Today we’re excited to host Jamie Lieberman of Hashtag Legal on the Mediavine blog to explain the latest web accessibility case and why it matters to publishers. On April 7, …
I’ve been a blogger since 2006, so I’ve read quite a lot of blog posts before and after that time.
I also had a previous career as a copyeditor, which means that many of the posts I’ve read (including my own) have made me cringe at the errors.
EDITORS NEED EDITING
Print and online publications like books and magazines have whole teams of editors who meticulously go over each piece of work, and still errors can slip through.
If you’re a one-person business publishing multiple times a week, chances are there will be mistakes here and there. No one is perfect, and getting help with editing doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer!
WHY BLOGGERS NEED EDITING
I know, you’re over there rolling your eyes and saying, “BUT WHY, Megan?! My writing is fine. I write how I speak! Text messages don’t even have full words or periods these days! Ur is the new your!”
I get it. I really do.
However, as online publishers, we’re obsessed with creating quality content. We want loyal readers to come to our sites again and again. We also want to build our brand and create lasting relationships.
It’s harder to do that when ingredients or steps are missing from a recipe, or you misspell a brand’s name in a sponsored post.
We’re never going to agree on the intricacies of the English language (it pains me every time I’m required to remove an Oxford comma) but we can all agree that it’s a good thing to make our writing more clear.
TOOLS FOR PROOFREADING
One of the most important things you can do when it comes to writing blog posts is to not do them directly in WordPress, Blogger, whatever your CMS is. Programs can be unpredictable, and while most blogging platforms do have an autosave function, I’ve found it doesn’t always prevent content from being lost.
There are lots of writing tools out there. I use Word, but I also really like a program called Scrivener. Scrivener makes organizing between articles very easy — perfect if you like to do them in a series or interconnected.
Word and Scrivener also have built-in spelling and grammar checks. Keep in mind that their suggestions are not always correct in context. Be sure to read carefully before accepting a change!
Grammarly is also an easy tool to use. It comes as a Chrome extension, desktop app and Microsoft Office addition. There is also a premium version that checks readability, gives contextual corrections and more. If you’re obsessive about your writing, the monthly fee might be worth it for you.
The Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) is an excellent resource for checking on more specific usage, such as appositives, that versus which and subject-verb agreement. It also has guidelines for subject-specific writing including journalistic writing.
If you prefer your resources on paper, get the Chicago Manual of Style, The Associated Press Stylebook or The Recipe Writer’s Handbook. All three are excellent reference books.
Finally, one of the greatest tools at your disposal is a friend. It can be your co-worker, employee or even your mom.
Have them read the post and make suggestions. Take their questions to heart because their feedback can help you become an even better content creator.
These are just some of the common mistakes to check for. I highly recommend making your own list that fits your content and niche.
- Capitalization of proper names, such as cities and brands
- Accidental homophones, such as their/there, site/sight, peek/peak
- Recipes: missing ingredients or steps
- Read out loud — does the punctuation make sense? Are there run-on sentences?
- Repetition — switch up how sentences/paragraphs begin
- Add synonyms for oft-used words like “delicious”
- Apostrophes (including its [possessive] and it’s [it is])
- Your consistent style — do you write Saint Louis or St. Louis? Tablespoon or tbsp?
- Preview in WordPress to check for errant returns or words hanging next to an image
- Clarity — do your instructions make sense?
- Are brand names and products referred to correctly in sponsored posts? Do you need to add a ® ?
- Keywords — did you actually link on the right phrase?
- Do you have foreign words that need accents?
Once you have a feel for checking your post for errors, it will get easier and easier.
While it might take a bit of extra time before hitting publish, honing your writing skills will only serve to benefit you long term.
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