Improve Your Blog’s Content In 5 Steps

Teli Adlam —  August 15, 2005

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.

Teli Adlam

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13 responses to Improve Your Blog’s Content In 5 Steps

  1. I almost fully subscribe to this list. Whenever I write an article I stick to this list.

    Sometimes I prefer doing Step 4 (designating the title) immediately after having written down the story the first time. This keeps me sticking to the original topic. When I realise my thoughts drifting away I take another piece of paper just writing down one sentence as an abstract for the next article and then I immediately resume the first one.

  2. I subscribe to the spirit of this list, if not the letter; I don’t read it quite as many times, but I’ve always had a pretty good eye for proofing and editing. Another thing I recommend is always writing your entries in an outside text editor first; sometimes things that jump out at me in the text editor font would have slipped by in my page entry form, or vice-versa.

  3. Thank you guys for stopping by and adding your input -

    @Frank – I used to do that as well until I realized 90% of the time I ended up changing my title! For in depth articles, I’ll actually write an outline and fill in the content accordingly, but having a bit of scrap paper handy in case the mind strays is an excellent idea

    @Kurt – writing the entry in another editor is a great suggestion. I use Open Office and MS Word and they are both great for catching formatting problems or otherwise with visual cues – thank you for the reminder.

  4. Great advise, although I usually skip Step 2 … (maybe that’s why my blogs are doing so poorly) .. Despite knowing better, I like to think that blogging is like instant messaging .. I hate people who ‘edit’ instant chat because you don’t normally do that in a real-life conversation. With the great ease it is to post content in blogs, and edit MAJOR errors, … I think that blogs with a little spelling mistakes or grammar shifts from the ‘norm .. make the blogs appear more personable, than some off-the-shelf newspaperish and dictionaryish stylings.. That’s just me though.

    Nice blog – jumped from Problogger.net day 16 and going to subscribe in bloglines, and look around while I’m here… ~wave.

  5. ::waving right back at ya::
    Thank you for stopping by and saying hello, hope you stick around – kick off your shoes and get comfy :)

    …you don’t normally do that in a real-life conversation.

    Actually we do – on a subconscious level. When we carry on a real-time conversation with someone, our mind is editing our responses for us — in essence, it’s reading and proof reading our responses before we speak.

    The process occurs so quickly and effortlessly that we don’t realize it’s even happening.

    Pay close attention when you’re holding a conversation with someone and you may be able to catch a glimpse of the process — for instance, when we pause or are constantly saying ‘um’, ‘er’, ‘uh’, we are trying to find the right words for the situation.

    The mind is going through a laundry list of possibilities and it’s attempting to select the the right response for the situation (doesn’t necessarily mean it will be though).

    Granted, what is spoken cannot be unspoken, but even after words have been uttered, people can and do retract their statements… that’s why I tacked on the bit about leaving a note stating what you change and when.

    I think that blogs with a little spelling mistakes or grammar shifts from the norm .. make the blogs appear more personable, than some off-the-shelf newspaperish and dictionaryish stylings..

    I’m inclined to agree with you, to a degree. I’ve been known to outright abuse my literary license to the dismay of just about every English teacher I’ve ever had.

    I’m not saying everything has to be perfect, but there should at very least be a certain level of quality — even for casual conversational style blogs.

    I’ve seen it accomplished on quite a few blogs, and no, they don’t seem ‘newspaperish’ or ‘dictionaryish’.

    One such example off the top of my head is Michele Agnew – her blog is casual and light hearted, however, the writing is excellent (this is just my personal opinion of course). It’s not without error, but many of them are not blatant.

    It’s a matter of choosing a suitable style for your particular blog’s topic and target audience, but also maintaining a certain level of quality.

  6. I think grammar and spelling are very important.

    I agree that we unconsciously self-edit when we speak,
    but few conversations are permanently recorded.

    The written word, once published (print or online) is there for a very long time. Even if it was written spontaneously, it can be accessed far into the future, and will reflect on the writer.

    I find spelling and grammar errors distracting, and regardless of the quality of the content, they degrade the writers’ message.

    Composing in a word processing program with automatic spell-checker (used along with common sense to avoid the errors that spell-checkers make LOL) is a logical step every writer should take, to make their missive clear and befitting their intention.

  7. I wish all the time that I could backspace and edit my speech! I’ll start a sentence, then in the middle of it, realize I wanted to use plural rather than singular, or phrase something differently. And then there are all those times where I accidentally combine words together when I’m trying to get them out of my mouth.

    Anyway, I’ve never liked the whole “rough draft first, then go back and edit it later” approach. I’m sure it’s best for many people, but my personal method is to obsessively re-read, proofread, and re-write as I go. I can’t help it. If it’s a really long or complicated essay, I’ll write a basic outline first.

  8. I am so glad that I found this page because I was feeling like I must be stupid for spending twice as much time editing as writing!

    Great Tips!

    One tool that I find invaluable is an IE (forgive me father…) plugin called IESpell (http://www.iespell.com/download.php) which makes spell checking for WordPress folks that don’t have Aspell or Pspell installed on their servers.

  9. I am very happy to know the tips of blog (or) improve the blog’s content. I thank you for giving me the information about “Darren Rowse’s 31 days to a better blog” and 5 steps for improving the blog. I really liked your post.

  10. Jasha Nardiello June 15, 2008 at 1:42 pm

    Your tips are precious and in general i ompletely agree with you. But as i’m not english from time to time it can happens that you make grammatical errors without no real perception of that.

    In Any case steps you have shown in the article before publication are exactly what i do. And i can say that they work pretty well.

  11. I agree on those tips above. I’ll just add another one that I’ve learn to Darren, that is to stop writing about yourself and start solving problems.

  12. Part of doing anything is doing it well. Blogging is truly one place where quality will beat quantity any day.

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