Grab the Scissors & Duct Tape Before You Publish that Post!

Are your posts too long? Too short?

Too boring?  Too self-centered?

Too hard to read?  Too confusing to follow?

Too.. something, but you can’t put your finger on it?

An editing process can help you filter out the “you” that’s too much so you can focus on your readers, making your blog easier to read.

1.  Write your thoughts down.  Go back and edit later.

Most of my posts start out twice as long as they are when you read them.

I cut around 350 words from yesterday’s post about being original.  It was “me” centered content about rebelling against the mold, and it didn’t add anything useful other than letting me vent some feelings.  Inspiring you was the goal of my post.  Remember the goal of each post you write and edit around that goal.

Never get so attached to your anecdotes or your emotions that you’re determined to include them even when they add no value for your readers.

When I edit I look for:

  • Redundancy. I have a bad habit of making the same point three ways.  You shouldn’t have to read that, you’re smart enough to understand the first time I express something.
  • Unnecessary words. I tend to write sentences that have too many words.  For me this includes words like: just, really, totally, usually, also, because.  Watch yourself.  You’ll see what words you overuse.
  • Negativity. Unless there’s a specific reason to include negativity, I delete it.  If you’ve got a personal blog and it’s what your readers expect, then vent away.  If you’re blogging for business or to build your credibility, think about it before you eviscerate someone or something, or share your foibles in public.

2.  Use lots of paragraphs.

We’re taught that paragraphs should be 4-6 sentences.  Web content’s different.  It’s easier to read short chunks.

Many of my paragraphs are one or two sentences long.

The “Enter” button is conveniently placed near your right-hand pinky finger.  Click it.  Often.  I promise to read more of your posts if you do.

Don’t force me to take migraine meds because you forgot and I wanted to read your fabulous content anyway.

3.  Format your text.

Use sub headings to make your blog posts easier to read (like I’ve used in this post so the numbered points appear larger/bolder than the rest of the text).

Use bulleted lists:

  • for whatever content you want (doesn’t have to be a “list”)
  • because they draw the reader’s eye
  • make it easier to digest your information
  • you’re reading this, aren’t you?

Use bold and italic. But don’t underline things that aren’t links, please.  Many of us are confused by underlined text we can’t click.

4.  Make your posts scannable.

We don’t read every word of a blog post.  It’s the way our brains are programmed.

Make it easy on your “scanners” by using sub headings and bolding the main points or important text in your blog post.

Test it by “reading” only the sub headings and bolded text and see if it makes sense and if your reader would still get the main point you’re making or main info you want to share.

It takes practice.  I’m still working on it.  Learn as you go.

5.  Illustrate your points.

We’re visual creatures.  We love images.  Include them in your posts.

Not sure where to grab images or how to add them?  How to Find & Add Images to Your Blog Posts

Why bother?

This post started out at 1,000+ words. Now it’s 623.  Imagine if it were 40% longer. And only one or two long paragraphs of text.

Yeah, I feel the migraine coming, too… someone hand me the Excedrin and some seriously strong coffee please… and don’t let me forget to grab the scissors and the duct tape before I post!

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  1. Great advice, Michelle!

    I started my blog with the intention to keep posts short and sweet, but these guidelines will still help me make my web content even more effective. Thank you.

    I have definitely noticed the bloggers that don’t follow your advice (over the past few weeks). I find myself scanning (and not in a good way) their “proper-length” paragraphs.

    I really appreciate the content that you provide because I can implement this advice immediately to improve my writing.
    Steve recently posted… What Do You ExpectMy Profile

    1. Ah, you’ve deciphered the motivation for this post, Steve. :) I notice it a lot when I’m in one of my “visit lots of blogs” phases. GREAT content and info on so many blogs, they just need a bit more formatting for the web.

      So many bloggers struggle with the “English class” vs. web writing. It’s just not what we’re taught. Good thing it’s easy to implement once we know what to do!

