Turning a blank page into an inviting, entertaining story is only half the battle when it comes to writing a blog. Ensuring your content is factual and accurate brings it home. Wrong or incomplete information, misspellings, inconsistencies, etc., can create confusion, leading to mistrust, which may send your audience elsewhere, never to return. So, if the goal for your post is increased readership (and whose isn’t?), accuracy is a must.
Whether you’re a Google person or prefer to Bing it, these five tips show you how you can use online resources, along with just a little elbow grease, to bring your words together, which may encourage your audience to read on and maybe even share with a friend.
- Always use spell check. If a word comes up that you’re not sure about, look it up; an online dictionary like Webster’s http://www.merriam-webster.com saves lives.
- Take a break and then reread what you’ve written. If your intent isn’t perfectly clear to you, it certainly won’t be clear to your audience. Can’t think of the right word or phrase? See item 1 (above), there’s a thesaurus there too.
- Make sure you’re not repeating the same information. Being redundant or repetitive sends your reader in circles. However, if you do choose to repeat something, please be sure to repeat it exactly. Don’t leave your reader wondering how John Smith really spells his name. It may not matter to everyone, but Jon Smythe sure won’t appreciate it.
- Search the Web for any lingering questions you may have about your story. Sites like Snopes help make sure you’re being honest with your audience by featuring a reference source at the end of every article on their website. http://www.snopes.com/info/whatsnew.asp This site and others like it can steer you in the right direction to fill in all the gaps and end up with a story that someone other than your mother would like to read. You just need to decide what works well and what doesn’t.
- If you’re introducing an event like a dog show or beauty pageant, check with the event’s website to ensure the event name, date, time, venue name/location and entrance price, etc., are current. It may sound cliché, but the last thing you want is to send someone to an event a day late or a dollar short. If you do, you’ve just lost a reader.
It’s no secret that fact checking for anything you publish in 2015 begins online; but it also needs to end with you. Technology abounds. There are tons of websites chockfull of relevant, up-to-date articles and links to pages with all the data you’ll ever need. In the end, though, it will be up to you to decide what to leave out and what to share.
Austin Williams is an outcomes-driven full service advertising, marketing, digital and public relations agency, creating ideas that inspire action for clients in healthcare, higher education, financial services, nonprofits and professional services.