Editing a blog post should not be limited to proofreading, spell-check, fixing grammatical errors and general formatting. These are basic prerequisites of publishing for anyone learning how to start blogging, and they form the crux of all edits. However, editing also includes general and specific modification of the content based on a comprehensive review and, if necessary, rewriting some or most of the content. The process should also include copyediting, which is not the same as standard editing. Here is a comprehensive guide to help you properly edit your blog posts.
First Three Steps of Editing
Editing is a creative and literary process but it is also a technical task. The best editors around the world have a stringent checklist. The exact checklist or method and hence approach to edit a blog post may vary but once an editor has determined the effective system, there is no wavering from that procedure. You should always have a stepwise checklist as you begin to edit a blog post. You will have to refer to this checklist a few times as you become familiar with the process. Once you are acclimatized with the systematic approach, you can naturally adhere to all the steps and ensure every blog post you edit is perfect. To make things simple, here are the first three steps of editing.
After you have finished writing your blog post, set it aside for a few minutes. You may attend to another task for a while. If someone else has written the blog, you can start your edit immediately. In case of self-authored blog posts, an interval of a few minutes is recommended so you can get out of your writing shoes and don your editor hat. This will empower you to have a fresh perspective so your edit is not a natural extension of the same chain of thought that was employed while writing the piece. You may not be able to see obvious errors or problems that a bit of a break will allow you to spot and rectify.
Read the whole blog post when you begin editing. Do not think of anything else at this stage but readability. The whole blog post must be readable for the audience you are trying to reach out to. If there is any paragraph or sentence that doesn’t sound right, either because of the way it has been written or owing to the choice of words, flag it and you can get back to it when you rewrite or modify the piece. Any blog post that is not readable must be partially or completely rewritten depending on the severity of the problem.
2. Spelling & Grammar
Spelling and grammar must always be impeccable in a blog post, if it has to be presented professionally. There are millions of blog posts out there with absolutely unacceptable spelling and grammatical mistakes. Many people use spell-check tools. You can choose to do so but make sure the tool is reliable and that the spelling is accurate as per the type of English you have used. US English and UK English are the two major variants. For some strange reason, a few countries use a blend of US and UK English, in terms of spelling and wording.
The third step in the first phase of editing a blog post is ensuring coherence. The most readable blog post with immaculate spelling & grammar would be worthless if the content is not coherent. You need a piece that makes sense, every word and one sentence at a time. The whole piece should be consistent. It should convey the primary message and offer everything necessary supporting the same. If parts of the piece do not make sense or do not feel like an integral portion of the whole piece then these sections should be modified, rewritten or simply done away with.
Copyediting a Blog Post
Copyediting is basically checking the consistency and factual accuracy of the content. While you will be able to check some of its consistency when you assess the coherence of the piece, yet you would not really vet the factual consistency. Every piece of information in the content, numbers or explanations, should be factually accurate and such accuracy must be consistent throughout the blog post. This requires prevailing knowledge. In the absence of that, editors should conduct adequate research to know if the information being shared through the blog post is actually correct. In case of self authored blogs, checking factual accuracy is easier since the writer and editor knows the source and has also ensured there is no false information. Until a few years back, copyediting in its strictest sense was not so necessary for blog posts. Today, people flag inappropriate and factually inaccurate content quite vigorously and they also share their negative feedback with their friends and followers on social media. As an editor, you cannot allow the publishing of inaccurate or false information on your blog.
The Triad of Headline, Headings/Subheadings and Meta Description
Every blog post must have a headline. It may or may not have headings and subheadings. The main title of the article or post is the headline. This is not the page title and it is not a heading. The different sections of the content can have headings and these may have further subheadings for subsections or subcategories in a major portion. Many people confuse headings with headlines. Then there is the quintessential meta description, the short piece of content that will appear on search engine results and other listings, which would basically convey what the blog post is about.
Editors should review the headline, headings & subheadings and meta description of a blog post. It is usually the writer who comes up with these but in some cases editors take up the responsibility to pen these sections to make the blog post more appropriate for the target audience and intended purpose. Writing a headline, heading & subheading and meta description requires a specific skill, that of being a writer and being a marketer. The headline should intrigue the readers, the meta description should create an apt perception and draw internet users to the blog post, the headings and subheadings must neatly break down the content into distinct but integrated portions so the whole reading experience is satiating.
Search Engine Optimization & Link Wheels
Editors of blog posts cannot be ignorant of search engine optimization and link wheels. Keyword optimization is imperative, so is having a link wheel in place or connecting to an existing link wheel that would benefit the entire blog. Posts should smartly target some keywords, not many. The content must not be stuffed and definitely not overstuffed with keywords. There should be some sentences or phrases in the blog post that can conveniently and contextually link to other posts on the site. There can be some references to authority sites or third party sites, as is sometimes the case with citations. A link wheel will ensure relevant blog posts are interconnected. There would be outgoing links to some posts and backlinks to redirect people to the post you are editing.
Incorporating Multimedia in your Blog Posts
It is often the job of the editor to find the relevant images and videos for a blog post. Whether the writer does this or someone else, the editor must ensure the chosen images, graphs, illustrations, animations or graphics and videos are accurate and relevant. Many blog posts have irrelevant images, videos that are not always exactly about the subject matter and graphs or illustrations that could have wrong representation of facts. A blog post shouldn’t just have coherent textual content. All text, imagery, videos, illustrations, graphs and links should consistently adhere to the topic and must be presented in a complementing manner.
The Technical Process of Publishing a Blog Post
It is common for the editor to actually publish the blog post on a website, forum, app or social media, among other platforms. Hence, one must be familiar with the exact process. There are various types of content management systems, some are free and some are not. Every system has its own procedure. Most of these processes are as simple as uploading a doc file or copying and pasting the content from a document to an online interface. Images and videos can be attached. Graphs and other types of illustrations can be uploaded.
The technical process aside, editors must ensure that their blog posts are published properly, the way they are supposed to be read. For instance, the formatting necessary for a blog post to be ideally presented on a desktop or laptop would not be perfect for the same content to be read on mobiles or tablets. The formatting needs to change, perhaps the length of the piece needs to be concise as well and even the resolution of the images and embedded videos will need to be dialed down. Many content management systems have previews that would allow editors to know how exactly their blog posts would look after being published. This is a crucial step in the editing process.