I’m not talking about your writing style, because that’s more of a personal judgement and something that you’ll develop with time and experience. What I want to focus on in this article is making sure avoid stupid mistakes that can irritate readers at best, or completely destroy their trust in you at worst.
When I was a young journalist I had a very arrogant approach to writing. I knew I was good, and I refused to accept that I was capable of making mistakes, so I’d often hand over articles to editors having never proof read my own work, insistent that it was ready to publish. But as I got older and more experienced, I’d sometimes read back stuff I’d written previously and be horrified by the number of mistakes that I’d made.
Even with modern spellcheckers, it’s still very easy for spelling errors and grammatical mistakes to slip into your blog posts. Sometimes you can either miss or repeat a word, lose your train of thought halfway through a sentence and skip onto the next one without finishing, or accidentally type completely the wrong word.
Proof reading is important
So my first tip for quality control is to always, always, always read back your own blog post before publishing. Sometimes when you feel like you’ve written something great you’re just so excited to share it with the world that you want to hit the publish button right away, but it’s good to get into the habit of sitting on your posts for a little while.
If you can, leave it for a day, or at least a few hours and come back to it later. This stops your brain from going into auto-pilot and reading back what you think you wrote (while the intended words are still floating around in your head) rather than what you actually wrote.
When you’re checking specifically for spelling, grammar and punctuation errors, it’s good to try and detach yourself from the actual meaning of the article and focus on the mechanics of the language. You can do this in different ways; I prefer to scrunch up my browser/word-processor window so that it only shows one line at a time and read slowly, word by word, so that it doesn’t flow and I have to focus on checking for mistakes. Another trick is to read the blog post backwards, start with the last sentence, then the second to last, etc.
Get your facts right
Once you’ve proof-read the post and corrected any errors, it’s also good to fact check it. If you’ve made and non-obvious claims or listed any facts or figures in your post, are you sure they’re correct? Again, this is an area where many writers make mistakes because they’re so confident in the truth of the point they’re making, they never bother to confirm that it’s correct. A quick trip to Wikipedia can stop you from looking stupid.
So you’ve made sure that there are no silly grammatical errors and you’ve double checked your facts and figures. Chances are that while doing that you’ve shuffled a few words around and made a few tweaks on the fly, and this can often disrupt the overall flow of what you’ve written. So it’s a good idea to do one final read for style, to make sure everything sits together nicely, reads well and flows properly from one paragraph to the next.
Professionals make the effort
At this stage you’re probably thinking that this all sounds like a lot of extra work; are you really going to spend time reading back your own blog post two or three times before you publish it? But the real question is; how serious are you about your blog? If you’re just doing it for fun, then fine, maybe you don’t need to apply a professional level of quality control (although personally speaking, I’m embarrassed if I even make a mistake in a Facebook post or text message). But if you’re hoping to become a professional blogger, your writing is your product, and you owe it to yourself to make that product as good as it can possibly be, so why wouldn’t you spend a little extra time to guarantee the quality of each post?