Here’s a story one of my favourite clients wrote about me recently. Kath is an award-winning business journalist who has turned her hand to content marketing. Enjoy!

The hidden hand behind my writing

By Kath Walters

Behind everything I write is a hidden hand – that of my editor, Jaclyn McRae. Everything I write, I send to Jac before I unleash it on the world. Why? Because distributing content with mistakes – even small ones – damages my brand.

The editor (also called subeditor or copyeditor) is every content marketer’s friend. She will proofread your content for spelling mistakes and grammatical errors, question any words or phrases that don’t make sense, and even check the basic facts.

As my first reader, it’s her job to challenge me if I am not making sense.

Jac loves editing. Early on, as a journalist on a country paper, she and her fellow journos edited each other’s work. While worksmithing is fun for her, Jac feels a special thrill when editing.

“I love reading,” she says. “I especially love the idea of reading for a job, and I like being able to help out in a story. The best editing is when a writer doesn’t even know the editor has been involved. It might be filling in a gap in the story, rearranging the order of things to achieve a better flow, fixing the spelling of a person’s name or adding a relevant link to a statistic or piece of research.”

If you haven’t got an editor working with you on blogging and content marketing, you are putting your brand at risk. You are also missing out on reaching your full potential as a writer.

I asked Jac to reveal some of the principles that guide her day-to-day work. Here’s the inside story:


Make your writing as punchy as possible by switching to active voice. Passive voice is usually characterised by ‘ing’ words: “Savvy business owners ought to be asking themselves the question..”  For shorter, sharper sentences, switch to “Savvy business owners must ask …”


Quickly capture people’s attention with a great heading and opening. Not sure how to start? Imagine you’re gossiping with friends. How would you quickly explain the topic to get their attention?


Readers’ eyes glaze over when they see jargon. Use plain English and don’t get tangled up in mundane details. If a quote is boring, paraphrase it (accurately!)


It’s hard to proofread our own work – even as a subeditor or long-time writer – because our eyes tend to see what we intended to write, rather than what we did write. Before publishing a blog post or LinkedIn article, get someone to read it first. A fresh set of eyes will catch mistakes before a wider audience sees it.


Here’s a list of words you can usually delete – they rarely add anything to a story:

·      a number of (instead, say how many)

·      both

·      very (taking it out won’t change the meaning of your sentence)

·      actually

·      currently

·      in my opinion (it’s an opinion piece!)

Thanks, Jac!

See more of Kath’s work on her website, which is packed with excellent tips and practical advice. 

I came across this gem on social media today. The mystery editor missed a few mistakes (bedroom is one word, built-in needs to be hyphenated, for example) but their efforts have drawn attention to the declining standard of advertising signage around Melbourne.

Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 1.59.47 pm

Here’s a more minor, but increasingly common one: unnecessary use of capital letters.

This example’s courtesy of ANZ (coincidentally, one of my clients). There’s no need for ‘bank’ to be capitalised in this instance (or many others, unless it refers to the name of a company).


Then there’s my local fish and chip shop, which boasts about its owners being from long line of “fisherman”. Not just written in chalk on a sandwich board, mind you. The typo is emblazoned on numerous beautifully-designed, glass-framed advertising signs displayed at the shop, and throughout a nearby shopping centre.

These are minor issues – but they’re also simple to fix. The best communications stand out for the message they convey, rather than the way they’re written.

Interested to know what type of editing, proofreading and communications services I offer? Take a look at my 2015 service list.

Jaclyn McRae Media 2015 Service List

NEVER underestimate the importance of a single letter. In this case, an ‘s’.

A 124-year-old family business went kaput within two months because of a typo on a government register. Really, you can’t make up this stuff.

Welsh engineers Taylor & Sons, which was established in 1875, got a shock in February 2009 when Companies House, the UK government’s registrar of companies, recorded the company as having gone bust.

It hadn’t. Read more.

You’ve got a great new campaign. Looks super professional too — except for that typo.

There are three of these signs within 50 metres of my house, and seeing them drives me crazy. We’ve been to Hunky Dory five or six times and the food is always fantastic — except when they get the order wrong, which has happened three times.

Lack of attention to detail all round, perhaps.




This article first appeared at prdaily.com. It is excellent and I heartily endorse it.

By Shanna Mallon

As Mark Twain famously wrote, “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” His point? Strong writing is lean writing.

When you want to make your writing more powerful, cut out words you don’t need—such as the 10 included in this post:

1. Just: The word “just” is a filler word that weakens your writing. Removing it rarely affects meaning, but rather, the deletion tightens a sentence.

2. Really: Using the word “really” is an example of writing the way you talk. It’s a verbal emphasis that doesn’t translate perfectly into text. In conversation, people use the word frequently, but in written content it’s unnecessary. Think about the difference between saying a rock is “hard” and “really hard,” for example. What does the word add? Better to cut it out to make your message stronger.

3. Very: Everything that applies to “really” applies to “very.” It’s a weak word. Cut it.

4. Perhaps/maybe: Do you want your audience to think you’re uncertain about what you’re saying? When you use words like “maybe” and “perhaps,” uncertainty is exactly what you’re communicating.

5. Quite: When someone uses “quite,” he or she either means “a bit” or “completely” or “almost.” Sometimes the word adds meaning; sometimes it’s fluff. Learn to tell the difference—but, when in doubt, cut it out.

6. Amazing: The meaning of “amazing” is causing great wonder or surprise—but some writers use the word so often that the meaning gets lost. How can something be amazing if everything is? Ditch this diluted word.

7. Literally: When something is true in a literal sense, you don’t have to add the word “literally.” The only reason it makes sense to use the word is when it clarifies meaning (i.e., to explain you aren’t joking when it seems you are).

8. Stuff: Unless you are aiming at informality, don’t use the word “stuff.” It’s casual, it’s generic, and it usually stands in for something better.

9. Things: Writers use the word “things” to avoid using a clearer, more specific word that would communicate more meaning. Be specific. Don’t tell us about the “10 things,” tell us about the “10 books” or “10 strategies.” Specificity makes for better writing.

10. Got: Think of all the ways we use the vague word “got” in conversation: “I’ve got to go,” “I got a ball,” or “I got up this morning.” Though it’s fine for conversation, in writing, “got” misses valuable opportunities. Rather than writing a lazy word, look for clearer, more descriptive language: “I promised I’d leave by 9,” “I picked up a ball,” or “I woke up today,” for example.

Whether you’ve been writing for a few days or for many years, you’ll benefit from evaluating the words you use. Cut the filler to make your writing stronger.

Shanna Mallon is a writer for Straight North, headquartered in Chicago providing specialised SEO, web development, and other online marketing services. Follow Straight North on Twitter.

By Alexandra Samuel

Content marketing is getting a lot of attention as companies strive to capture customer attention in an era in which TV ads get skipped, direct mail goes unopened, and even online ads get blocked.

But creating the kind of excellent original content that attracts, engages and retains an audience requires a mix of competencies that go well beyond what you find on a typical marketing team.

At the top of that list of missing competencies is professional editing, as Alexandra Samuel explains at Harvard Business Review’s blog network.

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Need my help on a project? Call me on 0438 921 019, or drop me a line below.


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