But, back in 2018 when I first started blogging, I became obsessed with learning the craft of writing and editing. Perhaps it’s because English is not my first language that I took the job of editing that much more seriously. Let’s just say that my insecurities forced me to get better at it.
But what a lot of bloggers and content writers don’t understand is that online writing comes with its own sets of best practices. Clarity over cleverness, conversational prose over literary or lyrical, short sentences over long, and shorter paragraphs over longer. But that’s only the beginning.
You also have to write with SEO (Search Engine Optimization) in mind. Are you using your seed keywords generously? Is your blog post optimized for featured snippets? Do your headers and subheaders follow the proper header hierarchy?
In other words, no matter how onerous the process may be, I’ve had to teach myself to be patient with editing blog posts. And so far, the hard work has paid off.
As merely a part-time blogger, I’ve managed to rank multiple blog posts among the top five spots of Google’s Search Engine Results Page (SERP) for tons of keywords.
But more than ranking, my true accomplish lies in being able to build a community—an email list of ~10k subscribers at the time of writing this, and a six-figure yearly revenue.
All that was possible thanks to one thing and one thing only: Writing blog posts that readers find useful and relatable.
And writing is never complete without a few rounds of editing, of course, 😉
So, in this post, I want to talk about the blog post editing process, and then I’ll wrap it up with a video of me editing a client’s blog post in real time.
That said, if you’re a total beginner, I recommend you start by reading how to write a blog post first. And then revisit this post for editing tips and methods.
Ready? Let’s go!
In this post:
There are four main areas of blog editing, namely:
- Stylistic editing
- Editing to improve readability
- SEO editing
- Editing to improve engagement
I’ll walk through each of these, but before that, I want to start with some good practices of blog post writing and editing that will make your editing process much smoother and the end product much better.
General Considerations for Blog Post Writing and Editing
There are a few practices that will make you a much more productive blogger. Also, if you hate editing as much as I do, then these simple practices will help your editing process a lot smoother.
Have some prerequisites or goals
When you’re editing, having these prerequisites will give you a clear vision of what the end product should look like, and they, in turn, will guide your writing process. If your writing has a clear beginning and ending from the start, the finished blog post will be that much easier to edit.
Some of these qualities or prerequisites are:
- Easy to read and understand.
- Free of redundancies and unnecessary flourishes.
- Focused on the subject.
Once you’ve established these three clear boundaries for your blog post, the next steps will help you stay within these boundaries throughout your writing and editing process.
Steps to establish efficient writing and editing processes:
- Make an outline. Ever since I started making an outline for my blog posts, not only has my writing improved, but so has my efficiency. I write a lot faster now, and I also don’t go off on a tangent during writing. This has reduced my editing time because I’m not spending minutes, if not hours, rewriting entire sections to cut out the fluff.
- You can use apps like Evernote, Notion, Penzu, or something else for crafting these outlines. Or, if you’re partial to analog notetaking, then just use a good old pen and notebook.
- Craft a strong blog post title before you start writing your post. And then, let the title be your guide while you’re writing the post. (Check out tips for crafting a title that gets clicks and shares.) Don’t worry, you can always (and you will!) revisit the title before hitting the publish button to iron things out.
- Limit editing while writing. I struggle with this. I tend to edit as I write and this can be super inefficient at times. Everyone has their own flow, but the general consensus tends to be that you should write first, and then edit, but refrain from doing them simultaneously. If you’re like me and you just can’t help yourself, then at least write an entire section before you edit it.
- Walk away after finishing a piece and before editing. I often find it easier to edit and catch more mistakes when I’ve had a good night’s sleep. I understand that’s not always possible. Nonetheless, take a little break. Take a walk around the house or a stroll around the neighborhood, drink some water, and give your eyes a little rest before you start editing.
- Read aloud. This will help you spot run-on sentences or sentences that do not have a conversational flow.
