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.

[wps_custom_form id=0]

{ 76 comments }

Neil Smith@Life Insurance New Zealand June 20, 2011 at 11:22 am

Oh yes. I’m guilty on all counts!
My wife is my Jack, but I don’t spend enough time between write and post. Or I’ll outline, write, and post without printing it off for her…

I’m guilty…

Ahhhhhhh!

Neil Smith
P.S. Thanks Paul – see you in the Cave.

Kathy Ver Eecke June 20, 2011 at 11:53 am

Yes, I definitely get someone to check my work before publishing. If I could, I would get someone to check my comments before commenting. There’s just something about that second brain on the task that I find comforting.

What my editing buddies (there are 2!) and I find so fascinating is the fact that we can always spot the problem sentences. By that I mean those sentences that you wrote, and rewrote, and read aloud and then rewrote again. They’re the sentences that you think finally work, and that you don’t call out specifically for help on from the editing buddy. But without fail, they are the sentences that a good editor finds and offers suggestions for none the less. And more often than not, those sentences have an incredibly simple solution. A solution that only a second set of eyes would see.

I also edit my own work on paper. And often by reading out loud. But I edit other’s work on the computer. I think it’s possible to edit that on screen because I’m not close too the work as you mention in your first point.
Nice post!!

Paul Wolfe June 20, 2011 at 12:01 pm

Hey Kathy

The reading aloud is another great tip – I should have remembered that one. Or even better – get someone else to read it aloud. Or choose a text to voice program and get one of those to read it aloud to you – can make ‘holes’ in your writing really obvious.

And LOL at the thought of getting your editing buddies to check your comments before you post them! I think people are less stringent with typos and stuff in comment threads!

Thanks for stopping by today – and to anyone reading the comment thread, reading aloud is a GREAT way to check your work!

Paul

Kathy Ver Eecke June 21, 2011 at 7:06 pm

Okay, didn’t know about text to voice programs. Holy cannoli–hat’s a bit scary. When YOU read your own work out loud you can manipulate the words with pauses and emphasis to make problem sentences work. This all goes out the window if it’s electronic. I must try it! Now I man never get out of the editing phase.

Kathy Ver Eecke June 21, 2011 at 7:07 pm

Crud. should have had an editor for that last comment. Sorry about the typos. Obviously there are no scary “hat’s” out there. Well, unless you count the royal wedding.

Paul Wolfe June 22, 2011 at 6:47 am

There were definitely some scary hats at the royal wedding!

Paul Wolfe June 22, 2011 at 6:47 am

Yep those electronic voices don’t deal with the pauses and nuances of our writing – BUT listening to our prose read aloud by a computer may highlight flaws that we can fix. I think a lot of programs incorporate them…or if you have a Kindle, you can send a PDF to Amazon and they’ll covert it to Kindle format and sync it to your device. And you can use the Kindle’s text to speech function. Lots of ways to do this…

Neil Smith@Life Insurance New Zealand June 20, 2011 at 12:10 pm

I just thought of another “home alone” editing tip. You can always read what you wrote into a digital recorder or whatever, audacity for example, and take a break, and listen to what you just wrote. That ought to help bring clarity too.

I think I might try that idea I just had…

Neil Smith

Paul Wolfe June 20, 2011 at 12:13 pm

Ha ha

Neil – read what Kathy just posted! Reading Aloud your writing is a great way of checking the flow…and listening for glaring holes. Something that I’ll have to add into my editing schedule at some stage….but read Kathy’s comment too!

Paul

Robert June 20, 2011 at 12:12 pm

Hey Paul,

These are some great tips. Editing is a problem for many of us. I’m another one regularly guilty of writing and immediately publishing. I do check, but your first and second point really make sense when it comes to editing. A few times I have “checked” my post but later found errors or even had it mentioned to me in the comment box! I’m definitely going to try and write posts in advance and print them out at least a few hours before I publish.

The editing buddy sounds awesome, interested to hear how that goes.

Solid and value adding post as usual. Hope you had a nice weekend.

Speak soon

PS I triple checked this post for accuracy! ;)

Paul Wolfe June 20, 2011 at 12:15 pm

Robert

You’re not alone in writing and then publishing. Up until last week I was doing this….but you WILL miss mistakes that way, you’re just too close to the work. Even a few hours gap between writing and publishing will make a big difference.

