As a professional editor, I have read, edited, and proofread many articles. When something comes across my desk, I usually read through it quickly and can judge right away how much time it will take me to edit. (Admittedly, I prefer working with writers whose articles don’t require a large amount of time to work through.) Whether submitting an article for publication elsewhere or on your own blog, there are some easy things you can do to ensure that you have a professional and polished blog post before you share it with the world.
How to Write a Polished Blog Post
1. Just Write
When you sit down to write your first draft, write with the intention of rewriting. At this stage, just get your thoughts down, and include specific details. Don’t worry about spelling and punctuation at this stage–just write. To keep the creative flow going, focus on uninterrupted writing to get your brainstorming recorded.
Once you have your thoughts down and feel that you’ve covered your topic, it’s time to revise what you’ve written. Remember topic sentences from high school English class? Be sure you have a clear thesis and that readers will clearly know what your point is. Make sure the rest of your sentences support your thesis. If something stands out as being out of place or off topic, don’t be afraid to delete it. Shorten some sentences, and divide longer paragraphs for readability.
Now that you have revised your post, proofread and edit carefully. Take advantage of your computers proofing tools to correct any spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors. An old-fashioned dictionary is a good thing to have nearby, and a formatting manual is a must-have. I like The Chicago Manual of Style, MLA Handbook for Writers, and The Christian Writer’s Manual of Style. Consider these tools to be an investment in your blog.
If you’re like me, you might do the majority of your writing late at night after the kids have gone to bed. Rather than hitting the “Publish” button, it’s usually a good idea to wait until the next day and read with fresh eyes. I often catch errors I missed earlier if I take another look at articles in the fresh light of day. If possible, have someone else read through your post to catch anything you might have missed. One of my surefire ways to find errors is to read my articles aloud to my husband.
Tip: I find that if I read an article in “Preview” mode, I often catch things that I miss in the draft. Seeing an article as it will appear to readers somehow makes glaring errors stand out.
No matter how much proofreading you do, there is bound to be something you miss. No worries! Just go back and fix things as needed–one of the advantages of the edit feature on your blog!
4. Organize for Visual Appeal
Make your post easy to read and visually appealing by using tools like headings, bulleted lists, numbered lists, and block quotes. Use bold words within paragraphs to make certain points stand out, and use italics for titles or for emphasis. Make it easy for your readers to scan over the page and find important details. Though some readers will read each word, much of your audience might have limited time to scroll through the blogs they enjoy and bookmark articles to revisit later.
Use keywords in your title, your page URL, and in the first paragraph of your post. This is good for SEO, but more importantly, it will help your readers immediately recognize what your article is about.
5. Links and Images
Include a nice image at the top of your post, and add images throughout your post to break up the text and provide context for your article. Many readers are attracted by an image and will click over to read more. Add one or two links within your article to help readers find additional related content or more information.
With just a little extra effort, you can present your readers with a polished blog post. Put your best face forward, and nurture your writing with a little TLC.