Here’s an unscientific poll about content that I want to share with you.
More than 80% of people who write press releases, blog posts, bylined articles, and white papers admit they struggle with how to edit content.
I’m happy to offer a few suggestions on how to approach the editing process:
1. Write the main purpose on the back of a business card. In one or two sentences, summarize the reason you are writing. This brings clarity, which (usually) leads to brevity. If your purpose is too long for the business card, rip it up and start again. It must be clear in your mind before you begin to write.
2. Dissect your words and sentences. Slowly read each sentence, one at a time. Then read the next one. If you removed one of the sentences, would your story change? Each sentence must build off of the previous one, adding value to your story. This practice can significantly shorten your content and change the flow of your message. Translation: Cut the crap.
3. Consider your reader. Your word count will drop when you remove self-serving information that will be irrelevant–or annoying–to your audience. And don’t bother with jargon or rhetoric. Write to offer solutions to your reader’s challenges. Solve, don’t sell.
Finally, the words ‘very’ and ‘that’ should be used sparingly, if at all.