Try it out and see – and come back and post your results!
Had a chilled weekend thanks – you?

Paul

Robert June 20, 2011 at 12:21 pm

Yeah I can see it making a big difference. Post quality is essential, and I’m sure that this editing process will help me write better posts all round. Will let you know how it goes, but I’m pretty confident already!

Yeah weekend was good thanks.

PS is the email that you give when you reply to comments the email I can get you on, just wanted to ask you a couple of things?

Thanks

Paul Wolfe June 20, 2011 at 12:24 pm

Hey Robert

My email address is paul(at)onespoonatime.com – or you can use the Contact Form!

The reason I wrote this post is that editing is where most people can make the biggest improvement to their post/web article quality. Because most of us suck at editing. This is just the start of the process. But if you only do THESE steps (plus Kathy’s tip of reading out loud) I’m confident you’ll notice a big improvement!

Pau

Paul Wolfe June 20, 2011 at 12:12 pm

Ha ha

Neil – read what Kathy just posted! Reading Aloud your writing is a great way of checking the flow…and listening for glaring holes. Something that I’ll have to add into my editing schedule at some stage….but read Kathy’s comment too!

Paul

Barry June 20, 2011 at 12:42 pm

Too true, Paul, especially if you’re addicted to writing withing Wordpress like I am. I think that’s because I’m a visual writer and like to see how the layout looks as I go.
A few years ago I had an editing buddy, but now I tend to run things of major import by a mastermind group. I agree with you about printing work out and reading it out loud; both work for me.
I’d be interested to know how your editing buddy venture goes; it seems it may be a bit tricky coordinating posting schedules and writing frequencies. Keep us informed?

Paul Wolfe June 21, 2011 at 6:32 am

Hey Barry

Thanks for stopping by.

Personally I find writing direct into Wordpress to be frustrating and counter productive. But that’s me. If it works for you, then that’s cool. I’m coming to realize that the important thing for everyone is to find the way that works for them.

I’ll keep you posted about the Editing Buddy experiment – the main thing that it does is insert a layer of accountability into my process. (And Jack picks up stuff that I gloss right over!) The Mastermind Group can help you with that. Or a writer’s group. Or a blogger’s group. There are lots of ways to get fresh eyes on your post – again , find the way that works for you.

Paul

Danny @ Firepole Marketing June 20, 2011 at 1:53 pm

Hey Paul, thanks for this – it was refreshing. So many people like to pretend that writing is easy, and they should just scribble anything that comes to mind. The truth is that writing is a skill that takes time and effort, and A LOT of editing. I particularly like your suggestion to print it out and edit it on paper – I always do that before publishing a post, and I ALWAYS catch something that I would have missed on the screen.

Not sure about the editing buddy, though – that might take a thicker skin than I’ve got. When I’ve spent hours writing a post, I want the feedback to be “great job, I love it” – and I can go back to the drawing board and do the editing myself the next day. :)

Paul Wolfe June 21, 2011 at 6:38 am

Danny

Sometimes you need the ‘Great Job, Keep Going’ kind of buddy too. Especially with ongoing projects.

For posts though, it’s all about getting fresh eyes on the content. Learning to accept feedback is a part of the process – you just need to learn that they’re not critiquing YOU, just the work. YOU ARE NOT YOUR BLOG POSTS! Pressfield talks about this in the War of Art – the amateur takes feedback personally, the professional uses it as fuel to get better. It’s just a simple mindset change.

But I do accept there needs to be a level of trust involved – you can’t just give your stuff to anyone to edit.

The printing out AND inserting time between writing and publish are paramount though. Just about all of the posts on One Spoon this year – apart from this one – are effectively first draft posts. Literally they were published ‘hot’ off the press. And I don’t regret it in some ways, because I’ve had a tough schedule so far this year in terms of content to produce. But every single one of those posts could have been appreciably better just by being published a day later and printed out and edited prior to publishing.

But hey, better late than never to learn that lesson.

Catch up with you Saturday.

