The Biggest Mistake DIYers Make With Copywriting

 

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I admire the hell out of entrepreneurs with “do-it-yourself” attitudes.

I think it’s because DIYers are a bold, enthusiastic bunch. They believe that with enough persistence and time, they can accomplish anything on their own.

“I’ll just do it myself …” is their mantra and badge of honor.

Their stubborn optimism and never-give-up attitudes transform their ideas into bona fide businesses.

If you are a DIYer, I raise my glass to you.

But, in spite of my admiration, I have to share an ugly truth: Relying solely on your plucky resourcefulness can only get you so far. Eventually, a time will come when you have to admit you’re in over your head on a project. And that’s when it’s time to call in the pros.

A haircut, for example, is a job I always leave to an experienced stylist — especially after The Bangs Incident of 1982.

Or plumbing work. That’s another job I’ve learned to leave to the experts. My husband and I figured this out the hard way.

DIY Drama Is Avoidable

Years ago, we were in the throes of a DIY-demo day, ripping out an old, stale kitchen to make room for an intensive remodel.

We had spent the afternoon taking down cabinets, ripping up flooring, and removing an old laminate countertop that had seen better days. And we were exhausted.

No problems popped up until we reached the kitchen sink. I’m still not sure how it happened, but somehow as we lifted the old sink out we nicked the copper water pipe. Big mistake.

A stream of water squirted, and we scrambled to fix it with plumbers tape and some mysterious gooey stuff to no avail; the water just kept coming.

After several harried minutes, we cried uncle and called a plumber. Twenty minutes and a couple hundred dollars later, the plumber fixed the angry little gash in the copper pipe. And we were left shaking our dripping heads, wondering what had just happened. (Especially after the invoice for an emergency call to a plumber on a Saturday night hit us!)

I’m telling you this story to illustrate my point: You can take on all kinds of challenges yourself with no problem. You’re a an entrepreneur and a DIYer; that’s how you’re wired. But eventually, you will face a job that will take more than a big heart and a bucket of bravado. That’s when it’s time to trust the experience and know-how of an expert.

And this brings me to one of the biggest mistakes I see DIYers make with their content: They leave careless typos and errors in their copy.

Don’t Trust Yourself to Proofread Your Final Draft 

You need a second set of fresh eyes to find the errors in your drafts before your readers do. The message typos, misspellings, and grammar goof-ups send is that you don’t care about quality. Your inattention to the details is a reflection on your brand and your work ethic.

I understand the struggle. I mean, by the time you’re ready to publish, you’ve read your draft 100 times. You truly believe you’ve fixed the mistakes by round 99. But, the truth is, proofing a draft you’ve read and reread is boring, and it’s too easy to let your tired eyes glide over the words and miss the mistakes.

After you invest so much of your time and effort creating opt-in downloads, slides for webinars, or epic blog posts, don’t you owe it to yourself to take the final step and get help with proofreading?

Proofreading is the Finishing Touch

I believe the proofreading stage is the make-or-break moment for your content, and that’s why I encourage you to bring in a pro who will approach your copy with a clean slate.

It could mean the difference between their, there, and they’re — or worse — pubic and public. (eek!)

(A quick aside: A former corporate colleague of mine actually made the public/pubic error in a high profile, printed piece of marketing for the fortune 500 company we worked for. Needless to say, that day was not a good one for him.)

The proofreading step is vital because nothing is more frustrating (and embarrassing) than finding a glaring error in your project AFTER it’s published.

Try these 3 Proofreading Power Moves to find errors before your readers do:

1. Ask someone else to do a deep-dive review of your copy. If you absolutely must do it on your own:

  • Don’t rely on spell check to find misspelled words, typos, punctuation mistakes, or missing text.
  • Read your post backward, word-by-word to prevent skimming over text.
  • Take a break and return to your draft after you’ve had time to rest your eyes.
  • Read your draft aloud and listen for mistakes your eyes may have missed.

2. Check verb tense and number.

3. Omit unnecessary words.

  • Delete vague words, such as very, nice, really, things, stuff.
  • Omit redundant pairs, such as past memories, future plans, and totally destroyed.
  • Avoid inexact words, such as few, some, many, and several.

Don’t be cavalier about your copy. That’s just lazy and doesn’t reflect well on your brand. Yes, finding mistakes takes focus, time, and effort; you have to slow down, tune-in, and be present with your work.

I admit, this type of work isn’t for everyone. If proofreading your opt-in — or any piece of content you publish — makes you weary, reach out for help.

Let’s talk about my proofreading and editing services.

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