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11 Editorial Skills You Need to Become a More Efficient Editor

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11 Editorial Skills You Need to Become a More Efficient Editor

When I first started practicing my editorial skills on the HubSpot Marketing Blog, I didn’t quite realize how much time each one would take.

Depending on the length, topic, and other variables, it can take anywhere from 20 minutes to an entire afternoon to edit a single blog post.

This post isn’t about cutting corners; it’s about editing efficiently. That sometimes means giving more thoughtful feedback upfront so your job is easier when the final draft does come in. Other times, it means keeping a few key websites handy so you can refer to them quickly – whether you’re checking the author’s math or adding a Pinterest “Pin It” button to an image.

Want some ways to edit more efficiently while maintaining integrity? Here are 12 ways to save time when you sit down and whip out that proverbial red pen.

11 Ways to Save Time While Editing a Piece of Writing

1. Find a quiet space to do your editing.

Don’t try to get your editing done in a meeting, or when you’re around chatty coworkers.

Research shows that multitasking like that can make us far less effective at our work and increase mistakes and stress. And when you’re editing, you’re trying to catch those mistakes so you want to be extra diligent.

Instead, find a place where you can plug in and concentrate fully on the piece in front of you. When you get there, turn off those pesky email and social media notifications, and put your phone on airplane mode (or, better yet, leave it in your bag).

In fact, for every notification you get, it can take 23 minutes to get back on track, according to a study from the University of California.

If you’re working through a piece of writing that’ll require more than a few hours of careful editing, consider blocking out chunks of uninterrupted time with small breaks in between – the Pomodoro method.

2. Be sure the topic aligns with your content strategy.

You might be tempted to dig into the meat of the piece and begin meticulously editing it straight away. But, as an editor, it’s important to put the content into context before diving into the details.

First, take a quick skim of the working title and the main ideas covered in the piece. Think to yourself:

  • Does this topic align with our content strategy?
  • Will our readers and buyer personas care about it?
  • Does each section flow naturally into the next?

If you’re concerned the piece isn’t about a topic your readers will be interested in, think about how to tweak the angle.

You’ll also want to reflect on how the piece fits in with what you’ve written in the past — especially if the piece is a blog post.

Search engines like Google might see the second post as duplicate content and penalize you in search. Even if Google doesn’t consider it duplicate content, competing for keyword ranking against another post from your own blog will hurt your SEO strategy.

The questions to ask here are:

  • Have we covered this topic comprehensively in the past?
  • Does this offer a fresh angle and perspective?

If both answers are yes, you might consider updating and republishing the original draft.

3. Read for content and ideas first, grammar second.

Never start diving into detailed edits before you read the whole piece through. It’s important to reflect on it holistically so you can pinpoint places where the content and ideas can be improved.

This may seem like we’re adding time here, but trust me, this will save you a lot of time and pain in the long run. If you’ve ever started editing a piece line-by-line only to realize it needs to be completely restructured, you know what I mean.

The key takeaway here is to recognize when the piece needs more work from the author.

“Sometimes, an author sends a piece in before it’s ready to be edited,” said Corey Wainwright, HubSpot’s Website CRO strategist & copywriter at HubSpot. “Learning to recognize those instances can save you a ton of time because otherwise you start just rewriting the piece, which isn’t helpful to either of you.”

Ginny Soskey, former Marketing Blog manager at HubSpot, agrees.

“Your job, as an editor, is to preserve the voice of your writer while making sure they are meeting your quality bar.”

You may notice the piece doesn’t flow well, or the introduction needs to be tightened up, or there aren’t enough points in the article for it to meet your standards for quality. In that case, send that feedback to the author via email as that may be more productive than switching everything around yourself.

If the piece needs an overwhelming amount of editing help, then the author’s writing may not be a fit for your publication – and you’ll save a lot of time by telling the contributor outright.

4. Check for places where the author can fill in the blanks.

Aside from providing larger, more broad feedback, you should also read through the piece to identify smaller improvements that you might want (or need) the author’s help on.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Are there any structural inconsistencies in the piece? For instance, if they included an example in every section of the piece except for one or two, you might ask them to find one for each of those sections.
  • Are there any points that need any, more, or better evidence? Statistics and data can elevate the quality of your content and make it more interesting for readers.
  • Are any sources missing citations? This is a big one.

