Most writers know that correct and accessible writing is crucial to reaching their target audience, as unclear wording or exotic jargon can wreak havoc on readers’ attention and sabotage quality engagement. In our fast-paced, information-saturated world, you don’t to want to lose your audience over simple mistakes.
One simple way to improve your writing’s effectiveness is to solicit feedback. Let’s explore three valuable sources of feedback who can strengthen your writing in specific ways: a subject-matter expert, a member of your target audience, and a professional editor.
1. Subject-Matter Expert (SME)
Factual accuracy and comprehensive research make a world of difference in your writing’s reach, whether you are a marketer, a novelist, or an entrepreneur building your following. Consulting an expert reader before publishing can help you correct errors, identify areas where your arguments could be expanded, and find sources and hard data to strengthen your conclusions.
For example, a white paper that covers the impact of your company’s technology should be carefully reviewed by—no surprise here—your tech department. For advertisers, using accurate and current data can help you sell more of your product, so you’ll want to be sure the sales or accounting department weighs in on the accuracy of your claims.Collaborating with a subject-matter expert can expand your writing’s reach. Click To Tweet
Beyond accuracy, collaboration makes the world go ‘round. A colleague whose expertise parallels—or even surpasses—your own can provide you with valuable insight to complete the project. Or perhaps you’re an expert in your narrow topic, but you want to expand your discussion into a closely related field. Instead of learning the material yourself, someone already in the know can provide you with time-saving insights to improve your content’s relevance and reach a wider audience.
One of the Scribe Source’s clients, a national K–12 STEM curriculum company, emphasizes SME collaboration during the writing process. They hire teachers during the summer months to help develop new materials, using these valuable subject-matter experts not just as reviewers but also as an integral part of the content development process. If you’re writing curriculum or training materials of some kind, you may want to consider this approach.
Thorough fact-checking and collaboration with subject-matter experts can lend authority to your work, so take the time to ask the perspective of a trusted SME and incorporate the valuable feedback he or she may have to share.
2. Target Audience
All published writing has a target audience, and the intent (or dream) of every writer is to resonate with that audience. Advertisers, creative writers, content creators, and more all must create accessible and relevant content that makes a sale, lands a publishing contract, or pulls in consistent traffic.
But the only way to know if your writing is reaching its intended audience is to ask representatives to tell you how strongly they relate to it. If you’re developing content for a training course, this may mean testing sample batches of your content with target users. For fiction authors, a beta reader may be a valuable investment in improving your manuscript. Nonfiction writers, you should also look for honest reviewers who are representative of the demographics you’re hoping to reach with your published work.Asking someone in your target audience to review your writing before publication will help you determine that your writing not only is technically strong but also communicates on an emotional level. Click To Tweet
Marketing content writers, your buyer personas are a great place to start when looking for someone to review your writing. Find someone who fits the demographics you’re trying to reach with your content. Or better yet, ask an existing customer. Go out for coffee on your company’s dime and sit down to hear your customer’s thoughts about your article, newsletter, or whatever other draft you may be working on. You can direct the conversation with specific questions such as “Has the jargon been simplified enough or too little?” “Does the content answer your questions on the topic?” and “Is the tone and voice appropriate?” Answers to these questions can help you locate weaknesses in your writing to reach more people and catch their attention.
Your article or manuscript may be expertly written and intricately researched, but you must communicate on an emotional level as well. Take the time to see your work from your audience’s perspective.
3. Professional Editor
A third important line of feedback is the professional editor. We’ve all felt the twinge of doubt in an author’s authority when we discover a glaring flaw in an otherwise-solid piece of writing. We wonder, “Did no one proofread this? Where else is this writer wrong?” Some mistakes can fundamentally change the intent of a sentence.
It’s no secret that we often miss our own weaknesses in communication, and a professional editor will scrutinize your work with fresh eyes for grammatical and spelling mistakes, inconsistent capitalization, and repetitive words. Beyond grammar and spelling, a professional editor will improve the clarity of your writing by eliminating unnecessary verbiage, clunky phrasing, and other roadblocks to reader engagement. He or she can even ensure that your formatting is consistent and aesthetically pleasing in its published form, further improving the reader experience.It’s no secret that writers often miss their own errors. A professional editor will bring fresh eyes to your work and valuable expertise for improving your content. Click To Tweet
On a more fundamental level, an editor can offer structural and developmental advice to make your writing more effective. Perhaps your article or fictional work would read more easily if sections were reordered or connected more smoothly. Or maybe you need to expand or cull characters, subplots, or more. Is your writing wandering away from its main theme or thesis? This is where an editor can offer unbiased advice from his or her vast experience.
Writers from all fields can benefit from a professional editor, as it takes a trained eye to know both what to look for and how you can fix it. In the end, the goal of every editor is to make your writing as accessible as possible by removing distractions and clarifying your thoughts.
Which Type of Reviewer Should You Choose?
To put it simply, you need all three kinds of reviewers: a subject-matter expert to provide data, a member of your target audience to refine your tone, and a professional editor to catch inconsistent wording, embarrassing typos, weak phrasing, and formatting problems. Each will provide valuable insight for both your current and future writing. Your vision is the cornerstone, but all writing can be improved and strengthened.
Ready to start working with a professional editor? Contact the Scribe Source today to see how we can help you polish your writing and improve reader engagement.
About the Author
Jordan Wagenet is a freelance copywriter and business blogger who joined the Scribe Source team in 2018. While she is a prolific B2B and B2C content developer, she also has a master’s degree in geological sciences and is adept at developing scientific content. Jordan also works as an English tutor, teaching literary analysis to youth. She can frequently be found working on her own fiction or helping other writers develop their stories.