In parts one and two of the series, I covered the early steps of writing a post - creating an active ideas file and tips for finding inspiration; and advice for expanding the concepts in your ideas file and the positives of getting personal in posts. Last week I discussed the process behind writing your post - summarizing the concept in your ideas file; creating a great title; choosing the right length; and using the most effective language.
This week, I'll provide the final part of the series regarding editing, and include some final tips for writing a great blog post.
At this point in your writing process, you've collected ideas in your ideas file, chosen on to write about, created an effective post title, and thought about the length of your post. Now you're ready to write! As you get your thoughts down, here are a few tips to improve your blog copy:
- Don't write in a too-formal tone: Blogging is a much more casual medium than you might be used to writing in. The most effective blog posts are written in a conversational tone, using language you speak in on a daily basis. One way to develop your blogging "voice" is to pay attention to the language used in blogs you already follow. What is it about the tone that resonates with you?
- Edit, Edit, Edit: Once you write your post, review it for redundancies, spelling errors, grammatical mistakes, and punctuation errors. All of these errors distract your reader and take the focus off the message you are trying to communicate. I always type my posts out in a Word document before copying them into a blog post. Though it takes a few extra minutes, I can be sure that any grammatical and spelling errors will be caught before I post. Watch out for common misspellings that won't show up on the spellchecker, such as "your" versus "you're," "their" versus "there," and "principle" and "principal." You can also use the dictionary.com and Guide to Grammar and Writing websites for additional help.
- Avoid tired clichés: A cliché is a phrase that has been used for so long that it's become tired and repetitive. Take a moment to be creative and replace those cliches with something fresh and inventive.
- DO use lists. Most blog readers skim post rather than read them all the way through. One way to maximize your post impact is to use lists. Bullet lists or numbered lists call attention to important points, and guarantee that readers who are skimming will catch the most important parts of your post.
- Understand basic principles of effective text layout: Readability is one of the most important aspects of good blog copy. Use line breaks between paragraphs. Use italics for emphasis. Your goal is to draw the eye and create a smooth sense of flow throughout your post. Make it easy to read!
- Come back later: If you get stuck while writing, don’t try to force the words to come. Save the post and work on something else for awhile. If inspiration strikes, open up that document again. You can even switch from one blog post to another, spending a few minutes on each as ideas comes to you. I tend to work on two to three blog posts at a time, and I've learned that this really helps prevent burnout effectively.
- Trust your instincts: If you've already proven that you can attract readers, then you are doing something very right. Keep doing what you've been doing. Without you even being aware, with every article/post you have written you've gotten better. You have learned what ideas work, what do not. You have increased vocabulary and language usage. DON”T OVERTHINK IT! Just trust your instincts and keep writing.
- Keep it simple: Some posts are simply to convey information. Some are introspective and emotive. Some are humorous and succinct. And sometimes your readers just need information. There are no "supposed to's" in writing. Write what you want.
- THE GOAL IS LONGEVITY: It's okay to take a day off. It's okay to write less than you normally do. And it's okay to review your blog objectives and change direction. The ultimate purpose of blogging is to create a personal venue through which to communicate your values, goals and interests.
Has this series made you think different about crafting a post? What has your favorite tip been so far?