Your information is solid.
Your take is unique.
And you’ve got your niche.
But it’s still just a handful of people on your subscription list.
It feels impossible to get more readers. And the ones you do have are not engaging with your content. Just silence – except for the occasional notice about unsubscribers.
The writing comes easy. You’re bursting with ideas. It’s really just a matter of transcribing your thoughts.
When you read your finalized posts, you like how you explain every detail, but it doesn’t sound as exciting as you feel it should.
It leaves you feeling empty, like you’re missing something.
That something is the step you must take between writing and publishing your post.
You must edit. And not just a spell check and a scan for missing punctuation.
If this is your idea of blog editing, there’s good news. Your posts will only get better.
But before we start, you should know something first.
Editing hurts. It demands focus. It takes nerves of steel and a willingness to say goodbye to that brilliant turn of phrase in paragraph 42.
But once you learn how to edit, you’ll have readers hanging on to every perfectly thought-out word, foraging through previous posts to get more of what they crave, sharing your words with their hungry friends, and waiting, with mouths watering, for your next polished post.
Ready to serve up some quality copy?
Before we get to the entrée, let’s talk about how you can revise your introduction to whet your readers’ appetites.
You may have some facts and preamble that are endlessly fascinating to you about what led you to write a particular post.
But you know what?
I hate to say it.
I don’t care about the dry facts or the boring preamble. Not at all. Nobody else does either. Even your mom. She’s just being polite.
We all just want our information and carry on with our day, thank you very much.
I’m being selfish you say?
No more selfish than you wanting to write a page of backstory before you tell your audience what you’re writing about.
(I’m rubber. You’re glue.)
So when you’re editing an introduction, you may discover that some of the facts are better sprinkled throughout your post to back up your statements, or that the information you have in paragraph four has the most interesting point you want your reader to learn.
But how do you know if a fact is dull and what the most interesting point is, especially when you think that everything you wrote is so very interesting and necessary?
Think about it this way.
You’re watching TV and you see a giant monster invade your city, rampage through the streets, and crush buildings as if they’re made of cardboard. The newscaster says the monster is a result of an experiment gone wrong and explains the scientific facts behind it.
You need to get out of town. On the way to your car, you see your neighbor over the fence. Do you tell her about the facts or the experiment first, or do you skip that part and go straight to, “Get the heck out of town before the monster crushes you!”
Once you’re safely in your car, you can fill your neighbor in on the details and the back story.
You want to compel your reader to keep reading. And by offering the tastiest morsels first, you make it easier to swallow.
Deleting the first three paragraphs will be hard. It will cause you some anxiety.
What if your new version stinks and you can’t put it back together? Or you put it back together and it doesn’t quite look right? Kind of like that Ikea bookshelf.
If you truly can’t bear to delete your words, paste them into another document. They may work better further into your article, or you can save them for another post.
But you’ll probably never see them again. Carry on.
Okay, let’s get to the meat, or to the meat-like substance.
Read enough blog posts and you’ll see a whole lot of filler. Long-winded stories, interminable anecdotes, and superfluous details.
It’s like hot dogs. They’re made up of lips, and, well, other parts you don’t want to know about.
After you’ve eaten that hot dog, you don’t feel so good. You’ve got a tummy ache, and you’re a little bloated. Then, an hour later, you’re hungry.
You won’t be fooled by a hot dog again.
This is how you feel when you read something that’s in desperate need of an editor. Full of stuff you don’t want, and the bits you do want are drowning in mustard. (Or ketchup, if you eat your hot dogs wrong.)
Take a look at the following paragraph that’s in need of a good edit:
Researchers from the National Walkers Health Study analyzed 23,000 people who walked 30 minutes three times per week, and 15,000 people who were sedentary. Over a five-year period, the research group looked for differences in health outcomes for the two groups. Scientists discovered that walking just 75 minutes per week improves fitness and reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and type 2 diabetes. All participants were between the ages of 35 and 65.
How to improve it:
Scientists say that walking just 75 minutes per week improves fitness and reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and type 2 diabetes.
This is good news for sedentary people. Even just a small amount of physical activity can make a significant difference to your health.
Researchers learned this after a five-year study that examined both moderately active and sedentary people.
The first example buries the interesting stuff under some dull information and sentences.
Forcing your readers to find the good stuff will send them looking elsewhere.
Instead of giving your readers filler, give them some quality information.
Give them steak. It’s a meal you look forward to. A special occasion meal.
Don’t you want your readers to show up hungry with anticipation and leave satisfied? Satisfied and looking forward to that sweet, sweet melt-in-your-mouth taste again?
