In a ideal world, you’d never have to edit your own work, but well, you know the drill… life’s not fair…
So, how do you go about editing your posts?
Here are five simple (and kind of easy) steps to editing your blog posts.
Step One: Walk away
It’s true in all aspects of life that being too close to things means we don’t see them clearly enough.
See, you know what you meant to write, so your eyes just fill in the blanks, overlook typos, etc. That’s why you need to get a little distance.
After you write your first draft, go get a cup of coffee or take a walk to clear your head.
Step Two: Think of the readers
Imagine you’re the intended audience reading your blog post for the first time. The big questions you want to answer here are:
- Would the reader understand what you’re trying to say?
- Does it hold your interest from start to finish?
- Does it include all the information you need (e.g., important numbers, URL, event location)?
Step Three: Edit to make everything clear and concise
Edit to make your writing as clear and concise as possible:
- Trim long sentences: If any are longer than 25 words or so, consider turning them into two sentences or removing any unnecessary words.
- Slim down the words: Replace long words and phrases with short ones. In other words, why say “ascertain the location of” when you can just say “find”?
Nothing is more daunting to a reader than a dense block of text. Add some breathing room with white space between paragraphs, bold subheads and (where appropriate) bullet points.
Step Four: Edit out the mistakes
Here are a few major points when it comes to editing blog posts:
- Good writing is error-free. This means perfect spelling and no typos.
- Check for the correct use of homonyms like to/too/two, their/they’re/there, etc. Spellcheck doesn’t always make those distinctions.
- Confirm you’ve spelled all names correctly. This mistake can be particularly embarrassing.
- Good writing avoids the energy-draining passive voice.
- Good writing is formatted correctly. Check your margins, use of spacing and consistency in style of headings — font, bold or not bold, capitalization, etc.
Step Five: Now clean it up and read it again. Out loud.
After you’ve made your revisions, it’s time to read it again. Out loud. From start to finish, and then the other way around. Why? Well, if you go about it from the end, you’re reading individual sentences, so it’s easier to catch mistakes and typos and such.
And now what?
Depending on your time, you can repeat the process a few more times.
How long should it take to edit a piece?
As long as it takes for you to feel like you never want to read it again. I’m serious.
Rewrite, edit, read out loud, and edit, and proofread until you can’t stand the idea of having to do it one more time.
Editing is a skill that can take years to perfect. But if you follow these recommendations, you’ll greatly improve the quality of your blog posts.
You’ll have done your best, which is all anyone can really ask of you.