I watch a lot of YouTube videos about the best ways to clean your bathroom, which doesn’t sound like it has anything to do with editing tips for writers, but stay with me for a moment …
See, I realized that I spend way more time watching “hacks, tricks, and tips” about how to efficiently clean a bathroom than I do actually cleaning my bathroom.
Given the hundreds of thousands of views on these types of videos, perhaps it’s not just me. And I then started thinking … this might be similar to writers who read about editing.
Editing tips for writers that don’t feel like chores
Editing, like cleaning a bathroom, isn’t always the most fun, so writers might spend more time reading about editing tips than actually implementing them.
We’d like to have a polished bathroom or a polished blog post — we just don’t always want to perform the work required to produce that shiny end result.
The 10 modern editing tips for writers below should invigorate you to put in the elbow grease … at least when it comes to your blogging.
1. Become the Editor-in-Chief of your blog
Even though blogs have been around for a long time, some people may still associate them with sloppy, weak information posted on a website. And that’s what some blogs are.
But that’s not the goal of business blogging.
While the writing rules you follow certainly depend on the audience you serve, your presentation must be thoughtful.
Blog posts that work for your business ideally satisfy a need for both you and your readers.
Here’s my definition of an Editor-in-Chief that professional writers can use to demonstrate a commitment to quality:
Editor-in-Chief (noun): a person who assumes complete responsibility for, and ownership of, all of the communication he or she puts out into the world to enable a self-directed, creative career.
2. Build editing momentum
You don’t start physical exercise without some gentle stretches, and you probably don’t start drafting your blog post ideas without some writing warm-ups either.
Similarly, don’t just jump straight into editing your writing without the proper preparation.
Instead, energize your brain to tame wild words with your audience’s best interest in mind.
You want to feel ready to shape and craft your text rather than simply read it.
To build momentum to edit with ease, begin your editing routine by:
- Reading some inspirational quotes for writers
- Studying the structure of the lyrics in a song from your favorite musical artist
- Writing free-form creative content that is separate from your blog
Those are just a few activities you can try. How do you get ready to edit? Share in the comments below at the end of this post.
3. Bond with your audience over a shared worldview
As I mentioned above, your blog post should be a thoughtful presentation that considers your audience’s desires, hopes, and needs.
And you don’t always need to write more to create the most engaging, useful, content possible. Sometimes you just need to arrange your ideas in a way that is easy to consume.
That might include:
- Improving your headline writing
- Adding bullet points
- Rearranging your sentences or paragraphs
- Deleting confusing tangents
- Turning a long blog post into a series
Editing is more than just checking for proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation. It’s your opportunity to extract your winning difference from your draft and shine a spotlight on it.
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4. Sleep with one eye (and one ear) open
We know writers are always working, so look for meaningful snippets everywhere, even if they seem to have nothing to do with the topics you write about.
Why is this an editing tip?
Your draft may be a straightforward article that offers helpful information, but during the editing process you can infuse it with your own writing voice and incorporate interesting elements that hook readers on your blog’s style.
Go ahead, make the competition irrelevant.
5. Ask yourself questions when studying editing tips for writers
It’s common to take a break after writing before you begin editing to help clear your mind. After all, it’s difficult to review your own writing objectively.
Another thing you can do to avoid blogging mistakes is to ask yourself critical questions about your content:
- Does this introduction explain why someone should keep reading?
- Is there too much hype and not enough value?
- Can I simplify this point?
Since your headline is always a good place to start, check out: 3 Simple Questions That Help You Write Better Headlines.
6. Add carbonation to your flat water
Plain water is fine, but isn’t sparkling water a little more fun?
As you examine your draft, vary your word choice and fine-tune your language throughout your post — especially at the beginning of paragraphs.
For example, if you begin the majority of your paragraphs with “Something you could try …,” or “Make sure …,” the text is going to look repetitive to a reader.
Also, take a look at the list items in this post. They aren’t merely “1. Edit,” “2. Proofread,” etc. They state unpredictable, unusual actions that guide the reader through the post in an unexpected way.
