I’ve been watching Darren Rowse’s 31 days to a better blog experiment grow continuously each day with helpful hints and tips from around the blogosphere.
Many of the tips impart the importance of having original content, however, your content will not matter if it looks like it was cobbled together by a six year old.
I may very well know the author of a blog is a full grown adult, but when the blog is riddled with spelling errors, sentence fragments, incomplete thoughts, and various other grammatical mistakes, I can’t help but imagine a child sitting behind the keyboard pecking away at the keys.
Clear and well written content is easier for your readers to understand and it helps to establish your credibility. Even if you write a very casual blog, it is still very much possible to present yourself intelligently.
Drawing on my own experiences from English class, I’ve developed a system that works for me — maybe it can also work for you.
Step 1: Write your blog entry. Don’t worry about the flow, spelling, grammar, links, text styling, or anything else, just get your thoughts down. Remember, this is only a first draft.
- Develop the content in a medium you’re comfortable with. I regularly write my blog entries with good old fashioned ink and paper before I port it online.
Step 2: Re-read the entry and hack it to bits.
- Rearrange the content until it flows smoothly
- Remove superfluous information
- Avoid repetition
- Keep it brief (i.e., don’t use ten words where two will do)
Step 3: Re-read it again, but this time, add any links and applicable text styling.
- When adding your links, avoid using “click here”, “read this”, or any other ambiguous phrases. The link should naturally fit into the content as if it were part of the overall design.
- If you need to re-read a sentence more than once, rewrite it.
- Use the spell check utility with caution — you’re, your, their, there, here, hear, than, and then are all spelled correctly, but are commonly misused.
Step 4: Choose a title. Choosing a title before starting the blog entry can establish a mental limit on what to write and induce writer’s block.
- Since a title really should be a brief summary of the entire article (ideally 6-8 words), it’s a good idea to wait until the blog entry is completed to get a full overview.
- Double check the title for spelling errors.
Step 5: Re-read it again. Yes, again. This may seem anal retentive, but you may subconsciously miss errors even if you were paying careful attention while proofreading the first two times.
- Read from the last sentence to the first. You will have the opportunity to look at your blog entry from a different perspective. If the entry still flows well and makes sense, then you have a winner.
- If you don’t trust your proofreading abilities, enlist the aide of someone whose abilities you do trust to give your document a once over.
Finishing up, don’t be afraid to edit an entry if you spot any errors. If you’re worried about your reputation, add a note to the bottom of the entry containing the date and time of the edit as well as what was edited.
Humans make mistakes (that’s why pencils have erasers), and since we’re all human, don’t sweat the occasional blunder.