Important Content Writing Skill: How to Self-Edit

I know what you’re thinking: But everything I say is so important! When you’re facing a word count, it can be difficult to know what you need to cut if your work tends to be on the lengthier side. You don’t want to sacrifice the quality of content just for the sake of staying within a set limit of words. So what’s the solution? You need to learn how to self-edit.

Why Do I Even Need a Word Limit?

Whether you’re writing a blog post on the best video game music to work to or a practice area page for a law firm, you have to keep a few things in mind when it comes to word limits:

Attention Span

When you’re looking for information on the internet, do you really want to shift through someone’s great American novel in order to get to it? Probably not. Your writing should be short and sweet to really allow people to find out what they need to know as quickly as possible. After all, your content should be user-focused first and foremost. Keeping your blog post or article both clear and concise allows you to do just that.

Keyword Density

Think about the goal of your post or page. Do you want to get a lot of shares on social media? A ton of views? If so, then your posts need to be longer rather than shorter. The reason for this is having a good keyword density. When trying to make sure your blog post or page ranks as highly as possible in search engines like Google, you’re sure to do a lot of research to find out what key terms you should use within your copy. But just using the keyword once in your blog title is not enough. In order to be effective, the keyword should be placed throughout the copy in different variations. If your content is too short, then you won’t have as many opportunities to include the keyword within the copy, making it more difficult to rank well in search engines.

So How Long Should My Blog Post Be?

There are differing philosophies when it comes to the ideal length for online content. But the issue is, there is no right or wrong answer. It all depends on your goals.

If you aren’t given a set word limit for your blog post or web page, then it is up to you to keep both attention span and keyword density in mind when writing and self-editing. Too short and you won’t get the benefit of your keyword terms and too long and you might be seeing a high bounce rate for your site.

How to Self Edit Your Blog Posts & Web Pages

Now that we’ve established that the best online content is concise to keep users interested while also being mindful of length for SEO, we’re ready to jump into rewriting your content. If you’re anything like me, you’re a writer who has to absolutely get everything out of your brain at once before you can even think about going over it in red pen. This writing style can make it especially difficult to self edit. After all: what should you cut? And what if you cut too much?

Identify Your Faults

Every writer has them. Maybe you have an adverb problem or you have a tendency to include too many run-on sentences? By making note of these bad habits, it can be a lot easier to fix them, and eventually, break them all together.

Think of the Audience

What do they want to know? What do they need to know? Reading through your work with the target audience in mind is a simple way to self edit and get rid of content that is more about your clever wordplay than it is useful.

Reuse & Recycle

Some writers just get overly attached to certain content that they’ve written. But when you think of it as something you can reuse, rather than something you have to delete altogether, then it can become a lot easier to part ways with your perfect prose. Keep a Google Doc or a notepad where you can jot down your favorite lines that don’t necessarily need to be added to this particular piece. Who knows? You may be able to shape an entire new blog post out of that discarded paragraph or you could use it somewhere else it will be more appreciated.

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