I’ve been working in content marketing for two years now. One of my many roles is managing content for my company’s blog, which means lots of writing, editing, and everything else that goes into, you know, keeping a website running.
One thing I’ve learned over the last couple of years is that there’s a certain selflessness in being an editor. Sometimes it’s a quick scan and a tweak here and there; other times, it’s easy to tell you’ve put more effort into a piece than the original author did. You can easily spend hours reading and rephrasing (or, in some cases, completely rewriting) other people’s words, but when you hit “publish,” it’s someone else’s name that ends up on your work.
Editing is part of my job – a part I enjoy, honestly – but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t frustrating at times. It’s not just the whole “not getting credit” thing, either. Mistakes happen, but there are a few things I’ve seen writers do that are a surefire way to annoy your editor. Here’s six of the most common:
1. You don’t edit.
Like, at all. You’d be surprised to see how many misspelled words and careless typos I find in articles that are sent to me. Not everyone is a professional writer, and typos happen; I get it. But seriously, see that little green squiggle under that word? Oh, look, there’s another one. I can easily fix it with a right click…but so could you. All that does is tell me you don’t care enough to take the time to read through your finished work, and that’s not a good look.
(Also: using the wrong form of your/you’re, their/they’re/there, and it’s/its. Read. Over. Your. Work.)
2. You’re lazy.
Beyond not editing, you don’t meet word count. You don’t include headings. You don’t link to your sources. You do the bare minimum, and it shows in your work. Writing is hard! I understand! Not every piece of writing you produce is going to be amazing, but when the majority of your writing requires at least half of the article to be rewritten, it’s a little much. An editor is there to make the words you have down even better than they already are, not do all of your work for you.
3. You don’t include a title.
If I don’t like your title, I’ll change it – but adding one shows that you’ve at least thought about your article beyond the initial draft (and frankly, it makes my job easier, so you’ll get points for that anyway).
4. You write like you’re working on a college essay.
“Hence,” “thus,” “in conclusion” – not allowed. This is the internet, not an English class. Obviously this depends on the company you’re writing for, but in general, write like you talk. It’s okay to be funny or sarcastic! The more conversational and easier it is to read, the better.
5. You don’t fact-check.
This one goes back to citing your sources. (When you’re writing an article, this is as simple as putting in a hyperlink, so no excuses.) It goes without saying that any names, dates, and statistics mentioned should be accurate. It’s easy to slip up, though, which is why it’s so important to read back over your work and double-check to make sure anything you’ve taken from an outside source matches the information you have on the page.
6. You don’t read your articles after they’re published.
It’s easy to tell when a writer hasn’t read their published articles. They don’t pay attention to how articles are formatted on-site, they make the same mistake over and over in drafts (when it’s clearly been changed in the articles that have gone live before it), and, in general, they don’t take the time to learn from the final versions of their work.
Writing may not be your ultimate career goal, but wouldn’t you still be excited to see your published work online? Attached to your name? That’s one of my favorite parts of my job. Seeing your ideas come to life, to be able to see your hard work finally go live for the world to see, and to see the results come in after it, is one of the most satisfying feelings ever.