Easy Five Step Plan for Editing Your Blog Posts

By Ali Luke

Have you ever published a post with an embarrassing typo?

Have you written what you thought was a great piece … only to re-read it three months later and realize that it had no real point?

Some bloggers think that editing doesn’t really matter. After all, you’re giving your hard work away for free: readers can hardly complain if there are a few sub-par posts, or some full of typos.

This is a short-sighted attitude. Sure, one typo isn’t going to kill your chances of success … but poor-quality writing makes you look sloppy or even stupid. Even those readers who do stick around won’t feel so confident about buying your e-book, joining your membership site, or even listening to your affiliate recommendations.

If you’re working on pillar content, or a guest post, it’s doubly important to edit carefully: that content needs to be your very best.

The good news is that editing doesn’t need to take hours of your time. You can just follow these five simple steps to make sure that your post is working from start to end.

Step #1: Check Whether You Have One Clear Point

One of the biggest mistakes I see is bloggers choosing a topic then writing everything they can think of, without any real point. If you sit down and write whatever comes into your head, your post isn’t likely to have any clear organization or structure.

Another problem is a post that has several different points — if that’s happened with your post, you might want to try making it into a series.

Do it: Ask yourself “What one thing should the reader understand (or be able to do) as a result of reading this post?”

Step #2: Make Your Title and Introduction Gripping

If your title and introduction don’t hook the reader, the rest of your post is going to be wasted.

Most titles can be improved with a few little tweaks. You could:

  • Add a number.
  • Use the words “how to” at the start.
  • Include adjectives like “easy” or “powerful” or “little-known”.

Keep your introduction short and clear. Try starting with a question (like I do in this post) or with a quote that ties into your main point. Focus on the reader instead of on yourself: use the word “you” more often than you use “I”.

Do it: Spend at least five minutes on your title during editing. If your introduction seems a bit long, try cutting the first paragraph and see whether the second paragraph makes a better beginning.

Step #3: Include a Call to Action

Every time you write a blog post, you need to think about your aims. Is this post one which you want readers to share? Are you hoping to get more comments and build reader engagement? Do you have a product or service to promote?

Too many bloggers end their posts without giving the reader anything to do next. It might seem a bit silly to you to say “Leave a comment…” or “Click the button to retweet…” but your readers might not notice the comment box or retweet button otherwise.

Do it: Write a call to action at the end of your post. It could be as simple as “If you enjoyed this post, click here to read more…” with a link to a related post on your blog.

Step #4: Edit for the Little Details

Once you’ve got your post into good shape — with a clear point, a good introduction, and a call to action at the end — it’s time to start editing for all the little details.

Look out for:

  • Typos and misspellings — don’t rely on your spellchecker to spot them all.
  • Missing words — or words where they shouldn’t be (these sometimes creep in during editing).
  • Overlong sentences and paragraphs — break these up.

If you struggle to spot your mistakes, try reading your post out loud. You could also print it and read it on paper. This way, you’re more likely to see things that you’d miss on the screen.

Do it: Are there any words that you often confuse, like “you’re” and “your”? Do you know when you should and shouldn’t use apostrophes? When you’re editing, use Daily Writing Tips to double-check anything you’re not sure about.

Step #5: Add Formatting

Your final editing task is to add formatting. You may have included some while you were writing the post, but this is a good opportunity to make sure that your formatting is consistent and useful.

You should:

  • Use subheadings — be consistent in how you format these (e.g. always use heading 2 style, always capitalize the words).
  • Include bold text to highlight key phrases or sentences — but don’t overdo it.
  • Use bullet-points where appropriate, rather than listing lots of items in single sentence.
  • Avoid using underlining for emphasis, as readers may be confused and think that this is a clickable link.
  • Ideally, add at least one image (at the start of your post, to draw the reader’s eye). You might want to use individual images for each subsection.

Do it: While editing, sit back from your screen and glance at your post. It should look visually interesting and attractive. If it doesn’t, add a bit more formatting.

A bit more attention to editing from all of us would make the blogosphere an even greater place … so retweet this post, or share it on Facebook or G+, and let other bloggers learn these simple editing steps too!

