A good editor is worth their weight in gold. When you read a book or magazine article it will always have been written by one person, then edited and checked by someone else. There’s a reason why at least two people are involved in the print publishing process.
When you write something yourself it’s hard to read it properly and notice the typos and errors. We tend to scan anything we wrote ourselves and can easily miss errors that would jump straight out at someone reading it for the first time. Also, when you write something yourself you’re too close to the material and may omit vital information, assuming your readers already know it just because you do.
But we bloggers don’t have the luxury of an editor to go over our writing, suggest improvements and point out typos or spelling mistakes. We have to do that ourselves. So knowing how hard it is to edit your own writing how can we make sure our blog posts are high quality?
For me blog post editing takes longer than writing the post. I may spend one or two hours writing a blog post then, four to eight hours perfecting it. Even then typos can and do slip in sometimes.
I don’t think the odd typo or missing comma matters too much, but if you have multiple typos, spelling mistakes and grammatical errors on one blog post, or your whole blog is stuffed with typos, it is off-putting.
Don’t be a perfectionist – your writing may never be perfect – but do make sure it’s as good as it can be in the time available. If necessary post fewer high quality blog posts rather than a lot of poor quality posts. Your readers should be able to expect and look forward to good quality writing on your blog every time.
My point here is not to make you paranoid that your blog posts aren’t good enough or have mistakes. The point is that good writing takes time but you can do it if you invest time and keep practising. Try not to see the editing as a process, see it as a fun part of polishing your post so that it’s even better.
How to Edit a Blog Post
1. Put Your Hands in the Air and Move Away From Your Post
Write your blog post, then put it aside for a day before editing and checking it. Or at least put it aside for an hour or two so you can read it with a fresh eye and see the errors more clearly. This means you probably can’t write a blog post and publish it on the same day. Unless you’re a trained and experienced writer like Molly Kelash who blogs at Seriously, and worked for Voice of America for years.
2. Check if it’s Huh? or Ha!
Reread your post with your readers in mind then edit it for meaning. We’ve already talked about how every blog post should have a beginning, a middle and an end. It sounds obvious but make sure your blog post does have a natural progression and a story behind it. Give your post an introduction, a middle and a conclusion or summary, even if that’s not what they’re called in the post.
Double check the beginning and the end. The beginning is crucial to draw the reader in and make them want to find out more. The end is a great place to reward your reader for sticking around. If you can, end your blog post with a bang, or relate the ending back to a point you made at the beginning to tie things up neatly and give a sense of closure.
Check the message is clear. Keep things simple and try to distill the purpose of your blog post down to one sentence with one message your readers can easily digest and take away. When you reread your post make sure that message is clear and not muddied by irrelevant information.
3. Be Pernickety
No one likes nit picking and fussiness, but you have to edit your blog post for grammar. If you’re not sure about grammatical points look them up online. Here are some of the main things that cause problems and a few suggestions:
- use every day language when you write your blog posts. Yes, I do use words like pernickety in real life. Sorry, I can’t help it. As a kid I pored over the thesaurus learning new words and I like to use them. But I try to keep long words in check and over-formal writing is my biggest bugbear with blog and website writing. A blog is not a business report. It’s a conversation. Make your writing sound natural;
- use contractions just like you would if you were talking to someone. Forget writing I will, you are or she would – make it I’ll, you’re and she’d;
- apostrophes have two uses:
– for contractions to show letters are missing like in the examples above, where I will became I’ll; and
– for possessives like the blogger’s posts which indicates one blogger, or the bloggers’ posts, which shows there are more than one blogger;
- homonyms – words with the same sound but a different meaning. Spell checkers are great but they miss words that are spelled right but used in the wrong context like you’re/your, it’s/its or their/they’re/there. You have to check the right word is used in the right place yourself;
- be consistent – if you make a mistake, make the same mistake every time because that way people might think it’s just your writing style.
4. Give it the Chop
Removing unnecessary words makes the reading experience faster and smoother and Molly says the first three rules she learned in the newsroom were: “Omit needless words; omit needless words; omit needless words.”
You need to edit your blog post for style by taking away as much of it as you can without affecting the meaning. Reread it to see if you’ve used five words where one or two would have been enough. Make sure there are no common words repeated and no fluff that’s just in there for the sake of it.
Here are some words and phrases I chopped out of this post:
- Despite all that;
- If I’m honest;
- I think;
- If this isn’t possible;
- The other thing is that;
- For some reason;
- It’s fair to say.
Horrid isn’t it? I’m getting better and starting to catch myself before I write these annoying and meaningless words. You will too.
5 Talk the Talk
Print your blog post out and read it aloud. Whispering will do but reading out loud and from paper will help you notice errors you’d miss on screen or with a silent read. Apparently top editors read backwards to force themselves to pay attention, but hopefully you don’t need to take it that far.
Don’t panic if this sounds like a lot to take on, but writing the post is just the first step for successful blogging. Editing is what makes your blog posts shine even more. I hope these tips leave you feeling empowered to turn your rough first drafts into golden nuggets. Just remember, a good editor is worth their weight in gold, and with a little practice that will be you.
Give it a go. Take one of your rough drafts and polish it into something precious. How much shorter can you make it while still getting your point across?
How do you edit your blog posts faster and better?
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I look forward to seeing you here again soon. Happy blog writing! Annabel