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9 Crucial Tips for Self-Editing Your Blog Posts (That Every Blogger Can Use)

This is a guest contribution from Ali Luke of Zen Optimise.

Image via Flickr user Dan Patterson

Image via Flickr user Dan Patterson

Have you ever glanced at a post the day after publishing it … only to notice a glaring error?

In an ideal world, you’d have a professional editor helping with your posts, making careful adjustments and double-checking things with you until your post is the polished masterpiece it deserves to be.

In the real world, chances are you’re on your own. If your post is going to be edited, it’s up to you to do it.

Whether you’re a highly experienced writer or a new blogger who’s very unconfident about their writing, spending some time editing (and doing it right) will result in dramatically better posts.

Here’s how:

9 Tips for Editing Your Own Blog Posts

#1: Plan Before You Write

One of the best editing tricks takes place before you even write your post.

By spending five to ten minutes creating a plan, you can save yourself hours of frustration trying to whip your post into shape later.

Your plan needn’t be complicated: a list of your subheadings is enough. My plan for this post began like this:

Introduction

1. Plan before you write

2. Avoid editing while writing (link Daniel’s post)

3. Don’t go straight from writing into editing

#2: Avoid Editing While Writing

Have you ever started a blog post, got a paragraph or two in, scrapped your introduction, started again… and then ended up bogged down mid-way?

A good plan will help a lot here, but you also need to get out of the habit of trying to perfect every sentence while you’re working on the first draft. It’s an inefficient and often frustrating way to work.

I wouldn’t go quite so far as Daniel Scocco, who suggests you should never hit backspace when you’re writing – personally, I think it’s no big deal if you quickly correct a typo or occasionally restart a sentence. But at least 90% of the time, you should be making forward progress with your first draft, not going back and rewriting.

#3: Don’t Go Straight from Writing into Editing

If you’re in a hurry to get a post out, or simply in a blogging mood, you might finish drafting your post and immediately start editing.

While this is OK once in a while, it’s definitely better to allow your post to rest a bit before you start editing.

This has a couple of benefits:

You won’t be so close to the material, so you’ll see where you might want to add something in, take something out, or rearrange paragraphs. (You’ll also be more likely to spot all the good bits!)

You’ll hopefully come back feeling refreshed, so you’ll be in a better position to spot typos, grammatical errors, and other tiny but distracting mistakes.

How long should you stay away? If you can leave your post overnight, that’s perfect; otherwise, a lunch break or even a coffee break can be enough.

#4: Edit the Big Picture First

When you hear the word “editing,” you probably think about fixing spelling mistakes and debating over word choices. That’s definitely a big part of editing … but before you get into the details, you need to take a look at the big picture of your post.

Think of it this way: you don’t want to spend ages getting a paragraph just right, only to later realize it doesn’t belong in your post at all.

So spend at least a few minutes reading through your post and deciding whether you should:

Cut out information that might not be relevant (or that’s repetitive).

Add in information that readers may need in order to understand the post.

Move around paragraphs or subsections that aren’t currently in the best order.

At this stage, you’re focusing on paragraphs and perhaps sentences, rather than individual words.

#5: Cut Down Your Introduction

Most blog posts benefit from some cutting … and introductions are a great place to begin. 

The first few lines of your post need to hook the reader and encourage them to read on. If you spend several paragraphs explaining the inspiration behind the post, or if you start to repeat yourself, readers may well switch off and click away.

One handy trick here is to delete your first paragraph and see whether the post works without it. If not, just add it back in.

If you’re stuck, try How to Write Irresistible Blog Intros for some great tips.

#6: Add a Call to Action

If you included a call to action during your first draft, good for you! Missing calls to action are one of the biggest mistakes I see when I’m editing guest posts or training bloggers.

A call to action, in case you’ve not come across the term before, is a clear prompt to the reader to do something. It could be “click here to buy my ebook” or “tell us what you think in the comments” or “if you enjoyed this post, please share it on Facebook” … or almost anything else.

The best place for a call to action is right at the end of your post, because that’s the point at which readers will be deciding what to do next. If you’re not sure what to write or want to see how other bloggers do it, check out 6 Action-Inspiring Ways to End Your Blog Post (and 12 Examples).

#7: Don’t Let Spellcheck Do Your Proofreading

Although it’s definitely a good idea to run a spellcheck on your post, you shouldn’t trust spellcheck to catch everything.

When you proofread, look out for:

Inconsistencies in how you write a word or phrase (e.g. “e-book”, “eBook”, “e-Book” or “ebook” – pick one and stick with it throughout).

