google-site-verification: google65e716d80989ba07.html 8 Tips and A Tool for Self-Editing Your Family History Blog | The Armchair Genealogist

8 Tips and A Tool for Self-Editing Your Family History Blog

Every week we're faced with the task of writing a  post for our family history blog. Every week we  hit publish and hope we crossed our t’s and dotted our i’s. It can be a daunting task to self-edit your own blog posts before they go live.

When you write a book you have the luxury of completing all your writing and revisions upfront and then pay a professional editor to help you fine tune it before you head to publishing. In the world of blogging you hit publish each and every week, sometimes several times a week with little time and attention for edits.

Each time we click publish, we want to present ourselves in a professional light. Yet each and every week we are faced with deadlines, schedules and life’s chaos. Our weekly posts can sometimes be done in a rather rushed and hap-hazard manner.

Regardless of whether you are following the family history blog to book project, or writing a how-to genealogy blog, editing your blog posts shouldn't be a quick once over. We are all guilty of not taking time when it comes to the editing process.

While spell check is a wonderful thing it shouldn't be your only method of editing your blog posts. Below are some tips and tools to help you edit your blog posts in a more organized fashion. After reading over the tips be sure to download the Peer and Self-Editing Worksheet, a tool to help you identify any weaknesses in your blog posts before you hit publish.

8 Tips to Self-Editing Your Family History Blog Posts 

1. Walk Away – Give your post time to sit. After having written and revised my blog post several times, I walk away from it. Sometimes for a few hours, sometimes for the remainder of the day but never any longer than a day. This time away helps me to come back to it with a fresh perspective, a clear head and this in turn allows me to see my message more clearly and recognize any errors.

2. Read it Out Loud – several times, first looking at it from a story perspective. Does it follow a natural progression, is the story clear. Read it slowly and out loud making sure you say every word. Often we know the post so well we tend to read the sentence without really seeing the words. If I stumble over a sentence that's usually a signal to me that perhaps that sentence needs some attention.

3. Remove Unnecessary Words – this is a biggy for me. I also find the more I work on this the more I am aware of it in my initial writing. Say what you need to say in as few words as possible.

4. Read It Out Loud Again- I can't stress this enough. This time around focusing on complete sentences grammar and punctuation.

5. Complete A Grammar Edit -  Are you using everyday language? Is your punctuation correct? I keep The Little Red Writing Book close by for easy look ups and a refresher for structure, style and grammar.

6. A Peer Edit - If I have the time or I'm finding a post particularly challenging, I'll ask a friend or family member to review my post. A second set of eyes is always best for editing but not always practical in blogging. Find yourself a blogging buddy who will exchange peer edits.

7. Don’t Sweat It – If you catch an error after hitting publish or a reader picks up on an error go back in and correct it and move on. Don't beat yourself up about it.

8. Use The Peer and Self-Editing Worksheet - Print this worksheet off and keep it handy when you are self-editing your blog posts or better yet send it to friend, a fellow blogger and ask them to be a peer editor.

Do you have any tips or tricks for self-editing your blog posts? Share them in comments.


Randy Seaver said...

What? Self-edit? Who, me? I'm lucky just to remember to spell check and hope that it finds allt hew ordst hat I typed too fast.

Wait a whole day? How in the world could I do that? Owww - arrow to the heart...I'll forget what I meant to say.

Seriously, thanks. food for thought!

Peg said...

Save as draft. Then come back to it. And nobody has seen it yet.

Shannon Bennett said...

Thanks for this. I do try and let the post sit, but sometimes I have to fight the urge to get the information out because I am so excited about it. Just have to be a bit more patient. Oh, and have my friend the grammer fanatic go through them more often.

Edie Jarolim said...

All great ideas. I am obsessive about revising but sometimes still have errors and think I would benefit from reading aloud.

One last minute check that I would add: Make sure your links work -- and that they don't lead away from your story, rather than open in an new window. You wouldn't want to put in all that work only to have your readers distracted by another article!

I do think the blog format is forgiving, not only for grammatical or spelling errors but also for updating/correcting information in the original. My sense is that most people like to see the person behind the post -- the human who makes mistakes and is willing to correct them.

Lynn Palermo said...

@ Randy, you're a funny guy! What you don't have a team of editors over there cranking out all those blog posts. ;)

Lynn Palermo said...

@Shannon, don't fight the urge to get the information out, take the break once you have exhausted the subject and you think it's ready. Then take the break and come back to it. You will be surprised at what you'll find. It might be nothing more than a few minutes to take a shower or run an errand or make dinner, sometimes I can't get back to it till the end of the day. Make it work with your schedule.

Lynn Palermo said...

@Edie, fantastic additions to the tips. I'm going to add checking the links to the worksheet. Lord knows I'm guilty of that one. And I agree with you completely you must show your human side in order for your readers to relate.

Jana Last said...

These are all great suggestions! I have #1 down for sure. I like to even let a post sit overnight. Fresh eyes (and mind) in the morning can be a big plus.

I have also used an online dictionary and thesaurus while writing my blog posts on occasion.

Hmm, peer review ~ what a great way to get my family to read my blog!

And thanks for the worksheet! :)

Colleen G. Brown Pasquale said...

Thanks for this check list. <3. Remove Unnecessary Words> this is also hard for me. I feel your pain.

Jenna said...

Great tips and thanks so much for the chart!!

Celia Lewis said...

You normal/relaxed breathing pattern helps too. If you take a breath, then put in a comma or period. A few short sentences can be amazingly comfortable for your readers. Very nice simple check list, Lyn, very practical.

Nancy said...

Edie, do you think it's better that links do open in a new window or that they don't? I've made mine open in a new window because that means that when readers are done with the link and close it, they come back to my blog post. If the link opens in the same window over my post, people can just exit that window and never read the rest of a post. Should I rethink that idea?

Nancy said...

Thanks for these great suggestions and reminders, Lynn. Editing is one of my biggest struggles. I can spend hours and hours, then post and decide I need/want to make a change. Blogging is very forgiving in that way -- and generally bloggers are forgiving, too. Thanks again.

Linda Gartz said...

Thanks for another great series, Lynn. I can't tell you how many times I've re-read posts and then still found a missing or typo. I'm a good speller, but research shows that in proofreading, our minds often substitute what should be there for what is. Reading aloud is one of the best strategies for catching redundancies, clunky prose, and even those errant typos!

Ashia Bridges said...

Read sentences from bottom to top is another great tip I picked up from an editor. Helps you pick up on errors you might scan over since you have to concentrate more.

Ashia Bridges said...

Read sentences from bottom to top is another tip I learned. Might help some pick up errors they would otherwise scan over.