Editing Tips for Blogs
If you haven’t been getting the response you like from your blog, it might be time to get to editing. The issue might not be with the content, it might be with the form.
Writing a solid blog isn’t about using the coolest tips and tricks and it’s not about slamming everyone with a bunch of slang. It’s about making sure you can create legible text that your readers will actually enjoy. So let’s look at some ways to do that.
Trusted Blog Formats
We’ve all seen the inverted pyramid in action. This was primarily a journalist’s idea, since it kept the most important information above the fold. In web writing, there is no fold. There’s the scroll. And every time someone has to scroll, their ability to lose interest in the piece goes up.
Here’s the deal with the inverted pyramid:
- Keep the most important information up front. Who, what, where, when and why. Boom. Knock it all out right away so everyone knows what’s up.
- Don’t hide the most important information. If you have a story to tell, place it in the headline and lay out the details before the scroll.
- If you are writing a longer article, you may need to use the inverted pyramid technique multiple times.
Tips for Holding Interest:
- Connect differing ideas with numbers, not long-winded text.
- Remind readers why it’s interesting.
Check out the example below from The New York Times:
This is a style piece, but we get everything we need right away. We know who the article is about, why it’s being written, where it’s taken place, and what we’re going to learn.
So why is this cool? Because Neilson Norman Group says so. And because it helps people get the information they need faster.
Here’s the idea: get to the facts, get to them fast, and then let people go. Web readers are busy. They normally don’t want to spend tons of time reading. So see what your form is doing. If you’re not using the inverted pyramid method, it may be time to flip your writing upside down.
The Single-Sentence Approach
We like to call this the salesman approach because a lot of salespeople use it. It’s when you pretend like paragraphs don’t exist.
Do you know what happens to readers when you split up paragraphs?
How about when you separate sentences? Do you think readers get more excited when they see ellipses…
Example from Incredible Infant.
That might be a little too much! When people write like this, it can come off as super salesy because it plays with a false sense of anticipation. See whether you’re doing this in your text. If you are, it might be just about time to change it up. Chunking your paragraphs and alternating the style is helpful.
The Perfect Paragraph
What’s the holy grail of paragraphs? It depends on who you ask. Smashing Magazine is all about design, so they approach the paragraph from a designer’s perspective. They mention a few things:
- Use Bitstream to download the proper font family
- Choose a font that is easily legible. Smashing Magazine notes that
A diminutive x-height, for example, could impair the readability of a font from either camp. Some serif fonts are highly legible and attractive for paragraph text if they are set properly. Matthew Carter’s screen-sympathetic Georgia is a case in point.
From a content perspective, there’s a bunch of stuff you can do to write better paragraphs:
- Vary your paragraph length. Write 3-sentence paragraphs followed by 2- and 4-sentence paragraphs.
- Chunk your text by grouping your paragraphs around a single theme, issue, or thought.
- Don’t indent your paragraphs.
- Make each paragraph relate to the others thematically.
- Check that you have clear topic sentences (reminder: topic sentences are the first or second sentence in each paragraph. They let readers know what the entire paragraph is going to be about).
- Make sure your paragraphs meet reading-level requirements.
The Perfect Headline and Subhead
Of course, there are formulas that work. There are entire books written about the topic. There are many people who will tell you things like:
- You need to include numbers in your headlines because posts with numbers get read more
- You need to include the problem you’re solving in your headline
- You need to keep your headlines short
- You need to include your brand name in your headline
- Put the main story in your headline
And those are all important tips, and while your headline might be on point, you shouldn’t forget about the importance of subheaders. To create the perfect subheader, think about placement.
- Write a new subheader any time you change tracks, subjects, or main ideas
- Write a list to section off the subheaders that you want to add
So go ahead and try reformatting your blog a bit. If the content’s fine, you may need to refocus your goals and check out your form.