Be an artist. Play with your words and look for different ways to present your content ideas.
7. Bring an umbrella (just in case it rains)
It happens to the best of us. We can all get a little … wordy.
Shield your final draft from extra explanations with your trusty word-repellant umbrella.
Aim to not get too attached to your words and swiftly cut out sections of your draft if they don’t benefit your audience. (Save them for later because they might fit perfectly into a different post!)
You want your article to be complete, but communicate your main message in a precise way.
8. Complete a “revision triangle”
Once you’ve set up a post:
- Edit in the Text Editor screen
- Proofread in the Text Editor screen
- Proofread once again in Preview mode
I call this a “revision triangle” because a triangle has three sides and these are three steps that help ensure you have thoroughly reviewed your writing.
Since many mistakes are often not caught until you proofread, let’s look at my favorite proofreading technique.
9. Keep the reader in your created reality
In the draft of this post, I accidentally typed “learn” instead of “clean”, “person” instead of “perhaps,” and “always” instead of “also.”
If these errors had published, they would have jolted readers out of the experience I created for them.
They could reread the text and figure out my true intentions, but that’s a bit disappointing for readers — and extra work for them.
Catch these types of mistakes by proofreading from the end of your post to the beginning in Preview mode.
Remember that proofreading is not reading.
You need to slowly inspect each word in your draft.
10. Zig when others zag
This tip is also known as “double-check details other writers may overlook.”
Properly attribute any quotations you use and verify their accuracy (no missing or incorrect words).
Look up the exact names of companies and products. You don’t want to write “MasterMix 300” when the product you’re talking about is actually called “Master MixIt 2000.”
It’s easy to skip over hyperlinked text when you proofread, so give those words special attention. Fact-check event information, such as the day of the week, date, and time.
There isn’t just one set of editing tips for writers that help your blog stand out. You build respect and trust by getting the details right over time.
More editing tips for writers and content creators
If you think you need to brush up on your editing skills, you might be experiencing this discouraging scenario … Inbox 0: in a bad way.
Has your brilliant content still not scored you that dream writing position, lucrative business partnership, or sweet recognition among your peers and target audience?
If you think your article ideas are top-notch, but there’s a lonely tumbleweed blowing through your barren website, it might be because you’re just a writer.
You heard me, Gloria.
If everybody wants you, why isn’t anybody calling? Once you create a blog or email newsletter, you need to also actively take part in its evolution.
While keeping diligent focus on your content production, you must also review your past choices, looking for ways to avoid content marketing mistakes and allow more readers to engage with your writing.
In other words, you might need to think more like an editor.
Now that we’ve gone over the basics, here are 30 additional editing tips that will help you become a more effective editor-in-chief of the content you create.
11. Fall in love with your website
Forget “like.” No one will be head-over-heels about your online home if you’re not thoroughly impressed with your presentation.
Commit to making your site a masterpiece before you even think about your next post topic.
12. Sit down; stay awhile
“Web furniture” sets the tone for visitors. These elements include your headshot, logo, and layout.
Does your design welcome people into your hub and make them want to find out more?
13. Turn the spotlight outward
Remember that a good About page is as much about your audience as it is about you.
14. Highlight a reason to subscribe
Since your story continually unfolds, encourage visitors to stay in the loop and get your fresh content as soon as it’s published.
15. Have discerning taste
Thoughtfully select the media that complements your writing. Stock photos can be used strategically, or they can look generic and bland.
16. Break the rules for a good cause
If the latest and greatest widget, post style, or social media app won’t benefit your readers, don’t use them.
17. Demonstrate authority
Display certification badges or testimonials that represent your expertise.
18. Check your WordPress before you wreck your WordPress
Secure your website with reliable hosting so that you feel confident about growing your web presence and readership.
19. Tell them what you want
When someone arrives on your site, what do you want him to do next? Subscribe? Hire you? Collaborate?
Explicitly state your website’s purpose as if it were a physical storefront.