Missing punctuation marks – I sometimes find I’m missing the period at the end of a paragraph, and it’s also easy to forget to close your parentheses.

Missing words, especially small ones like “a”. Sometimes, these errors creep in when you edit a sentence and don’t change everything you should.

Spelling mistakes, especially with words that sound alike – e.g. “you’re” vs “your”.

One good trick you can use here is to read your post out loud. This forces you to slow down, and often means you’re more likely to notice mistakes. (Alternatively, you could print your post and read it on paper, with a red pen in hand.)

#8: Don’t Agonize Over Making it Perfect

One of the great things about blog posts is that you can edit them after publishing them. (Obviously that’s a fair bit harder if you print a set of business cards … or 500 copies of a book.) While it’s definitely important to have a well-written, polished post, if a typo remains, it’s not going to kill your chances of blogging success.

If you’re spending so much time editing and proofreading that you’re struggling to actually write enough for your blog, or if you’re losing your enthusiasm for blogging, cut back.

And don’t feel that you have to use every single tip on this list on every single post you write – though it’s definitely worth checking off each point if you’re editing something really important, like a guest post or a piece of flagship content.

#9: Preview Your Post and Check the Formatting

Get in the habit of previewing your posts – sometimes, a problem that’s not obvious in the text editor will stand out sharply in the preview. 

Even if there aren’t any problems, you may find yourself spotting typos, or simply seeing things that you decide to tweak to make your post more visually attractive. This could mean:

Adding in formatting … or taking some out if you’ve gone over the top with the bold text!

Editing the title or subheading to avoid one word wrapping onto the next line.

Changing a link so that it doesn’t wrap across two lines.

Putting in extra space, perhaps after a list (some blog themes tend to squish lists and the subsequent paragraph together).

Of course, all of this is very nit-picky – but if you do spot something that’s quick and easy to change, this is a good opportunity to make your post even better.

So, those are my nine best tips. Which ones(s) will you be putting into practice this week? And do you have a tenth to add? Let us know in the comments…

You can find Ali Luke over at Zen Optimise, where she blogs about content marketing, social media, and more. For help with planning and writing, as well as editing, take her free video training (45 minutes) on The Writing Process for Bloggers.

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Comments

  1. Dale says:

    One thing I do is to go back and look for additional linking opportunities… When proofreading, it’s easier to identify good phrases to create a link to, whether it be an external site or one of your previous posts.

    • Ali Luke says:

      Excellent additional tip, Dale — thanks! I agree that the editing phase is a great chance to look for any missed opportunities to add in both internal and external links.

  2. Michael says:

    Thanks for sharing a good and indepth coverage on how one should go forward with editing the blog. I think for any blogger after some point on time, the efficiency of writing a post also becomes important as the readers are expecting a post in every second or third day.

    An important aspect that I would like to add here would be SEO Keyword optimization of your posts as it should be also taken care of during the editing and not while writing. What do you think Ali?

    • Kalen says:

      I agree with that Michael, but as I side note I think it is more and more important to put too much time into SEO. It seems that these days, the more time you spend on it, the more unnatural it looks to Google. I think the editing process is a good time to make sure that it reads naturally.

      • Ali Luke says:

        Thanks for your thoughts, Michael!

        I’m no SEO expert, but my understanding is that keywords are becoming less important — yes, you need to make sure you’ve used them in the title and once or twice in the post, but hopefully that’s happened naturally.

        “Keyword density” definitely isn’t something you should be doing these days, and I agree with Kalen that it’s really important your post reads naturally. Google is getting smarter and smarter, and can tell what your post is about without you using the keyword every other sentence.

  3. Rhea says:

    You might have missed something when editing this article:

    2. Avoid editing while writing (link Daniel’s post)

    • Stacey Roberts says:

      The particular section to which you’re referring is Ali’s example of the plan she was writing for this article. In her plan, she reminded herself to link to Daniel’s article. She was explaining to have a plan before you write, and this is how she likes to do it:

      Your plan needn’t be complicated: a list of your subheadings is enough. My plan for this post began like this:
      Introduction
      1. Plan before you write
      2. Avoid editing while writing (link Daniel’s post)
      3. Don’t go straight from writing into editing

      • Ali Luke says:

        Yes, just as Stacey says, that bit in italics is my plan, verbatim! You’ll actually see the link to Daniel’s article in #2 of the post. :-)

  4. When I am writing an article, I am also using the same strategy, write it first and then edit.
    Nice article thanks for sharing…

  5. Ravi Chahar says:

    No one is perfect in writing there posts. Everyone does mistakes and when it comes to editing then it is important to take some simple steps to avoid it. It is included as if a blogger tries to make a sample post before writing the post then it will reduce many errors. The points you have explained are worth reading and effective to use.
    Thanks for sharing.