Ali Luke writes a regular column for Daily Blog Tips. She will be speaking at BlogWorld New York on “Four Simple Steps for Editing Your Own Writing” — you can find out more, and register to attend live or virtually, at the BlogWorld site. The code “BAli10” will give you a 10% discount.

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12 Responses to “Easy Five Step Plan for Editing Your Blog Posts”

  • HP van Duuren

    Thanks for your post Ali Luke,

    Those are indeed great steps for editing Blog Posts.
    Only it’s my experience that it’s a lot easier to spot other people’s
    typo’s than my own, and that it might be even better to have somebody else look at it with a ‘Fresh Look’.

    It also a good point to have a clear point, a clear Organization and Structure because that is something that sometimes can also frequently be a Challenge. That also goes for a Blog as a whole, because of that today I actually made an attempt to better Organise the Posts on several of my Blogs by creating a special FAQ-page with Special – Question Categories – and arranging Links to specific Question Related Blog Posts. For example a category ‘How To’s’ where you can Instantly find Answers to Specific Questions.

    ‘I also like the idea
    of using a Call to Action’

    Talking about – Call to Action –
    Make sure you Check Out my Blog(s), enjoy reading the Free Blog Posts, Free Answers to Questions you can find on them, and especially make sure that you buy high commision Affiliate Products so that I can Easily start hiring Editors 🙂

  • Diy-Extra

    Over the years I have developed a checklist (not unlike this one) that I run through whenever I publish a new post. I also try to get someone else to read it through before it goes live if possible, as this really helps to pick up any errors that I sometimes become blind to.

  • Chris @ NPI

    Hi Ali,
    great list of tips. It’s very important to have great title and introduction, as well as having post in a list form. I can add only one more point to you list (which is very helpful) – use graphics or other media in your post, not only text.
    BR, Chris

  • Jamie Northrup

    When I can, I try and edit my post the following day. I usually make my posts ahead of time so that works, but when I need to publish something quickly I’ll try and get someone else to read it quickly and get their thoughts.

  • Ken

    Great article…and good step-by-step. Nothing is worse is saying “have you read my blog” and having that person point out typos the whole time they’re reading. Good stuff…

  • Joanne Munro

    Thanks for this. I have read loads of articles on writing and editing blog posts but this one is a really good overall summary. The point about having a message is really important – I find some posts I read, whilst interesting, meander all over the place until they have lost all their power by the end.

    Article Evernoted for later!

  • Ehsan

    I never thought about such ideas for editing my blog post. I agree with you a long tail article isn’t important without main point.

  • Ali Luke

    Thanks everyone for the comments. 🙂

    @HP van Duuren — I, too, find it much easier to spot other people’s typos! If you’ve got a blogging friend you can swap posts with (or at least call on for pillar content or sales pages) then that’s a great way to get some extra editorial support.

    @Chris – Great addition! I usually add images at the editing stage, and they can make a huge difference to how attractive & professional the finished post looks.

    @Jamie – Great tip! It’s always a good idea to let writing “sit” for a while before editing.

  • Rashmi Sinha @ TechInitio

    Great tips, thanks lot for sharing them. It is natural to make mistakes in a post, but it is not right to let them be. Just edit them!

  • Liz

    Ali, I can really relate with Step #1. Not having a real point to make in your post will lose readers.

    The other part to that is making several different points, especially if the points conflict in some way. I read lots of content like that. I’m left with more questions after reading the post than I had before reading it.

    A blog post is not like a report or a book. Making one clear point is really worth more to the reader and is what will keep them coming back to your blog.

    Liz

  • Rick Rottman

    Something that helps me is to read aloud what I’m about to post. Not only does it make me slow down while reading it, mistakes become much more obvious when I hear them.

  • Vincent Clarke

    I agree with Jamie as well, if you can wait and reread the post the next day your are much more likely to spot the little mistakes you might overlook when the post is fresh on your mind!

    Also, thanks for writing this post! I feel like so many bloggers think the little details just don’t matter because blogging is so much less formal, or, as you said, they’re giving their work away for free, but it really decreases your credibility when you have typos and misspellings everywhere!

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