Proofreading – the difference between copywriting and sloppy writing


A guest blog by Nick Jones of Find a Proofreader


As someone who started their career as a proofreader and later moved into copywriting, I’m aware of the crossovers between the two professions. Both demand an excellent grasp of English, a love of language and attention to detail. While not all copywriters necessarily make good proofreaders – or would want to – proofreading is an essential part of the copywriting process, whether you proofread your own writing or employ a proofreader to do it for you.

The skills required to be a good copywriter are numerous. You need to be able to write succinctly, adhere to strict deadlines, research any subject and write about it with passion. Your main aim as a copywriter is to grab your reader’s attention and hold onto it long enough for your reader to respond in the desired way – whether that means clicking on a link, signing up to a mailing list or purchasing a product. It starts with a powerful headline and ends with a motivating call to action. The hardest part is the text in between.

An easy way to lose someone’s attention is to do something careless. Something that stands out. A typo, for instance, or a misused comma. Mistakes like this will stop a reader dead in their tracks, and any momentum you may have achieved up to that point will now be in the balance. After spending hours crafting strong copy to engage your audience, you’ll risk losing their attention altogether (and possibly some of your credibility depending on the severity of the howler).

If you’re lucky, they might give you the benefit of the doubt and read on. After all, everyone makes mistakes, right? Of course. But if you were careless enough to overlook one blooper, how many more may lie ahead for your discerning readers? And how many more chances will they give you before they give up and move on?

So proofreading is important. The question is: should you proofread your own work or pay a proofreader to do it? Proofreading your own writing does have its advantages – it’s cheaper for one! If you pay a proofreader to check every piece you write, you’ll need to build that cost into your copywriting rates. You’ll also need to allow extra time for each project because your proofreader won’t always be available at the drop of a hat.

The obvious downside to proofing your own writing is that it’s deceptively difficult. Your brain sees what it wants to see, and while errors may stand out to you like sore thumbs in other people’s writing, they’ll do their best to hide from you in your own. You also need to ask yourself whether you have the necessary skills and experience to proofread effectively. As I stated earlier, not all copywriters make good proofreaders, and you may even find that using a proofreader improves your writing in the long run. This in turn might lead to bigger, better copywriting gigs and who knows where that could lead? Forming a partnership with a proofreader you work well with may prove to be the best business decision you ever make.

Whether you decide to use a proofreader or you do it yourself, proofreading is a key ingredient to effective copywriting. You can’t afford to make too many mistakes – your professional image and the quality of your writing depend on it. It might seem an obvious point, but there are so many sloppy writers out there that the obvious clearly needs stating. Don’t fall into the same trap as many of your competitors – invest in the proofreading process and over time your writing will get the attention it deserves.

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