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How to proofread your own writing and why it’s so important

Spelling and grammatical errors will affect how someone looks at your business. First impressions count, and normally, your business's content is someone's first impression of you. Here's why content is important to your business and tips on how to proofread your own writing.

Why is it important to proofread your writing?

Knowing how to proofread your own writing is essential in our digital world. Here are two reasons to really care about your content.

1. First impressions count

The content on your Checkatrade profile, website or social media is likely to be the first interaction someone has with your business.

If they don’t like your content, or God forbid they spot a typo, then you instantly lose credibility, and worse, their trust.

That’s not just me saying that; that’s what people think.

The BBC wrote a good article on this – The true importance of good spelling.

There’s a little study they mention, and it perfectly matches (pun intended as you’ll see) what Checkatrade does.

If you think about it, Checkatrade is a matching service. There’s a customer looking for their dream tradesperson. Keep that in mind here:

“A survey of 5,500 American singles in 2016 by online dating site Match.com found that 39% judged the suitability of candidates by their grasp of grammar – ranking that more important than their smile, dress sense or even the state of their teeth. Nothing can make you lose credibility and seem uneducated quicker than a spelling mistake.
Source: BBC

There you go – put as much effort into your Checkatrade profile as you would your dating profile.

2. Attention to detail – lazy writing = lazy work

via GIPHY

Attention to detail matters for any business, especially for you as a trade.

If you can’t even take a couple of minutes to check the wording on your website, then how long will you spend checking over the work you do for your customers?

And considering how skilled your work is, that’s a massive concern for customers.

It literally doesn’t matter what line of work you’re in; every tradesperson has got to have great attention to detail.

If your content is riddled with spelling mistakes, I’m running the other way. There’s no way I’d trust you to come to my house.

The big mistake of not thinking content is worth your time or effort

Still not convinced content is worth your time or effort? If you won’t take my word for it, then this Content Marketing Institute survey stat might knock some sense into you – 75% of professional marketers say content helps them build credibility/trust.

There you go; quality content is once again part of the recipe for building trust with your customers.

And synonymous for tradespeople building trust with their customers is being a tradesperson on Checkatrade.

Checkatrade gives tradespeople a great platform for their content

Building trust and credibility is exactly what Checkatrade is all about. It’s the reason tradespeople join as a member and why customers use us to find a trade.

The Checkatrade tick is a trusted sign of quality – it’s a comfort blanket for customers, giving them the confidence to use Checkatrade tradespeople.

The tick that means quality work - Checkatrade is the most well-known sign of quality in the trade industry

Being a Checkatrade tradesperson gives you that trust with customers, don’t let spelling errors take that away from you.

Keep reading for real tips that I use when editing and proofreading content before posting.

Tips on how to proofread your own writing

Before we start, don’t rely solely on your spellchecker. I repeat, DO NOT rely on your spellchecker. Sure, they’ll pick out some errors, but not all!

The best way to show the editing and proofreading process for your content would be to talk you through the process my content team go through. For ease, I’ve broken these down into five simple steps.

Imagine you’ve written a piece of content; Checkatrade profile copy, website content, a blog, or a social media post.

via GIPHY

Step 1 – Read what you’ve written

Sounds simple enough, right? But not everyone does this first step.

Whenever you write a piece of content without properly reading it through, this is called your ‘first draft’.

Sorry to break this to you, but the first draft always sucks. This is why you can never just publish some content without reading it back.

So take the time to read back through your work. This will work even better if you read it out loud. If you find you’re stumbling over words or keep running out of breath, you need to shorten your sentences and add punctuation.

Make corrections and keep an eye out for spelling and grammar errors. In a first draft, it’s very likely there will be typos, especially if you’re on your phone. Don’t get stung by auto-correct!

Done and dusted after this read-through? NO, that’s not you anymore. 

Step 2 – Read it again after you’ve made all of your changes

You’ve read the first draft, and you may have surprised yourself with how many changes you made. But you still need to read it through again.

Read it out loud and go through the process again. It’s pretty likely there will be far fewer changes.

Now can you publish it? Afraid not.

Step 3 – Take a break and come back to your content later

via GIPHY

Use this as your chance to go make a cuppa. A five-minute break is a nice amount of time to take from your editing.

For longer pieces, like a blog, you may want to leave it a few hours, maybe even half a day, or if you can, a full day. Blog content can be quite long, so there’s a lot more content to check. 

Why take a break? 

It’s actually really important. Because it’s your content, your brain auto-fills and blanks out mistakes. So when you do the initial reads in both steps 1 and 2, your brain might fool you.

Damn you, brain!

There is actually psychology behind why typos happen – our brain is trying to help us out. Mind. Blown.

A fellow Tom, Tom Stafford, a psychologist, says:

When you’re writing, you’re trying to convey meaning. It’s a very high level taskAs with all high level tasks, your brain generalizes simple, component parts (like turning letters into words and words into sentences) so it can focus on more complex tasks (like combining sentences into complex ideas). Our brain tells us what we think we’re saying, and our eyes are primed to confirm that what’s on the screen matches what’s in our head. Small differences — like a close word substitution or a missing not — get filtered out by our perception before we can even catch them.”

Source: Medium article by On Second Thought

So what that break does is it removes you and your brain from the situation.

Writing is a complex task, and you’re in the middle of it. You need to separate yourself and give your brain time off.

When you come back, you and your brain can work together to spot the mistakes.

Step 4 – Come back and read through again

It’s pretty likely you’ll make some subtle changes, maybe even pick out some mistakes you hadn’t noticed before.

Then you’ll be wondering how on earth you missed the typos before.

Step 5 – Get a second pair of eyes to look it over

If you edit and proofread your content, but there’s something in your gut telling you it’s still not quite right, then it’s well worth getting someone else to read it over.

Followed all 5 steps? Now your writing should be good to go!

Give your content one last read-through. Then if happy, publish it!

You shouldn’t be doing these steps just on your Checkatrade profile – do it on ALL content you create.

Editing your Checkatrade profile

Speaking of your Checkatrade profile, how can you put all of this into practice on there?

Writing a great Checkatrade profile description doesn’t have to be a difficult task. However, it is important to get it right as this is how you’ll be introducing yourself to potential customers.

Here are a few things to consider when writing yours:

  • Check your spelling and grammar – Avoid simple mistakes by following the 5 step checks!
  • Think about readability – Focus on short sentences and bullet point lists, and avoid lengthy paragraphs
  • Focus on what matters – Concentrate on accreditations, customer reviews, and specific services

Our Membership Advice team are always happy to take a look at your Checkatrade profile. After all, as we mentioned before, it’s always worth having a second pair of eyes look over your content.

Ready to see your trade business take off?

Become a Checkatrade member and win more work through your profile

Sign up today

Content disclaimer: This content has been created for general information purposes and should not be taken as formal advice. Read our full disclaimer here.

*Deep Blue Thinking 2021 Trade Perception Survey

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