The Edit: update and tips


You may remember that, at the beginning of this year, I finally bit the bullet and started making some much-needed changes to littlewhitetruths.

To start with I changed my template to update the look and feel of the blog, and now that I've used the template for a while and know that it works for me, I'll fork out the $7.95 for the updated version of this template so I can make even more changes and have more options and tools at my disposal.

Blogger does offer some custom templates, but none of those really appealed to me and you'll find that most bloggers who've been around for a while have imported an external template (or had one designed for them), so it's something to keep in mind. You can Google Blogger-compatible templates if this is something that appeals.

What I've also been doing is going back through all my old posts and reviewing those, and I thought I'd set out a few editing tips in case anyone's thinking of doing the same thing and doesn't know where to start. I certainly didn't know where to start when I began editing, which is one of the reasons it took me so long to finally do it!

Start at the beginning

You of course don't have to do this - you may choose to start somewhere else - but this seemed the best place for me to begin. I went back to the last page on my list of posts and started editing from the earliest post. What's been interesting about this is that it's given me something of a chronology, and I've almost re-lived the last couple of years as I've seen from my photo backgrounds where I was at the time of posting, and what I've said in each post has reminded me of what was going on at the time.

What this process has taught me is that it's not a bad idea to throw in a few comments about what's going on in your life as you're posting, because it does provide readers with a story that can be interesting and helpful. Eg, I wrote quite a bit about my last pregnancy while I was in it - mentioning things like which oils I was using on my expanding belly and how I was feeling at the time - and this stuff can be useful for readers. It also humanises the blog a bit and it never hurts to give something of yourself when you're writing.

Change your photos when you can

Photos were definitely the weakest link in my blog when I was starting out, so as I've been editing old posts, I've edited any photos that I still had (so do save them - it's useful!), and I've sometimes taken them again if I've still had the products on hand.

One day I'd love to go back in and change all the early photos, but to do this I'd either need to re-purchase all the products or borrow photos from others (with references, of course). It's not workable to re-purchase beauty products for the sake of taking photos - particularly if the products are bad or expensive! - but it might be possible to find others' photos and ask if I can use them. This could also be a good way to make connections with other bloggers and expand my own community, so it's something worth thinking about.

Edit for content

What have you said about particular products in your earlier posts and do you still feel the same way about them? If not, change what you've said. I recently edited a post on a ModelCo blush: I'd given it a reasonable review, but since then I've been lucky enough to try many more blushes and I now know that ModelCo doesn't produce a good one (at least, not the ones I've tried). So I altered my review.

It's ok to change what you've said - we all change our minds about some products over time - and there's nothing wrong with stating clearly that, while you once liked a product, you don't anymore (or vice versa). You don't have to stick to old comments. Readers will appreciate being updated and knowing that your feelings on something have changed over time - it adds weight to the review and gives readers a more informed opinion on a product.

Edit for consistency

How do your old posts compare in length and style to your newer ones? I've found through the editing process that I used to set posts out slightly differently and sometimes used different headings, so I've changed the old ones and they now look the same as the news ones. The old ones also tended to be shorter, so I've made them a little longer and more involved where I can.

Also, what words and phrases do you use? In the early days I used the term 'make up', but I now write 'makeup' because it looks cleaner and that seems to be where language is heading. So I've changed my old posts to reflect this. I've also found that I've overused certain phrases and tools (like brackets), so I've cleaned up any language too.

Editing for consistency will give your blog a more complete/polished look and feel, and will also help in harmonising your style and 'brand'. Plus it will give readers an idea of what they're going to get when they open one of your posts, so they know the kinds of comments they're going to read and the photos they're going to see. People like knowing what they're going to get, so keep that in mind when you're editing.

Can't fix it? Delete or re-post it

I've deleted a few posts from the early days that weren't worth 'saving'. Eg a couple of posts on products that had really bad photos and a couple on sales that have long been and gone. You don't need to hang on to absolutely every post that you've written, and sometimes you're better off just deleting something and moving on. There's no point in keeping bad content: it can do more harm than good.

Also, if I still have products that I've photographed badly, I've cut/pasted the content into a new, draft post and removed the old one. I've then re-shot photos of the products and updated the post in its entirety, so it now looks and reads much better than it did. Sometimes the best way to fix something is to start from scratch.

Set realistic goals

When I first started the editing process, I was looking at almost nine hundred posts that needed reviewing (argh!). After the first few days, I decided that editing three posts a day was a workable amount, and I let go of any illusions that the editing process might be done within a few months. It will take a whole year, so there's no point in hoping it will happen any faster!

If I hadn't set a realistic goal, I don't think I would have stuck with editing - I'd have given up long ago and viewed the whole process as unmanageable. And while I mightn't always be able to edit three posts a day, I can achieve this most days and sometimes I can even manage four or five.

So work out achievable targets for yourself and stick with them: it will make the whole process feel easier.

In sum

Them's my tips! Hopefully there's something useful in there for anyone about to embark on the editing process for their blog.

In terms of an update, I can happily say that I've managed to edit one hundred posts so far and I've deleted a few and re-posted some on top of this. So the process is definitely slow-going and I'll likely still be here by Christmas, but by then I hope to see the light at the end of the tunnel ; )

Let me know if you've ever gone back and edited your old posts, or if it's something you're considering doing in future.

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