Making sure your grammar and spelling is correct is easy – you can just plug it into a tool like Grammarly (and we require writers to return at least a 92 score in Grammarly).
Though the trickier aspect of content editing is ensuring the ideas and information within the post are compelling enough to make the reader convert.
I found there wasn’t really a guide to this type of content editing, so I decided to share a few of the key things I look for when editing my writer’s content.
Stating Something Obvious
This issue is really common at the beginning of paragraphs and even introductions. Below is an excerpt from a post targeting the keyword “Best CRM For Coaches” that I was recently editing:
I encourage you to read the passage, but it basically says that the platform helps coaches grow. Well, don’t all CRM platforms do that? As you can see from my comments, cut this entirely.
Instead, I encouraged the writer to discuss:
- Who this CRM is ideal for
- Key aspects that make it different from the other options
For example, here’s how I would rewrite this section:
From this section, you learn several things that weren’t apparent in the first edition:
- The CRM feature is just one aspect of the product
- It’s best for small businesses or coaches that have a team (it’s also not specific to coaches)
- You can store resources, so you won’t need to purchase project management software
Notice that this information is much more useful to someone trying to select a CRM software? For example, if they already have a different project management software, it might not be a good fit. Similarly, if it’s a first time coach that just wants a simple platform, it’s apparent that this one will probably offer more than they need.
So as you’re editing, be sure that each sentence is communicating something noteworthy.
Stating Something and Failing to Explain It
Another issue that I commonly come across is when a writer will introduce a rather important concept and then move on with no further explanation. I find that my comments for these kinds of issues are typically, “why?” or “how?”
Here’s an example from the same “Best CRM For Coaches” post:
Here, the writer says that the software helps the coach keep track of the team’s duties and coaching metrics. That’s great! But how? Whenever a claim is made, follow it up with a reason.
For example, I might edit this passage to look something like this:
In the metrics tab, you can also keep track of all the coaching metrics such as how many sessions each student has attended, key milestones, and habits. This makes it easy to see which students are falling behind, so that you can reach out and help before deciding to quit.
Notice that the rewrite gives you a much clearer picture of the feature?
Another common issue is that a writer will introduce a topic that is complex for that particular searcher and fail to break it down. For example, the keyword “what is an API” is clearly searched by beginners. Therefore, stating a textbook definition isn’t useful. Instead, it needs to be broken down.
This video is an excellent example of introducing a topic and then breaking it down (start at 0:49 and listen until 1:48):
Speaking Above/Below The Reader’s Knowledge Level
I discuss this issue at length in my search intent optimization post, though the main idea here is that the writer shouldn’t speak way over the reader’s head or bore them with information they already know.
For example, if you’re writing the beginner’s guide to SEO, don’t speak over their head by writing about advanced topics like using dynamic parameters for pagination.
However, I find it much more common that writers speak below the reader’s knowledge level or make “duh” statements.
For example, this post discusses why it’s important to hire a seasoned professional. Though if you look at the examples, you can tell that it’s speaking below the reader’s knowledge level:
Right now, the statement is obvious and rather boring. However, this is often a struggle that startups face. So instead of just writing it off as a poor point to make, I would interview a sales manager that has hired both inexperienced and experienced SDRs. In the interview, you can ask for stories and anecdotes to use in the post and advice they have for people that desperately want to hire more sales reps but can’t afford a senior SDR.
So instead of saying:
“Experienced SDRs are more likely to surpass your expectations and they tend to be less risky,”
You can say something like:
“[Expert’s name] hired both inexperienced and experienced sales reps and found that the company had a 3x ROI when hiring experienced sales reps and a loss when hiring inexperienced sales reps. If you can’t afford a senior sales rep right now, here are three things [expert’s name] recommends…”
Notice that the second one is much more helpful and impactful than the way that the first one is presented. It’s still the same point, but one states the obvious and comes across as boring and below the hiring manager’s knowledge level whereas the other speaks to the hiring manager as a peer.
Those are the three most basic editing mistakes I see, so now that we have them out of the way, let’s dive into more advanced content editing.
Is The Information Relevant To The Reader’s Pain Points?
If you’ve been reading the blog, you know that all of our content is born from a thorough customer research process (interviewing CS, Sales, and the founder/marketing team).
If the post doesn’t accurately relate to the reader’s (or more specifically, your customer’s pain points), they won’t continue reading and it’s highly unlikely they will convert.
Let’s dive into a few specific examples of how I’ve edited posts based on pain point relevancy.
The company this post was written for automatically transcribes video and allows you to edit the video by editing the text. So one of its features is captions and below is an excellent example of how to correctly set up a pain point and position the product as the solution:
Here’s another example of this format in action:
So when in doubt, the above framework of stating a specific pain point and then showing how the product solves it is perfect – particularly when describing product features.
Though I want to note that the key to making this framework successful is ensuring the writer has a deep understanding of both the customer’s pain points and how the product actually solves them.
So to improve the freelancer’s understanding of the ICP’s pain points, we do two things:
- Provide the original customer research recordings to the freelancer
- Have them complete a questionnaire before writing a draft
The customer research recordings just live in a Google Drive and I send them to freelancers to listen to before starting on an account:
- What is the reader trying to discover based on the keyword they typed in?
- Search Intent and Knowledge Level of the Searcher: What products are they researching? Where are they in the buying journey? E.g. Are they comparison shopping? Are they just trying to learn about the products available? Do they likely know about our client’s product or not yet?
- What was the customer doing before or without the client’s product? What sucked about it? What were the pain points in this “pre-product” life for the customer?
- How does the product solve those pain points (i.e. what are the main benefits for the customer when/if they use the clients product)?
Once the writer has answered these questions, it becomes much easier for them to set up this framework in the draft and it’s also much easier for you to edit the post.
Does it Include Original Anecdotes or Stories?
Original stories and anecdotes are excellent ways to emphasize a product benefit or help the reader visualize a concept/idea you’re explaining.
Many writers include statistics or rather generic examples in their blog posts, though I find that this leads to copycat content.
To solve this problem, I interview subject matter experts on the topic before writing a post, and they typically provide the originality that I need for the post.
For example, we recently completed a post targeting “how to structure a group coaching program.” To ensure I had some original content, I interviewed veteran coach Todd Herman. He gave me an inside look at how he structures his group coaching programs and I was able to use those examples to add more originality to the post. Check it out here:
However, even if you don’t have access to an expert to interview, you can still create anecdotes on your own. For example, the passage below is from the video editing software mentioned below. While there wasn’t a real example from the interview of how it works, the writer used a great anecdote to show how the feature is useful:
Being a content editor is sort of like being a doctor – there are literally thousands of different issues that could possibly arise. However, I find these issues to be the most common. So if you want to improve the quality of the content (beyond just the grammar), start with these five tips.
I’ll continue to update this post as I edit my own writer’s posts, so be sure to check back. In the meantime, if you want someone to edit your content – or better yet – take over your content marketing machine, contact me today.