20. Say no to “yes men” to focus on editing tips for writers
Friends and family will say “looks great!” without even clicking on your URL. Get objective feedback from professionals before your blog launch.
21. Water the plant
Each edit you make to your content should directly contribute to the goal you’d like to accomplish and the types of tone in writing you want to communicate.
22. Prepare; don’t plan
Structure your editorial calendar in a way that allows you to adjust your posting schedule if you naturally think of new ideas or need to fit in time-sensitive content.
23. Take yourself out of the equation
If you’re preoccupied with impressing others, you may feel pressure and forget how to start writing. Concentrate on helping your audience instead.
24. Research what’s hot
Get the right visitors to your blog with sensible SEO. You simply need to find and use the keywords they use when they search online.
25. Fascinate your audience
Educate and entertain in equal measure.
26. Diversify your topics
If you’re tired of your blog posts, it shows. You may need to switch topics completely or expand your approach to keep yourself motivated and readers enthusiastic.
27. Look in nooks and crannies
Can you provide additional information in new posts that enhances content you’ve already published?
28. Tighten up
Instead of writing many mediocre posts, dedicate your efforts to one powerful piece of content per week.
29. Walk the line
Strike a balance between your passions and your audience’s dilemmas that positions you to provide practical relief.
30. Log out and mute distractions
Respect your blog and block distractions until you’re finished with your writing sessions.
31. Try the Fat Ass Fudge diet
Fat Ass Fudge says it all. Do your descriptions also convey a precise message?
32. Divide and conquer (a difficult editing tip for writers to hear)
If you truly serve a specific niche, you will exclude another group. It’s necessary. There should be certain people who hate your writing.
33. Use concise language
When you name your blog, develop a tagline, or craft a headline, pick easy words that differentiate your business in a straightforward way.
34. Outline main points
You’ll flesh out the details of your content when you write each line, but you should outline your main points before you begin writing to ensure your posts are cohesive.
35. Write one compelling line
The stress of writing a blog post, landing page, or ebook is imaginary. Each line you write is the only reality. Put your head down; do the work.
36. Learn language rules
Grammar and usage can be boring, but what’s worse than boring? Losing readers because they don’t understand what you’re saying. Editing tips for writers help make your writing clear.
37. Avoid word choice mistakes
Don’t carelessly write “effect” when you mean “affect.” Do you know the difference?
38. Examine each letter
As I mentioned above, proofreading is different from writing and editing. Each final read-through should be a slow inspection that catches subtle errors you’ve previously missed.
39. Leave time
Write in multiple rounds so you have more time to reflect. It sounds counterintuitive, but planned breaks can help you make significant progress.
40. Regard everything as practice
Be proud of the work you’ve already completed and aim to get better. Don’t take anything you read or write for granted. It’s all a lesson.
Try these editing tips for writers
Drafts aren’t only rough versions of documents and manuscripts. Most creations (and household chores) are ongoing works in progress.
So now that we’ve got a handle on a practical editing mindset we can all use going forward, I’ll resolve to also stay on top of my bathroom cleaning.
Should I straighten up the area around my sink?
It’s a start.
Reader Comments (45)
Jawad Khan | WritingMyDestiny says
Great post Stefanie!
I’m glad you covered the design part of the blog as well. People tend to overlook this aspect.
Everything from design to content should be aligned with the objective that you’ve set for your blog.
Very useful post.
Jessica Flory says
Fantastic post! I love all of these tips. I think my favorite is “write one compelling line”. Really puts things in perspective – writing is at the forefront.
Your insight shows in this blog itself. Great work and great tips–thank you!
Nick Stamoulis says
“If the latest and greatest widget, post formula, or social media app won’t benefit your readers, don’t use them.”
Don’t believe the hype! Just because it is hot and new exciting doesn’t mean it will do you or your readers any good. By all means test but don’t think you HAVE to use the cool, new tools every time.
Jack Price says
My favorite is #17 nooks and crannies. You never run out of ideas if you expand upon previous posts with additional info. And if you cross-link them (as you did) it makes the blog so much more user-friendly. And easier for search engines to index, I’ll bet.
