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I have worked for a lot of my professional life as an editor, but I know that editing your own stuff isn’t always easy and doesn’t come naturally to people who aren’t trained in the skill. But you can still polish your posts without too much trouble. I have so much to say on the subject I think this will actually be two posts, but here are my first thoughts on editing your blog.
First, Get in the Right Mindset
Perfection is not the goal. No one wants to read blog posts that are grammatically perfect, because such writing often lacks style and isn’t that fun to read.
Instead, you want your posts to be readable but still have your voice. You want to make sure you say what you mean to say in a way that others will understand.
What’s Your Goal?
An important aspect of saying what you mean to say is knowing what you meant to say in the first place. What was your goal in writing the piece? Did you want to share a story about something that happened to you, get people to sign a petition or try a product, teach them how to make something?
It’s good to start editing — after you take a break from the piece, of course — with that goal in mind so you can see if what you’ve written has achieved that goal. I do a lot of tutorials, for instance, so I need to make sure I’ve included all the materials you need and written out all the steps completely.
If you’re telling a story you might want to come back to some deeper truth about parenting — or a punchline — so you need to make sure that feeling or statement makes it into the post.
The Technicalities of Blog Editing
There are some technical things you need to check out when you’re editing your blog, and I’m not just taking about points of grammar, usage and style.
Do you have pictures in your post? If you don’t, could you add some? Do you want to make a title image in PicMonkey or Photoshop? Did you crop, resize and add watermarks to your photos? Are they actually showing up in the post, and are they where you want them to be?
Because most of us want our words to be found by others, now might also be the time to think about keywords. What words might someone use to find your post? Are you using those words or phrases in prominent places (post title, subheds, captions or descriptions of photos)?
You don’t want to go overboard on keywords, and they should always be natural, but it’s worth taking a second to think about.
Another thing you might want to note is whether you ask your readers to do something once they’ve finished reading. In the biz we call it a “call to action,” which means you’re asking them to click a link to learn more, share your post on Facebook, add a comment or whatever.
I end most of my posts with a question. That’s because I’m trying to start a discussion. Not every post you write will necessarily have a call to action, but it’s good to get into the habit of using them if it makes sense for your blog.
I know none of this gets down to the nuts and bolts of editing, but it’s all important. Next week we’ll look a little more deeply at things you can do to become a better editor for your blog.
In the meantime, if you have any editing tips or things you’ve learned working on your blog or elsewhere, I’d love to hear them!
Thanks for visiting, commenting and sharing.