As you read, take notes on these points in an email draft to the author. Once you’re done, make sure you clean up the notes so they’re comprehensible.

5. Bookmark helpful websites for quick referencing.

Once the content, ideas, and structure of the piece are all ready to go, you can get down to the nitty-gritty.

This is where I like to keep a few websites bookmarked for reference. Here are the ones I prefer.

6. Keep useful code snippets close at hand.

Along with bookmarking helpful websites, it’s also a good idea to have all those useful snippets of HTML or other code that you tend to use easily accessible.

For example, you might use specific code to include a “Featured Snippet” module in your CMS.

To make this process easy, I save code snippets in my Evernote. When it comes time to add them to the source code of my blog post, I simply pull up the note and plug in the snippets as needed.

Here’s an in-depth intro to HTML so you can learn helpful coding hacks.

7. Read the piece out loud.

The importance of this step cannot be overstated.

Reading out loud isn’t just good for memory retention, it’s also great for spotting errors. You’re more likely to find clumsy sentences and other things spell check won’t catch if you read out loud.

Best-selling author David Sedaris uses this verbal approach to fine-tune his writing.

According to Fast Company, Sedaris tests his works-in-progress by reading them aloud to live audiences because it helps him notice imperfections in the text. As he reads, he’ll circle everything from confusing or misleading phrasing to closely repeated words.

“I used to hate it when a book came out or a story was published and I would be like Ddamn, how did I not catch that?'” Sedaris said. “But you pretty much always catch it when you’re reading out loud.”

Reading out loud will help you catch these errors in the first go-round, which will save you time later.

8. Use “Find and Replace” to quickly fix common errors.

We all have words that trip us up, no matter how long we’ve been writing or editing.

Think about it: What are the mistakes you tend to make when writing or editing? What things do you tend to miss?

Start keeping track of this and adding it to a personal blog. Then, as you’re editing, do a “Find and Replace” before publishing to catch any mistakes that slipped through the cracks. It’s a far quicker way to polish a piece than looking for these instances manually.

To do a “Find and Replace,” hit Control + F on a PC (or Command + F on a Mac), type in your problem word or phrase, and click “Find.”

9. Do a final check on Microsoft Word.

It doesn’t matter how meticulously you eyeballed a piece of writing: More often than not, you will find additional errors using spell check that you would otherwise miss.

If your writing software has spell check, use it. We also recommend pasting the content into Microsoft Word (length-permitting) for a final check.

Just remember to give the document a few extra seconds to process your piece once you’ve pasted it in there, as Word takes a little longer to “read” your piece and uncover any mistakes.

Then, you can go through it and assess any red or green squiggly lines you see.

10. Know when the content is good enough.

I know as well as any other editor that letting go of perfectionism is hard. But it turns out that perfectionism, while helpful in certain contexts, can become a major roadblock for productivity.

There will always be something you can do to improve a piece of writing. You might think of “done” as spending every possible minute improving, polishing, and refining a piece until it’s whittled to perfection.

But what are you sacrificing by making more, minor improvements? And are those sacrifices realistic? Are they worth your time? At some point, you need to ask yourself: “When is ‘good enough’ good enough?”

Of course, knowing what the threshold for “good enough” is easier said than done. Here’s a helpful formula to give you some direction:

  1. The piece successfully solves the problem, addresses the need, or conveys the message intended.
  2. It is clearly and distinctly on brand.
  3. The quality of work is consistent with or above the level of previous work.
  4. It has been thoroughly yet objectively scrutinized by other qualified individuals.
  5. The final decision of preference had been left in the hands of the creator.

Make sure that you complete the most important editing and proofreading tasks. Then, once you’ve refined a piece enough to move on … just move on.

11. Keep this pre-publish checklist handy.

Before you hit “publish,” it’s time to do a final once-over to make sure you’ve checked all the boxes.

While this seems like another extra step, remember that this is an investment of time that’ll save you from having to return to the piece later to make edits and adjustments.

As such, use this online editing and proofreading checklist when doing your final check. Feel free to also add to the list, as you may have additional steps in your process.

Ultimately, being an efficient editor requires concentration, attention to detail, and the ability to know when to stop. With this list at your disposal, you’ll be better in no time.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in April 2016 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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YouTube Ad Specs, Sizes, and Examples [2024 Update]

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YouTube Ad Specs, Sizes, and Examples

Introduction

With billions of users each month, YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine and top website for video content. This makes it a great place for advertising. To succeed, advertisers need to follow the correct YouTube ad specifications. These rules help your ad reach more viewers, increasing the chance of gaining new customers and boosting brand awareness.

