Originally published at relevance.com, June 10, 2013
If you care at all about the quality of the writing on your blog — and
you should — then perhaps the single greatest thing you can do to
improve your posts is this: Read it again. Just read your post one more time before you set it loose onto the Internet.
The quickest way to lower the quality of a blog post is to write it from start to finish and then click the Publish button without a second thought.
If you already collaborate with multiple writers and editors, this
probably seems elementary. And it is. But I’ve seen it time and time
again (and you probably have, too): Blog posts riddled with grammatical
problems, typos and formatting errors that are impossible to miss by
anyone who reads the article. The only conclusion is that the person who
published the article didn’t read it.
I’m not talking about skimming here, either. When you skim, you’re more likely to see what you meant to write and not what you really wrote. You need to read carefully, as you hope your blog readers do.
Do what you can to read it with fresh eyes: Print it out. Read it
aloud. Read it backward. Or, to get truly fresh eyes on it, have someone
else read it.
If this sounds more like proofreading than editing, you’re right.
Simply re-reading a post and fixing the errors you find will bring your
work to a basic level of quality. It makes no sense to spend time on the
post’s structural organization and artistic expression — the domain of
editing — if your work doesn’t meet a minimum level of quality, meaning
accurate information, correct spelling, consistent formatting, proper
punctuation and so on.
But when you re-read a post, if you take your time and read
carefully, you’ll find more problems than just the mechanical errors.
Whether it’s a cliché you can reword, a phrase that could be more
concise or a missing transition between paragraphs, you’ll see problems —
not just errors — that you’ll want to fix.
And this is where editing starts. So read it again.
Mobius Strip illustration courtesy of Kris Kelley.