So give them what they want. They want to be informed, or entertained, or inspired.
They don’t want long-winded musings, or stream-of-thought ramblings.
When it’s time to edit, remove the filler, and give them premium fuel:
Whether you’re new to blogging, or you’ve been at it for a while, you know one of the basics is to keep your paragraphs short and scannable.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you write a paragraph with six or more sentences and then divide it up during your edit.
First, eliminate words and information you don’t need. You might just end up with two sentences that say the same thing, but better.
Take a look at the following:
All exercise programs will help you to improve your fitness level, no matter what level of fitness you are at currently. Whether you are sedentary, a weekend warrior, or a beer league athlete. The problem is that people are not consistent with their exercises and routines, or they get impatient with the speed of improving their fitness, or they are unrealistic about the fitness level they think they can achieve. My cutting-edge program combines over 10 years of experience, successful results for my clients and backed up by the latest scientific evidence as well as real-world experience.
How to improve it:
My exercise program has proven results to help you achieve your fitness goals.
Whether you are sedentary, a weekend warrior, or a beer league athlete, I have the experience and scientific evidence to make things work for your lifestyle.
I will help you overcome the obstacles that have prevented your fitness success.
Short paragraphs are easy on the eyes. And despite having fewer words, they say so much more to your readers.
Trim the fat. You don’t need phrases such as “at the end of the day” or “due to the fact” or “unbeknownst to me.”
Remove these phrases, and leave only the words you want to say and nothing else.
Full of fat:
Due to the fact that people are not getting enough exercise there is a growing epidemic of preventative diseases.
Lean, mean writing machine:
Regular exercise prevents disease.
When you don’t remove excess words, it slows down readers and muddles your brilliant thoughts.
Easy to understand analogies
When you write to educate about a specific industry or a complex idea, see if you can use an analogy to explain it. Review your post and look for jargon – if you find some, take it out. Think about your readers, and explain it in a way they can understand.
You might have an auto repair blog post that explains why OEM parts are superior to aftermarket parts, but if your readers aren’t familiar with these terms you’ve lost their attention.
Or worse, you’ve made them feel stupid.
Remove the technical jargon, and replace it with an analogy. Let them know it’s brand name versus generic, and they get it.
Use an active voice. “Eat that juicy steak.” Not a passive voice. “A hot dog was eaten by that sad-looking man.”
An active voice is both more interesting to read, and it creates authority and credibility. When you write with a passive voice it sounds like you don’t quite believe what you’re writing.
Scan your post for passive voice, and see if you can make it active. That’s not always possible. Sometimes, your only choice is a hot dog – as all parents who’ve been to a school fundraiser know.
Eliminate redundancies from your writing. Redundancies occur when you write information that is repeated or not necessary.
The hot steak is hot.
This is better:
The steak is hot.
Or like this:
Removing redundancies gives you the opportunity to tighten your writing and improve the reading experience. And we all want to write better. When you remove sentences that say the same thing as another sentence, it makes for tighter writing and better reading.
Do this instead:
Remove redundancies to improve your writing.
Sometimes, you want to repeat information for emphasis or to make it stick in your reader’s mind. If you do this, it should add to the reading experience. Like a side of buttery mashed potatoes.
Walk, then talk
After dinner it’s nice to go for a walk before you eat dessert.
It gives you time to digest. To create some space in your tummy for that chocolate cake.
So give yourself some time away from your post too.
Create some space in your mind. Give your thoughts some room to move.
When you’re ready to review your post, read it out loud.
That’s an effective way to hear the rhythm of your writing, and to find inconsistencies with your style.
If you’re aiming for a conversational style, you may discover that your writing sounds formal when you speak it. You might have missed it is or you are when writing, but when spoken, you hear that you should turn them into contractions of it’s and you’re.
You may also find that you keep stumbling over your sentences when you’re reading out loud. Stumbles can indicate more editing is necessary.
Or it might just be that your mouth is full of chocolate cake.
Getting your words on paper, or online, is just the first step in creating delicious content. The kind of content that readers crave.
Before you deliver your appetizing words, take some time to edit. Making hot dogs is easy, but steak takes skill.
With these Grade A tips, you can slice and dice with the best of them.
Forget the filler. No more handing out empty calories to your readers.
Because you want to serve up the leanest, most flavor-packed post possible.
And now you know what to look for. Get rid of those redundancies, banish the boring backstories and add some analogies.
With these edits, your posts will satisfy your readers’ hunger, leaving them full, satisfied, and looking forward to more.