Revision requests from clients are never fun. It can be frustrating to have to revisit an article and wait a little longer to get paid. The good news is, avoiding the following things could significantly decrease the number of revision requests you receive, at least for filler and fluff.
Family and Friends
You can love them at Thanksgiving, but the words “family and friends” should rarely be a part of your article. Always avoid suggesting that the reader should:
- ask family/friends for advice about which professional to choose for a remodel.
- make a move less expensive by enlisting family and friends to help move couches and boxes.
- ask around the neighborhood for childcare, dentist, or family doctor recommendations.
- avoid hiring or depending on family and friends when trying to start a business.
The “family and friends” suggestion is filler simply because everybody naturally turns to their close associates for advice and help when they need it. That’s what family and friends are for. Therefore, this suggestion doesn’t do the reader much good. They need fresh, new ideas—not a family reunion.
Anecdotal or Lengthy Introductions
Online readers want to get to the heart of a solution quickly. There is a difference between necessary background information to set up the article and unnecessary sentences that come out before a writer really has a clear direction. After writing your introduction, you should review it and delete any sentences that add nothing to the conversation.
Sometimes, “getting in the groove” sentences are set in a story-like form, placing emotions, actions, and responses on the reader. With these statements, you risk alienating the audience if the assumptions are off-base. These anecdotal filler sentences often do not move the introduction forward effectively. For example:
Your home is a place of security. You spend time each day locking your doors and making sure that your alarm is set before you leave home. But, did you know that there are actually several weak points in a normal household’s security? That’s right. Your home might not be as secure as you think. Read on to find out what parts of your home might be more susceptible to break-ins.
The above paragraph is decent, but it takes a long time to get to the point, and it labels the reader with a slight anecdote: “You spend time each day locking your doors… etc.”
Consider revisiting the introduction so that it is more efficient:
If you’re consistent about locking your doors and setting your security alarms, you may not be worried about the possibility of home break-ins. However, there are five weak points that most homeowners overlook. If these points are not covered, your home may not be as secure as you think.
Not only does the second example give the same information, but it also delivers that information in a much more professional way, without the need for anecdotal supplementation. However, the audience and purpose of the article are still well defined and lead well into the body paragraphs.
It’s important to read over an article not only for typos but also for filler sentences that don’t add to the content.
“Well, duh!” Statements
We all make these statements without really meaning to. “Well, duh!” statements are those that would make you roll your eyes if they were suggested in real life. Some examples of “duh” statements include:
“Buying a home is an investment.” Anyone buying a house already knows the financial implications, so unless the article is about financing a home, opening an article with this statement is not the most effective way of introducing an idea.
“You want to make sure your employees are happy and healthy.” Business leaders already know they need this. Instead, say, “Here are five ways you can improve happiness in your employees.”
“A plumbing problem can be frustrating.” No, you think? I think plumbing problems are a joy, actually. These statements are not helpful to people who are looking for solutions. They are already frustrated. You can still label an emotion by saying “You can fix a frustrating plumbing problem by…”
Don’t Waste Time
Plunge right into the problem the article focuses on without setting up the problem for the reader. Remember, the audience of your article already knows the problem they are trying to solve. They don’t need to be told that it is important to fix, they need to be told how to fix it.
Here’s another example:
During the holiday season, the last thing you need is to deal with an electrical failure in your home. You have guests to entertain and baking to finish. When the electricity fails, you’ll just have more stress and worry on your plate. You can keep yourself stress-free this season with these three ideas…
The above introduction takes a long time setting up a problem with “well duh” statements, like “you’ll just have more stress and worry on your plate.” These statements don’t help to solve the problem. Consider this introduction instead:
With all the demands that come from celebrating the holiday season, you can plan ahead so that you don’t also find yourself facing a sudden power outage. By installing a backup generator and having an emergency response plan in place, you won’t have to worry about the extra stress that a lack of electricity will add to your holiday.
This introduction cuts out the filler and gets to the heart of the problem in just two sentences, without any “well, duh” statements.
Any of the above strategies will help you to reduce the amount of filler and fluff in your content, and they will increase the chance that your article will succeed.