    • Ali Luke says:

      Thanks Ravi. You’re right, no-one’s perfect (I’m certainly not!) and however good a writer you are, you’ll make mistakes … or simply have sentences that don’t read as smoothly and clearly as they could.

  6. Jagan says:

    Above said techniques are really helpful to improve writing skills and to reduce post editing practices.It saves much precious time. Great content Darren.
    Thanks.

  7. Adnan says:

    The techniques mentioned in this article are great. They are very helpful and I will implement these tips into my own blog. Thanks for the great article!

  8. Nitin says:

    absolutely agreed with your points sir, but little bit doubt about Introduction. As, Writer’s Introduction may be needy to put in blogs as it increases your popularity on online media, social networks etc. Moreover, it also passionate bloggers to pursue their blogging career.
    By the way whole article is really appreciable.
    Thanks for sharing such post.
    -Nitin

  9. Akshay says:

    Good tips,
    I usually publish blog posts on desktop and then check for errors in my mobile, which I realized is a bad habit after reading this post and more importantly I it strengthened my idea that planning and research is more important before writing blog posts.

  10. Lakhyajyoti says:

    All the tips you have shared here are crucial to improve writing. Surely I’ll follow all these tips to improve writing skill. Thanks for the great share.

  11. I. C. Daniel says:

    I think editing after blog post is done is the best way, editing while writing is a bad thing.

  12. Hardy says:

    You have given good advices and really helpful tips for all the bloggers around. Thanks for this!

  13. Hey Ali, really an awesome article to improve my editing skills. You pointed me out some points that I never looked upon with care, you know, like the “don’t edit while writing” kinda things. Thanks a lot for sharing.

  14. Debarpan says:

    You have given a very good crucial tips for self-editing our blog posts. I was really looking for a post like this thanks for the help…..

  15. Every time i read posts on this blog, at least one or two points match with my thoughts. I already made mistakes like editing post while writing and depends on spell check too much. Yes spell check doesn’t correct every mistake because there is no perfect spell checker in the world better than Man/Woman.I want to keep these tips with me at the time of writing post.

  16. Chris flynn says:

    Great tips admin. i thinks these are not only help our writing experience but also effect the on page seo. i my opinion these are the basic thing which effect the ranking but still most blogger does’t aware about it. overall nice article

  17. Chris says:

    Some excellent tips here, particularly the one about creating sub headings to give the article some structure before writing it. This is something I’ve always done and it’s a big help.

    It’s also useful to give yourself some space from the article and then come back to edit it. I know from experience how tempting it can be to get it out there right away.

  18. Mark says:

    I will sit my 4yr old daughter on my lap and read it. It’s a good measure of length and allows me to hear my own post.

    Great article.. Thanks for the tips!

  19. In the cold dark days before Tweets roamed the Earth, we communicated by memorandum written/typed on papyrus. I learned back then, several key steps to crafting powerful, influential, CLEAR, readable “memos”—messages that elicit my desired response and action.

    Your nine tips pretty much cover the waterfront. Good stuff for all writers and communicators.

    For the pest few decades I have used these tips in all my writing (including seven books …five published, two more in the works.)

    Favorite tips:
    - Write right now while the message is alive in you.
    - DO NOT EDIT as you write. It is the biggest mistake in brainstorming that we try to do Creative Thinking & Critical Thinking simultaneously. The second will always nullify the first. DON’T DO IT.
    - Let it simmer: leave it alone (over night if you can, but at least an hour) before going back and editing.
    - MAKE IT AS SIMPLE (BRIEF) AS POSSIBLE, but (as Einstein said) “But NOT simpler.”
    - IF you can say it with a story, humorous anecdote, or relevant joke you will increase the impact and retention of your words.

    Thanks, Darren! I have re-Tweeted you and will quote you in my seminars on speaking, writing, and creativity. (I’ll be in the Philippines May 3-13 with business, non-profits, faith-based, arts groups, and staff at U.S. Embassy.)

    Onward, McNair

    • Ali Luke says:

      Excellent tips, McNair; thanks very much for adding these — and I’m very flattered that you’ll be quoting me. I hope you have a wonderful trip. :-)

  20. Amal Tlaige says:

    I loved reading this post! As a student studying journalism and public relations I know that less is more. Unnecessary words take up valuable space and can sound redundant! Here are a few tips I really liked!

