Simple, Yet Powerful Ways to Avoid Blogging Mistakes
Have you ever spent hours carefully crafting a blog post, editing and re-editing your work only to find (after launching and promoting the heck out of it) that you missed a horrific spelling or grammatical error?
Ugh! It’s the digital equivalent of arriving home at the end of a long evening to find a HUGE piece of spinach in your teeth.
Why didn’t anyone tell me?!?!
We’ve all been there. The only solace that works for me is the knowledge that I’ve seen even bigger blogging mistakes on other sites. Yes, misery loves company.
Do I say anything when I spot these errors? Nope. I most certainly do not. Perhaps it’s a lack of time or maybe I’m just too chicken because I fear that pointing out a blogging mistake will anger the author. But I’m making a pledge to change this behavior.
Just as I would want someone to tell me if I had spinach in my teeth, I want to know if I’ve made blogging mistakes. And I suspect other bloggers feel the same way. Errors are easy to fix and we can save each other from additional embarrassment.
Before I embark on my editorial mission, however, I would like to share a few tips that I use in my writing to avoid making mistakes in the first place.
Tips for Avoiding Blogging Mistakes
1. Accept That Your First Draft Will Suck (and, probably the second one too)
One of my favorite TV moments was when Téa Leoni (as Elizabeth McCord in Madame Secretary) was talking about her speech writer. She said she always hated his first and second drafts, but she LOVED his third drafts.
Ms. McCord was in a hurry and was trying to convince a world leader to skip their customary negotiation tactics and get straight to the resolution (the third draft). Sadly, as a writer, this kind of efficiency is nearly impossible. But the inspiration I took from the comment was “In ordinary life, it’s ok if your first and second drafts suck.”
Hey! Don’t judge. We all need to find inspiration somewhere.
Quality work takes time. Get over it. I’ve seen claims from bloggers that they can churn out new posts in about two hours. Personally, I find this annoying and misleading.
Two hours is how long it takes me to create my first draft. Then the real work starts. I take a break then come back to apply a critical eye to my writing. This allows me to spot my own blogging mistakes and typically results in a “hated it!” moment, which prompts me to get cracking on draft two.
2. Use Spelling and Grammar Check – Twice
This seems obvious, but I worry that our culture has become too reliant on automation. I read a lot and I see posts that are so bad that I wonder if the author had spell check turned on at all. Please don’t miss this tremendously important step.
Create your blog post using a word processor first (like Word or Pages) and pay attention to all those green and red lines under your writing. If there aren’t any, check to make sure spelling and grammar check is turned on.
When you think you’re finished, load your post onto your website and make use of the spellchecker there as well before hitting “publish.”
This is critical. I use WordPress to publish my posts and it catches errors that my word processor does not. I don’t know why this happens, but I’m tremendously grateful and it has saved me from a lot of embarrassing blogging mistakes.
3. Find, Hire or Draft a Blogging Buddy
In the spirit of transparency, I’m stealing the term “blogging buddy” from Peg Fitzpatrick who is blogging buddies with Rebekah Radice. I just love this concept.
When I set out on my blogging journey I drafted my sweet, supportive husband to be my blogging buddy. He has always been my biggest fan and toughest critic, which pushes me to be my very best. Not only did he accept the (unpaid) role of editor for my blog, but he took it a step further and began blogging for his company so I can return the favor.
Find someone who will review your work and provide you with honest, constructive feedback. When you know that someone will critically review your writing you will find that you never give them a blog that’s not your very best work.
I cannot overstate how important this is. A good blogging buddy will spot things you just can’t see yourself. With their fresh perspective, they can help you find grammatical errors, spelling mistakes and issues with clarity or completeness.
Presuming you take this advice, you must also steel yourself for the inevitable. Occasionally, the person reviewing your work will come back and suggest that you start over or at the very least, do a major rewrite.
As frustrating as this can be, it’s better to know that your blog post is awful before it goes out. Swallow your pride, avoid being defensive and review your writing from their perspective. Then pull an all-nighter and get it done.
A Final Plea
If you spot an error in my blog, please tell me! I will be forever grateful that you did NOT allow me to continue my work with spinach in my teeth.
Do these tips always work? Of course not. I’m only human and sometimes, despite my best efforts, blogging mistakes still make it through. In fact, Murphy’s law dictates that there will be an error in this post. When a mistake happens just fix it, make the necessary apologies then brush it off and move on.
My clients are often companies who are new to the content marketing game. They wish to step up their digital presence and grow their business, so they come to me for help. I have huge respect for the fact that they are willing to take this leap. Developing and writing content is an incredibly creative and vulnerable thing to do. And we all need every bit of support we can get.