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How to Edit Your Blog Posts Like a Pro

Posted By Laney Galligan 22nd of November 2017 Writing Content 0 Comments

It’s every blogger’s worst nightmare.

Your latest post gets shared by a big-name blogger, and you start getting lots of traffic. Hurrah!

But then someone sends you an email (or worse, leaves a comment) pointing out a glaring mistake in the first paragraph.

Mistakes can knock your reader’s confidence in you. A study in the UK a few years ago suggested that spelling mistakes might be costing businesses millions of dollars.

Of course, editing isn’t just about fixing typos and spelling mistakes. It’s also about shaping your post so it’s easy for readers to engage with. Even if your post is free of grammatical and spelling mistakes, you’ll still lose readers if it takes forever to get to the point, or switches between topics too much .

Perhaps you’ve struggled to edit your posts effectively in the past. You may have spent hours tweaking them, only to feel the result wasn’t much better than what you started with. Or maybe you think it simply takes too long.

In this post, I’ll explain how to create a simple checklist to help you edit – just like we do here at Problogger.

Our Editing Process at ProBlogger

Every post we publish goes through the same streamlined editing process.

Several members of the ProBlogger team write content (mainly Darren and me), and we also publish posts from our subject matter experts. This means we need a clear, step-by-step editing process that makes it easy for everyone to collaborate. and ensures all posts follow our style guide.

Part of our process is this checklist template, which we apply to every post in CoSchedule.

Even if you’re the only person who ever writes for your blog, it still helps to have a clear editing process.

Also think about where you edit. If you’re working with outside parties (e.g. guest posters or companies/agencies providing sponsored content), you may want to use Google Docs like we do. You can collaborate with the author as you edit, and hand the post on to someone else who may be handling formatting and uploading.

If it’s just you, it’s still important to have a self-editing process. It could mean clearly separating your roles as “writer” and “editor” so you’re not trying to edit as you write.

I also recommend coming up with a checklist you can use again and again so you never  have to worry about missing a crucial step when editing a post. Here’s how.

Creating Your Own Editing Checklist

You probably already have a process you work through when editing, whether you realise it or not. Open a blank document and type out the typical steps you go through. For instance, maybe you always add the formatting (subheadings, bold text, lists, etc.) when you edit, rather than while you’re drafting.

Now, see if anything is missing from your checklist. Here are some important things to include:

#1: Introduction

Make sure your introduction has a hook, ideally in the very first line. What will the reader gain from this post? Give them a clear reason to keep reading.

Avoid overly long introductions. You’ll lose readers when they’ve barely started on your post. One trick to try is to remove the first paragraph or two of your post entirely. Does it work just as well (or even better) without them?

Further reading: 10 Tips for Opening Your Next Blog Post, Darren Rowse

#2: Subheadings

Unless your post is very short, add subheadings to break it into sections. This helps all your readers. Those who skim for information can quickly find the relevant parts of your post, while those who read every word won’t feel lost in a sea of text.

You should format subheadings by using a heading tag. Make sure the hierarchy is correct (i.e don’t skip from H1 to H3). This is something we always check for here at ProBlogger.

Further reading: How to Use Subheadings to Add Structure to Your Blog Posts , Darren Rowse with Ali Luke

#3: Visual Breaks

Create white space in your post wherever possible. If you can put something into a bulleted list, do it. We also use the blockquote format to highlight key parts of a post. It gives the content more space, and makes it look more attractive.

Images can also create useful breaks in your post. They’re particularly useful if you’re giving instructions on how to do something, because you can show readers how it should look at each step.

Don’t be afraid to use one-sentence (or even one-word) paragraphs. They can be tremendously powerful. Smart Blogger and Copyblogger both make great use of them in their posts.

Further reading: How to Write a Great Paragraph, James Chartrand

#4: Extraneous Material

Delete anything that isn’t relevant to your post, no matter how witty, clever, or well-written it is. If you can’t bear to lose it completely, copy it into a ‘snippet’ file. You might be able to use it in a future post. (A great tip from Bill Harper who edits our posts.)

If your post includes a lot of detail to get beginners up to speed (or to give experienced readers extra food for thought), consider linking to that information in other posts (yours or someone else’s) instead. That way, you can give those who need more help (or want to go deeper) the information they need without everyone else getting bogged down in your post.

This doesn’t mean you can’t write long posts. Some topics require more space to cover all the details. Just make sure every paragraph is necessary.

Further reading: ProBlogger FAQ: How Long Should Posts Be?, Darren Rowse

#5: Conclusion

Make sure your post has a conclusion. Some bloggers have a tendency to end their posts abruptly – especially if they’ve written a list post. Remember, the last few lines of your post are an opportunity to leave your readers with a good impression. You can also give them a call to action, such as leaving a comment, sharing your post, or even buying your product.

Like introductions, conclusions don’t need to be long to be effective. But they do need to be there.

Further reading: 7 Powerful Ways to End Your Next Blog Post, Ali Luke

#6: Complex Sentences, Phrases and Words

Read your post out loud. Another great tip from Bill (that I don’t have the patience to do myself). Are any of your sentences too long? (You shouldn’t need to take a breath mid-way.) Are some a bit of a tongue-twister? Listen to how your writing sounds, and split up or rewrite any sentences you struggle with.