  2. Awesome advice that I definitely plan to implement and share with others.
    Jacqueline recently posted… Have you Taken the Plunge YetMy Profile

    1. Great! Thank you for sharing. :)

  3. Wonderful advice. I tend to be short and to the point in my writing and I use lots of paragraphs and bullet points/lists. I do need to get better at writing posts that can be scanned though.
    Leanne Chesser recently posted… Top Secret Strategy for Building a Successful BlogMy Profile

    1. I’d use your blog as a good example, Leanne. I find it very easy to read/follow. :)

  4. I use Mind Maps extensively.

    I Mind Mapped all my my blogs for the whole month of the Ultimate Blog Challenge.

    Then I map individual blogs out before I write them – you can see none of them are very long

    Plus this week, there’s even a blog in my series on why and how Mind Maps work to get both halves of the brain in on the act.

    Loving the Blog Challenge Michelle and thanks for bringing it to the world – loads of lovely new connections have come as a result of it

    1. Oh cool! I need to go find that post. I use MindMaps but need to use them more. I love them once they’re done.

      And so glad to hear the Blog challenge is working for you, Tom. I enjoy getting to meet so many bloggers and watching the connections grow.

  5. I LOVE this Michelle – more bloggers need to read this post!

    Another tip that can help you when editing is to read your post out loud to yourself – it’s interesting how some things just sound wrong when you do that – and they go on the scrap-heap.

    And I endorse your points about short paragraphs and pictures – please people think about out eyes ;-)

    Tracey Rissik recently posted… Taking your branding a step furtherMy Profile

    1. YES! Excellent tip.

      It always amazes me when I read my posts into CinchCast what I end up going back to edit. *blush*

  6. I LOVE the tip to make your posts scannable. With my busy schedule, sometimes that is all I have time for…

    This is a great post with great tips. I keep a notebook with me always and I write down ideas in it, sometimes even full blog post drafts. Although I always want ME in my blog posts, I try to keep on point and not get too side tracked with a story.

    My goal is to provide a helpful, entertaining, picture laden post that is below 500 words. :)
    Through the Lens of Kimberly Gauthier, Photography Blog recently posted… My Guest Post for Earth DayMy Profile

    1. Busy-ness is such a challenge!

      Love the notebook strategy. Great way to keep track of the ideas as they hit.

  7. Great post, I enjoyed….I try my best to do most of the things you mentioned. There are still things that need be done..I get bored easily and hopefully mine aren’t boring…but you can feel when you write a really good one…You should be feeling that about this, it’s great!
    Michelle Church recently posted… Sometime We Have To Go Back To The BasicsMy Profile

    1. That’s a really great point, Michelle. I think most of the time we can feel it when we might need to do a bit more editing before we post, and also feel it when we’re writing something our readers will connect with. I’ve found that intuition kind of a struggle to develop, personally, but I’m getting there.

  8. Good reminders, Michele. I’m mindful of the length and aim for about 350 words. If I have more that I could add I break it into two posts and with a couple points each. Thanks, Michele.
    Julie Henderson recently posted… CHANGE YOUR LIFE- TRANSFORM YOUR BUSINESSMy Profile

    1. I need to do that more myself, Julie! It’s a great way to make content easier for readers to digest and makes blogging easier for us since a series from one post gives us several days worth of content. :)

  9. Hi Michelle
    “Write your thoughts down. Go back and edit later.”

    Great advice, just like writing a speech.

    As they say, there are no well written speeches only well rewritten speeches.

    Looks as though the same applies to blog posts.
    Keith Davis recently posted… Keep it short- keep it sharpMy Profile

  10. Thanks Michelle – this is really an important lesson for us (bloggers) to ensure to keep our writing within the theme and goal. I tend to write long-ish posts quite a bit. I;ll have to get the duct tape and scissors when writing my next post:)
    Stella recently posted… Promote Yourself and Share What You Do!My Profile

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