5 Ways to Self-Edit Your Blog Post

Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash
It’s been a hot minute since I’ve done a blog tips post. As fun as writing is, there is one thing that’s not so fun: The English language. As writers, though, writing and grammar go hand in hand. Usage of the wrong word or incorrect homophone use can change the meaning of a sentence or an entire poem! Accept/Except are different words with different meanings. Misuse them, and it changes everything. The same with Ad/Add, To/Two/Too, There/Their/They’re. If you are like me, you can’t afford to have an editor to proofread every blog post, but there are free resources we can use to help. Not only can you use these programs to clean up your blog, but you can use them to edit typos on your website or revise a finished manuscript.

1. Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word is a powerful tool the more we learn to use it. Writers can use Word to create book covers, format books for print and so much more. My tip here is to draft your post in Microsoft Word before posting to the WordPress editor. Word will alert you to basic misspellings or grammatical errors as you are writing. You will notice spelling errors by the red wiggly lines and grammatical errors by the blue wiggly lines.

But Word has a bad reputation for not giving the right corrections…

2. Grammarly

Once you’ve written your post in a Word Document, you can then copy and paste it into the Grammarly editor to double-check for what Word may have missed. Grammarly is a software program that corrects spelling, detects plagiarism, and checks against over 250 grammar rules. There is a free version, but I recommend the premium version for more advanced features. Premium will alert you to more advanced grammatical errors to include overused words or misused words. My school gave us a free premium version of Grammarly, and I love it! There is such a significant difference between the free and paid version. The free version works fine, though and I use both.

3. ProWriting Aid

After you have made corrections in Grammarly, you can copy and paste the post into ProWriting Aid as a final run-through. ProWriting Aid is such an excellent program! Like Word and Grammarly, the program is another self-editing tool. ProWriting Aid will pick up even more errors and recommend changes. It also has a plagiarism detection tool for premium users. What I love about PWA is they are not stingy with the free version. The free version checks for repeats, structure, readability, fiction, and consistency. Yes, I said fiction! If you are using it to revise a novel, it will help track pacing and dialogue use.

4. Hemingway Editor

 I can’t say too much about Hemingway because I just started using it and I don’t use it often. The program is okay, and it’s not my favorite, but it’s still an excellent program to use to self-edit. Hemingway does an excellent job at detecting wordy sentences, and overused adverbs. While I prefer the other two programs, Hemingway is still a valuable tool (mainly when used with one of the other applications).

5. Save Post as Draft and Preview as Final Proofread

After you have run your post through Word, Grammarly, ProWriting Aid, Hemingway (or all four) proofreading the post is another great way to self-edit your post. Once I have drafted a post, I save it as a draft and then preview it on the computer and my phone. I find lots of typos this way. Sometimes reading over the post in this way helps to catch even more errors before clicking the publish button.

None of these programs will replace a human editor. ProWriting Aid once tried to correct the word “to” for “two,” but I did not mean the number two. I intended to write “to.” But at least you know you’ve cleaned up the basics enough to ensure your post is clear and reads the way you intended. When I publish blog posts, these are some programs I used to proofread my work and now, so can you. It will take more time, but it’s time well spent.


Want more tips? Be sure to check out the Blog Tips Page! Click Here.

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Editing Mock-Ups in Photoshop: Don’t Forget to Hide Layers You Don’t Want to Show

In May, I wrote a blog post tutorial on how to edit Mock-Ups in Photoshop for a professional looking 3D book cover image. I understand it went over some heads (Photoshop is not for everyone), but for those of you who are familiar with it already, be sure that you are hiding the layers you don’t want to use so your image looks more authentic.

Everyone is using Mark Monciardini’s Mock-Ups (Covervault) because they’re free. While everyone is using them, not everyone is familiar with the basics of Photoshop in ways they can get the most out of the experience. It’s like copying someone but because you don’t really know how to do it, it doesn’t have the same look. Mark is the real artist and we are all copying him pretty much. He has extended his expertise to us newbies by generously giving away his mock-up templates. Now anyone, with just a basic knowledge of Photoshop, can have professional looking 3D book cover images. But, make sure you are hiding layers you don’t need so your images don’t look the same as everyone else.

I’m going to use the wine bottle glass template as an example.

What you have here is everything as it is originally. One of the first things you’ll probably want to do is change the book cover. Most people stop here. Boom, they are done. Save. You can do that but it won’t look very original.

Here’s mine with Renaissance cover. It looks good but not very original. I did change something though. Can you guess what it is? No, not the cover. (Learn how to change the cover HERE) I changed something else.

I hid a layer and took something away. That’s right, there are no sparkles.

To switch things up, all you have to do is hide layers you don’t need or want in your image.

To hide the particles, I went over to the layers and clicked on the drop-down menu next to particles. Next to the sparkles, (I like the word sparkles better. Sounds more girly lol), I clicked on the eye to hide them. That is literally all I did.

