Even Stephen King needs a good editor

by | Aug 16, 2019 | Content Writing

The thought of continually writing content for your website or blog can be intimidating. Even experienced writers struggle to turn out hundreds of words at a time on the same topics. Then there’s the editing for grammar and usage. Poorly written content will not engage a reader long enough to stay on your page.

Besides, writing and editing are two very different skills. While I’ve written many feature and news articles over the years, rich descriptive language doesn’t come easily. My real strength and passion is for editing other writers’ work. 

The opposite also seems to be true. Many of the most imaginative writers have little or no regard for grammar, sentence structure, or other language technicalities.

Even a prolific creative writer like Stephen King needs a good editor. In his classic “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft,” King spends a fair amount of time promoting the importance of grammar and the brilliance of William Strunk’s classic writing guide “The Elements of Style.” He then describes his writing process: a first draft followed by one or more passes to reorganize and refine his original thoughts. As he describes it, his trusted editor still has much work to do, massaging and shaping the story into its final form.

As managing editor of various corporate publications, I strove to apply one “voice” to pieces written by many different people, presented with no author byline. Editing feature stories and editorials written by others was the opposite challenge: fix the grammar and usage issues while keeping the writer’s unique voice.

In some cases, the subject matter expert was comfortable writing their piece, which needed little editing. In others, the expert had little or no confidence in their writing skills and no desire to write.

Eventually, I learned to present reluctant writers with two choices. I could interview them and ghostwrite the article. Or they could write their thoughts without worrying about sentence structure or grammar, and I would fix it. The look of relief on people’s faces was rewarding. They were proud of the result and enjoyed sharing their article with family and friends.

So don’t be too hard on yourself if you hate writing for your website. Delegating things you are not good at or don’t enjoy is always a good idea. The cost of hiring a good writer is an excellent investment because it’s often more efficient and effective. 

Once you’ve decided to hire a writer, brainstorm a content calendar to fill your blog for 12 months. Choose two to three core topics and create a hub of 15 posts for each. The first post should be about 1,000 words with a broad overview of the subject. Frequently asked questions in your field can be a great place to start. Then list 14 sub-topics that can link to and from the main post. Each sub-topic article can be about 600 words.

Publish about one post per week, and at the end of the year, you will have four dozen articles. Next year, you can update the most read articles with new information and the current date. At the same time, delete the 20 percent that got the least traffic.

Newsletters and magazines have a limited shelf life. But your website’s core content can attract readers for years when managed correctly. You can refresh old content with new information and republish it instead of creating new articles from scratch. 

The Web Magic Digital Marketing team can write your website and blog content or edit the content you provide. We work with you to repurpose a blog post for use in a newsletter, video, or sales collateral. 

As a certified Duct Tape Marketing agency, our Strategy First approach will identify blog topics and formats that bring qualified leads to your website. We also can create effective marketing funnels that nurture those leads and turn them into customers, repeat customers, and referrals. 

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