You deserve congratulations if you’re writing the content for your own business or professional website. It can be a daunting task, and—at least at the outset—there is a lot of anxiety in working outside your usual field. But maintaining a regular schedule of publishing informative, useful material for potential customers remains one of the best ways to attract and convert new clients. Kudos to you!
By all means, make the time to re-read what you have written before it’s published online. You may find an inelegant phrase, or a place where adding a few words can add enormous clarity. But our experience suggests that you should not be the sole editor or proofreader for your own writing.
It’s important to bear in mind that proofreading is not a quest for perfection. There are many pathways a writer can take to get to a desired destination, and editing does not select the “best” route. Instead, the revision process is designed to catch errors in grammar, spelling, usage, and diction before the work is published for its intended audience.
And, since we’re on the topic, the quest for writing perfection is an impossible goal anyway. People make mistakes. Those mistakes range from simple typing errors to habitual misuse of certain words. Your proofreader is there to catch these mistakes and patch them up before your work goes live.
There’s One Thing You Always Write Wrong. This Is Mine.
Even people with extraordinary talent for writing prose may have a handful of problem areas. Perhaps you find it difficult to remember when to use a semicolon, or you may forget when to use a dash rather than a hyphen, or you may be stumped whenever you need to choose between “effect” and “affect.”
My big problem has always been dealing with the words lay, lie, laid, and lain. I’m clear on lie when it means to tell a falsehood, but when the discussion turns to setting objects on surfaces or reclining one’s body on a sofa, I throw my hands in the air. I flip between reference book pages for a good ten minutes before I write down the word I think is right, but I’m never really confident in my choice.
So that’s the first reason why I need an editor to review my work (and you do, too): Chances are, you too have a persistent mental block when it comes to using some words or punctuation. Your proofreader is your reassurance that a silly mistake won’t be released to the disdain of the general public. Because of that mental block, you can’t be trusted to proofread your own writing, any more than I can effectively proofread my own work.
Your Errors Are Invisible (But Only to You)
Another reason why an independent proofreader is vital is that you cannot be trusted to spot your own mistakes on the screen or the printed page. You know too well what you intended to write, and your eyes will just skip past that point where you typed it’s instead of its. A proofreader doesn’t bring any preconceptions to the document, so he can spot those errors readily.
Spell Check and Grammar Check? Don’t Make Me Laugh.
Software has become amazingly sophisticated in my lifetime. Nevertheless, computer software doesn’t compare to an intelligent mind in correcting spelling, grammar, and usage mistakes. Spell checking programs don’t really understand language, so they can’t catch many word substitutions—podcast instead of podiatrist, for instance—that might show up in your text. Grammar checking software doesn’t appreciate the meaning of the words it scans, so it ends up reporting trivial errors such as split infinitives rather than conceptual mistakes. At least for the current decade, proofreading demands the concentrated attention of another human being.
Getting the Editorial Help You Need
One of the great benefits of Foster Web Marketing’s content management system, Dynamic Self-Syndication, is that it gives you complete control over your professional website. You can extend your online presence at any time, to whatever breadth you desire. At the same time, you assume the risk that a particularly egregious error in grammar or usage will undercut your influence or perceived authority.
But the more you write, the more you need the services of a proofreader. Where do you find one?
Potential proofreaders are everywhere. If you are sharing writing duties with someone else in your office, for instance, exchanging the work between you for editing is obvious. If no coworker is available, you may want to contact the modern languages or English literature departments of your nearby community college to see if instructors can recommend a talented student who might be interested in part-time proofreading work. Local employment centers and online job-search services can also be helpful in locating freelance editors and writers.
Here at Foster Web Marketing, we’re excited to respond to your questions about website content development and production. For specific guidance for your professional marketing, call us today or fill out the convenient contact form on this page.