Elements Of A Good Blog Part II: Content Editing

 

This week's installment of our Elements Of A Good Blog series comes from one of our favorite bloggers in the IFB community. On her blog, Dress With Courage, Elissa Stern discusses fashion, beauty, body-image and vintage finds. Today, she's lending us her savvy blogging skills to talk about the importance of editing your content before publishing.

 

What’s So Great About Editing, Anyway?

 

You've spent hours thinking about a great blog post. You brainstormed for ideas, edited your photos, and studied magazines and other blogs for inspiration. Finally, you gather your thoughts and put your words into a draft. But the work isn't finished. In fact, it's just beginning.

 

It's time for editing and rewriting.

 

“But why?” you might groan. Your post is finished. Perhaps you like it just as it is. But chances are high that you didn’t get everything right. There could be incorrectly spelled words. Your sentences might not flow the way they should. Grammatical errors may have been missed. And your text might not be pleasing to the eye. Mistakes are made by all of us, and that’s why editing is so crucial.

 

Clean copy goes a long way towards making your blog credible and professional. It is concrete proof to followers that you are educated and intelligent, and leads them to take you seriously. In addition, clean copy makes it more likely that first time visitors will want to come back to read your future posts.

 

As you edit your thoughts, here are a few tips to improve your blog copy:

 

  • Don't write in a too-formal voice: The most effective blog posts are written in a conversational tone, using language you speak in on a daily basis. Pretend you’re having a conversation with a friend, and in the same voice. Avoid preaching and using cutesy language (such as ‘adorbs’ for adorable, ‘totes’ for totally.) One way to help develop your blogging voice is to pay attention to the language used in blogs you already follow. What is it about the tone that resonates with you?

 

  • Edit, Edit, Edit: Review your post for redundancies, spelling errors, grammatical mistakes, and punctuation errors. All of these errors distract your reader and take the focus off the message you’re trying to communicate. I always type my posts out in a Word document before copying them into a blog post. Though it takes a few extra minutes, I can be sure that any grammatical and spelling errors will be caught before I post. Watch out for common misspellings that won't show up on the spellchecker, such as “your” versus “you're,” “their” versus “there,” and “principle” and “principal.” You can also use dictionary.com and the Website Guide to Grammar and Writing  for additional help.

 

  • Consider total length: An investigation on Problogger found that blog readers stay for an average of 96 seconds. Based on this knowledge, many successful web-masters restrict their post length to a level that is readable in short grabs. In addition, both extremely short and extremely long web pages are not Google ranked as highly as pages of a reasonable length. Most experts recommend a word count of around 250 words per post. This has proven not only to keep readers engaged and interested, but also may encourage you to post more frequently –  a smart technique for generating readership through your RSS feed and in search engines.

 

  • Avoid tired clichés:  A cliché is a phrase that has been used for so long that it's become tired and repetitive. Take a moment to be creative and replace those clichés with something fresh and inventive.

 

  • DO use lists. Most blog readers skim post rather than read them all the way through. One way to maximize your post impact is to use lists. Bullet lists or numbered lists call attention to important points, and guarantee that readers who are skimming will catch the most important parts of your post.

 

  • Understand basic principles of effective text layout: Readability is one of the most important aspects of good blog copy. Use line breaks between paragraphs. Use italics for emphasis. Your goal is to draw the eye and create a smooth sense of flow throughout your post. Make it easy to read!

 

  • Come back later: If you get frustrated while editing, don’t try to force the words to come. Save the post and work on something else for a while. You can even switch from one post draft to another, spending a few minutes on each as ideas comes to you. I tend to work on two to three blog posts at a time, and I've learned that this really helps me keep a fresh eye.

 

By Elissa Stern of Dress With Courage. You can follow her on Twitter here!

