The most crucial final step to publishing a blog post is to proofread the piece. This is the best time to polish up the grammar, spelling, sentence structure, etc. in the article before its release. On top of that, we should also ensure that the flow of our content is smooth and comprehensible for our loyal readers.
How should we do it then? In a way, the methods of proofreading are pretty much subjective to the preference of the individual blogger. In fact, for most of us, we don’t actually follow a certain procedure; we simply read through and use our best judgment on where amendments should be made.
In view of such a vague practice, I thought it would be a good idea to offer a few general tips when we proofread our latest blog entries:
1. Reading Aloud
You may want to use as many of your five senses as possible when you proofread your piece so that you can detect where things seem wrong, or sound wrong, as it were. Compared to simply scanning the text through a pair of eyes, reading out the words, sentences and paragraphs lets you hear how your post would sound like as well. That way, you have two layers of proofreading.
Reading out loud is also important because blog posts are usually written in a conversational manner. This means that you need to check if readers will be able to feel that your writings are speaking to them. Try to imagine yourself as a reader, as you read out aloud. Does the tone sound natural? If it doesn’t, fine-tune it accordingly.
2. Have Someone Else Proofread
Sometimes when you read your entry over and over again, your mind starts to get complacent and will start missing out even the most obvious errors. Either that or you may not be aware that those are spelling mistakes, grammatically incorrect, etc. This is where someone else comes in handy to detect those errors which you fail to detect.
Another thing is that your perspective can get a little rigid if you’ve been working on your blog entry for hours or even a full day. This is a good time to get someone with a fresh outlook to see if what you’ve written flows well. Apart from that, that person can also provide some points you would’ve otherwise missed out because you may be so absorbed in the task of completing on time. If you can afford the time, discuss the content with him or her. You might be surprised at how new ideas can arise from such an exchange.
3. Keep Your Target Audience in Mind
When you’re too familiar with a particular subject, you tend to write in a manner that only you yourself can comprehend. This is because you are aware of all the jargon and technicalities of your topic, and automatically assume that others would too. The end result is that you might be ignoring or excluding certain portions of your target readers who would otherwise enjoy reading your work.
To avoid such issues from arising, you have to constantly check if most of your intended readers will be able to understand your word choices. Check out the terms that you use in your text and see if the general public would be able to understand them without having to run them through an online dictionary.
The rule of thumb is to spell out abbreviated words and acronyms (with the shorter versions in accompanying brackets) when you’re mentioning it for the first time in your entry. Remember also to define your specialized terminologies as and when you think it’s necessary so that your readers can continue following your post.
4. Check Your Facts and Figures
Even if your entry is perfect in terms of spelling, grammar, and sentence structure, you will still stand to lose all credibility if you don’t get your facts and figures right. Especially when statistics are involved, make sure that the numbers tally and that you got it from a reliable source. A better practice is to include in the references so that your readers can be assured that you didn’t just make up your own assumptions. If in doubt, they can always check out the sources to get the full details.
As for facts, refrain from making any bizarre remarks (and inferring it is a fact) until you’re sure they’re backed by sufficient evidence. Such extreme assertions get more attention from the readers, simply due to their peculiarity. As a result, they get questioned and scrutinized more thoroughly. If your remark happens to be fictitious, it will be hard for your readers to trust what you write in future.
5. Trim, trim and trim
As I’ve emphasized over and over again in my previous posts, brevity is key. This is especially so in the context of the Internet, where users expect fast results fast and prompt information. The more words there are, the longer it takes for your readers to comprehend the entire piece of your writing. What happens is that some of your more readers who don’t have time for dilly dally may switch to other blogs instead.
You may wonder if shortening the post would take the joy out of reading your blog entries especially when readers find what you have to say entertaining. To that, I would say it depends on the nature of your blog. If the key thing you’re providing is information per se, then your target audience would expect you to do that efficiently. On the other extreme, if your blog is primarily providing entertainment value to your loyal readers, then the quality of your content has a huge bearing on your blog’s success. The length would then matter less so long as you keep charming your crowd.
Still, most blogs lie in the middle of the two extremes, so you will need to balance between keeping your entries brief, informative and entertaining.
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