- Edit in the text editor as well as in preview mode. Sometimes you only catch things once you’ve published a piece (don’t ask me why). Editing in the preview mode can help minimize those mistakes.
Now, let’s get into the actual editing.
The stylistic editing parts will often coincide with editing parts to improve readability. After all, styles in a writing body exist to enhance readers’ experience. With that in mind, I tried to separate the two (style and readability) based on strictly visual elements (styles) and contextual elements (readability).
Break up your content with headers and sub-headers.
This will help ensure you have clear and defined sections in your post body, each section focusing on a particular aspect of the post you’re writing.
Each of these points (as per your outline, if you’ve made one and you should) will focus on a singular aspect of the topic at hand. Break up these points under a header, and then use sub-headers to break them up further into bite-sized sub-sections as needed. (Just look at this blog post, for example, and note how I’ve broken up sections with headers and subheaders.)
As much as these are stylistic choices, they are for improving readability also. Your goal is to help your readers understand what point(s) you’re making and why. Your job is to do so in a way that allows your readers to digest the content easily. By breaking up content into sections (much like how books are broken up into chapters), you’re helping your readers learn better, faster, and more efficiently.
Use short but varying lengths for consecutive paragraphs.
Ideally, when writing that’s meant to be read on-screen, and especially when writing content (I don’t like the word “content,” but I can’t find an alternative to writing that’s not creative in nature), you should use shorter sentences and paragraphs to avoid distracting and boring readers.
Don’t be afraid to have only one sentence in a paragraph.
Or just one word in a whole sentence.
But follow them up by making surrounding sentences and paragraphs longer. But don’t make them too long. If a paragraph is getting longer than 6-7 lines, you’ll be better off chopping it in two or three.
Have clear visual breaks between sections.
The more breaks you give your readers, the higher the chances of them reading your post to the end. Do not ignore these formatting practices. Trust me, formatting has a lot to do with whether you succeed as a blogger or not. You may think this is trivial, but it’s not!
After you’ve taken care of breaking down your content into sections (pro-tip: make a habit of doing this as you’re writing. You’ll be better equipped to do so if you have an outline of your post before you start writing) add visual separation.
You can do this at the design level, or you can do this manually with things like horizontal lines or images.
- At the design level: As you see on my blog, I have a separate background color for my main headers. This creates a clear visual separation between sections. Similar methods can be achieved by using a different font for headers, making headers and subheaders significantly bigger than the body font, or a combination of these.
- Manually add separation: You can use images (if appropriate and relevant) or a horizontal line to create visual separation.
- Use white space: This is done both on the design level and manually while writing. On the design level, using a boxed content area and having sufficient margin and padding around elements will create a nice reading experience. Breaking up content into smaller paragraphs also adds more white space.
Add images to your post.
Strong visual stimulation will keep your readers on your blog longer. They can also help you demonstrate complex ideas through visual stimuli. Aside from that, there are other reasons for having images in your posts, such as:
- Many social media platforms pull images when you share a link, which in turn grabs readers’ attention.
- You can use images to create visual separation in between sections.
- Adding relevant images to your posts enriches the quality of your post to search engines. They can be a great SEO booster for you.
Here are some essential blog graphics:
- Featured image: Most social media pulls the featured image from your posts. If you use WordPress, you can easily add a featured image (from the designated featured image section). On other platforms, typically, the very first image you add to a post is regarded as the featured image.
- Pinterest image: All of your blog posts should have a Pinterest-optimized image. Ideally, it’s a vertically oriented image with an aspect ratio of 2:3 with the blog post’s title right on top of the image in big and bold font(s), so it grabs people’s attention.
- Screenshots: These are great for tutorial-type posts or posts where you’re trying to make a point/prove something. Use only when relevant, and only if they enhance your post’s quality and authority.
Additionally, feel free to use any other image if you deem it necessary to prove your point. Infographics are especially adored by bloggers and readers alike.
