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The Importance of Letting A Good Post Wait

This article was written by Glen Stansberry of LifeDev (feed). Check out LifeDev if you want more ways to be creative and efficient with your writing.

Growing a readership is something that takes hard work and a little luck. Sure, sites like Digg and Reddit can greatly expand your readership overnight, but it’s really the way you craft your posts that will help the most with growing your blog. A bangin’ post is worth 10 mediocre ones any day. But unfortunately for most of us, in order to write a great post you have to be a… decent writer.

Becoming a better writer should be every blogger’s goal. Better writers can craft posts in a way that a) get their point across quicker and b) connect with the audience more effectively. No matter what your content, your audience will always benefit from better writing. And if your audience is happy, you’ll be happy too.

The darndest thing about blog content is that you can have the most amazing post in the world, but if you can’t create mildly decent sentences with proper spelling and grammar, nobody’s going to listen to you.

If you’re going to write like a drunk kindergartener, you can kiss your subscription rate goodbye.

[Disclaimer: The author does not even pretend to be any authority on "proper writing". As a matter of fact, he fell asleep frequently in English classes throughout his youth.]

If you’re not a great writer yet, don’t stress. Improving your writing skills comes mostly from practice and reading other great writers. But I’ve found that the most effective way to improving my blogging has been to just let my posts sit. If I sleep on a post, odds are it will be much better than had I just hit “Publish”. You see, most of the blogging mojo comes after the writing is done.

Once you’ve stopped typing you’ve only just begun the writing process. Read it through, at least a couple times. Odds are each time you read it through, you’ll pick up on stuff that could be worded better, or explained more, or even taken out completely. Don’t be afraid to let something sit overnight, or even longer. Think of your post as like a cheese that just gets better with age.

I’ve found that some of my best posts were crafted over the course of days. Yet it paid off in the end. The social sites went to town on that content, and now I’ve got backlinks galore from those posts.

You don’t want to let your posts sit too long though. At this point your fine cheese has turned a little too green. I wouldn’t recommend letting your posts “percolate” more than a week. Some people can pull it off, but for me I lose interest in the original topic too quickly, and most of my original ideas are gone.

So when you start to craft your next post, let it sit for a bit and see what happens. I guarantee your quality of writing will increase. And if your blog’s quality increases, so will your readership.

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Comments

  1. Solid advice. I have a sign on my whiteboard that sayd “Proof read twice!” still every once in a while I publish an article with a typo… I guess I will need to make it “Proof read three times!”.

  2. Tabs says:

    You are so right, my blogs take me nothing less than two hours to write because I am manic about proof reading. Even then I reread like mad and still find things I can fix. Thanks for a great post.

    Cheers,
    Tabs

    PS
    I even proof read comments.

  3. John Wesley says:

    I agree. Some of my post popular posts have been written in multiple sessions. But I wonder, is it possible to get a point across too fast?

  4. digsite says:

    I don’t blog to make money but even then I’m pretty anal about it as well and read it over and over and over. But one big mistake I continue to make is click publish and then continue to proof read making more and more changes.. sometimes editing up to 3 times after it’s already been published.

    Since my blog only sends out pings on the first publish, I often wonder if my post continues to show up pre-edited .. at any rate, a bad habit.

  5. engtech says:

    I wish I could mind dump the blog posts I write in the shower… they’re never as good when I try to remember them latter.

  6. Albert says:

    This is very good advice but… you spelt grammar wrong. Or was that done intentionally? ;)

  7. lee says:

    engtech,
    What’s funny is that since I’ve started blogging, I’ve turned to the decidedly low-tech solution of carrying a small notebook with me at all times.

  8. Jen says:

    Thought over this comment very carefully before posting… yep, I’m sure about it… As an editor, I applaud conscientious writing, as a writer I sometimes just can’t be bothered, and both of my personae can fully appreciate a good cheese analogy such as yours. Excellent advice.

  9. Jim Kukral says:

    Great advice Darren, but so hard to do for people like me. I try though, but you’re absolutely right, if you wait, it ends up being better.

  10. Manthem says:

    Anyone else catch the misspelling of grammar right after the author warns us not to make spelling mistakes? I’m conflicted over whether or not I’m supposed to listen to this post now.

  11. Darryl says:

    Excellent advice. I have a tendency to sit on a post a bit too long. But I find that if I don’t finish a post when I start writing it, I tend to lose my train of thought. I also have the same problems as both digsite and engtech.

    Why is it that there’s never a piece of paper around when you need one?

  12. Larry Keiler says:

    Oh irony of ironies. In the very paragraph in which he is trying to make his point…he makes his point…

    “The darndest thing about blog content is that you can have the most amazing post in the world, but if you can’t create mildly decent sentences with proper spelling and grammer, nobody’s going to listen to you.”

    Can you spot it?

  13. grammar ;)

  14. I assumed that typo was a joke, no? That’s even funnier. (Sorry :)

  15. Justin says:

    Awesome article. I think many of us get caught up in quantity and forget about quality.