Paul

Danny @ Firepole Marketing June 21, 2011 at 11:36 am

Hey Paul, of course, you’re right – I am not my blog posts. I guess there’s just the need for validation… right after spending hours writing, I don’t want it torn apart. If I wait until the next day, it’s easier… ;)

I’m looking forward to speaking on Saturday! :)

Paul Wolfe June 22, 2011 at 6:48 am

Then you have two sets of buddies.

You have one set whose job is to say: Well done. Good job man. They’re motivation buddies.
And you have another set who help you make your stuff better.

Michelle June 20, 2011 at 2:26 pm

The printing and editing on paper is so true! It is the second time I’ve read that in the past couple of days as well… hmmm maybe I should implement ASAP the universe seems to be sending me a big hint. :)

Paul Wolfe June 21, 2011 at 6:39 am

Michelle

Honestly, just doing THAT will make a massive difference to your editing process. Try using a different font and font size and reformatting too – makes the document look totally different on paper!

Try it and see for yourself is the easiest way to decide if it’s worthwhile! (My guess is that you won’t go back!). Feel free to stop by and report your results so others can learn!

Paul

Lynn June 20, 2011 at 2:49 pm

Great post — and right up my street: I’ll be sending my writing students over to your blog to see that more people than writing instructors believe writing should be proofread carefully!

I have been a professional editor in my past, so if any of your commenters want to try having a second party edit them once, just to see how it feels/works for them, I’d be happy to volunteer my time.

Paul Wolfe June 21, 2011 at 6:43 am

Hey Lynn

Great written isn’t written, it’s rewritten. I knew that – but through a combination of lack of time and arrogance I wasn’t editing my work as thoroughly as I should have done. I’ve learned the lesson – and will be printing out all my writing and editing it on paper in future. Plus I’ve got Jack to help.

And I’m developing a ’10 Step’ editing process that will incorporate other ‘editing tricks’ to improve the quality of my content. Improving your editing process is the quickest way to improve your writing.

Thanks for stopping by today.

Jack@TheJackB June 20, 2011 at 4:05 pm

I rarely edit. I have been doing this for so long that I can post on the fly and know that my work is pretty clean. However, there is no doubt that editing can help to improve things.

I sometimes read my post backwards and catch mistakes that way. If it is a paid piece that I am working on I am far more diligent and always edit my work.

The distinction for me is that the blog is a place that I use as a cyber sandbox. It is where I experiment and mess around with things so I am less concerned about mistakes being made there.

Paul Wolfe June 21, 2011 at 6:51 am

Jack

Good comment – and an important distinction that I should have made in the post itself. Namely, that the people who REALLY need to work on their editing are those whose blogging and content marketing are intended to attract potential clients to their business. Those folk who are blogging as a ‘cyber diary’ perhaps don’t need to be so thorough.

The tip about reading backwards is an excellent tip for anyone reading the comment threads. Thanks for posting that.

Paul

Jack@TheJackB June 21, 2011 at 7:46 am

It has been said here before but I think that it bears repeating: writing improves with practice. Part of the reason that I produce so much content is because it helps to keep my skills sharper.

I also make a point to try and write about things that don’t interest me. There is a benefit to learning how to write about anything regardless of interest level.

Steve@Internet Lifestyle June 20, 2011 at 4:09 pm

Paul,

I am definitely guilty of improper editing sometimes. There is a time between my writing and publishing. Sometimes as much as 1-2 weeks, butI still do not always take the proper time to edit WELL AFTER writing that I know I should.

One Process that can help that I use in addition to the ones you mentioned is reading the post aloud. This can really point out some of the “clunky” sentences and even make many of the common mistakes your eyes “zip” past become more obvious.

Paul Wolfe June 21, 2011 at 6:59 am

Steve

This is one that I missed and several commentators have mentioned! Later today I’ll come back and share a William Goldman story about this!

Paul

Alex | Perfecting Dad June 20, 2011 at 4:11 pm

Hey Paul: No I don’t get people to check my work, but your advice of leaving time between writing and editing and editing on paper are mainstays.

I think a blog is expected to be a bit whipped-off. At least I don’t expect thesis quality ideas and writing from people writing in their spare time. If it’s an ebook or formal journalism, more so, but I like the conversational style of the blogs. That’s why I think it’s overkill to have them proofread.

