Whether you are a seasoned writer or a small business owner blogging for the first time, writing is the easy part. It’s the spelling, grammar, and editing that gives people fits.
If you have the first draft of your blog post done, good news: the hard part is over. Once your ideas are on paper (or on screen), it’s a lot easier to refine or rewrite them. We’ve put together a few editing tips that will take your rough drafts from paltry to publishable.
Take a Break
Don’t go straight from writing your post to editing it. Take a walk, run an errand, hit the gym – just get away from your post. I like to return to my rough drafts a full day later. Looking at your writing with fresh eyes will help you see the flaws in your logic, delete what is unnecessary, or determine what needs to be expanded.
Remember Your Readers
When you edit, always ask “how does this help my reader?” You’re writing the post because it has value for your audience, so make sure that value is clear to you and to them.
Active vs. Passive Voice
Passive voice is when something happens to someone; active voice is when someone does something. Here are some examples – which sentence sounds better?
Jim was running to the bus.
Jim ran to the bus.
Probably the second one, right? That’s because the second one is in active voice, not passive. Active voice indicates confidence in your argument, makes your writing punchier, and clarifies your point.
Confusing active and passive voice is common blogging blunder, along with these 10 common grammar errors.
Longer sentences are harder to understand, so keep your sentences short and to the point. Don’t be afraid of sentence fragments. Seriously. They help break up your content, and they’re a great way to express your personality and keep your tone light-hearted and enjoyable.
Don’t Use Jargon
Unless you’re writing for a very specific audience, use plain English words that anyone can understand. Jargon can alienate your audience and make your argument unclear.
Verbs and Adverbs
Use exciting verbs. Instead of “walked,” try “sauntered.” Or instead of “ate,” try “devoured.” Boring verbs are, well, boring.
Using animated verbs eliminates the need for adverbs. For example, instead of staying “Jim ran quickly to the bus”, try “Jim sprinted to the bus.” Only use an adverb if it changes or affects the ultimate meaning of your sentence – if you’re using an adverb to intensify an action, pick a punchier verb.
Read Out Loud
I always read my blog posts out loud because it helps me find sentences that don’t flow properly. Blog posts should be conversational, and reading your writing out loud helps you find where your post reads a bit too formal or informal. It also helps me locate any wayward typos or grammar errors, even ones that I missed on my first four or five rounds of editing.
The editing phase is when you take your blog posts from average to extraordinary. Don’t be afraid to completely rip apart your first draft! That’s what first drafts are for. If you still think your posts need improvement, have a writing buddy edit them. A fresh pair of eyes is always a good idea!