Rinkesh Kukreja says
Wow…I’ve been doing most of them but I guess I need to update my checklist. My favorite one being “Highlight a reason to subscribe”. Getting users to subscribe to your email list is hard job these days. You need to give them reasons as to why should they subscribe to your blog.
Stefanie - Revision Fairy says
It’s another opportunity to show you offer something special. When readers think they can get useful information from you they can’t get anywhere else, they become more open to subscribing.
Nice Laura Branigan reference. 🙂
Brian Clark says
I’ve been trying all day to remember the reference, and couldn’t. Laura Branigan. Wow, well done.
Stefanie - Revision Fairy says
I should have included a “recommended listening” footnote to accompany the post. 😉
Sonia Simone says
We should have those on every post. 🙂
Mike Martel says
Smokin’ hot post! Trying out #21.
Great checklist as we go about our business of being bloggers.
Kathy Widenhouse says
Terrific. My fave is #13: “Take yourself out of the equation…Concentrate on helping your audience instead.” Funny how when we seek to serve our audience and give them the info they need, we get stronger results. Persuasive writing is all about meeting the reader’s needs. This post talks about that idea further: http://www.nonprofitcopywriter.com/persuasive-writing.html#sthash.FeUdEUsb.dpbs
MaLinda Johnson says
Awesome tips! I use many of them. They have brought me more traffic than when I wrote using only my own ideas.
My best post editing tip deals with the way you look at editing. If you see it as a boring, nitpicking task, you might not like it. Look at it as putting the finishing touches on a beautiful work of art instead. Your point of view can make a HUGE difference on how you see the proofing process.
Stefanie - Revision Fairy says
That’s my outlook, too, Malinda! And make it fun! 🙂
I like to treat editing and proofreading as more than just spotting errors. You’re really making sure each word helps communicate your point and the ideas in your head match the sentences on the page.
Al Hanzal says
Thanks Stefanie, you’re a wonderfully fresh voice on Copy Blogger. Enjoyed all of your insights.
Stefanie - Revision Fairy says
So nice to hear, Al. Thank you for reading!
Jake Johnson says
I definitely need to work on #20, log out and mute. I always find myself falling victim to distractions such as sports games on TV and other things that are taking my focus away from writing.
Thanks for the insights.
Stefanie - Revision Fairy says
Distractions are everywhere, huh? Super easy to procrastinate.
It’s tough, but once you sit down and block out everything else, it’s always pleasantly surprising to find that your writing and editing work takes less time than you think it will—so that’s at least one incentive to overcome distractions!
Work always takes longer when I’m in half-focusing mode.
Felicity Fields says
My favorite is “pick 3 easy words that differentiate your business.” It’s so simple to say, and so hard to do. But it works. Really, really well.
Stefanie - Revision Fairy says
Definitely easier said than done! I love Twitter as an example: 140 character updates. When it launched, there was nothing else like that.
Jakk Ogden says
This is awesome!
Great to read a very fresh topic on Copyblogger, well done.
Takis Athanassiou says
Excellent post Stefanie. Contains valuable tips and rule of the thump advice on how to organize, edit and produce content of value. Thank you for sharing.
I like your point of view Stefanie…very useful for all of us who wants to create something new and in style…congrats
Every angle of making your blog irresistible to your readers are covered, and I love the line “Fall in love with your website”. It is self explanatory, how are you going to write quality posts if you don’t like your site. Make it your inspiration in writing…..
Timothy Carter says
Great article! Giving everyone the chance to “reset” their eyes on what they’re doing!
Time to tweet this article out! A definite value-add.
Tamra M. Gentry says
I LOVE this piece. Great info.
All of the points are note and action-worthy, but I especially like #29–I have a tendency toward constant flow and need to remind myself to take time and step back sometimes.
I’m also finding that, the older I get, the more time I need to invest in #28. I’ve found some insane typos/errors in my writing that would normally be unheard of coming from me–after I’ve posted something–and often, even after editing!
