If you’ve worked in marketing (or run your own website), you know what the rush of publishing a fresh blog post feels like.
Even if you’re publishing a blog every day, when that post goes live, there’s always a little thrill.
But even the best writers might find that thrill replaced rather quickly, when reviewing the published post and coming across a broken link or an unnecessary comma. So before your next blog post goes live, why not take an extra moment (or two) to proofread, so you know FOR SURE it’s not mediocre content?
Adding extra steps to your team’s process (even if you’re solo) doesn’t just guarantee that your spelling and grammar are up to par, but supports your actual goals for the post: keeping readers on the page and loving your content.
What To Look For During Your Content Review
You can always do a spelling and grammar check through Grammarly. There are also Wordpress plug-ins and other add-ons that you can find online to check your drafts for grammar errors or plagiarism.
But that doesn’t replace the critical eye of a content strategist or manager who actually edits content, so that it fits the brand and voice. Some of my clients have preferences around their brand that don’t necessarily fit neatly into AP guidelines. (And some boundaries are made for pushing, right?)
A thorough content review is a writer’s best tool. It prevents any glaring errors and holds you accountable, so that you’re not just dumping meaningless or overused words out on the internet. There’s enough bullshit out there already, y’all, so take note:
Any statistics, interviews, data, or other information that you’re writing about should be double-checked and accurate.
Never misquote others.
Link to the original source of whatever it is that you’re referencing.
Not everything that’s written has to be published. Some things might need to stay in draft mode for a while (or FOREVER) before you let the world see it.
Now that you know what to look for, let’s get down to business. The following steps will help to ensure that your blog review is thorough, effective, and painless.
Step 1: Start by chopping out what’s unnecessary.
There’s just no place for run-on sentences in a blog article. If you’re just trying to meet a certain word count and fill your post with complex sentences and an excessive amount of keywords, you’ll going to turn readers off.
Remember you only have your reader’s attention for a few seconds. Don’t bore them with lots of adverbs or anecdotes. Keep only what’s absolutely relevant to your reader. That’s your first draft.
Step 2: Read it out loud.
After you’ve gotten out that first draft (which is always going to need work, btw), this is a good time to read it aloud while you’re reviewing it.
Reading an article out loud is going to deliver a couple benefits:
It gives you a sense of how well the piece flows, and if the thoughts you’ve written out are actually connected to each other in a meaningful way (and not just full of throw-away words or sentences).
Reading it out loud should sound like there’s a real person talking. You can sound professional, even slightly formal, but if your copy is chock full of keywords, it probably doesn’t sound like a human conversation (which still matters to some brands).
Reviewing the article this way will help you see if there are any sentences that are clunky or repetitive, or if you’re missing anything (like commas) that might clarify your thoughts further.
Step 3: Leave it, then come back for another review.
Once you’ve read through your first draft out loud and made any changes, WALK AWAY. Take a break of some kind: finish other tasks, hop in the shower, go to bed, or just walk around the block. You have to let a piece breathe for a little while before you go at it again with revisions. (You can definitely edit something beyond oblivion. I’ve tried piecing articles back together later like that, and it’s always awkward and disconnected.)
Give yourself enough time away from the piece to see it with “fresh” eyes. When you go back to it, you’ve had time to think about other things and you’ve lived a little more life. Anything you can do to get a little more perspective or to spark a different insight is helpful here.
TIP: You might even read the draft in a different location later on.
Step 4: Review individual sections.
It’s also helpful to read through sections of the article individually, and out of order. Sometimes when you’re reviewing an article from beginning to end, you wind up SKIMMING.
And that’s not the same as reviewing. Skimming isn’t proofreading. Skimming is what your reader does (until they get bored or find an error). To prevent skimming while you review your article, try reading it in sections instead.
Your blog articles should be divided pretty clearly into sections — at least an introduction, some supporting paragraphs, and a conclusion. Start in the middle of the article, or go backwards and start with your conclusion. Read through each of these sections to make sure each sentence is crafted how it should be.
Step 5: Send it to someone else on the team.
Whether you’re running a small agency or larger firm, there should always be someone else looking at your work before it’s published. They’ll offer additional insight and might ask questions about the topic that you hadn’t thought of. If you’re totally solo, find another writer that can review your work on occasion. Or, you can contact me for help with your content processes and blog writing. ;)
Going through this process takes time and energy, but you’ll yield better results with your readers and, more importantly, you’re not adding to the thousands of poorly written articles that are already out there. High-quality content that you spend time working through will deliver high-quality results, and over time, you’ll get better at the process. And better at writing.
Start Publishing Content You’re Proud Of
Everyone makes a spelling error on occasion, and it’s fun to type out an impassioned blog post after a burst of inspiration. But the next time you’re working on a draft, take a few extra moments to make sure your content is going to reach your audience in the way that you want.
Write your draft.
Then review, and follow the steps above until you’ve got a draft that’s done. (And remember to keep breathing.)
It’s a process worth having in place!