Editing to Improve Readability
The following section deals with making sure your blog posts have a natural flow, they’re well-written without silly grammar or structural mistakes, and they’re written in ways that take a reader on a journey and keep them in your blog throughout the entire post.
Check for spelling and grammar mistakes.
The only way to minimize spelling and grammar mistakes is to read and re-read your post several times (with intervals in between because our brains are good at adapting to errors). Some tools can help, but no tool will capture all of your mistakes entirely.
That said, the Grammarly app can help eliminate most of the obvious mistakes right off the bat. Grammarly, which is what I use, can take this a step further and help you with things like spotting repetitive words, words that are overused but have better alternatives, proper usage of punctuations, use of adverbs and passive sentences (which you should try and avoid as much as possible), etc.
But even with the premium Grammarly app, there are certain mistakes that you can only spot by going over your article manually. So, yeah, don’t skip this part. Read and re-read a few times to minimize your mistakes as much as possible and improve the reading experience.
Get rid of adverbs.
“Adverbs make your prose really weak.”
“Adverbs make your prose weak.”
Now, compare the first sentence with the second one. Did you need the word “really” to make your point? In fact, I’d argue that getting rid of “really” made that sentence stronger and more assertive.
Here’s the thing. If you want people to listen to you, trust you, and act on your words, then you have to sound convincing first. Adverbs make your words weak, so avoid them the best you can.
Grammarly can help you spot adverbs (very, really, just, and adjectives with the added “-ly” at the end are the most common types of modifiers we use in our writing.)
Hemingway App is another tool that can help you catch adverbs.
Get rid of passive sentences.
Passive sentences are just as bad as adverbs. However, sometimes they can’t be helped, and that’s fine. Again, use Grammarly or the Hemingway app to catch all passive sentences, and then try to rework them to make them active.
I like the Hemingway App for checking passive sentences because it gives you suggestions as to how many passive sentences you have and how many are too many, etc.
Avoid grammar expletives.
Grammar expletives are sentences that start with here, there, or it, and are followed by a verb to be. These sentences end up using unnecessary words that add zero value to your writing, other than making your word count go higher.
— There are a lot of bloggers who teach online courses.
How about this instead?
— Many bloggers teach online courses.
Much better, right?
Use more persuasive words whenever possible.
Switching out the verb to be or using a stronger verb will strengthen your prose.
- I have been blogging. → I blog.
- He is irritating me. → He’s annoying/irritating.
- She found a cure. → She discovered a cure.
- I went to Maui last year. → I traveled to Maui last year.
Whenever you come across an adjective or a verb, train yourself to think of a word that may be stronger than what you’re using. Some more examples are:
- bad → terrible
- happy → thrilled
- excited → ecstatic
- angry → outraged
- hot → sweltering
(Note: While I do not write using AI, I love using it to make my prose better during the editing phase. For example, I use it to find synonyms for better or stronger verbs and sometimes even better sentence structures. I primarily use Google’s Bard for these tasks.)
Use contractions to make your prose more personal and informal.
Contractions are a combination of two words, such as, “I’m”, “you’re”, “isn’t”, “ain’t”, “there’s”, “don’t”, and the list goes on and on.
Basically, contractions are all those words we tend to combine when we speak. Like in real life, when we’re conversing with other people. The goal is to make our content read as though we’re talking. This warms up the written content and makes it a lot more personal, which in turn makes the content relate more with readers.
Here are some examples:
- I am about to go to the grocery store → I’m about to go to the grocery store.
- Here is a list of 5 superfoods. → Here’s a list of 5 superfoods.
- There is a way to make your text more casual. → There’s a way to make your text more casual.
- I am going if you are coming along. → I’m going if you’re coming along.
If you’ve been around TSB long enough, you know that I don’t like to write blog posts for robots, but for humans instead.
That said, there are a couple of things you can do to make sure your posts are not only appealing to fellow human readers but search engines also.
Make sure you have a meta title and description.
So, it used to be that Google would show your meta description and meta title in search result pages. But lately, they have changed a lot of things. It seems like they’re still showing the title, but replacing the description with text based on what it thinks the user would benefit from the most.
