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Blogging Pitfalls: How to Avoid Lazy Writing and Editing

At the end of the day, the most basic activity a blogger must do is write.

While it is true that bloggers are, with good reason, expending more and more into video and audio, at some point every blogger is going to have to write something. It might be a description, a bio or even just an advertisement but, at some point, a every blogger is going to have to put words onto paper.

But not every writer has the heart of a poet or the writing skills of a hard-hitting journalists. Bloggers come from all different backgrounds and styles and many have had little training or experience with writing prior to starting up their blog.

The good news is that you don’t need to be the next Shakespeare to be an effective and popular blogger, in many ways it helps not to be, but you do have to be able to write clearly and in a way that is engaging to your reader. It may not require a Ph.D in literature, but it does require that you work on honing your craft and make your writing as good as possible.

Failure to do so can sink an otherwise great blog and make your previous hard work a complete waste of time.

The Pitfall

Many bloggers, if not most, start out their sites obsessing over the content they are putting out over the Web. This obsession can sometimes reach unhealthy levels that can actually do more harm than good, but often times this drive leads to some very good writing and great attention to detail.

The problem is that many bloggers reach a comfort zone as their blog begins to grow, something of a holding pattern with the quality of their writing. They stop editing their work as much and take fewer precautions to ensure that their writing is up to code.

Mistakes begin to creep in, the writing becomes more awkward and less approachable. Visitors may not stop coming, but they certainly spend less time on the site and the search engines notice as the bounce rate begins to go up. People generally take the blog less seriously and enjoy spending time there less and it is only a matter of time before the blog’s clout begins to drift away and it suffers in its statistics.

Over time, it can become something of a ghost town, a shell of its former self, and it becomes a blog that is ripe for abandonment as motivation becomes harder and harder to come by.

However, it doesn’t have to happen and, in fact, is a form of blogging death that can be very easily avoided.

How to Avoid It

The easiest way to avoid this pitfall is to simply enjoy writing. If you like writing you’ll invest the time and energy needed into it not just out of desire to create a good blog, but also because it’s something you want to do.

However, for bloggers who perhaps only tolerate the writing portion of the blogging experience or perhaps just deeply hate the editing portion, there are a few things you can and should do to ensure that you don’t slouch in your writing duties.

  1. Set a Writing Goal: Find a word count that you are comfortable with and shoot for it every time you write. Give yourself a range with a minimum and a maximum to aim for. This doesn’t mean you have to stick to it every time but that you should have a good reason for breaking the rule.
  2. Create an Editing Ritual: Editing a piece of writing is difficult, especially if you are the one who wrote it. Most people find it hard to give their own work the kind of attention it needs to effectively proof it. I find it better to step away from my work for at least 15 minutes before editing to help me read it with fresh eyes. Create your own ritual to ensure you give it the proper attention.
  3. Focus on Making Content Skimmable: An easy way to make your writing readable is to make it visually more appealing. Add lists to your post (like this one) and use subheads. Also, shorter paragraphs and a mixture of short and long sentences will make your content easily skimmable and readable without requiring too much effort.
  4. Don’t Hesitate to Delete: When writing, make liberal use of the delete key. If a post idea isn’t working out, trash it. If a section doesn’t fit, delete it. Delete words, delete paragraphs, delete entire articles. Eliminating the garbage helps what’s left shine that much brighter and is the easiest thing you can do as an editor.
  5. Read Everything Aloud: You can often times spot a good writer by whether or not their lips are moving as they write. Good writers sound out their articles to see how things “sound” in their mind. This also forces you to go through your work word by word, eliminating the tendency to skip around as we read.

But while all of these suggestions are fine, the most important thing to remember is that your blog is only as good as its last post. What you wrote two weeks ago or two years ago may be doing well in Google, but to your subscribers, your main audience, it is what you posted yesterday that counts the most.

That is why you can not rest on your laurels and have to keep up the pressure and drive to write good, high-quality content every day you sit down write.

Bottom Line

In the end, there is really no substitute for having a passion for writing. If you don’t like writing, it’s going to get harder and harder to make yourself take the time to do it well.

This isn’t to say that it is impossible, but that it is an area you will have to focus on and keep working on as you move forward.

Simply put, we all have areas of blogging we don’t enjoy but have to do, whether it is promotion, maintaining backups or something else altogether, we all have our least favorite parts.

