The Power of Editing: 5 Steps to Effectively Edit Your Content

Now, I appreciate the irony in today’s topic, which is all about the power of editing.

And I’m saying I appreciate the irony because the format in which I film my videos is largely unedited.

I pretty much just let my thoughts come out, stream-of-consciousness style, without really editing anything except some of the longer pauses to make the whole process more enjoyable for you as a viewer to watch.

But I do want to talk about editing today because it’s one of the things that can transform an ‘ok’ piece of content into an exceptional one… without *too* much additional work.

Let’s get into it!

Primer: The Three Phases of Content Creation

CREATING / The first stage is very much a creative phase where you let everything come out on the page. You don’t worry about how it’s going to sound. You don’t worry about whether it reads perfectly. It’s really the act of transforming what’s in your brain into pixels.

EDITING / And then the second phase that comes in is the editing phase, which is where with a slightly more discerning and critical heart become back to that work and look through it from the eyes of our audience. We look through it from the eyes of the person that we are trying to excite or engage or inspire and see which parts of what we’ve created serve that purpose.

PACKAGING / Now, the third phase is actually probably sharing it and marketing and actually hitting publishing on it, which again requires an even more strategic approach, which is where you really think about how to package that act of creation so that it will inspire people to actually click on it and be you and engage with the content.

But what I want to talk about today is the act of editing and maybe just give you some advice about how you can approach this yourself so that you don’t necessarily need someone like me. Although I am, I will admit, very good at being my editor role for you, but so that you can start to do this yourself as well.



Now, when I’m editing, the first thing that I look for is understanding what the whole point or the whole message that we’re trying to convey is with that piece of creation.

So what is the thing that we want our viewer to walk away knowing? How do we want their life to have changed or what level of understanding or thought process do we want to have kicked off in their mind?

And I very much recommend particularly with content creation, whether it’s long-form or short form or whatever it is… I really want you to think about:

“What do I want people to walk away with?”

If I show them this post and I gave them a couple of minutes to read it, and then half an hour later I said to them: “Hey, what did you take away from that?”

What do you want them to say? What do you want that response to be?

So, for example, with this video, I want you to walk away and really have a think about the act of editing and how you approach editing. And maybe the next time you sit down to create, you do give yourself permission to create freely and then edit ruthlessly… and you might just remember this video when you’re doing so!

So that’s always the first step that I consider: What’s the point of this? What do I want people to walk away knowing or feeling after having consumed that piece of content?

Because from that point I can then edit this piece to best serve that purpose.

And what I will just say here is that I often only find my points through letting everything come out on the page first.

I don’t necessarily go into it knowing what my points are going to be, often it just emerges naturally. Now, sometimes I might go in with a bit of a prompt like today I thought “You know what? I’m going to just talk about the act of editing because this cropped up for me”

But actually the points themselves, they’re emerging right now as I’m speaking to you!

And I think this can happen for me because I’m fairly well practised at it. But for you, I do want you to again remember that when you’re writing, let that just happen freely. Whether you’re creating content or filming a video or whatever it is…. I talk about writing because it’s a nice sort of obvious one to think about, but whatever the act of initial creation is: don’t stress too much about what the point is.

Maybe have something loose in your mind that you’re sort of riffing around, but in that act of editing, that’s when you can really clarify what the point of this work is and then go through with your red pen or your delete button or cut and paste things somewhere else.

You want to go through and assess every single part and consider: is it contributing to getting that point across or is it fluff? It’s about first tightening up the work and ensuring that it is making the point you want to make.

And yes, this includes getting rid of the parts that don’t contribute to that point. And if you feel a bit nervy about deleting some of that work, what you can always do is have at the bottom of the document, you can have like a little divider and instead of deleting it, you can just drop the sentence is out the way so that you know you still have them.

You can always come back to them later, you can chuck them in the notes app if you like if you realise actually, this is a whole separate point and this is going to be great as a post on its own, you can take that and move it elsewhere, but we really want to make sure that this piece of work on its own has a clear reason for existing.


Now, the second thing that I do once I’ve typed the work up, is then go through and look for the opportunity to add in personality. So I look for places where I’ve maybe used phrases that are a bit boring or conceptual or don’t really mean anything and look for how I can actually inject a little bit of me into the work. So how can I take a conceptual sentence and share it specific in a way that only I probably would because it’s relevant to my life? S

o to give you a random example you might have written something like:

“Oh, it made me feel really nervous.”

Well feeling nervous, that’s an emotion, that’s a concept really. When you say “feeling nervous” people could picture that 150 different ways.

So a way for me to inject some personality into that is instead describe what feeling nervous actually meant to me. So how would I describe how I felt in that moment? How would I describe the feeling of being nervous?

