Fail-safe your business blogs before publishing
Your blog might just be your company’s most powerful marketing tool. A well written blog can attract new customers who are looking for the products and services you supply. It engages current clients, and builds loyalty. It keeps your brand name in front of people. Yet, when poorly written, your blog also has the power to turn customers away and send them to your competition.
In this post, you’ll learn how to edit your posts so that they scream ‘quality’.
How important is quality of writing on blogs?
In this age of Twitter, social media, and society that communicates by text, it might seem odd that poor quality of blog writing could damage your business credentials. Sure, your blogs must be entertaining and informative, but research also shows that typos, grammar errors, and the like are a big turn-off.
A 2011 study conducted by Fred Vultee of Wayne State University found that readers:
- Spot grammar errors and are distracted by them
- Notice inconsistencies (a name spelt two different ways, for example)
- Are disturbed by poor spelling and misused words
- Realise when an article is professionally edited or not
A 2016 study published in the Harvard Business Review found that 81% of business people said that poorly written material wastes a lot of their time. Respondents noted that poorly written copy was ineffective when too long, poorly organised, unclear, and imprecise.
What annoys people most when they read blogs?
Before you rush to publish that blog post, it might be worth considering the findings of research published by GetApp Lab in 2015. On its behalf, GetData quizzed 500 internet users, all between the ages of 25 and 54 and with incomes of between $24k and $150k. It found that what annoys people most about blog posts are:
- Poorly written (25.8%)
- Sensationalist headline that doesn’t deliver (22%)
- Obvious attempt at selling (19.6%)
- Uninformative/not educational (15%)
The message from all the research is clear: whether you write your blogs yourself, or someone else writes them, make sure they are edited.
First impressions count. Obvious errors encourage readers to click away. If you can’t be bothered to check your blog post for mistakes, how can you be trusted to provide a great service or product?
Blog post editing basics
Editing will add the final polish to your work, and in most cases an independent editor is the way to go: he or she will be impartial, and offer a second set of eyes. It is incredibly difficult to edit your own work – you’re simply too close to it, tending to scan what you have written and not give it the level of attention necessary. You miss typos and spelling errors.
Here is a five-step process that will help to iron out the creases from your blog writing:
1. Step back
Once you’ve written a blog post, put it to one side and leave it alone for a few hours, or even a day or two. This allows you to have a fresher look at it when you do finally get back to it. If you use a blog diary, then you’ll know what you want to write about in advance. You could even write a few blogs one day, and then edit them another.
2. Does it say what you mean it to say?
This is where you need to step inside your readers’ minds. Remember, your readers may be novices in the subject that you are writing about. Make sure your blog flows with a beginning, a middle, and an end. It should progress naturally from introduction to conclusion, and that it hasn’t strayed from what the title promised.
Check that the message you want to convey is clear, and that it draws the reader in and maintains their interest throughout.
3. Get out the red pen
Now it’s time to put on your proofreader’s hat. Check for spelling, grammar, and punctuation, and use everyday language. Pay particular attention to:
- Using contractions (use ‘I’ll’ rather than ‘I will’).
- Using words that you would normally use (if you would use ‘bugbear’ instead of ‘worry’ in your natural language, then use it). Remember, blogs are usually informal and with their own personal tone.
- Proper use of apostrophes. This can have a huge impact on an entire meaning of a word or sentence.
- Homonyms – words that sound like others. Common misspellings include they’re/there/their; to/too/two; and so on.
- Don’t read the words – read the letters. Character by character. You’ll be surprised how many words can appear correct, yet they have a letter misplaced or even missing entirely. Certain readers will pick up on these immediately, taking the focus off your hard work, and losing your business respect.
- Do not rely on Spellcheck! It can often misunderstand the context, suggesting incorrect alternatives and failing to point out errors. (For example, if I just a slip an extra word on this sentence and add another that isn’t quite right, Spellcheck won’t pick up on them. Can you spot them?)
4. Get rid of the unnecessary
Remove words and phrases that really shouldn’t be included. (Like ‘really’ in the last sentence.) Remove everything you can without destroying the meaning of your post. Remove words such as ‘that’ and ‘the’ where possible. Watch out for repetition of words that make your work sound clunky. Finally, try to avoid using clichés.
5. Read your blog out loud
You might feel daft reading your work out loud, but it really does help pick up those last little mistakes. It gives you extra focus on each sentence, and each word and phrase within each sentence.
Strive for perfection, but don’t beat yourself up
Your content isn’t going to be perfect every time. Every now and then there will be an error. Sometimes these occur when copying and pasting to your blog. But you should strive for perfection.
Don’t ever publish a blog (or other content) without giving it a good once-over, and don’t forget to check that references are made correctly (such as the research quoted in this post). Have a separate pair of eyes examine your blog posts before they are published. You’ll be surprised at how much better they become.
To help boost your business blogging, email me today for your free copy of my eBook “How to write engaging blog posts and grow your online audience”. I’ll reply personally and attach my eBook for you.
Because quality content matters,