing worse than writing an important document, sending it off and then spotting an embarrassing mistake. Maybe instead of “definitely having metrics” you “defiantly have metrics”. Spellcheck is aware that both defiantly and definitely are words so did not flag the issue.

New programs attempt to combat some of these problems. Grammarly, for instance, addresses grammar and syntax in addition to spelling.

Grammar Checkers are Better, Right?

Grammarly is an immensely popular plug-in that can be used alongside other applications (yes, even Word!). This compatibility is one reason for Grammarly’s success.

To give you an insight into just how popular Grammarly is, I’ll tell you this:

As of 2017, Grammarly has 6.9 million daily users.

Yes, you read that right. 6.9 million!

I won’t lie to you; Grammarly is a great tool. It also makes mistakes.

Recently, I wrote a book review. Grammarly flagged “self-centred” as incorrect, and instead suggested that I use “self-centered”.

A simple disagreement but an important one.

For my website I follow the Oxford Style Guide, which favours British spelling. Using the American spelling”self-center” resulted in an avoidable inconsistency.

What was even more interesting was what happened when I did follow Grammarly’s advice.

When I accepted Grammarly’s suggestion to change the word, the extension flagged it again. This time suggesting that it should be “self-centred”.

It seems as though grammar checkers can be just as unsure as the rest of us!

Rules Are Made to be Broken

Another interesting problem with spelling and grammar checkers is their inability to stray from preprogrammed rules.

There are some cases where it is better for a text to ignore certain rules. A good example of this is passive voice. Passive voice refers to a subject being acted upon rather than the subject doing the acting. Passive voice is an issue that checkers like Grammarly often flag as errors. This is because people often view active voice as stronger and more clear than passive voice, which can be seen as weak and unsure. The majority of the time active voice is preferable, but there are many instances where passive should be considered.

When writing news headlines, passive voice can provide more impact and focus. For instance, “Mother of two attacked by man” places importance on the victim, while the active form, “Man attacks mother of two” places focus on the perpetrator. This is particularly relevant when the person doing the acting is unidentified.

Another example is a matter of style.

Faster pacing often relies on fragmented sentences, it conveys an extra punch and sense of urgency.  Long sentences tend to flow, are more rhythmic, and often considered to be more literary. If you’re a long-sentence-writer and clicked that link, you’ll see that you’re in very good company. Esteemed writers like Charles Dickens, Virginia Woolf, and William Faulkner were all fond of long prose.

Many grammar tools may flag these types stylistic choices as wrong (they have the potential to be problematic, but aren’t necessarily wrong). A real human editor, however, is able to consider the context of the passage within the larger piece, and the author’s writing style and desired tone.

What’s the Alternative?

Don’t let this post scare you. Spellcheckers and grammar checkers can be useful tools, but be wary of relying on them.

If you think that you have a dependence on spellcheck and grammar tools, try going without them for a few days!

Alternatively, check your work with multiple tools. Many tools will throw unnecessary errors, while some will miss them altogether. By conferring with different tools you can make a more informed decision on what is good spelling or grammar and what isn’t.

Why You Need to Stop Relying on Spellcheck

Even better than trying new, or extra tools, is enlisting the help of another person. An extra set of eyes are often able to spot errors the original writer or editor may have missed.

Friends or family may be willing to proofread your text and offer valuable corrections. For even more comprehensive suggestions consider speaking to a professionally trained editor. Your work will thank you!

Contact a Professional Editor

If your spelling and grammar checkers aren’t quite up to par, you can contact me here! 

The Ultimate Guide to the Levels of Editing

Coloured Editing Pens on Lined Notepaper

The Ultimate Guide
to the levels of editing

Congratulations! All that love, sweat, and probably tears, has finally paid off.

You’ve finished writing and completed your editing. You’ve gone through your trusty Word spelling and grammar check, run it through Grammarly, and you’re done. At least you think you are. Until someone asks you what a particular sentence meant, or why you started where you did, or why your text lacks impact. Maybe you need an editor.

It’s simple, right? Hire an editor and they check for all those weird mistakes that Word doesn’t pick up. After a few Google searches, you probably realised it’s not that easy! Suddenly you aren’t even sure which type of editing you need. Is it:

● Substantive
● Structural
● Proofreading
● Copy Editing
● Line Editing
● Content Editing
● Comprehensive
● Developmental

Uhh… what?!

