We hope you enjoyed our recent article on self-editing your blog content. Now that you’ve got an overall idea of what it’s about, we’re going to break it down for you and get into the nitty-gritty. You may recall we recommended you edit for content first so you don’t waste your time perfecting prose or grammar on content you’ll cut because it doesn’t fit. So welcome to Content Editing for Bloggers 101, where we’ll discuss why editing for content is important and how you should go about it.
Content editing is reviewing your post for, well, content. Your content needs to stands out from the crowd. The information you present in your posts should be relevant, interesting, and informative, because in today’s world, bland, overdone, or misinformed content will be bypassed. But don’t worry—we’ve got the tips to help you make that content sing!
Brainstorm and Outline
Your first step in writing great content, as mentioned in our previous article, is to brainstorm your ideas and then create an outline. An outline will help you organize your post into well-ordered paragraphs and decrease the likelihood of finding yourself on tangents. One of the best ways to outline? Topic sentences. Yes, back to English 101—or even high school English—but a topic sentence establishes what each paragraph will be about and helps you stay on track and connected to your main argument—which is, to continue with the 101 terms, your thesis statement.
As you’re writing, and then as you’re reviewing your content, keep in mind who you’re writing the post for. Is the article for clients, colleagues, or competitors? You don’t want to be writing to your clients and then switch your focus to your colleagues. Your clients will lose interest, and your colleagues may not even begin reading if they think the article is intended for clients. You also need to be sure you’re using terms and ideas your audience is familiar with—and if not, you’ll need to define those items. If you’re writing a post for beginning photographers, you’ll want to explain terms like ISO and aperture. If you’re writing a post for more advanced photographers, you can safely assume your readers will know what those terms are.
What’s Your Angle?
Your angle is the way you approach your subject. There’s a plethora of articles on how to eat healthy, so how will you make your article fresh and unique? This is where having a catchy title or headline and an attention-grabbing introduction are crucial. First impressions are everything! A title that clearly illustrates who the article is written for and why it’s different than the other content out there is more likely to be read. For the beginning-photographer audience, your title could be “Basic Photography Terms in a Flash: Getting Up to (Shutter) Speed.” Furthermore, a stellar introduction promises the reader your article will deliver the unique information only you can provide.
Style and Voice
Your style and voice are two things that distinguish your writing from other content creators. Your voice is yours—it’s the way you write—your “writing personality,” so to speak. It’s showcased by the way you use the language and word choice. Style is a bit different. Do you write long, complex sentences that utilize figurative language tools? Or are you more of a compact writer, using simple sentences and refraining from grandiose prose? Pro tip: Find a writer whose work you recognize simply by their style. How can you make your voice stand out? For example, The Nerdy Girlie is a fandom blog with an angle toward women who love to be nerdy but who are also—well, girly. The creator’s voice is unique—it’s upbeat, trendy, and informative. When you’re editing, make sure your style and voice stay the same throughout the post. Too many styles and/or voices in one piece will make you sound confusing and unsure, in which case your readers won’t trust your authority on the subject.
Consistency and Cohesiveness
Your article needs to have one clear purpose—a thesis. It should be void of tangents and contradictions of that thesis. Your ideas, points, and arguments should be cohesive and always related to your thesis statement. Tangents are the very antithesis of a cohesive piece of writing. If you’re writing for a certain audience, you may think they’ll appreciate a few additional insights. Well, they may, but here’s a thought: Why not use those tangents as ideas for separate, additional and related content (Woohoo! You just came up with a way to generate content ideas!).
Tangents take your audience away from the point you’re trying to make. For example, if I run a ski-equipment shop and I’m writing an article on DIY ski maintenance, I wouldn’t want to digress with a long-winded exposition on how there are other aspects, in addition to well-maintained skis, that make for a more enjoyable experience on the slopes. You can argue that if you get DIY maintenance right, you’ll find that your day on the slopes will be fantastic. But you’d want to get right back to the topic at hand, not go on to talk about how cold temperatures paired with sunshine and lots of powder and the proper gear, such as masks, helmets, gloves, etc., also make for the perfect conditions. That switches the focus from DIY ski maintenance to the other aspects of an enjoyable experience on the mountain, which is not what you’ve promised your readers.
Your article needs to flow smoothly. Give your audience ideas of how to implement the suggestions you make. Follow questions you pose with possible answers. As you review your article, make sure you’ve got transition sentences between your paragraphs that take the reader from one idea to a related idea. You want reading to be effortless so the reader focuses on your message, not on trying to make sense of your writing. Be sure your paragraphs are logically organized. For example, I moved the paragraph about audience awareness from the end of this article to the beginning because being aware of who you’re writing for should be addressed first—not after you’ve written the post!
Check your facts!
Logic is a powerful tool in any argument. You want your points and ideas—your thesis—to be accurate and compelling. Even if you’re stating something you believe to be true instead of something you know to be true, make sure you have a logical and effective argument that doesn’t contradict itself. You may be sharing your opinion about the best place to store skis for the summer, but be prepared to give evidence for why that advice is sound. Additionally, as we mentioned in the section on organization, make sure your article is structurally logical in that the ideas and points you make build on each other, giving a full and well-rounded picture by the time you wrap things up.
And speaking of wrapping it up, make sure your conclusion leaves your readers satisfied. Cliffhangers can be fun in fiction, but they’re generally not appropriate for blog-based content writing. You’ll want to offer your readers a solution to whatever problem(s) you may have presented and bring your article full circle—meaning, make sure your closing sentences reemphasize your thesis and reaffirm why the information you’ve presented makes a difference.
Think of this as a postscript to the steps above. You’re writing content that’ll be published and read online, and if you want it to be found, you’ll need to optimize it. Research to make sure your title contains keywords that’ll show up in a search. You’ve worked hard on that article—you want it read!
Remember that the best content you can provide your customers is your own unique advice, ideas, and opinions. Hopefully we’ve given you the tools you need to make your already good content great! We’d love your feedback, so tell us—How do you edit your content? What would you add to our list?