Thanks for such a great post!
Tom King says
“say No to ‘Yes men'” Haha Amen!
Lauren @ Pure Text says
I’d like to add something else to this list. I’m not recommending this only because I’m a freelance editor, but also because it’s extremely useful (I’ve done it myself!): Submitting a piece, or a variety of pieces, to an experienced freelance editor–not for proofreading, as the post states, but for content editing–will likely open your eyes to follies in your writing that you weren’t aware of. After they’re pointed out to you, though, you won’t want to wait a minute before changing your approach.
It’s a cool technique that I feel enough copywriters don’t take advantage of because they don’t want to spend the money. It’s certainly worth it, though.
Stefanie - Revision Fairy says
Thanks for your thoughts, everyone! I’m happy to see ideas about how you can apply the strategies to your own creations!
Wow. Those are some of the best writing tips I’ve ever come across. I love #21…Fat Ass Fudge diet. It made me laugh because in just a few words it actually says it all. Great stuff Stefanie. All of my writers should read and memorize this entire post.
chris desilva says
Some great advice here. Prompted a second look at my website to see what can be improved. Best tip for me was “13. Take Yourself Out Of The Equation”. Practical tip that I would not have thought of.
Uche Unogu says
I enjoyed Seth Godin’s quote at the end. I’ve found that you can’t write for everybody, but over time, you will find the audience that hangs to your every word. That trusts you. Seth is an advocate of writing to small niches. A lot of people try to write on “The 7 sure ways to get rich” to get a big audience. If you can write on your passion, say, “A trick to get lawn mowing done 30% faster”. You will find the right audience and be successful.
Matt Brennan says
Really great post! These are some great tips, not just for editing, but for whipping your blog into shape. I especially like saying no to yes men. Any of your friends will be willing to tell you how awesome a writer you are. It’s more important to know what can be done to make your work better.
Stefanie - Revision Fairy says
Absolutely, Matt. It’s a choice between what’s comforting and what can help you improve as a writer and communicator.
Jason G. says
This is a awesome list! As a copyeditor it’s vital to proofread for more than just grammar and your really address that here and I love it! So many times I run across copy that is completely filer and goes off track of the focus of what the person is trying to communicate. I especially find 26-28 to be the most helpful. So often we get caught up in finishing our work that we don’t take a step back to ensure it’s of the highest quality.
walter arrighetti says
Great checklist! A precious road map made of 30 practical milestons! Thanks
Helpful tips on content editing. “#18: Tighten up” stuck out most; as we continue to see at Prose Media, it is definitely more important to have fewer well-written and thought-out posts than more posts that won’t entice the reader as much. Quality, not quantity.
Freddy GC says
These are great tips. What a list. I like the adding carbonated water advice. As a writer, you are always learning tricks and techniques that can go a long way.
Thanks a bunch for sharing this!
Seth Simon says
I must work on item #20, log out, and mute. Sports events on TV and other diversions that divert my attention from writing are something I always find myself falling prey to.
I appreciate your insights.
Stefanie Flaxman says
Identifying your distractions is a great start to overcoming them, Seth!
David Craig White says
Waaw, thanks for this, Stefanie.
It’s certainly not something I’ll get time to do all at once but it’s a great list to start with.
Stefanie Flaxman says
Right on, David!
Alison Ver Halen says
Thanks for the great tips! You’re right that editing is often avoided. I find it so boring sometimes, but as you said, it has to be done.
Rajesh Chandra Pandey says
A magnificent article again.
Thanks a million, Stefanie!
By ” Getting ready to Edit”, you got me sitting on the wings of a fresh article idea. Something like – 10 pre-activities for getting ready to edit….ha!ha!
Here are some:
By observation – Read 4-5 pages of a book by a great author and observe how the text is structured.
By actually doing it – Hover over an academic essay by a school or college student and correct the mistakes therein.
Reading an article – Like this one written by you.
Going through a basic grammar lesson – Such as direct and indirect speech. (My Gosh! I find the punctuations in narrations so horribly confusing!)
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