Paul Wolfe June 21, 2011 at 6:58 am

Hey Alex

See also the reply I left for Jack.

How thoroughly you should edit really depends on what you’re trying to achieve. If you’re blog is a traditional ‘diary’ kind of blog, then perhaps having a blogging buddy IS overkill. If however your blogging efforts are aimed at attracting clients or potential clients – namely that you’re blog is HOW you do your content marketing – then the content needs to be as polished as possible IMO. Because you never know WHERE a potential client is going to land on your blog – so ideally every post is written and edited to a good standard.

One of the things that I have to do now is to go back through the One Spoon archive and edit already published posts. As this is Post #94, that’s going to be a lot of work. And will take some time. But the process of doing it will make be a better editor and a better writer (hopefully). And make the content on One Spoon a small percent better.

Again, it all comes down to the goals you have for your blog. For me, One Spoon is an online business – and the blog is the way that I attract potential clients.
So the content has to be as good as I can make it. I accept that other people blogging have different goals – and therefore perhaps don’t need to be so stringent. However, as you’ve noted, printing and editing on paper – and leaving time between writing and editing – are GUARANTEED to make your posts better.

Thanks for stopping by.

Paul

Alex | Perfecting Dad June 20, 2011 at 4:12 pm

Paul: FYI, in Google Reader your blog title shows up as “Title Unknown”.

Paul Wolfe June 21, 2011 at 6:59 am

Thanks for that Alex – I’ll check it out.

I’ve been fiddling with the blog and obviously have done something. (I’ve upgraded to Thesis, and I’ve installed a plugin called WPSubscriber. So one of those must have done that….)

Paul

Peggy Baron June 20, 2011 at 4:31 pm

Hi Paul,

Great tips. Sometimes I read a blog post and it rambles in so many directions I’m not sure what the point is, if any, they are trying to make.

I do like to let my writing simmer before I publish it. I don’t always succeed though, because I’m too excited to tell people what I think. Ha!

I’m also a big fan of reading aloud. But it works best if you’ve let your work rest a bit. Otherwise you don’t read the words as they really are.

Peggy

Paul Wolfe June 21, 2011 at 7:06 am

Heya Peggy

Those posts that ramble – I’m pretty certain that the chief culprit for that is writing without an outline. When you write a post without an outline – then you need to uncover that outline in the edit stage and rewrite with the outline in mind. There’s nothing wrong with writing this way – it’s just a little inefficient. What you probably find is that the bloggers who put out these posts haven’t edited their posts at all.

Reading aloud – you’re about the 10th commentor who’s mentioned that. I can take a hint!!!! thanks for stopping by.

Paul

john Falchetto June 20, 2011 at 6:59 pm

Hi Paul,
Ha! I can see the tree huggers come down on you with this one, Print! Great advice though, as someone who didn’t grow up learning how to read off a screen printing out my posts makes it easier to read and find typos.

Another tip I use often is read the post out loud. This does wonders to ensure it flows and the words are correct.

I sometimes ask Ameena to read my post and you are right this works.
Great advice

Paul Wolfe June 21, 2011 at 7:08 am

Hey John

Well paper costs money – plus ink. I always print and ‘recycle’ my editing by printing on the other side. It’s a small cost of business as far as I’m concerned.
And yep – reading out. Can’t believe I missed it – but LOTS of folk have kindly pointed it out to me!

Paul

Jens P. Berget June 20, 2011 at 7:03 pm

Hey Paul,

That’s some really great tips. I have, from time to time, allow time between writing and editing, but I usually don’t. I get an idea, I write it, don’t edit at all, and just hit publish. That’s it. I am too eager to get it published, and I want feedback right away. That’s my biggest challenge, and especially when it comes to writing a novel. It’s really hard to be writing for a long time (and editing) without getting any feedback.

The editing buddy tips is brilliant. I guess you need to find one you can trust, and who’s at the same level as you (or just above or just below) and interested in the same niche? Anyway, that’s a brilliant tips.

Jens

Paul Wolfe June 21, 2011 at 7:10 am

Jens

I know what you mean. And sometimes – if you’re blogging on something topical – you may not have much time to gain some distance. But you can still print it out and edit it on paper.