    I agree, planning is crucial. I’m not saying write out an in depth outline of what your post is going to be, but before I post content on a blog or write an essay I’ll make bullet points of where I want my post to go, what I want to mention and on what note I want my post to end. This helps me because I know I won’t forget to mention anything when I do this.

    “Don’t go straight from writing to editing.” I never realized how important this was until I started doing it myself. If you take a break in between writing and editing you’ll have a pair of fresh eyes.

    Cut down your intro: I’ve had a tendency to overwrite. After everything is said and done, I’ll look over my article and realize the most important information is actually in the second paragraph, not the first. It’s crucial to have that hook to grab readers attention. Without a good lead, readers can just easily click away.

    Add a call to action: If PR practitioners learn to simply state what they want their consumers to do, they’re gold. Don’t just talk up a product. Explain the benefits of having this product and simply state what you want consumers to do: “Go like this page for your chance to win…” or “Follow us on Instagram for…” .
    Don’t agonize over making it perfect. I think what really matters is that your audience feels like they have a relationship with you. The tone in what your write can be conversational and not professional at all times. “If you’re spending so much time editing and proofreading that you’re struggling to actually write enough for your blog, or if you’re losing your enthusiasm for blogging, cut back.” I love that quote. I often stress over creating the perfect brochure or pamphlet and I lose my creativity when I do that. Taking breaks and not being so hard on yourself helps you stay sane and actually helps make your content better.

    • Ali Luke says:

      Thanks so much for adding your thoughts, Amal. I think a lot of writers tend to over-write on their first draft, especially on parts like the introduction, where they’re “warming up” and getting into the flow of the writing.

      Keeping calls to action simple is a great piece of advice — thank you! Simple and straightforward beats clever and confusing any day…

  21. sameer says:

    Hi,
    As usual nice post.Some time editing blog post is very crucial .Lot of time i done editing while writing and of course it consume lot of time.you figure out exact point it will help me lot. Thank you.

  22. I also find having signed up for my own email notifications help. As soon as I publish I get an email of the post. I reread it just to double check and on occasion I find something else as it’s resented in another format.

  23. Cubot says:

    I use WordPress for my website and sometimes I click on the button Publish instead on save as draft…. Then I have to quickly complete the article. otherwise a very good article :) Thank you

  24. Afiq says:

    I always have an issues with developing ‘perfect’ content. I write, and the hit preview button, edit, then get tired. So my last option, hit save as draft button. Waste my time!

    Thanks for the tips.

  25. JDoubek says:

    Great tips Ali! I fully endorse #3, not going from writing to editing. I think often our digital process includes a “turn and burn” mindset where you feverishly write and then hit send as a punctuation. I often recommend too that email messages and responses should be considered for a beat before being sent.

    Thanks for the good tips!

    - J

    • Ali Luke says:

      Good point on emails. I actually have an “Undo” button installed in my Gmail — gives me a few seconds to realise I’ve hit “send” too soon…

  26. pitheart says:

    I think editing after blog post is done is the better way No one is perfect in writing there posts.

  27. This post is really useful for me. I have been having problems editing my post and spent lots of time doing it. This certainly helps me cut down the time needed on editing blog posts.

  28. Uday Ghulaxe says:

    EDITING BLOG POST BEFORE UPLOADING IS REALLY IMPORTANT BECAUSE IT WILL BRING MORE READES TO OUR BLOG AND INCREASE RADABILITY OF BLOG POST. THANKS FOR HARING SUCH A NICE POST

  29. Mike says:

    Great post Ali, I enjoyed it and bookmarked it so I can come back to it periodically.

  30. Its very true that we must plan the story of the blog. we must be clear in our mind what exactly are we planning to write, else we will deviate from the topic and the real message will not get conveyed. Make a proper short notes of the topic that should be included in the blog story.

  31. Gemma W. says:

    Thanks for this post. I spent ages writing my About page only to cut it in half a few days later. I struggle when starting to write a post because my mind is full of disorganised thoughts, so I’m trying something new: writing everything going through my mind, like verbal diarrhea. Then sort it out a day or two later with a plan. Hoping it’ll work better for me.

    Also, have you tried http://hemingwayapp.com? I find it helpful.

    • Ali Luke says:

      I’ve not used the Hemingway app myself, but I’ve heard a few people recommend it. About pages are so tough to write — though the great thing about blogging is you don’t have to get it perfect first time round, as it’s so easy to make changes.