Finding your first editor doesn’t need to be overwhelming. In fact, a few of those editing types are exactly the same.

I created this ultimate guide to take a deeper look at each level of editing and help you decide which level (or levels) would be most beneficial to you.

Let’s start with boiling it all down.

IPed (The Institute of Professional Editors) list only 3 levels of editing on their website. These 3 levels are what most professional editors offer.

 

The Three Levels of Editing

 

That narrows down the options a bit.

Most books make their way through each level of editing.

This is to ensure that every aspect of your novel will resonate with (and make sense to) your audience. Have you ever read a book and wondered why a subplot wasn’t wrapped up, or how a character’s eye colour changed halfway through?

That happens when an author skipped an editing level or chose to bypass an independent editor altogether. That’s not to say an editor will get it right every time, but the extra pair of professional eyes that one (or two) editors provide will ensure an enjoyable reading experience.

Keep on reading for a closer look at what an editor will assess in each stage.

 

Substantive Editing: Not as Scary as it Sounds

 
 

The term “substantive editing” can seem a little scary. It’s no wonder that a lot of writers are anxious about putting their hard work into someone else’s hands!

Substantive editing does not mean that you work will be returned to you as something different, nor does it mean that you will lose any creative control.

It’s important to remember that an editor should be a partner, not a boss. 

 

What is Substantive Editing?

 

Editors perform substantive editing on both fiction and non-fiction works. This level of editing is the most thorough.

Substantive editing looks at every element in a text. That includes overall structure, the content, language and style, and presentation.

In a textbook, a substantive edit may involve rearranging chapters to enhance the reader’s experience and learning.   In fiction, it may involve adding to or eliminating elements of the plot. For a blog post, this could mean suggesting a change in tone or style to better connect with the reader and achieve more conversions. It might even mean introducing or removing particular paragraphs.

For more information on what is included in a substantive edit, and who may benefit from such a service, contact me today.

 

 

Copy editing: Not A Glorified Spell Check

 

Where a substantive edit takes a very broad view of the text (almost like a landscape photograph), the copy edit begins to ‘zoom in’ on the details.

A copy edit analyses each line, not just spelling and grammar.

Ignoring a copy edit results in common mistakes like these 30 that are easy to miss when editing your own work but will jump out at your readers.

 

What is a copy edit?

 

An editor performing a copy edit will look at language, consistency, and accuracy.

As the copy editor begins to take a closer look at the text, spelling and grammar are checked. The copy editor will correct all errors that they are able to find.

The copy editor will make sure that all elements of the text are consistent, and that the language and style are suitable for the target audience.

Although both “email” and “e-mail” may be correct, they should not both be used within the same text. The copy editor will consult the style guide to make a decision, and then make sure that each instance of the word is the same.

The copy editor also checks the text for accuracy. This is extremely important for non-fiction works, as the editor will ensure that quotes are accurate and are attributed appropriately.

Accuracy is also important for fiction works. Have you ever read a book that included a fact, perhaps about a place that you know, that made you stop and think “that’s definitely wrong”? Any statements regarding dates, names, and places, should be verified by the copy editor.


Need a professional copy editor? Contact me today.

 

Proofreading: Now it’s real!

 

Having been through the first two levels of editing, a text should be almost ready for publication.

The content should now be stylised, and the document will look just as it should once it’s been published. That includes copyright pages, titles, heading styles, fonts, margins, and all the creative stuff.

Now the proofreader steps in – they’ll be the last eyes on the page before it hits publication.

 

What is proofreading?

 

Proofreading is the last step. Realistically, there should be little to no errors in the document. If the proofreader spies too many things that need editing at this point, they will often suggest sending the text back for copy editing.

A proofreader is not a copy editor! The proofreader won’t make suggestions regarding the flow of the text or even the content.

Instead, they will flag any missing materials, ensure that all previous editing suggestions have been accepted and implemented, and check for lingering spelling and grammatical mistakes.

Additionally, the proofreader will check that there are no errors in style. They will mark any widows or orphans that should be deleted, that everything is correctly typeset and that the style guide has been clearly implemented.

Once the proofreader gives the okay, it’s time to publish!

If you think you’re ready for the proofreading stage, send me a message.

 

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The Ultimate Guide to Editing Infographic

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still not sure exactly what edit you need? Contact me today!