How To Improve The Quality of Your Blog Posts By 50%

by Paul Wolfe on June 20, 2011

Whether you’re a blogger or a content marketer who blogs, the quality of your blog posts or website articles will go a long way towards your success or otherwise in meeting your goals.

The quality of your blog posts or website articles are defined by two elements:

  • (i)  the idea being expressed in the blog post
  • (ii) the actual writing that expresses those ideas.

Here are three simple tweaks that will make a massive difference to the quality of the writing that expresses your ideas.

Will it improve your posts by 50% as the headline states?  I can’t guarantee that.  But what I can guarantee is using these tweaks will improve the quality of your post.

Note: if your idea sucks though, these tweaks will do very little for your blog post or article.  A turd in a fancy gift box is always a turd.

1) Allow Time Between Writing And Editing

How many of you are guilty of writing a post, loading it into Word Press, scanning it, then hitting the ‘Publish’ button?

This is something I’m guilty of – and something that I’ve vowed to change.

When you edit your posts in this manner your closeness to the writing makes it hard to spot errors.  You know what you meant to say, but the psychological principle of closure can work against you and your brain glosses over a poorly worded sentence or paragraph.

Inserting distance between the writing process and the editing process remedies this.  The more time you allow between writing and editing, the more objectivity you can bring to the editing process.  Ideally you’ll write some other articles before you go back and edit an article.  This allows you to come back and edit the first article with a more critical eye.

To break the cycle of write and hit publish immediately, get used to writing your posts in advance of your intended publication date.

If you have a publication schedule you don’t want to break and have limited writing time, you can get ‘ahead’ by publishing a post that doesn’t cut into your limited writing time.  Here’s some ways to do that:

  • Create a list post.
  • Embed a YouTube video into a post and discuss it.
  • Link to a news story and discuss that.
  • Publish a guest post.

Just get out of the habit of writing and hitting publish immediately.  To edit your blog post or website article effectively, you need to allow time between the writing and the editing.

2) Don’t Edit On Your Computer Screen – PRINT Your Post/Article Out!

Printing your article out on paper and editing it manually, and then making the corrections on the computer screen, will improve the quality of your editing dramatically.

You might not agree with me.  You might think this is an extra layer of work and time and might want to skip this.  Especially if your writing time is limited.

Here’s my advice: try it out.

If you publish two posts a week and you normally edit on your computer screen, then make some time to edit ONE of those posts by physically printing it, taking your red pen to it, and transfer those edits to your post.

Only then do you hit the ’Publish’ button.

And come back to your two posts two weeks later and compare the two.  I’m pretty sure that you’ll notice a difference in quality.

Back in the day when I wrote short stories and novels I remember reading an interview with a Book Editor who said she could read a manuscript and know which authors edited on their computer screens, and which authors edited on physical print outs.

I’ve also seen writers advocate using different fonts, and a different font size, when you print it out to really make your text look different to how it does on your computer screen.  That might sound extreme, but it works for some writers. As with all things you need to find a way that works for you by experimentation.

3) Find An Editing Buddy

The beauty of blogs and websites is that anyone can publish their thoughts and ideas.  We are no longer beholden to corporate gatekeepers, nor have to channel our ideas in ways that are acceptable to them in order to get published.

However the one great benefit of the ‘gatekeeper’ system – whether books, magazines or newspapers – is that the expression of your ideas will be proofread by someone.  And usually that someone is a trained proofreader.

Whoever it is, there’s no doubt that a fresh pair of eyeballs on your work can highlight elements that your proofreading has missed.  The problem for most bloggers and content marketers is the expense with regular submission of their blog posts or website articles to a third party editor or proofreader.

An elegant workaround to this problem is an editing buddy.

WTF Is An ‘Editing Buddy?’

An editing buddy is someone you send your blog post or website article to prior to publishing.  They then go through your writing and suggest edits to you.

Those edits can range from finding missed words or incorrectly used words (e.g. ensure instead of insure), to commenting on structure and flow.

The quid pro quo is that you do this for your editing buddy too.

The Benefits Of Finding An Editing Buddy

Finding an Editing Buddy isn’t easy.  You need to find somebody with whom you have a degree of trust, and who knows what they’re talking about.

Just because it’s difficult shouldn’t stop you.  Because the benefits are potentially immense:

  • (i)  Getting your writing back with edits marked up is part of the feedback loop.  You’ll start to see the kind of writing mistakes you commonly make – and I guarantee you that there will be a pattern.  Like anything, you can only fix it if you know about it.  The feedback from your editing buddy will not only improve your articles immediately – over a longer period of time it will improve the overall quality of your writing.
  • (ii) Having a different pair of eyeballs on your writing is something that 95% plus of your competitors don’t do.  Over time the improved quality of your blog posts or website articles will improve the effectiveness of your content marketing.
  • (iii) The process of editing someone else’s work will improve your editing.  Over time this will make the quality of your writing better – because the quality of your editing will improve.  It’s a virtuous cycle (the opposite of a vicious cycle).  Author Michael Crichton said: books aren’t written, they’re rewritten.

Walking The Walk

Editing is – and always has been – the weakest part of my writing.  It’s something that’s long overdue to fix.  So from now on I won’t be writing something, spell checking it and then hitting publish straight away.

Not only will I be writing in advance – but I’ve got myself an editing buddy.  His name is Jack Godfrey, and Jack’s a yoga instructor in Canada.  You’ll find him online here:

http://www.sunriseyoga.ca/

Jack is a member of the same private forum that I am (5000BC.com), and he’s looked over my writing before and given great feedback.  We’ve agreed to be editing buddies – and I’m looking forward to finally working on improving my editing.

Hopefully there will be a subtle increase in the writing quality of the posts on One Spoon.

Summary

Editing is a crucial part of the writing process for bloggers and content marketers.  And whilst it’s a complex process there are 3 simple tweaks you can make that will make a massive difference to your editing process:

  • (i)  Insert time into your writing process.  Increase the time period between finishing a draft and hitting publish.  This will allow you to see your work with a fresher perspective.
  • (ii)         Print your posts and articles onto paper and edit there.  Again, you’ll get greater perspective and you’re much less likely to scan.
  • (iii)       Find an editing buddy.  A different set of eyeballs on your post will be invaluable in improving your writing in subtle ways.  Plus the editing of someone else’s writing will improve the quality of your own editing.  Win-win.

Do You Get Someone Else To Check Your Work?

This is something I’m really interested in – I’d love your thoughts and answers in the comments.  What editing system do you use – if any?  Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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