How to Bring Great Content Home Every Time

Flickr: Vivian ChenDespite the emphasis on content marketing for nonprofits—crafting the right content to motivate each specific group to take the action you desire— to be distributed where they are (the right place) when they are there and likely to act (the right time)—there’s one important ingredient left out of the discussion time and time again. Copy editing—checking for spelling, grammar, consistency and accuracy.

So many of you have shared your struggles to find time to create relevant content for prospects and supporters who expect even more—that content be customized to their past actions, habits and preferences (just like the product suggestions Amazon serves up based on prior searches and purchases or the way The New York Times website suggests articles to me based on what I’ve recently read).

You’re striving to meet these expectations, recognizing that relevance is the way to spur action. But….

Are you investing the time and resource to polish that compelling content before you distribute it? Based on the content I see from many nonprofit organizations, the answer is “sometimes.”

Here’s the thing—”Sometimes” copy editing isn’t enough. Content becomes less effective with each error made. Do you like having to wade through a swamp of spelling mistakes and grammatical errors to get to the essence of a story or blog post? Of course not. And your audiences don’t either.

In fact, frequent spelling and grammatical errors are the loudest “who cares” I know. They raise concerns about your organization’s credibility, sending prospects for the hills, and in time, will alienate even your most loyal supporters.

Writing great content is just your first step. When you complete your writing, get it edited by a colleague or freelancer (ideally NOT by you, you’re way too close to content you’ve written) for sense, spelling, grammar and consistency. If no one else is available, put your completed writing aside for a day then come back to it for a self-edit. That’s the way to bring home great content every time.

What steps are in your content creation process, beyond writing? Please share your approach here—we can all learn from you.

Get more guidance on creating great content:

  • Tips for Nonprofit Copywriters
  • Five MORE Tips for Nonprofit Copywriters

P.S. I’m working on a content-creation checklist and will share it with you soon.
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Nancy Schwartz on January 28, 2014 in Copywriting | 4 comments

  • I think you’re right on Nancy. While you don’t need to obsess over the editing process, it is a crucial part of writing. If you’re a prolific content producer, a stray mistake is bound to happen. But too many issues, especially within a single post, is a red flag that proper care wasn’t taken. If the author isn’t going to take the time, why should the reader?

  • Thanks, David, for all of your useful comments.

    How do you and your team guide clients to take this kind of care with their content? Can be delicate!

  • That’s a great question Nancy. You’re right, it can be delicate. We often don’t discuss editing explicitly. We focus more on the importance of producing high quality content to establish authority. There’s an element of care implicit in the “high quality” nature I suppose.

    If we ever notice quality slipping, we’ll send an email letting them know we caught a typo or two. We figure most folks don’t want errors in their content, and seeing they’ve made a few can help refocus them on the quality of their content.

    How have you addressed it in the past?

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