The ultimate trick is to find ways to get yourself out of bed and to spend the time and energy to do those things with the same vigor and attention that you do the things you love.

If you can manage that, there is little that can stop you from creating a very successful and very long-term blog.

Categories: Blogging Tips, Blogging: How To, General
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Comments

  1. Roy Scribner ) says: 9/1/2010

    I really like your point about creating an editing ritual. Every time I find a grammatical mistake, or have to go back and change the wording on a paragraph, after I publish a post – it is because I was in a rush and did not step back and take a break.

    Reply

    • Jonathan Bailey ) says: 9/2/2010

      It is very hard not to rush the editing process but, for me, the best thing to do is step away for at least 10 minutes and the come back with a drink and read everything aloud. Time consuming, yes, but it seems to be effective. Still, everyone needs to make their own. Mine is just what works for me.

      Reply

  2. lesley ) says: 9/2/2010

    One way to get more from the editing process is to work with a blogging buddy. Send them your post and ask for helpful suggestions and proofreading, then do the same for them. Perhaps I’m along, but sometimes I find I’ve made as assumption in the post that I wasn’t aware of, my ‘buddy’ points this out and keeps me from the wide and bendy.

    Reply

    • Jonathan Bailey ) says: 9/2/2010

      I’ve kind of done that with my wife but it is a great idea. The only potential problem is that there may not be time to do it if you’re trying to rush out with a timely story. Still, the idea is a very good one and something bloggers without tight deadlines should jump on!

      Reply

  3. Tim Barnes, CLU ) says: 9/2/2010

    Good information over all but I find it ironic that you have a type-o in the second paragraph of a blog advocating proof reading.

    Reply

    • Jonathan Bailey ) says: 9/3/2010

      Thanks for the heads up, guess I should have mentioned that no one is perfect :)

      Reply

  4. thanos says: 9/3/2010

    awesome stuff man..thumbs up….very usefull especially for a full time blogger like me

    Reply

    • Jonathan Bailey ) says: 9/3/2010

      Glad to help! It’s definitely one of those pitfalls that, the more you blog, the easier it is to stumble into.

      Reply

  5. igor Griffiths ) says: 9/3/2010

    Thanks for the post, now I can blame you as I sit talking to myself, I am a writer and Jonathon says it is okay!

    Depending upon whether you are a newsflash type of blogger or a periodical writer, I would suggest allocating a set time to write and stick to this, you can of course write when you are in the mood and set the publish time to your regular period. Either way give yourself time to make the most of your efforts.

    Reply

    • Jonathan Bailey ) says: 9/3/2010

      Another good tip! Thanks!

      Reply

  6. cascd ) says: 9/4/2010

    Hi Jonathan..Thanks you for the great post..i’am kind a lazy blogger but your articles encourage me..thanks you so much.

    Reply

  7. Craig Sowerby ) says: 9/5/2010

    Thanks for the tips Jonathan,

    If you have a passion or experienced in your niche that you are blogging about then your writing skills should come naturally. If you are new to blogging don’t just put a post for the sake of it. Wait until you have something interesting to write.

    Write about your findings and experience. Do a little research about your topic and tell others where you found your information. I like the point of subheadings Jonathan, its easy on the eye and better to read.

    Cheers

    Craig

    Reply

  8. Chess Franklin says: 4/8/2011

    I like this blog….it’s very true, I know a few people that blog regularly and they complain all the time about how time consuming it can be. My view is that if it’s not fun anymore, take a break to remember why you started :)

    Reply

  9. Mark @ Odista ) says: 7/10/2011

    Definitely getting someone else in to look at your stuff is priceless. In fact in my business (translation) you simply cannot let a text go out of the door to the client before it’s been looked at by at least 2 and even 3 different people. And even then you wouldn’t believe the mistakes that can get through. Of course, blogging is a bit easier – a translation may well be going into print, a blog can always be edited, like the error someone pointed out above :) But it is VERY hard to be objective about your own work…

    Mark

    Editor’s note: URL keywords removed from comment name. Franky.

    Reply

  10. Dan ) says: 7/14/2011

    Thanks for the tips…I’m passionate about the subject that I write about yet still find it hard to actually sit down and write something. Hopefully your tips will help me!

    Reply

  11. Anonymous says: 8/1/2011

    Nice numeric steps. I really think the most important step is number 1, without goals set, you are just in the clouds. Also make blogging fun, the rest will come naturally, if you enjoy the writing. Once again nice article. Crime Prevention

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