Types of YouTube Ads

Video Ads

  • Description: These play before, during, or after a YouTube video on computers or mobile devices.
  • Types:
    • In-stream ads: Can be skippable or non-skippable.
    • Bumper ads: Non-skippable, short ads that play before, during, or after a video.

Display Ads

  • Description: These appear in different spots on YouTube and usually use text or static images.
  • Note: YouTube does not support display image ads directly on its app, but these can be targeted to YouTube.com through Google Display Network (GDN).

Companion Banners

  • Description: Appears to the right of the YouTube player on desktop.
  • Requirement: Must be purchased alongside In-stream ads, Bumper ads, or In-feed ads.

In-feed Ads

  • Description: Resemble videos with images, headlines, and text. They link to a public or unlisted YouTube video.

Outstream Ads

  • Description: Mobile-only video ads that play outside of YouTube, on websites and apps within the Google video partner network.

Masthead Ads

  • Description: Premium, high-visibility banner ads displayed at the top of the YouTube homepage for both desktop and mobile users.

YouTube Ad Specs by Type

Skippable In-stream Video Ads

  • Placement: Before, during, or after a YouTube video.
  • Resolution:
    • Horizontal: 1920 x 1080px
    • Vertical: 1080 x 1920px
    • Square: 1080 x 1080px
  • Aspect Ratio:
    • Horizontal: 16:9
    • Vertical: 9:16
    • Square: 1:1
  • Length:
    • Awareness: 15-20 seconds
    • Consideration: 2-3 minutes
    • Action: 15-20 seconds

Non-skippable In-stream Video Ads

  • Description: Must be watched completely before the main video.
  • Length: 15 seconds (or 20 seconds in certain markets).
  • Resolution:
    • Horizontal: 1920 x 1080px
    • Vertical: 1080 x 1920px
    • Square: 1080 x 1080px
  • Aspect Ratio:
    • Horizontal: 16:9
    • Vertical: 9:16
    • Square: 1:1

Bumper Ads

  • Length: Maximum 6 seconds.
  • File Format: MP4, Quicktime, AVI, ASF, Windows Media, or MPEG.
  • Resolution:
    • Horizontal: 640 x 360px
    • Vertical: 480 x 360px

In-feed Ads

  • Description: Show alongside YouTube content, like search results or the Home feed.
  • Resolution:
    • Horizontal: 1920 x 1080px
    • Vertical: 1080 x 1920px
    • Square: 1080 x 1080px
  • Aspect Ratio:
    • Horizontal: 16:9
    • Square: 1:1
  • Length:
    • Awareness: 15-20 seconds
    • Consideration: 2-3 minutes
  • Headline/Description:
    • Headline: Up to 2 lines, 40 characters per line
    • Description: Up to 2 lines, 35 characters per line

Display Ads

  • Description: Static images or animated media that appear on YouTube next to video suggestions, in search results, or on the homepage.
  • Image Size: 300×60 pixels.
  • File Type: GIF, JPG, PNG.
  • File Size: Max 150KB.
  • Max Animation Length: 30 seconds.

Outstream Ads

  • Description: Mobile-only video ads that appear on websites and apps within the Google video partner network, not on YouTube itself.
  • Logo Specs:
    • Square: 1:1 (200 x 200px).
    • File Type: JPG, GIF, PNG.
    • Max Size: 200KB.

Masthead Ads

  • Description: High-visibility ads at the top of the YouTube homepage.
  • Resolution: 1920 x 1080 or higher.
  • File Type: JPG or PNG (without transparency).

Conclusion

YouTube offers a variety of ad formats to reach audiences effectively in 2024. Whether you want to build brand awareness, drive conversions, or target specific demographics, YouTube provides a dynamic platform for your advertising needs. Always follow Google’s advertising policies and the technical ad specs to ensure your ads perform their best. Ready to start using YouTube ads? Contact us today to get started!

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Why We Are Always ‘Clicking to Buy’, According to Psychologists

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Why We Are Always 'Clicking to Buy', According to Psychologists

Amazon pillows.

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

Salesforce launched a collection of new, generative AI-related products at Connections in Chicago this week. They included new Einstein Copilots for marketers and merchants and Einstein Personalization.

