After frequenting many of my friend’s blog sites, and even some professional ones, I have noticed some common grammatical mistakes. If you, as a business owner, take the time to check for these common mistakes, your blog can really improve. Here is my personal checklist for things that I look for when I’m editing:
Grammar and Syntax
First, make sure that apostrophes are used correctly (it’s and its are two different things). Next, check for passive voice. For instance, “We were invited by our neighbors to attend the party, ” is constructed (verb) (noun) (verb), and it uses passive voice. Passive voice delays the action in a sentence. Make sure your sentences flow using (noun) (verb) (noun) structure. For example, “Our neighbors invited us to the party.” Then, watch out for commas. Make sure there are not two complete sentences joined together with just a comma because there needs to be either a conjunction or you need to separate them into two sentences. For instance, “I went to the park with some friends, we played ball” should actually read, “I went to the park with some friends, and we played ball.” Sometimes, you just have to keep repeating, “subject verb object” over and over in your head so you don’t lose focus.
Everybody needs to brush up on basic grammar, and there is nothing wrong with that. It is important to use commas, quotation marks, apostrophes etc. correctly. Use a comma, em dash or period for pauses, but do not rely on just one. Your sentences should have variety, and complexity. The one way for you to look more professional to your audiences is to show them that you take the time to practice proper punctuation. If you know you have a hard time following these rules, hire a copyeditor or copyediting intern to revise/edit for you. Also, if you have questions or just need to brush up on punctuation rules, use this reference guide.
Get Rid of Adverbs and Adjectives
Don’t rely on adverbs to make your point known such as, “beautifully, sincerely, honestly, majestically.” Use things that show and truly describe what you are trying to portray. For example, use “the flower is blue like velvet” instead of “the incredibly pretty flower.” (What does an incredibly pretty flower actually look like? Use individualized details).
Avoid Overwriting or Rewriting
Sometimes, people try and explain too much or end up repeating themselves. This type of over explanation is called “purple prose,” and it over describes beyond the requirements of the content. Don’t be over dramatic. Make your point clear and succinct. Purple prose can also effect the power of your SEO because when you add too much frivolous content, it can deter “spiders” from what your subject actually is.
Make Clear Direct Sentences
Think about what you’re going to say before you write it down. Then, try and make that sentence as straightforward as possible–almost as if you are stripping it down to the bare bones of what you’re trying to say. Try to cut out prepositions as much as you can. See what’s at the heart of a sentence, and stick with that as your driving message.
Sentence Length and Variety
Reading sentences with no variety makes me tune out what the author is saying. It’s either like reading robot-speak (if the sentences are all really short) or like reading Charles Dickens for fun (I’m a fan of the contemporary). Make sure you have varied sentence length. Nobody likes to read things that are either too choppy or too lengthy. There needs to be a nice balance between the two in order to keep readers interested and tuned in.
Each paragraph needs to be set up like a sandwich. There needs to be an introduction that draws readers in, content that is enticing, and a conclusion that wraps up what you’re trying to say and calls the reader to action.
A good way to make sure that you are hitting all of these points is to read your blog post backwards. I do this a lot when I am writing papers or writing a poem. If you take the post and read it from the last sentence up, you have a keener eye for mistakes. Sometimes you are so used to what you’ve written that you can’t see what’s wrong if you don’t take it out of context. Also, if you read your blog post out loud (yes out loud), it will really help you catch mistakes.