Being a Blog Editor

blog editorUnfortunately, I feel as if four years of journalism classes did very little for me as an editor. Although I took one class entitled “Magazine Editing,” the class was taught by an adjunct professor who wasn’t quite prepared to teach the class and didn’t thoroughly plan out what we’d be learning. Instead we spent a fair amount of time writing reviews and editing absolutely jumbled and messy pieces of writing, which mostly consisted of us rewriting them. I’ve always found that editing becomes much tougher when it’s a better piece of writing because you have to be extremely careful not to change the writer’s style (I know a few people guilty of doing this while editing).

One of the toughest things about blog editing is a lot of time it’s self-editing–so I’ve included a few self-editing tips here as well as some for editing other people’s works as well.

 

Editing Your Own Work

More likely than not, if you run a blog, a good percentage of it is your own writing. Unfortunately, as I can definitely attest to, can be one of the toughest things to do. There’s definitely some things you can do to make it easier on yourself. It’s always good to have self-editing practices even when writing for other people, too.

Take a Break from Your Piece

Often, after staring at a piece of writing, it can be tough to pick out your mistakes. Take a break from it for 5-10 minutes and work on something else (or read something, check Facebook and Twitter, etc.) and then come back and read over your piece again.

Read it Backwards (and out loud)

Reading my pieces backwards is one of my favorite ways to catch mistakes in my own writing, and I do it with nearly every piece I write. It can help you catch mistakes you didn’t notice before because you were rushing through your own piece too quickly. Occasionally, if I’m at home or in a private space, I read a piece out loud to myself (or another person) to help catch what doesn’t sound just right. I’ll also ask other people if the wording sounds funny or off to them as well when I’m unsure.

Keep a Checklist of Frequent Mistakes

I tend to make the same mistakes over and over again (mixing up their and there as well as you’re vs your) which luckily are easily caught by doing CTRL + F to use the find function so I can double check I used the correct form. Keeping a checklist and double checking for mistakes has helped me out a lot.

Use a Spell and Grammar Check Program

While you shouldn’t be relying on a spell check and grammar program to do all your work for you (as I’m sure you’ve been told frequently by teachers and professors) it can still be helpful in pointing out some mistakes and things that could be reworded. I’m a huge fan of WordPress.com’s built in program (that’s available for WordPress.org through Jetpack).

Have Friends and Family Help You Out

Tell friends and family to let you know when there’s a glaring mistake in a published piece–this has certainly helped saved me from having an awful mistake up for too long. Also, if a friend or family member also runs a blog, take turns editing each other blogs so you can learn how to better catch mistakes.

 

Editing Others

If you have other writers or occasional guest writers, there are some things you should be on the look out in general for. You want to make sure the piece fits with your blog’s tone and style (ie similar format). It’s okay to have guest writers with different styles than you–you just want to make sure it’s not so radically different that it has the potential to alienate readers.

Another thing I’ve realized that’s been super helpful is having conversations with your writers. Talking through things and come up with a solution together for a sentence that isn’t working quite right can result in a better piece altogether.

 

General Editing Resources

One of my recent editing favorites is Strategic Copy Editing by a local newspaper copy editor, which has pointed out a lot of editing tips that I wasn’t even aware of, and gave reasons for why editing rules exist. Another great grammar resource is Grammar Girl, which is also super easy to search when you’re not sure about a rule. They give great explanations for why the rules exist that can help you remember them in the future!

What are some of your favorite editing tips?

About Kristen Gillette

Kristen Gillette is a freelancer who has written for a wide variety of publications including Philly2Night.com, two.one.five. Magazine, and Cred Magazine, thINKingDANCE.net, the Philadelphia Dance Journal, TechnicallyPhilly.com and more. She runs AdultBallerinaProject.com

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