The editing buddy thing – Jack (my editing buddy) writes in the Yoga niche. So your buddy doesn’t have to be in the same field – trust is the big thing though. Jack and I have been interacting for well over a year in a private forum, and in that time we’ve built up a relationship that works for both of us. The other thing you need is a professional attitude when it comes to receiving feedback. It’s not YOU being critiqued – it’s your writing. Two separate beasts.

Read the War Of Art for more on this.

Thanks for stopping by.

Paul

Keith Davis@Public Speaking and Presentation Skills June 20, 2011 at 8:41 pm

Hi Wolfman
I thought it was just me who printed off the post and edited with a… pencil!

Checking?
My wife takes a look to make sure that the post makes sense and she checks my spelling.

I started writing posts in word and then formating them in Wordpress.
Don’t always do that now.

“… I’ve got myself an editing buddy”
Does this guy know how much material you turn out? LOL

Paul Wolfe June 21, 2011 at 7:51 am

Heya Keith

I always write in Word and add to Wordpress – I use a ‘template’ which has the HTML code for the formatting so what I copy and paste into Wordpress automatically formats correctly. (Thanks to my mastermind buddy Marina for that one!!!)

Printing off and editing away from the computer was something I did religiously back in the day when I wrote novels and short stories. Can’t believe it’s taken me this long to implement that for One Spoon. IMHO it’s so superior to editing on the computer screen that there’s no comparison. Use a black pen though – not a pencil! If you look carefully at the image with the post, you’ll see it’s actually a scan of part of this post as I edited it!

As for Jack – my writing buddy – we go back a year or so on a private forum. I believe Jack has read EVERY. SINGLE. POST. on One Spoon at a time – a lot of them before they were published. He knows that I like to ‘write a bit.’ :) However, I won’t be sending him everything! That’s a full time job (believe it or not on Friday I put out around 110 pages of Bass Content on my other site – and I actually created around 70 of those pages on Friday! Mind you, took me around 15 hours).

Good to see ya around….

Paul

Carolyn@The Wonder of Tech June 21, 2011 at 1:23 am

Hi Paul, So glad to have found your post. I completely agree with your statements here. I have found that I do best when I can draft a post and at least sleep on it overnight. When I look at the draft the next morning, I inevitably ask, “What was I thinking?” Ah yes, that morning light really gives a new perspective, doesn’t it?

I had been drafting in word processing and then transferring over to my WordPress dashboard, but now I just draft on WordPress. I like your idea of printing out the draft. When I wrote fiction, I always did this with much success. I guess for WordPress, I would preview and then do a screencap? Or do you print some other way from the dashboard?

I don’t have an editing buddy, but my daughter and husband are great at editing. Like others, I like reading out loud if I am stumbling over a sentence.

Thanks for this powerful and helpful post.

Paul Wolfe June 21, 2011 at 7:54 am

Hey Carolyn

Thanks for stopping by.

I never write direct into Wordpress. But the way to print out a draft would be to ‘preview’ your draft – and then print that preview from your INternet Browser. No need to do a screen capture. That seems like inserting an unnecessary step.

If you can, try on a couple of post writing them a week or so in advance of publication – putting them to one side and writing some OTHER content before you come back to them. That way you get some distance – often coming back to a piece too soon leads to the ‘Ughhh, what was I thinking?” reaction you describe.

HTH.

Paul

Murray@SEO PLR June 22, 2011 at 1:22 am

I think I’m going to start printing out my posts before putting them up there like you mention because I’ve fiiiinally got around to setting up a printer (weird, I know). I realize that sitting in front of the screen all day basically gets you a little lazy when you finish an article so if you take some time later to manually go through it such as when you’re sitting and relaxing you’ll spot some glaring mistakes that really don’t need to be there. Great tip man, it sounds like it’ll greatly improve my overall writing.

Paul Wolfe June 22, 2011 at 6:40 am

Hey Murray

Thanks for stopping by – I’m confident it will improve the quality of your writing by a significant degree. When you print your stuff out on paper it just looks totally different than on the computer screen – editing is much easier. And more comprehensive than if you edit on the computer.
Seriously, the first time you’ll do it you’ll notice a massive difference.

Please come back and report how you find it!

