I’m a “go big or go home” kind of gal, and when it comes to content marketing today that translates to “have editorial standards or don’t publish.”

If a reader, listener, or viewer begins to like you, but you fail to earn their trust, your hard work will feel like a waste.

Editorial standards are essentially rules that help you establish and uphold your reputation as a trustworthy resource for your audience.

I’m particularly fond of this other cool part:

They give you the freedom to be creative, experimental, or straight-up weird … as long as your content is built on a foundation that serves your audience.

It’s time to meet the first cousin of editing and proofreading — the 3Fs of editorial standards you can use to evaluate whether or not a piece of content is a proper reflection of you or your client.

1. Fitness

A simple question used to work for a fitness assessment: “Is this information relevant and useful for the audience I serve?”

That’s not enough anymore, because there’s no room for “Captain Obvious” content that might have passed that test before.

Don’t be afraid to address topics other people in your niche cover, but saying the exact same thing in the exact same way will make you think content marketing doesn’t work.

Remember the movie Legally Blonde?

Peppering your content with some “Elle Woods” shows visitors that you’ll help them in ways your competition won’t.

When you’ve crafted a relevant, useful presentation that demonstrates an aspect of your winning difference, it’s fit to publish.

2. Fact-checking

Fact-checking helps you share your content with confidence.

With this step, you review the details that sloppy content creators fail to verify.

Here are five of my favorite items to fact-check that elevate the quality of your work:

  1. Hyperlinks. Do all hyperlinks go to the correct sites, and do you want to direct readers to those sites?
  2. Spellings. Names of people, businesses, products, locations, and publications should all be double-checked. To add an extra layer of polish, note the style of spellings. For instance, it’s “Copyblogger,” not “CopyBlogger.”
  3. Days and dates. Make sure days of the week correspond with dates mentioned. If the text said an event was on Friday, March 29, 2018, you’d need to look up when the event actually takes place: Thursday or Friday? Because the correct day and date is either going to be Thursday, March 29, 2018 or Friday, March 30, 2018.
  4. Start and finish times. If you’re publishing details about an event, check that the start and finish times match the official event information to avoid issuing a correction later.
  5. Discount codes. If you provide a discount code in your content, test it.

Everyone accidentally publishes mistakes every once and a while, but consistent accuracy brings visitors back to your site.

3. Formatting

Formatting may sound boring, but it’s a classic part of print publications that benefits digital publications as well.

You’re able to offer a variety of voices through different pieces of content because formatting helps each article look like it belongs to the same publication.

It’s a way to tie together perspectives that all serve your target audience.

If you have guests on a podcast or video channel, establishing a format for your interview segments provides a familiar environment for listeners or viewers. (I found Between Two Ferns instantly memorable.)

What are some of your editorial standards?

Do you have a checklist you review before you publish?

How do you decide if a piece of content stays in Draft Mode or if it’s ready to be released?

Let us know in the comments below.