You can do this with anything you don’t want in your image. Even the background. Don’t like the wine bottle look? Get rid of it.

If I don’t want the background at all, I can hide the background and upload my own. All I did was click on the eye next to backdrop and hid it (you can also delete layers but I prefer hiding them in case I want to use them again).

Here’s a closer look:

Basically, whatever you don’t want in the image can be hid. You can now use the space to add text, a logo or whatever you want. While all this is optional, remember that if you’re going to add text to a mock-up that has a lot going on, we won’t be able to read it clearly if you don’t hide or delete those layers first. Let’s look at one more:

This is the original but remember, you can completely make it over so it looks more you.

First, you want to get rid of all these leaves (unless of course you want them there which I don’t). To hide them, go over to layers and click on the eye to all the leaves. Light Leaf, heavy leaf and big leaf. Hide them all.

The leaves are gone but that background still makes it look leafy. Unless you want that, you can change the background too or hide it altogether.

To change the background, go over to layers and hide the entire background.

What you have is a blank slate. You can now add text, logo, whatever you want.

You can actually upload your own background but we’ll go over that at a later time.

The point is that if you’re going to pay for Photoshop you may as well get as much from it as possible. To help your images to look more authentic, be sure to hide (or delete) layers you don’t want or need.

Here’s a finished one using one of my WIP:

Editing Re-Blogs

 

sharing-is-caring

A re-blogged post is when you share someone’s content to your own blog. People have many different reasons for doing this. Primarily, re-blogged content is to share valuable information. I re-blog often on this blog and have found it to be a great way to network with other bloggers. As a result, I’d like to share some specific things I do with my re-blogs to get the most out of them. As you can tell from the commentary, this is a revision of an older post I published last year (2015) so you may already be familiar with these as many bloggers have mentioned them over time. But don’t worry, repetition is a good thing.

Edit Your Re-Blogs

  1. Add Tags, Category

I usually re-blog from my mobile. This is because I’m usually scrolling through my phone when I come across a good article I think should be shared and I like to share it right then and there so I won’t forget about it. It’s also easy for me to edit my re-blogs when I’m on my phone. When I re-blog a post, I immediately go into my dashboard and I add tags. Unlike original posts you draft yourself, a re-blogged post will not have tags.

As a shared post, the tags of the original owner are not included. To get the most out of the re-blogged post you must edit the post and add your own tags the same as you would any other post. I usually ensure the word “Reblog” is part of my tag to show I am not the original owner (and so that the post shows up for those searching the keyword “reblog”). This will help more people to see it, drive attention to the post and ultimately lead to more views for the original blogger. This is perhaps the most effective way to enhance visibility of a re-blog. Tag Tag Tag.

I also place the article in its appropriate category. Otherwise, the re-blog will fall under “Uncategorized”. To avoid this, you can choose a default category if you are usually at work or somewhere that prohibits you from being able to edit your re-blog. This means this is the category that all posts will automatically fall into. My default category is General Topics.

How to Change It

In your admin area, navigate to Settings > Writing > and then look for the drop down menu beside Default Post Category and set it to the category you want to be your default.

  1. Add Commentary

I always include commentary in my post if I can help it. In my opinion this boosts the value of the post, helping readers to see that not only have I read the original but that I got something out of it. Keeping it brief, I usually include what I enjoyed most about the article and of late I’ve also been adding a post quote or a direct quote from the original post that I found the most helpful or that gives an introduction into what the post is about.

You don’t always have to, but it helps to write a brief description of the post to get people excited about it. If your re-blog is about Self-Publishing tips for instance, maybe you can say: “Great Tips for Self-Publishers!” This will help grab someone’s attention to possibly check out the post.

  1. Disable Comments

Re-blogged posts do not belong to me. I did not write them and I am not interested in taking the credit. I’ve recently started disabling comments on my re-blogs because I want readers to comment on the original post. Since I didn’t write the post, it would just be weird asking me a question about it. Not only am I prompting readers to visit the other blog, but to also share the post from the original blog. Since re-blogged posts are just shared content from another person’s blog, it won’t have the entire post displayed, just a summary. It only makes sense then to share the post from the original blog. Otherwise, people must click on my blog just to click again to go to the original blog. Too many clicks mean “I don’t feel like doing all of this and I’ll come back to this post later (or not)“.

How to Disable It

Edit the post using the Improved Editor > More Options > Uncheck Allow Comments.

If you don’t want any ping-backs and trackbacks, uncheck that box as well. Readers will then be forced to interact with the original post.

4. Featured Image

Some re-blogs will include a featured image. If you don’t want this image prominently displayed on your blog, or you feel that it takes away from the post, you can go into your dashboard > Featured Image and disable it. I do this often when the image from the other blog makes the post look sloppy on my blog (keep in mind your space as well as images from re-blogged posts will now be a apart of your image archives).