To better understand, not only the potential impact of the new products, but the evolving Salesforce architecture, we sat down with Bobby Jania, CMO, Marketing Cloud.

Dig deeper: Salesforce piles on the Einstein Copilots

Salesforce’s evolving architecture

It’s hard to deny that Salesforce likes coming up with new names for platforms and products (what happened to Customer 360?) and this can sometimes make the observer wonder if something is brand new, or old but with a brand new name. In particular, what exactly is Einstein 1 and how is it related to Salesforce Data Cloud?

“Data Cloud is built on the Einstein 1 platform,” Jania explained. “The Einstein 1 platform is our entire Salesforce platform and that includes products like Sales Cloud, Service Cloud — that it includes the original idea of Salesforce not just being in the cloud, but being multi-tenancy.”

Data Cloud — not an acquisition, of course — was built natively on that platform. It was the first product built on Hyperforce, Salesforce’s new cloud infrastructure architecture. “Since Data Cloud was on what we now call the Einstein 1 platform from Day One, it has always natively connected to, and been able to read anything in Sales Cloud, Service Cloud [and so on]. On top of that, we can now bring in, not only structured but unstructured data.”

That’s a significant progression from the position, several years ago, when Salesforce had stitched together a platform around various acquisitions (ExactTarget, for example) that didn’t necessarily talk to each other.

“At times, what we would do is have a kind of behind-the-scenes flow where data from one product could be moved into another product,” said Jania, “but in many of those cases the data would then be in both, whereas now the data is in Data Cloud. Tableau will run natively off Data Cloud; Commerce Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud — they’re all going to the same operational customer profile.” They’re not copying the data from Data Cloud, Jania confirmed.

Another thing to know is tit’s possible for Salesforce customers to import their own datasets into Data Cloud. “We wanted to create a federated data model,” said Jania. “If you’re using Snowflake, for example, we more or less virtually sit on your data lake. The value we add is that we will look at all your data and help you form these operational customer profiles.”

Let’s learn more about Einstein Copilot

“Copilot means that I have an assistant with me in the tool where I need to be working that contextually knows what I am trying to do and helps me at every step of the process,” Jania said.

For marketers, this might begin with a campaign brief developed with Copilot’s assistance, the identification of an audience based on the brief, and then the development of email or other content. “What’s really cool is the idea of Einstein Studio where our customers will create actions [for Copilot] that we hadn’t even thought about.”

Here’s a key insight (back to nomenclature). We reported on Copilot for markets, Copilot for merchants, Copilot for shoppers. It turns out, however, that there is just one Copilot, Einstein Copilot, and these are use cases. “There’s just one Copilot, we just add these for a little clarity; we’re going to talk about marketing use cases, about shoppers’ use cases. These are actions for the marketing use cases we built out of the box; you can build your own.”

It’s surely going to take a little time for marketers to learn to work easily with Copilot. “There’s always time for adoption,” Jania agreed. “What is directly connected with this is, this is my ninth Connections and this one has the most hands-on training that I’ve seen since 2014 — and a lot of that is getting people using Data Cloud, using these tools rather than just being given a demo.”

What’s new about Einstein Personalization

Salesforce Einstein has been around since 2016 and many of the use cases seem to have involved personalization in various forms. What’s new?

“Einstein Personalization is a real-time decision engine and it’s going to choose next-best-action, next-best-offer. What is new is that it’s a service now that runs natively on top of Data Cloud.” A lot of real-time decision engines need their own set of data that might actually be a subset of data. “Einstein Personalization is going to look holistically at a customer and recommend a next-best-action that could be natively surfaced in Service Cloud, Sales Cloud or Marketing Cloud.”

Finally, trust

One feature of the presentations at Connections was the reassurance that, although public LLMs like ChatGPT could be selected for application to customer data, none of that data would be retained by the LLMs. Is this just a matter of written agreements? No, not just that, said Jania.

“In the Einstein Trust Layer, all of the data, when it connects to an LLM, runs through our gateway. If there was a prompt that had personally identifiable information — a credit card number, an email address — at a mimum, all that is stripped out. The LLMs do not store the output; we store the output for auditing back in Salesforce. Any output that comes back through our gateway is logged in our system; it runs through a toxicity model; and only at the end do we put PII data back into the answer. There are real pieces beyond a handshake that this data is safe.”

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