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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.