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...
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.
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