Regardless, make sure you have a meta description and meta title for your blog posts. Also, social media platforms pull information from this, so even if Google has its own agenda, at least for social media shares, your meta descriptions are still important.
To add meta titles and descriptions, use the Yoast SEO plugin (for WordPress users). This plugin has a designated area in your post editor page where you can insert the title and description.
You can use the same title for your post for the meta title, and for the description, use a brief, clear explanation of what the post is. Do not write for computers. Write for your human readers. Think about what kind of description will make your human readers want to click on your post.
Use inbound links.
Inbound links are those that link to some content on your website. Meaning, your readers stay within your site but go to a different post or page.
Inbound links are useful for many reasons. When used the right way (do not spam them, use when relevant, to relevant content that will be useful to your readers), they will help your readers understand the topic at hand better.
Inbound links also keep your readers on your site longer. It reduces website bounce, which makes your site look good to search engines.
Use alt texts for your images.
Alt texts are great for SEO, and it’s also good for accessibility when it comes to user experience.
For example, users with visual impairment can use alt text to understand the on-page content and context.
They also let search engines know what the image is about, which improves how search engines interpret your page and rank them.
Editing to Improve Engagement
when you write a blog post, you want people to engage with your content in various ways. If people are not engaging, then something needs to change.
Now, most people don’t like to engage. But if you can get even a few to take action consistently for most of your posts, then that’s good enough. It depends on what kind of engagement you’re hoping for too.
Let’s look at a few different ways to engage your audience now.
Make it easy to share your posts.
If you want your readers to share your post on social media, you need to make sharing easy!
Create a featured image people would want to share on their social media accounts.
The featured image is essential. Most social media platforms take your featured image (on WordPress) and show it to their feed when you share a link.
If you have a sloppy graphic or a free stock image every other blogger seems to be using, it’s not going to have the appeal of, say, a well-thought-out graphic or image that’s easy on the eyes.
If you’re a brand new blogger on a budget, find free stock images that are not super saturated. Unsplash has a lot, I mean, a LOT of free photos. Don’t be lazy and spend some time finding the right kind of photo that’s also not overused on the internet. I’m sure you’ll find some if you really look.
When you have the budget for it, consider subscribing to one of these membership sites for premium stock photo uses and downloads.
- Canva (You can sign up for a 45-day Canva Pro trial here which gives you access to over 7 million premium stock images.)
Another website I love going to for stock images is Moyo Studio.
Create Pinnable graphics.
All of your blog posts should have at least one pinnable image.
By pinnable, I mean vertically oriented graphics with the post title on top of the graphics with big and bold letters.
A great pinnable image has the following traits:
- Has an aspect ratio of 2:3 or 1:2, with the shortest side no smaller than 1,000 pixels.
- Great design (incorporating images or solids or patterned backgrounds)
- A well-written post title on top of the image in big letters that’s easy to read.
- Has the blog name and/or URL on the image itself.
Have a CTA (Call to Action)
Again, people usually do not engage. So, to have them engage with your content, it helps if you give them a reminder. In all of your blog posts, add some kind of CTA (Call to Action). You can add them to your post body or at the end of each post.
For example, you may ask people to subscribe to your newsletter and add a newsletter opt-in (I do it on all of my blog posts). Additionally, you can ask people to leave a comment on your post. Instead of just asking to leave a comment, give them something to think about. Ask a proper question, and then advise them to leave the answer in the comment section.
How I edit a client’s blog post
Here’s a video of me editing a client’s blog post. This is only the first round of editing, but you should get a better understanding of the things I look for when editing, and hopefully that’ll help you with your own process too.
So, what do you think? Doable?
I’m such an impatient person that it’s hard for me to spend enough time editing. But I try my best. And you should too!
Do you have a specific editing process? If so, I’d love for you to share it with me and the other readers, in the comment section below 🙂
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