Look for words and phrases you can replace with simpler ones. For instance, don’t say “obtain” when “get” works just as well.

Further reading: Shorter, simpler words: Guide to concise writing, KingCounty.gov

#7: Links to Other Posts

Linking to other posts on your blog is always a good idea. And not just for the potential search engine benefits. It also helps new readers dig more deeply into your body of work, and increases the chances they’ll stick around.

As you edit, look for opportunities to include a link to a post in your archives. Consider linking to other blogs too. It shows readers that you read and research in your niche, and can be a great way to build a strong relationship with fellow bloggers.

Further reading: Why Interlinking Your Blog Posts is a Must (and Not Just For SEO), Daniel Vassiliou

#8: Before Publication

You may want to include this step as part of your editing checklist, or create a separate checklist for ‘uploading’ or ‘publishing’ blog posts. (It’s particularly useful if you work with a virtual assistant.)

Depending on your theme, and how you like to format your posts, it might include things like:

  • Ensuring the post is assigned a category and, if you use them, tags
  • Including a featured image for your post
  • Adding a “read more” link (so only the first part of your post appears on the front page of your blog)
  • Scheduling your post to appear at a future date

Further reading: Categories vs Tags – SEO Best Practices for Sorting your Content

While content isn’t the only thing you need for a successful blog, it’s crucial that your posts are as good as you can make them. That means careful editing. And if you use a consistent process like we do here at ProBlogger, you’ll always be able to edit quickly and effectively.

Did we miss any items that you have in your checklist? Share them with us in the comments below.

Image credit: Joanna Kosinska

About Laney Galligan

Laney Galligan is General Manager of ProBlogger and the founder and director of Agents of Influence, a service helping online creatives understand, build and leverage their influence. When she’s not helping people earning a living from their passion (or on Slack with the PB team), you’ll find her on the roller derby track or spinning a hula hoop.

  • Portugal Exposure

    Laney, thank you for this insighful article. Just a quick comment I wasn’t able to find the gear stick you referred to at the top of google docs so and image would have been really helpful. Susan

  • I’ve learned to always check the date in my editing process after I published a blog in the year 1917!!

  • Yep, I am one of those people who hates proof reading. I think I really need to set up a style guide to help me when I go through each post before scheduling. Great tip!

  • tidm

    This article is helpful for knowledge of the truth stories. I think this should be valuable ideas

  • Lucas Smith

    Thank you for this very informative article Laney.
    Especially for giving us a glimpse on one for ProBlogger’s techniques. I will definitely utilise this. Though editing never really is my forte. But I’ll give it a try. lol

  • interesting

  • Hey – great article, will share.

    What do you use to convert Google doc to WordPress? Thanks

  • Hi Laney,

    I hate proofreading, I don’t mind writing but for some reason, it takes me forever to proofread. One of the things that I love doing is to write my blog posts in several weeks in advance.

    Then what I do is come back and proofread my blog posts. I won’t write anything I’ll just spend the morning proofreading and creating images for my blog.

    This seems to help me out and it’s easy for me to find my errors when I have fresh eyes. I’ve tried editing after writing the article, but I’ve always had issues finding my errors.

    Thanks for sharing these tips with us, I have no doubt they will help us improve our blog posts and publish with less errors.

    Have a great day :)

    Susan

  • Rather than proofread, I use the speech function on my Mac to read it out loud for me. It’s not perfect and it’s difficult to pause when you need to make a correction. Bit it works well for me.

  • great article
    your blog keep inspiring me

  • Thanks for sharing this oh-so-usable information! Being an editor myself, I also know the value of an editing checklist. Great information here and a good reminder for me as well!

  • Nice post thanks for sharing this valuable information.

  • Hello Laney,

    Proof reading is an essential of blogging and bloggers must have to focus on it. I am also proofreading my posts before publishing it on my blog. I use tools like Grammarly to proofread my post. Thanks for sharing these great tips and insights.

    Have a great day :)
    Vishwajeet

  • Thank you for this, Laney. Great list of resources too! As the sole writer on my blog, I’m the editor and executioner as well. It’s always a good idea to have a checklist to follow.

  • Thanks for this Work-Flow-Chart, which is always an important Keep at Hand thing. I am following my own strategy in Article Writing – Editing – Proof Reading – Adding Media’s – Publishing.
    I am gonna try your way to check whether it’s easy as doing things.

  • Kathleen – Bloggers Lifestyle

    Thank you, this is a most valuable resource to improve the quality of what we are producing. I need to go back and take some notes.
    I guess the mistake in your last line was to see if we are paying attention??

  • Ajcorp Rohit

    thanks for sharing this beautiful article …d

  • Sukhjeet Singh

    Hi Laney,

    This is the valuable article to read and gain some knowledge to improve blogging.

  • Linda Mims

    I like that there’s a mistake in the last sentence of your Further Reading Section. No matter how hard we try, something gets overlooked.

  • Simply Life Tips

    Very helpful post. Didn’t know that even one sentence paragraph is good. Thanks.

  • Thanks for the complete guide for blog post editing. It is really very helpful for me.

  • blog post have to be on 100% from every aspect if anyone want to draw readers to it, and these points can help a lot in making it happen.

  • Good article! It is really very helpful for me.

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