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the last mile: five questions to ask yourself before you publish

So, you’ve sat down and written the thing. Whether it’s a blog, press release, social media caption, or some other type of content to put in front of your audience or your team - pause a moment. Before you hit ‘publish’, hit the brakes.

First, pat yourself on the back. The heavy lifting (i.e. the writing) is done! For many, that’s half the battle. Now it’s time for the final push to get your writing over the finish line.

Here’s a quick rundown of five questions to ask yourself before you press ‘publish’ and send it out into the world.

1. do you stand behind what you wrote?

We have the power today to delete or unpublish something (some of the time anyway), but it does not change the fact that what we put out there has the potential to stay out there forever - thank you, screenshots.

Take a read through your writing one more time to make sure you feel confident in what you’re saying. If there is anything you think you might regret later, press pause on publishing till you feel 100%.

2. did you proofread?

Review your piece specifically for typos, missing words, words used incorrectly, or grammatical errors. These types of mistakes can make your writing difficult to read and reflect poorly on the message you are trying to convey.

Thankfully, it’s easier than ever to make sure your content is mistake free. Other than taking your own time to proofread your work, there are two other strategies you can employ to take your piece that extra mile:

  • Ask for feedback. Passing your work on to someone else can be extremely helpful because fresh eyes catch things that you’ve read over time and time again. If you need some tips on how to ask for feedback, toth shop has you covered.

  • Use the technology at your disposal. Spelling and grammar tools like Grammarly are powered by artificial intelligence to help spot mistakes and enhance the writing as a whole - amazing! But remember, while these programs are helpful in catching run-on sentences and missing commas, be aware of any changes it recommends that could impact the voice and tone of the writing that’s uniquely you.

3. is the voice and tone aligned with your brand?

Speaking of your unique voice - it needs to be clear and present. Whether it’s a thought leadership piece or a new marketing slick, your voice should ring throughout it. That means it’s something that appeals to your audience, is aligned with your previously established branding, and is appropriate subject matter for who you are and what you do.

If any of these elements seem iffy, take the time to re-evaluate before putting it out there.

4. is it fluffy?

The last mile is the perfect time to make sure your writing gets to the point - that it’s the perfect balance between personable and concise. Your word choice needs to highlight your message, not muddle it in fluff.

The best way to do that is to look for opportunities to:

  • Remove filler words - especially adverbs (very, simply, truly, just, etc.)

  • Use active voice (the website launched vs. the website was launched)

  • Cut the cliches

Make every word of your content count.

5. is it readable?

In today’s world, readability applies to more than just grammar and language. It also applies to structure, especially given people’s tendency to scan content.

As you review, keep the following in mind:

  • Use a readable web font in a dark color (preferably black).

  • Break up big blocks of text with shorter paragraphs.

  • Use bulleted lists when appropriate.

  • If it’s something that a person can/will access on their phone, check the mobility layout.

  • Make headings and subheadings clear and catchy.

  • Make any images high resolution, appropriate, and sized correctly.

From website copy to internal communication memos, take pride in your writing by making the effort in that final mile.

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