Proofreading: Does Your Real Estate Marketing Send the right Message?

By
Services for Real Estate Pros with Marte Cliff Copywriting

Proofreading: Making sure your real estate marketing messages represent you as a professional.

How many times do you read and re-read a marketing message before you hit send?

How often do you go back to your web pages to make SURE that they're correct?

Proofreading is by far not the most entertaining or pleasurable part of writing, but it IS one of the most necessary parts, because silly mistakes can give your readers the wrong impression about you.

At the very least, they'll convey a message that you don't pay attention to details. At worst, they'll make people think you don't know any better, so they'll question your abilities.

Always re-read before publishing... draft or final signposts

Some time ago I wrote an article for someone based on some very sketchy information he had sent. I thought I had the facts and figures down right, but I wasn't quite sure. So I sent it to him with a note saying "Please read this and check for accuracy. I'm not positive that I understood this correctly."

When I saw the article as an email blast from him, I thought it must have been correct. But no – he had gone ahead and pasted it into an email without reading it, and there was an error. That's called teeth-gnashing time for me.

Always read your own website, especially if someone else has been working on it…

Visualize what can happen when words that are intended as a subheading get stuck on the beginning of a sentence. It can make the whole message sound ridiculous, especially when there's no period at the end.

That can happen when copy gets handed to a 3rd party to upload - and they don't bother to read it. Even someone who knew nothing about the subject would see that the sentence didn't make sense.

A couple of years ago I was hired to "clean up" a site that had had a variety of writers contributing to it over the years. Some were very good - and some were terrible. I found misused words, misspelled words, and an abundance of rambling copy that must have been written by someone who thought "the more words the better" as they repeated the same point in sentence after sentence. Who knows, maybe they were paid by the word so wanted plenty of words.

And then there was the redundancy: I found things like: "Currently, sales at this time…" (And why did they use those words in the first place? Marketing copy should be conversational. Why not say "Right now, sales…")

Apparently the site owner believed that since he had paid someone to write those words, they must be fine - so he didn't check. 

Proofreading isn't easy.

In fact, if you're the one who wrote the copy, it's downright difficult. That's because you wrote it and you "know" what it says. That makes it difficult to see the kind of mistakes that happen when you're editing and miss removing an "a" when you replaced it with a "the." You can also easily miss repeated words, or missing words, because your brain is racing ahead, seeing what you intended to write.

If you can, get someone else to proofread for you. If not, try reading it aloud. And do turn on spell check and grammar check. They're often incorrect, but they'll alert you to things that might be wrong, so you can stop and give them a second thought.  

If you think they're wrong and you're right, but you aren't sure, either ask someone who is a grammar and spelling whiz, check a dictionary, or look it up on Grammar Girl.

If you've found a proofreader, ask them to also flag anything that's confusing or "clunky." (Remembering that you KNOW what you mean, but someone else might not.)

Emphasize the fact that you want them to be brutally honest. It took me years to convince my husband to read my copy as a critic. Now he finally understands that I'm not looking for approval – I'm looking for input that will let me see and fix errors or re-write anything that might confuse a reader.

edits and corrections

 

No one should ever feel bashful about needing a proofreader...

Those well-known authors who write the books we purchase hire proofreaders - and sometimes their work is read and re-read by multiple proofreaders. And yet - every now and then I find a typo in a hard-bound book published by a major publishing house. 

 

Signpost Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net | Erasure Image courtesy of ningmilo at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Comments (69)

Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Patricia Kennedy Thank you! I appreciate being included in your weekly round-up - and I appreciate having it for my Sunday reading list. 

Jan 24, 2016 01:38 AM
Joanna Cohlan
Fresh Eyes For Your Home - Chappaqua, NY
Designing, Decorating & Staging Westchester Homes

Marte, the I vs. Me thing, understanding subject vs. object, gets me crazy.

Jan 24, 2016 01:52 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Joanna Cohlan That one has always been easy for me, which is probably why it irritates me so much when my neighbor uses I as an object.

He not only reminds us often that he has a master's degree, he loves to show off his extensive vocabulary. A former history teacher, he'll use a word, then define it and spell it for us. (After all, we're just country hicks.)

Jan 24, 2016 03:37 AM
Beth Atalay
Cam Realty and Property Management - Clermont, FL
Cam Realty of Clermont FL

Marte,  I am so glad Patricia Kennedy included this post in her weekly favorites. Having another pair of eyes would be ideal but not always possible. Sometimes, I rush to hit that publish button, need to slow my fingers and brain down.

Jan 24, 2016 04:48 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Beth Atalay I've lost count of how many times I've spotted an error just AFTER I hit the publish button. Like you, I need to slow down. 

Jan 24, 2016 05:45 AM
Eric Kodner
Madeline Island Realty - La Pointe, WI
CRS, Madeline Island Realty, LaPointe, WI 54850 -

Educated buyers spend more and have more financial capacity than the average person. The fastest way to lose their attention is failing to proofread marketing materials.