What I Don’t Edit

Title – I do not see a reason to edit the title of someone else post. This takes away from the originality of the original blogger and teeters on a compromise of integrity. There are instances where this is acceptable but they are very limited. You may want to turn “dogs with personalities” to “Dogs with Personalities” to help the post to stand out more for the original blogger if you know capitalizing certain letters is important. In this instance you’re helping the original blogger by making sure it gets the visibility that it deserves. But for the sake of being accused of plagiarism, I would just leave the original title the way that it was when you found it.

Re-Spinning Posts: How You Can Self-Evaluate Your Blog

OK so you know that post you wrote last year that only got 3 likes and 2 views? Come on, we’ve ALL been there.

If you are new to this blog (Welcome! Waves) you may notice that I re-spin a lot of my posts. I expect anywhere from 50-100 new followers each month, which means a lot of new faces have not seen older posts, especially those that have really proven to be valuable. I try to re-spin my poetry at least once every year for this reason. I also re-spin posts I’d like to get more exposure. New faces also mean new perspectives.

Re-spinning posts is basically when you re-post a previously posted post (feel like I’m over writing the word post here). When this happens, the post shows up at the top of the reader and it also reaches the inboxes of new  e-mail followers who may not have been around when you first published it. < Please re-read last sentence.

I didn’t start off re-spinning (I still believe you have to be blogging for at least next to a year to build up material before re-spinning so it doesn’t get stale). In fact, I didn’t even know what it was. I remember the days I engaged in conversations with other bloggers about it, trying to understand it. After a year or ten months or so of blogging I decided why not? And I started re-posting previous posts just to test the waters. While I am still learning, so far, one of the main advantages I have noticed about re-spins is being able to self-evaluate my blogs content:

Self-Evaluation

What I have come to understand about blogging is this: There is no one method to doing it “correctly”. There are so many different elements that may make a blog “successful”. Sometimes people have tons of followers but not many views meaning only a handful of those thousands of followers are actually tuning in (Reminds me of social media in general, where numbers can be deceiving. Out of 4,000 Twitter followers, for instance, how many of them are actually valuable followers? Meaning, how many of them, for a business account, can actually provide insight and leverage to that business verses how many of them are family and friends?) Some people have lots of viewers but only a handful of followers. Some people get lots of commentary coming in along the comments section (what’s up with my alliteration today actually?) but not many likes on the posts. Content and social interaction also play a role, time of day, I can go on and on. This is why Blogging Confidence is important because there’s no one way to do it. The more confident you are in your blog and writing in general the more others will connect with you. Lots of followers or lots of viewers can mean nothing or it can mean everything depending on how you look at it.

While there is no one way to do it, re-spinning posts in my opinion has become a great tool in self-evaluating the quality of content on this blog.

The Process

You have to understand that in your mind the post is nothing short of brilliant. You put your whole foot and every other body part in it. The fact that everyone else didn’t understand your brilliance is beyond you. But, if you really want to see if others are benefiting from your writing (besides yourself), here’s what I do to self-evaluate:

WP Admin > Posts > All Posts

I search through my posts, picking and choosing a certain category. Let’s say poetry. I find a poem that didn’t get much attention. “Hmmm”, I think to myself. “Why?”

I click on edit and look at a few things. Can I rephrase how this was written? Is the photo taking away from the post? (Which it sometimes can). What about those tags? I have come to discover some poor tagging habits in my past! Sometimes the tag just didn’t make any sense and had nothing to do with the price of tea in China. And what about structure? Could it have been formatted differently? (I’m totally in love with the “Justified” paragraph formatting! Everything is lined up and it just looks super neat).

Edit

Before I re-spin a post I edit something about it. This isn’t to say grammatically or the content necessarily but something else about it. The tags for instance is an example of what I usually edit. Rotating the tags also grabs the attention of people who  blog under certain tags and have therefore never seen your post before. After rotating the tags I make sure everything in the content is spelled correctly and makes sense (at least to me). I also make sure the post is in the appropriate category. (If its a poem don’t put it in articles, put it in poetry! If you write poetry and you don’t have a poetry category– unless all you write is poetry– make one now and make sure all poetry is in its own category. This will increase its visibility when people search “poetry” or “spoken word”) Bam, we’re ready. I schedule it to post again.

NOTE: When re-spinning successful posts (lots of views/likes) I wouldn’t edit it too much. It was successful for a reason. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

Observation

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This is an important part of the process. If a post that got poor attention before now blows up I know that it wasn’t the content itself, it was just how I published it. Maybe I used five tags instead of fifteen or perhaps it had too many typos. However, if the post still gets poor attention its not that I’m a bad writer, it’s just that the blogging world obviously does not get how brilliant I really am.

Seriously though, if the post is still not attracting attention then you know its time to check the actual content of the post. I have found that it’s not the words themselves, but it is how the words are presented. I have re-spun lots of posts that were poorly written and re-written again. In this process, I have noticed that the re-written article, with slightly different wording, did better than its ancestor.