Paul

Shivam Garg June 22, 2011 at 7:12 am

Hey Paul,
Nice post.I like your idea of finding a editing buddy.It really is a nice idea to find someone who could read the post with an altogether different perspective and give his\her views.This will seem like a test drive kind of thing but it would be very useful.

Marina Brito@Defeat The Cousin June 22, 2011 at 2:46 pm

Well, I’m one of those who doesn’t post anything without – at least- giving it overnight to simmer.

The problem that I have is that I don’t post often enough because I’m so worried of getting it “just right”.

I actually admire the courageous souls who post directly on Wordpress with a “good enough” post. It makes me feel that they are confident in who they are and in their writing.

mxx
P.S. Paul, I’m glad that you are still using the template for formatting your posts. :)

Paul Wolfe June 22, 2011 at 8:06 pm

Hola!

Yep, that template still gets a lot of use! You should have licensed it – I’d owe you a fortune by now!

Ahh….you suffer from the ‘perfectionist syndrome.’ A way you could use to get round that is to publish it and think of it as Version 1.0 – and you’ll edit it after feedback and stuff…and you should be confident in who you are and you’re writing!

Paulxx

Colleen Maleski June 22, 2011 at 4:26 pm

I don’t necessarily have an editing buddy that looks at my post before I click “publish” but my mom is among the first to read my blog (and she has an degree in English and teaching) so she is always the first to inform me if my grammar or spelling are wrong!

Paul Wolfe June 22, 2011 at 8:08 pm

Having another pair of eyes is good to try and ensure you are putting out coherent and quality work. Doesn’t matter that it’s your Mom! Anyone will do – provided you trust them, and they do a good job!

Paul

Mitch Mitchell June 22, 2011 at 7:47 pm

Interesting post. I can tell you I’m not printing out blog articles for any reason. Instead, a suggestion might be to read your article out loud. I’ve found that when you hear yourself speak and if you stumble, often it’s because a phrase is written badly or you’re noticing the error and trying to edit it while you’re speaking. I’d much prefer that than wasting a lot of paper and even time.

Paul Wolfe June 22, 2011 at 8:04 pm

Hey Mitch

Lots of people have commented that reading aloud is a great way of checking your work – and I agree.

I still believe that printing it out, and editing from that will give you a stronger result. But that’s what works for me – and one of the big lessons I’ve learned is that people have to find what works for them. And what works for me won’t necessarily be the best method for you and vice versa.

Thanks for stopping by.

Paul

Davina K. Brewer June 24, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Smart advice as always Paul. A few posts get the publish right away, when it’s a ‘fun’ post or something a little different, like a holiday post. Most of my posts start in Word, so I can edit and edit; now I don’t print to paper but I do try to take a different look (maybe I’ll try to format and print to PDF?) .. then do it all again when it’s in WP. The editing buddy is a great suggestion, if you can find the right person. I don’t have time to reciprocate, so not sure how it’d work for me; also thinking that buddy shouldn’t necessarily be a regular reader who’s very familiar with my style.. hmm, thinking. Also thinking I’m running low on drafts and need to get some post in queue, always work to done. FWIW.

Paul Wolfe June 24, 2011 at 4:34 pm

Heya Davina

Thanks for stopping by.

Here’s a suggestion – know you’re a busy gal – try on a post trying to write it a few days before you’re gonna publish, write it in Word, and then leave it. The day before you come to publish it, print it out on paper and edit it there.

I was gobsmacked by what I found that needed editing. Seriously, just try it out once and see.

The editing buddy thing is harder. In an ideal world we’d all be earning a fortune with out blogs and could employ a proofreader. However….back to the real world. Finding a buddy who you trust IS hard – but although the experiment is only a week old for me, I really believe it will sharpen my editing and my writing. That’s a result that I can’t resist…I’ll periodically update how it’s going. But hopefully you’ll see an improvement in the quality of my writing. Time will tell!

Have a great weekend – thanks for stopping by as always.

Paul

Ana @ Aweber autoresponder June 24, 2011 at 2:58 pm

Interesting ideas, Paul.

I must agree with your first point – putting some distance between yourself and the post; it definitely works well, in the perfect world, and I love to do it ideally.

However, the rest of your points I agree with ideally, but would never be able to put them into practice.