So I might say something like “There was a tightness in my stomach. I thought I was going to be sick” or I might say something like “My mouth was so dry that my tongue kept sticking to the roof of my mouth and I felt like I couldn’t get a single word out”

Or I could try and inject a bit of humor and say something like “My mouth was so dry it felt like I hadn’t had a drink of water in the past 15 years.” Obviously, that doesn’t sound very funny in the moment… but what I want you to take from this is that once you’ve been through and tightened up your creation, you can then go through and look for those specific parts where maybe they’re a bit generic. And actually a great question here is I like to look at certain aspects of it and think “Could anybody ever in that like could somebody else take this whole piece of work and read it out and it wouldn’t be jarring?”

Because I want people to come across my work, and distinctly understand that it’s something I have created.

Now in video format, that’s obviously super easy because this is how I speak! It comes out how it’s going to come out you know, I don’t really have to really think about it.

But when we start to actually transfer things into writing, words on the page, we do want to get a little bit more discerning about how can we make sure that our personality is apparent.


Now, the next thing that I recommend in this editing phase is to create some space between you and the work.

Now, a couple of caveats here for me, I know that I think I have a real habit of overthinking actually over editing my own work and really falling into traps of perfectionism and things like that. So when I say create space between the work, there are some people where that might not be the right step for you.

So for me, I know that I intend to actually create it and pretty much try and get it published and out into the world and off my desk as quickly as possible because the longer it stays, the more likely I am to never hit publish on that thing. And that’s just my pattern. So when I say “create distance” I don’t want you to think that that distance is so that you can come back the next day and rewrite the whole thing!

But when it comes to me reviewing my client’s work, for example, I will tend to go through and make some edits and step away and then come back and just check if it all still makes sense because sometimes when we are in a different frame of mind, certain other things jump out to us. Other things can become apparent where you realise some things make absolutely no sense!

You can then understand where you might just need to rewrite a couple of sentences and it’s totally fine to do that.

It’s a really powerful exercise to create that distance, so don’t be afraid of doing something, walking away and coming back to it, but do just keep an eye on yourself if like me, you do have those tendencies of perfectionism or you have a habit of overly noodling things before you publish them out into the world as well.

Just something to keep an eye on!


Now, my next piece of advice or tip on editing things is with written work: read it out loud.

I’m assuming you’ve probably heard this advice somewhere else, but how often do you actually do it? Because it really, really helps to understand how a piece feels when it comes out of your mouth. What’s the flow of it? Does this capture my personality or does this sound dry and boring when you read things out?

It really does allow you to hear your written work in a different way. So although it’s a more common tip or one that you might have had before, I thoroughly, thoroughly recommend that you do it!


And my final tip on editing, which kind of crosses over into that third phase of sort of getting ready to publish, is to actually visually consider your piece.

So if it is written text, look at how you can actually format that text with spaces, use of italics, bold, underlines etc.

Actually design how your text looks to help make it easier to read.

And likewise in video format, maybe you’ve gone through and actually, you know, cut out the bits that are superfluous to the purpose. However, I would also kind of take a pass at it and observe it in terms of what is the pacing like, what is the flow like?

Is there any bits where you could do it tightening up the gaps (which is what I do with these videos!) just to make it more enjoyable for the viewer? That obviously will increase your chances of people making it the whole way through that piece of content that you have spent all that time creating!

Now, if I was more organized, I could totally go through and summarize all those tips for you. But like I said, I don’t plan these things… this is just me sharing in the moment, me just sharing what’s in my mind!

So I actually can’t really remember all the facts that I’m given you… lol!

But hey, this is how I like to create it and this is what works for me.

I’m hoping my style works for you as well, because, you know, I talk about this stuff a lot, which is why it’s able to come out with such ease, because this isn’t the first time I’m saying any of this stuff. What I shre here is what I’ve been telling my clients for the past four and a half years and is what I write about regularly!

So, yes, it flows quite easily for me in this context….

And I’ve just thought of another tip as well!


Make sure you give your work a satisfying ending or conclusion.

This is probably why I was just drawn to try and summarise things for you because I wanted to wrap things up neatly but alas, I cannot because this is quite simply how I roll.

But hey, I’m sure you can go through and take notes and really just take the ideas that resonate with you most.

And the next time you sit down to create something, maybe you’ll spend a little bit of time considering:

How are you editing your work separately from the creation process so that your ideas have the best chance of landing with your audience and getting them excited to continue following your content and engaging with what you do or reaching out to work with you?

That’s it for today!

Go get creative, take my action. And most of all, don’t forget to have fun with it.