Chances are, you’re already well versed in the ins and outs of content marketing. And I probably don’t need to tell you that consistently producing quality content is key to improving readership, engaging customers, and growing a business. Whether through social media, email, tv, or the internet, it’s been estimated that the average American sees up to 5,000 ads each day! That’s a lot of competition. Professional, precise writing will ensure that your content stands out among the rest. But whether in a magazine article, blog post, or final term paper, even the most experience content creators can lose readership with sloppy grammar and disjointed ideas.
Proofreading is essential to polishing off the perfect prose. But, it’s a step that many writers are tempted to skip, often because they feel that an approaching deadline doesn’t warrant the time it may take for a professional proofreader to complete the task. After spending so much time perfecting their content, they may question spending the extra time and money to hire a proofreader before they publish. So, how long does proofreading actually take, and is it really worth it? Read on to find out; the answers may surprise you.
What does a proofreader do? In a nutshell, their job is to ensure that content is completely free from errors in grammar, spelling, punctuation, and syntax. They also spot and correct inconsistencies in format and style, and encourage proper word usage and appropriate tone. Professional proofreaders should have an excellent command of the English language and an exhaustive knowledge of style guides and citation formats. They can quickly identify errors that the writer may have missed despite their best efforts and multiple readings. In a nutshell, their job is to ensure consistency and accuracy in critical areas, including:
- Grammar: A proofreader will check for proper word use, sentence structure and flow to ensure that the text is professional, succinct, and easily understood.
- Spelling: Writers simply can’t rely on their computer’s spellcheck to catch every misspelled word. A proofreader will spot homophones (words that sound the same but are spelled differently–bare and bear; witch and which), accidental word repeats, and misspelled names, slang, or jargon that spellcheck won’t recognize.
- Punctuation: Rules, rules, rules. If you have a friend who is a professional proofreader, you probably know they love to point out a missing or misplaced comma or an improperly used semi-colon. While that’s not a great party trick, it’s an essential skill to perfecting content and avoiding embarrassing mistakes.
- Format: For professional looking content that reads well, consistency is key. A proofreader will make sure all formatting is proper and consistent throughout the piece, including lists, bullets, numbers, and headings.
- Style: Citing sources can be tricky; but necessary to avoid copyright issues. A proofreader is helpful in ensuring that all citations follow proper guidelines, and that the content uses a consistent and appropriate tone.
How long does proofreading take?
You can’t always count on a well meaning friend who’s agreed to look at your work to have it back to you in good time. A professional proofreader is much more reliable. A trained proofreader should be able to fully proofread around 250 words in 30 minutes, or about 500 words per hour. Turnaround rates can also depend on the amount of mistakes in the content and the proofreader’s level of experience.
Online proofreading companies will promise different turnaround times for their services, which may include extra time to assign the work. This may vary depending on the time of day the job was submitted and the number of proofreaders available.
Remember, not all proofreading companies are created equal. Good proofreading services know that time is money, and will show that they value their customers’ time by offering quick, convenient, and reliable proofreading whenever their customers need it.
OK, so we know that professional proofreading can be quick and efficient. You may be thinking, it may be worth my time, but is it worth my money? The short answer…absolutely! Compared to other marketing costs, proofreading is a surprisingly inexpensive way to give your content a leg up on the competition. Content is integral to how your brand is received, and research has shown that typos–especially consistent ones–shift the readers’ focus to the errors and away from the intended message. This negatively affects the readers’ perception of the writer, and ultimately, whatever the writer is trying to convey/sell/promote. On the flip side, professional, polished, and proofread content can give you an advantage in many ways. Here are just a few:
- Credibility. You’re not the only one pumping out content (remember the 5,000 ads a day?). If you look at your content as a drop in the proverbial bucket, you’ll realize that professional writing gives you credibility over the next guy. If a reader has to choose between content that consistently has errors and content that is polished and readable, their decision is a no-brainer.
- Authority. Words have power. Sharing proofread content shows that you hold yourself to a higher standard. People trust the voice who speaks with authority, and your content can have that voice when it’s free of distracting errors.
- Retention. It’s worth the extra effort to show your readers that you value their time and recognize their intelligence. It may seem like a small thing, but will keep them away from the unsubscribe button and coming back for more.
Simply put, if you think of a professional proofreader as an integral part of your communication team, their services can only help to improve your content.
AI vs. human proofreaders
Here’s a good rule of thumb: the more your write, the more you need a proofreader. And I don’t mean an automated one. We live in a technology-driven world, but some things–like proofreading–are best left to the human eye. A proofreading bot may offer faster turnaround times and be easier on the wallet, but will lack essential proofreading skills.
An automated proofreader may catch a commonly misspelled word, but it can’t recognize humor, sarcasm, and tone. Proofreading is more than a binary process and involves much more than simply following fixed rules. Although it’s made long strides in the past few years, AI proofreaders may never be able to fully match the abilities of a professional human proofreader.
But what about convenience? Fortunately, online proofreading services have come a long way in streamlining the editing process. Proofreading Pros combines the ease of technology with the accuracy of human proofreaders, offering one-click, instant proofreading services inside Google Docs. Try us for free at no obligation; our qualified editors are ready to assist you any time, for any project.