Guest Post by Sarah Laurence, Sarah Evelyn Edits
We all make mistakes when we write - it’s only natural. But if you think you don’t need to mind your p’s and q’s, you may be damaging the success of your blog more than you know. Not sure how to go about it? I’ve outlined the 6 main reasons why editing in your blog’s secret weapon for success, and given you a tip to slay each one. Ready, set, and go!
1. First impressions matter
We’ve all heard the stat: it only takes us 7 seconds to form a first impression of someone (source). When it comes to your blog (as bounce rates will testify), that first impression has to be made even more quickly. You don’t get the follow up handshake and chat of real-life when you’re online, or an opportunity to turn that first impression around. Blogging is a bit like super-speed dating – you don’t have long to entice readers to stay. Your design can be ace, your call-to-action evident, and your images beautiful, but if you don’t offer clear, error-free text? You’re going to lose some of your brand new readers unnecessarily.
Tip: Ask someone you trust to be honest, and who doesn’t know your brand, to look at your home page, each landing page, and your social media pages. (Hell, feel free to ask me!) Is there anything putting them off? If they were browsing, would they stay? Is all your text clear?
2. It establishes you as a professional
I get it. Unless you write a blog for fun (and even then, usually), you’re not here to muck about, are you? You want to be seen as the superwoman, message-bringer, love-spreader that you are. You know your message is important, and you want other people to take it seriously too. You put the work in: you blog consistently, read articles on SEO and affiliate marketing, contribute to Facebook groups, and spread your love on social media.
Sadly, if your blog is littered with spelling errors, grammatical mistakes, rambling sentences, or an unreadable, ambiguous sounding message, all your hard work will be undermined. Your audience won’t see you as a professional. Your target market will be loath to buy information products from you. Dedicated readers may well be able to see through the errors to your innate awesomeness, but it will be super hard to keep new readers around (see number one above).
Just to be clear – we’re not talking the occasional mistake here. Just like awkward run-ins with exes, the fact that bleach stains only happen to your favorite tops, and chin pimples appear on the day of a date or job interview, errors happen to EVERYONE (especially me). Instead, we’re talking about the standard that you set for yourself, the common denominator of your writing, your average post.
Do you come across as a professional? Or someone who is just mucking around?
Tip: At a minimum, use some sort of spell check. If you write straight into Squarespace or Wordpress, install the free version of Grammarly. Or, hire an editor to check that you’re coming across as a professional all the time (more on that and a free trial offer below).
3. And then, as a subject-matter expert
Beyond being a professional, you’re an expert in what you’re writing about (yep, even if you don’t feel like one!). And by expert, I’m not saying you have to know everything ever on your subject…ever. I’m saying that you bring a new level of passion, interest, or expertise to your writing. If you’re not, radical honesty coming up, we suggest you start writing about something else.
Imagine this: you Google a medical question, or a question about a specific design technique, or a blog marketing tool. You open a variety of results. Which one do you trust? The one that has really good content presented in ill-formed, badly-spelled sentences with broken links and rambling paragraphs? Or the one that has really good content and that is well-written and clear, and easy to read because the text flows well?
Tip: Imagine someone who you really respect, such as a university lecturer, school teacher, business mentor, or blog influencer, reading your post. Do you think they’d be proud of you? How does it read through their eyes? Obviously, don’t be afraid to admit the things you don’t know, but for the things you do know about, are you writing like an expert?
4. It vastly improves your message and communication
Aside from the pretty images on your blog, I’m assuming that you have at least some text. Some text that explains who you are, or what you do, or what you sell, or something about your life.
When it comes down to it, we only have 26 little letters transported into pixels on someone else’s screen with which to share our message – CRAZY, right? Does your use of these 26 letters accurately convey everything that’s in your heart and mind? Are you writing (or typing) clearly and accurately and in a compelling way?
Tip: Before publishing a post, draft it out a few days before (easier said than done, I get you) as it helps that message to move around your brain and it improves the writing process. Once you’ve finished a post, read it through the eyes of your ideal reader or customer before clicking “Publish”. Better yet, get someone else to read it. Are you conveying the message you want to?
5. It makes it easier – not harder – to find your voice
Many people think that adhering to rules in spelling or grammar limits their creativity, their uniqueness, their voice. But actually, within the confines of correctness is freedom. If it’s your thing to italicize train-of-thought-comments or sarcastic remarks, or use smiley faces at the end of super-hilarious sentences, or capitalize specific things, that’s absolutely awesome. But if your posts are full of errors, no one’s going to notice that cool thing you do. Having your own voice, idiosyncrasies, and quirks are super important – you’re unique and you need to find a way of talking to your audience that shows that.
After all, the poet e. e. cummings used almost all lower-case letters. It sure didn’t mean he was unaware of “the rules”, he just wanted to make a point. Picasso was talented at getting faces on canvases the right way round, but after he learnt how to do that really well he was free to mix things up a bit. Before she started to wear meat, Lady Gaga played classical piano from a young age.
Tip: The better your technique, the more you can afford to play around with breaking the rules. Rules are meant to be broken (just make sure you’re breaking them on purpose). If you’re going to be quirky – and I sure hope you are! – then make sure the rest of your writing is clear and easy-to-read in comparison.
6. Well-edited work improves SEO
Despite all the complicated technicalities and algorithms attached to SEO, let’s not lose sight of the most important thing.
SEO wants to highlight real people writing real things for real people. It wants to give search engine users useful information – this includes basic things like: do your links work? Are your posts clear and error-free? Do users get what they’re searching for when they click on your post?
Well-edited blog posts (whether new drafts or 3-year old posts) ensure that posts have clear search terms, good meta descriptions, working links, and are relevant for a longer period of time, which means they’ll have more chance of being found on a search engine.
Tip: If you use Wordpress, install the free plugin, Yoast. This guides you in various basic steps to ensure the best SEO for your posts. Regardless of your blogging platform, however, ensure that you blog using clear, error-free language, regularly check that links are working, and use authentic search phrases throughout your posts.
And there you have it - are you convinced? We’d love to know whether you find these tips helpful and if they improved your writing.
Would you like 30 days of free editing and SEO for your blog? No card details, and no strings attached. We’d love to connect with you! Please write to us here or email Sarah at email@example.com
Think Creative Collective was one of her first clients, and Abagail and Emylee say:
“Sarah has been such an incredible addition to our team. We previously handled ALL writing/editing, etc. and it got to the point where we were letting things that were less than stellar head out the door. Sarah swooped in and saved the day. She got us to stop flying so much by the seat of our pants and schedule writing in advance. This not only has allowed us to be better writers from the get go, but adds time to get valuable feedback from Sarah. She is now a crucial part of our everyday process. Highly recommend!”
About the Author
Sarah is a writer and online education consultant who owns a blog-editing and SEO start up, Sarah Evelyn Edits. Their mission is to spread love and add value to online businesses by perfecting copy and improving SEO through a fuss-free retainer system.