Printing, finding a buddy seem like great suggestions, but when you have a busy blog and have to crank out content constantly, it becomes a chore to take any of those steps – IMHO.

Interesting topic to discuss though!

Ana

Paul Wolfe June 24, 2011 at 4:06 pm

Hey Ana

Thanks for stopping by.

I know what you mean about the practicalities of printing out and an editing buddy – especially for someone who puts out so much content as you do! :)

However I’m a great believer in one of the ways of getting ahead of your competition being to do what your competition is not prepared to do. To that end, raising the quality of posts is really important because I’m guessing a lot of bloggers write and hit publish. As I only publish twice a week, I do get chance to implement this – it’s too soon to tell if the extra effort is worth it. But I’m always looking to improve.

(And always open for feedback on how to get better – so if you have any, please leave it!).

Paul

Jon@Business Ideas June 25, 2011 at 3:41 am

Paul,

Thanks for the introduction to an editing buddy. I have nothing going on in the way of outside editing BUT I do ask for feedback from a few key friends offline. By the time they see the post, it’s live already -haha. So…well, that doesn’t do much good.

A turd in a fancy gift box is still a turd – Amen!

I don’t hit publish immediately. What I did do on one occasion is schedule a post to go live that I had forgotten to edit (left editorial notes in, no image to accompany post) and that was a bummer when I figured it out. Oh well. Normally my posts will sit a while before they go live but I’m the only editor.

You make a great case for seeking an editing buddy – just not sure I’ll go that route yet :)

Chat soon (tomorrow)!

Paul Wolfe June 25, 2011 at 7:13 am

Hey Jon

You can get by without an editing buddy – but although it’s early days for my experiment I really believe that having one will lift your game substantially. Especially over time as the ‘editing’ training you get makes its way into the subconscious and enters the writing phase.

Asking for feedback is good though – that can highlight areas to get better. Then you can work on those.

Talk to you later!

Paul

Faissal Alhaithami @ facebook marketing tips June 25, 2011 at 5:18 pm

Great tips! I’m really looking to try out to print my article and edit it manually!
thanks alot for the article paul..

Paul Wolfe June 26, 2011 at 6:12 pm

Hey Faissal

Thanks for stopping by – and thanks for tweeting out the post. Hoping to get over to your place later today to check out some of your Facebook stuff.

Paul

Adam June 25, 2011 at 7:07 pm

Hi Paul, these are good advices you mentioned up there. When I started writing it was as you mentioned just to write something in WP and hit publish button that was pretty it. Later I realized that if I want to improve my writings I have to take some time between writing and publishing. Now I usually have at least one or two days before publishing the article.

I have not been thinking about editing buddy till now, but it seems like it could be another great way how to improve the text dramatically. Sometimes you can not see the mistakes in your own text no matter how hard you are trying.

Thanks for these advices!

Paul Wolfe June 26, 2011 at 6:10 pm

Hey Adam

Welcome to One Spoon Land – and yep, agree with everything you’ve written.

If you can find someone who you trust who will be your editing buddy it really is a win-win – because you get fresh eyes on your post, and you can ‘practice’ editing on their post. Over time the quality of your editing – and hence the quality of the finished post or article – should gradually rise.

Paul

Dan Black June 25, 2011 at 8:28 pm

Great points. I try to write then, edit it later. Even if its taking a half hour break then comming back to edit it. I then have my wife read and edit it. Then I read it one more time. My focus is on publishing quality posts. I know as I write more I will become better.

Paul Wolfe June 26, 2011 at 6:11 pm

Dan

What’s cool is that you’ve found a system that works for you and are using it. That commitment to quality will have a beneficial effect on the quality of your posts without a doubt.

Paul

Marianne Worley June 26, 2011 at 5:24 am

When I’m copyediting a work project, I always print it out and mark it up with a pen. (I print on both sides of the paper and use the quick draft mode on my printer to save ink.) I definitely catch more errors that way. Funny, I never thought about printing out a post and editing it…

I have a few blog-writing habits that help me keep the quality as high as possible: 1) I write out many posts (or at least do a detailed outline) on paper before I type them into WordPress OR 2) I type my draft in Word and edit it there before I copy and paste it into WordPress.