Jan 24, 2016 10:48 PM
Bill Roberts
Brooks and Dunphy Real Estate - Oceanside, CA
"Baby Boomer" Retirement Planner

Marte Cliff I used to compose directly on AR but way too often I would "lose" the whole thing. Had to find a better way.

Bill Roberts

Jan 24, 2016 11:24 PM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Eric Kodner So true. I hear now and then from someone who says it doesn't matter, as long as they understand what you meant, but for educated people, I think it does matter. 

Bill Roberts That's why I write in Word, then cut and paste. Re-writing something after it has disappeared is just not fun. 

Jan 25, 2016 01:04 AM
Troy Erickson AZ Realtor (602) 295-6807
Good Company Real Estate - Chandler, AZ
Your Chandler, Ahwatukee, and East Valley Realtor

Marte - I always proofread everything I write, and I still see mistakes later on. It is always best to have another set of eyes read what you have written, to not only look for errors, but to make sure it makes sense.

Jan 25, 2016 02:42 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Troy Erickson Yes, making sure it makes sense is important. Sometimes we assume that other people have the same knowledge we have - or are thinking along the same lines - and it just isn't so! 

Jan 25, 2016 02:52 AM
Hillary Sheperd
Servpro of Scarsdale / Mount Vernon - Scarsdale, NY
Co-Owner ~ Servpro of Scarsdale / Mount Vernon, NY

So true...as a former journalist, before we started sucking sewage out of properties in NY, the sight (not SITE) of typos and rushed writing really annoys me.  If people want us to read their work and blogs, please give your writing the attention that you want us to give it, by proofing the whole thing. great points!

Jan 25, 2016 03:35 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Hillary Sheperd I like the way you put that: Give your writing the attention you want your readers to give it. 

As a former journalist, you'd probably be pulling your hair over our local newspapers. Between the poor grammar, the bad spelling, and the typos, they're a disgrace. 

Jan 25, 2016 03:43 AM
Hillary Sheperd

Poor journalism drives me crazy lately and if another anchor or reporter cops out with "...only time will tell," I want permission to reach in a beat them with a stick, like my grandma did for us. The typos and lazy writing and journalism are an embarassment to our profession...that's why I got out and did Shark Week for Discovery Channel.  Thanks Marte Cliff

Jan 28, 2016 01:16 AM
Ed Silva
Mapleridge Realty, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

I know that spell check is not the answer to everything.  I prefer to write, step back and maybe come back the next day to make sure it is giving the flow and thoughts that I wanted it to do.

Jan 25, 2016 10:00 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Ed Silva Yes, if it's something that can wait, it's always good to let it rest over night. 

Jan 25, 2016 12:33 PM
Melanie Cameron
Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage - Wilmington, NC
The Cameron Team

Sometimes you can look over text 5 times and not catch an error. Our brains are wired in a way that we easily ignore our own mistakes, especially if it's a word like "to" instead of "too". That's why it's always good to have a second set of eyes look at it.

This reminds me of a funny story I heard this morning. An agent that use to be in our office a long time ago had written a listing description for the newspaper, but instead of writing "Eat-in kitchen", he wrote "Rat in kitchen". This led to his client chasing him down yelling, "Why did you write this about my house?!" The brokerage made up for the error, by doing an additional larger ad, but it just goes to show how important it is to have someone else read what you write.

Jan 28, 2016 04:39 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Melanie Cameron Thanks for the chuckle! I love that story and can just picture a homeowner wielding a rolling pin, going after the agent. 

I doubt if it was our grocery store - more likely the folks at our local newspaper - but we noticed a huge blooper this week. The grocery ad flyer offered an inexpensive cut of roast beef for $2.98 per pound. The half-page ad in the newspaper offered the same roast for $1.47 per pound. (That happend to be the price of pork steak or something in the grocery ad.)

Jan 28, 2016 05:07 AM
Anna Hatridge
R Gilliam Real Estate LLC - Farmington, MO
Missouri Realtor with R Gilliam Real Estate LLC

Coming over from Roy Kelley 's reblog.  Sorry I missed it the first time.  Just goes to show it takes many eyes to see what is right before us!  

Have a great week ahead.

Jan 30, 2016 02:34 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Thank you Anna Hatridge - and I wish you a great week as well. 

Jan 30, 2016 02:53 AM
Carol Williams
Although I'm retired, I love sharing my knowledge and learning from other real estate industry professionals. - Wenatchee, WA
Retired Agent / Broker / Property Manager

Proofreading for spelling isn't an easy task and it's almost always good to have a second pair of eyes.  You idea to read it aloud is a good one.   

Jan 31, 2016 09:26 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Carol Williams As long as you do it slowly, it does cause you to catch the silly errors. 

Jan 31, 2016 12:05 PM