    One point to make on the proof-reading, though. While it’s immensely important, try not to go too nuts. You don’t want to seem like a robot. In Robert Scoble’s book, Naked Conversations, he argues that the occasional typo is OK as it keeps the conversation real and lets the reader know that there is an actual person on the other end. The blogging community can be so skeptical as it is, the occasional mistake can lend some credibility.

  16. If everyone knows how to blog in such a good writer then education career will be increasing :-) Old school day, we wrote diary on a personal notebook and only us can read it. Nowaday we write for hundred of thousands people to read. *WOW*

  17. If you’re going to write like a drunk kindergartener… .. I vote to STOP giving drinks to those kindergarten children .. if they continue to write in a drunk manner ..

  18. Bret says:

    Great advice. Lee commented earlier about carrying around a light weight notebook. Wouldn’t it be great if someone sold a super light weight laptop that’s sole purpose was word processing? The item would have a USB port for transferring data, flash drive for storage, and a low res black and white screen to minimize battery draw. Couldn’t something like that be light weight and have “crazy” long battery life?

    Anyway, one other blog editing tip to add. I usually read my post backwards as one final proofing step. Not literally backwards but rather the last sentence and then the second to last sentence etc. I’ve found that prevents me from sticking words during a forward proof read that just aren’t there. It’s very easy to inject words into your own work because you meant it to be there but it just isn’t.

  19. If I come across a blog that has too many misspellings, and by this I don’t mean the occasional obvious typo, but clearly the wrong words used, I don’t want to continue reading that blog and hesitate about posting a comment. I don’t want to be associated with poor writing. Your very credibility depends to some degree on your writing skill.

  20. Rob O. says:

    I thought this was just something I did…

    Like others, I tend to do an initial draft and then come back to the post once or twice before pushing it live. Often this occurs over the course of just a few minutes – sometimes the gap is just long enough for a “freshen up my coffee” break.

    But very often I get inspired to write about lengthier topics in spells. So I draft 2 or 3 (or more) entries and stick them in a “Future Posts” temp folder. Then I revisit & refine them over the course of a few days or even a couple of weeks.

    Then when I hit a dry spell, I pull one of those nuggets out and set it free. Sometimes I’ve let a future post simmer long enough that its lack of value becomes apparent so I end up just pitching it or rehashing it into something alltogether different.

  21. Justin J. Clark says:

    My high-school English teacher had this piece of advice boiled down into three words and drilled it into our heads constantly: “Writing is Rewriting.”

  22. Just read your post out loud 2or3x and you’ll find the errors, similiar to writing an essay :-)

  23. Bob Buskirk says:

    Great post, my writing has improved so much over the past years from just writing reviews. Sometimes I look back on my old writing and can’t believe it was me that wrote it.

    When I first started out writing I would write something, and just post it. Now I take a few days to go back over it, re-write, edit, do a final revision, then post.

  24. Larry Keiler says:

    I’m seeing that most of the comments here have to do with writing practice, not blogging per se. This is good. Good writing + good content = good blog, as far as I see it.

    @Justin: I don’t agree with you or Scoble. Maybe it depends on how compulsive you are about accuracy. Everybody makes mistakes now and then, sure, but it is the duty of the writer (as blog publisher) to minimize these. The blog is for public consumption, no? You don’t see hard-copy publishers saying, “Oh, a typo here and there is OK, it makes it seem like real people are behind it.” No, they hire proof-readers, etc. to make sure the final product is as professional as possible.

    Having said that, if you go to my blog, you’ll find lots of spelling “mistakes” and weird turns of phrase. That’s the persona of the writer…a phelonious misspeller. But you have to know the rules to break them.

  25. Shazzer says:

    I totally agree with avoiding the “rush to publish” when you’re creating original content that is *not time sensitive.* I often develop entries over the course of a day or two (or three) and they are much stronger because of it. But many of my most highly-read posts are those in which I shared my take or observations on something going on in the news or elsewhere in the blogosphere…and had I sat on them for even 12 hours I would have missed the wave of people reading, talking and writing about the topic. In that situation I think it’s better to make the post quickly and then go back and refine it later if needed.

  26. Kaj says:

    I write my blog in Dutch. Just you know.I always like my article to be published, so that’s why I find it hard to wait and read it over. But I know I have to do that more.

    Thanks for the advice!!

  27. Rob O. says:

    I’ve noticed that my initial blog drafts are sometimes kinda wordy. Often, it’s when I revisit the post that I find my stride and loosen up the choice of words. I sort figure that few (if any) folks are going to get much enjoyment out of reading some stiff and stodgy discourse – and that’s also probably a pretty good way to convince readers to not come back…

  28. But many of my most highly-read posts are those in which I shared my take or observations on something going on in the news or elsewhere in the blogosphere…and had I sat on them for even 12 hours I would have missed the wave of people reading, talking and writing about the topic. In that situation I think it’s better to make the post quickly and then go back and refine it later if needed.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Take a Step Back and Let Your Post Sit. Taking this logic even further, an article in Problogger (written by Glen Stansberry of LifeDev) stresses the importance of reviewing whatever it is you are writing, even more so for your more important pieces of information. Once you’ve gotten your ideas in writing, step back and review the material at least a couple times before publishing, because odds are you will see opportunities for improvement each time you revisit your post. [...]