 

(See Elements Of A Good Blog Part I: Design & Template)

 

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21 Responses

  1. Kb

    Great tips. I find that I work on several drafts at once, and rarely post something unless I feel it is perfectly written (in my eyes). I really hate rushing posts and I felt bad writing up my fashion week posts later than others, but I’d rather have time to digest and write up the information accordingly.

    Reply
  2. Rae Hartts

    This post was needed as I tend to find tiny grammatical errors in my earlier post on my blog. But now I tend to apply what I learned in English class when it comes to composing a new blog post.

    I write an outline and from there I type up my draft on a Word document to revise. I sometimes have someone else read over it to catch anything I’ve missed cause two set of eyes are better than one. I look over my final draft in preview one more time before posting.

    I agree with Kb statment “I felt bad writing up my fashion week posts later than others, but I’d rather have time to digest and write up the information accordingly.”

    I rather have quality over quantity.

    Reply
  3. Xizi

    It takes me hours to edit! I usually have the idea of a post formulated in my mind days before the post goes up. I think writing in Word and then copying-and-pasting unto WordPress is a good idea- maybe I can finally cut down the time between brainstorm and post!

    Reply
  4. The Calvin Show

    I have always known that editing is important but I have begun to pay more attention to it and have actually typed up posts, let them sit for a day and come back before publishing. I think this also gives me a better connection for what I’m writing rather than hastily typing and hitting publish all of the time.

    Reply
  5. de la Pen

    This was amazing advice! I was an English Major in college so I definitely know how to edit for spelling and grammar but I did have to learn how to write for an online audience when I started blogging. I think having a blog that’s edited and readable increases your credibility and forces people to see that you’re a serious writer who just happens to have a blog. And trust if you want to have a lasting career you must be taken seriously. Again awesome post!

    Reply
  6. Elodie

    This was a great post, thank you! I got really frustrated yesterday, but since I was late on my blogging schedual, blogged anyway. I think it might be time for me to double check yesterday’s post now…

    I agree with de la Pen, writing for an online audience is so different! I am also an English graduate and It took me a while to get this right!

    http://www.elle-yeah.com

    Reply
  7. Dana

    Very useful…I am doing some of them, but I have to admit that the last point I am never following (maybe I should) 🙂

    Reply
  8. MJ

    Awesome post and so glad to see Elissa on here!

    One thing I started doing with my blog posts is writing it up, stepping away for a few minutes or even a half hour depending on how long it is, and then read through it again for editing. I find that I have a new set of eyes when I step away and do something else before editing.

    Reply
  9. Felicia

    Your suggestions are spot-on and I intend to use them. It’s a frustrating experience slogging through a blog post full of grammatical errors or slang I just don’t get. I want to avoid being the blogger that someone has to slog through.

    Reply
  10. Camille

    I have a sort of beta reader for my blog. My cousin is an editor and helps out sometimes. But mostly my blog becomes random ramblings.

    Reply
  11. Michelle @ Chellbellz

    I started writing as suggested in the first paragraph and the feedback is wonderful! I told myself to pretend like I was talking toa group of friends over pasta and wine! I think it’s worked out for me to the best.

    Reply
  12. alicia

    Such good advice that I rarely follow. I’d like to schedule more posts in advance so I and go back and read them a day or two later – then I can get a better idea of what works and what doesn’t.

    Reply
  13. Spirale Rouge

    Very helpful indeed, thank you for your advices. I just start a new blog and I have to admit that I didn’t put a lot of text inside, but after reading your article I am going to change this right now!!
    .
    http://spirale-rouge.blogspot.com/
    ..

    Reply
  14. Emily Ulrich

    I’ve definitely noticed my blog entries extend far too long, but I was never able to wrap my head around an appropriate numerical length. This makes sense, thank you!

    Reply
  15. Heather Fonseca

    Great post! I find that the best way for me to edit my posts is to write them out first and save a first draft. Then I’ll check how it looks “for real” with preview. Often I catch a lot of mistakes that way.

    I also like to set the copy aside for a while and come back the next day or a few hours later to re-write it.

    Heather

    Reply