  32. Meenakshi says:

    Thanks to Problogger.net. When i write an article in the blog every time i made an editing mistakes more than 3 – 4 times.

  33. Because I’m not a native English speaker i commit a lot of grammar crimes, including the use of unnecessary words. this article is a real help.

  34. Rohit Sharma says:

    Hi Ali Great Post but when I complete a post I try to make it more SEO friendly by putting the targeted keywords in the content. But that also increase my problem of making it meaning full and understandable for the users.

    • Ali Luke says:

      Rohit, take a look at my reply further up to Michael — you don’t need to think about keyword density any more (and in fact, over-optimising can get you into trouble with Google).

  35. Vicki says:

    When you’re in a rush to write and then publish, it can be easy to miss things like a word that is mistyped, but is an actual word according to spell check (road instead of toad) … this happens to me so much!

  36. Michelle says:

    Great share,thanks for this awesome tips.Just bookmarked your post.

  37. Rabin says:

    Nice article about the editing blog post. The above are best way to editing blog post, and i really agree with that we need to write down our post first and editing. By the way i am a new blogger and my Blog Is http://www.techtricksclub.com

  38. Anurag says:

    Now I know what mistake I was doing. I was editing and writing posts simultaneously. From now on I will keep in mind that I have to write it first and then edit it later on. And I like that call to action tips, every post must have atleast one.

  39. Sean Hodge says:

    Great post.

    With point #3: “Don’t Go Straight from Writing into Editing,” it’s spot-on advice. Giving yourself a lunch break or day to switch to analytical mode before editing is helpful. Fresh eye’s are good.

    I also allow myself to give an emotional measurement to this time as well, to let it sit before editing. If I’m too close to the material, and not feeling confident about it, then it may need to sit quite a bit longer than a day. Some posts are more straightforward than others, and some require a bit more of putting yourself out there.

    Complexity of subject or if you allowed too many tangents can make for more heavy editing as well.

    Thanks.

  40. Malia says:

    Thanks for the handy checklist! These are great tips and reminders to help add some discipline to the write/publish process. The “call-to-action” item is so important and often overlooked. But if you think about it, it’s really critical to get the engagement we’re all looking for; the reason we blog to begin with :)
    Mahalo!

  41. metz says:

    If you are a blogger, you need not to rely on some else forever. If you have a mentor on establishing your blog and build your writing skills, then stand on your own after that teaching session.

    I concur with the message that the image is saying.

    I will practice this.

    1. Plan before you write
    2. Avoid editing while writing
    3. Don’t go straight from writing into editing
    4. Edit the Big Picture First until number 9.

    Proofreading is important in writing.

    This comment was left in kingged.com where this post was already “kingged” and shared for Internet marketers.

  42. Nice Post , thanks for the amazing tips !

  43. Sunday says:

    A very powerful take on self editing. Staying away from the draft for sometime before editing is a great advice every writer or blogger MUST not ignore. It helps to bring in freshness to the brain and the writer gets to see the draft in a new perspective.

    This comment was shared in kingged.com – the social bookmarking and content syndication website for Internet marketers where this post was shared.

    Sunday – kingged.com contributor

    Its good sharing these ideas. They are direct and helpful!

    http://kingged.com/9-crucial-tips-selfediting-blog-posts-blogger/

  44. Karan Rawat says:

    Hi i like the idea, Plan before you write. Think before you write is generally a force, and many people find that the best way to start writing (or dictating) is not to write, but to plan. The first step of planning is to think about:

    > who will read the post;
    > what they would expect to get from your post;
    > under what circumstances they will read;
    > what you are trying to achieve.

  45. Kru Witoon says:

    Thank you for such a nice tips. I have been writing & editing on the same session for ages. I’ll try to use this tips and see how can I improve.

  46. This article is a must read for bloggers! So many valuable tips related to self editing of blog posts have been listed here. I’ve gained loads of new tips and strategies from this post. And I’m raring to make use of them from my next blog post onward! :)

    Avoiding taking to editing a blog post soon after writing it is something that I’ve not been doing. All this while, I have been editing stuff as soon as I drafted the post. Now, after reading this article, I realize that taking a break in between these tasks will help for sure.

    It’ll help us get detached from the article and help look at it from a fresh point of view. This is something that can help add more value to the article.

    Editing the big picture first, rather than going for spelling mistakes and grammatical mistakes is also an interesting strategy. Now on, I will make it a point to cut out information that is not relevant or add some more stuff that my readers will value much!

    Thanks for sharing this valuable article! I found the link to this post on Kingged.

    Arun