I should try harder to write posts in advance. I think I’ve manage to do it twice since I started blogging in February. I’m kind of a “spur-of-the-moment” blogger! As a result, it would be tough to get a blogging buddy who would be able to handle my ever-changing schedule. But I do think it’s an excellent idea.

Great advice Paul! Thanks for sharing.

Paul Wolfe June 26, 2011 at 6:09 pm

Hey Marianne

Yep, I print on both sides of the paper and use the print out option that uses the least ink! And it definitely works for your blog posts too – I find it much easier to find words that need changing, or sentences that need rephrasing, on a physical print out.

And if you go back in the archives you’ll find that I’m a big fan of outlines! And I NEVER write a post directly into Wordpress. So we agree on that too!

Writing the posts in advance is something that I’ve struggled with – mainly due to the fact that my bass guitar website is my ‘day job’ and this website is done in my spare time in the evenings. So it’s harder to get posts written in advance – and often I’ve been very guilty of writing, doing a quick scan edit and then hitting the publish button. It’s something that needs to change – and that change has started happening. Having an editing buddy also helps!

Thanks for stopping by.

Paul

Nikki @ Video Productions Chicago June 26, 2011 at 3:28 pm

Nice and helpful article, Paul. I also have an editing buddy. I think this is very effective because we cannot really pinpoint the errors on our articles by ourselves. I think printing out the article can indeed improve the quality of your editing. But I don’t think I can do it often…

Paul Wolfe June 26, 2011 at 5:41 pm

Hey Nikki

Intrigued by the URL and your name – be checking you out later.

The problem with being your own proofreader is that you KNOW what you want to say, and often your brain interprets what you’ve written to align with your intended meaning. But sometimes our writing doesn’t communicate as effectively as it could. That’s where an editing buddy comes in – printing it out can also help (once you’ve inserted some distance between editing and writing too).

Bottom line is that it’s all about finding a method that works for YOU by trial and error, refine that method, then use it on every post.

Paul

Lauren Patzer June 29, 2011 at 5:59 am

As others have stated, this isn’t just a great idea for blog posts and marketing materials, but these steps will improve any writing you do. Printing out the writing is probably the least practiced and most important step you’ve outlined here. Having an edit buddy is the second. Another great editing tool is to read your work out loud; it’s amazing what you can find wrong with what at first looks great on paper.

Barbara June 30, 2011 at 7:40 pm

I’m guilty of just writing the post and publishing it. I think I’d need someone to play Comma Fairy for me since I’ve somehow managed to go through my life without them. I don’t know why. It just happened but at least I do paragraphs and sentences which I didn’t always do. I might try some of those tips. Who knows maybe that could be the reason why I seem to write uncommentable posts.

Paul Wolfe July 1, 2011 at 6:09 am

Hey Barbara

Dig the gravatar!

If you write in Word or a program like that, the spell and grammar check will suggest some places where you need commas. OR it may be that writing short, punchy sentences is your ‘natural’ writing style. Writing the post and just publishing it is almost certain to include missed words, typos, and words that don’t mean what you intend to.

Try printing out and editing and see what a difference it makes!

Paul

Roland@rome hotels July 1, 2011 at 1:33 am

You have just share a very systematic approach in writing and editing job. Bloggers,writers, editors and other workers who are relevant to this job must consider what you have said.Those tips are really efficient in doing this job.They will help them in improving the quality and reducing the amount of time in doing there works. What a great help for us.

Beth October 4, 2011 at 7:27 pm

After reading these tips and suggestions, I feel like I owe my readers (all 3 of them!) an apology.

Simple, powerful, and novel advice! Thanks a bunch.

Paul Wolfe October 4, 2011 at 8:35 pm

Welcome.

Glad it helped. (And we all started out with 3 readers btw!)

Dan@cupola November 16, 2011 at 6:53 pm

“Will it improve your posts by 50% as the headline states?”
I don’t know about others but I think my blog posts definitely improved by 50% after reading your post.

Thanks Pual,

Rod Byler December 8, 2011 at 3:53 am

When I’m about to write I use to edit it afterwards, I don’t print it out because for me it is such a hassle one. This tips from you is great, thanks for taking time to post this I learn a lot.

Comments on this entry are closed.

{ 3 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: