Sometimes you’re halfway (or all the way) through a post and it’s just not working. It may be about the flow – it just seems to be all over the place or going in the wrong direction. In other cases it feels like the post is not really saying anything of value. In any of these cases, I take a step back and use a “clean sheet” strategy to rework the post.
Here’s my 7 step strategy for reworking a broken blog post:
1) Step away from the post
Sometimes you need to take a couple of hours or even a night away from the post. Step away, forget about it and then come back later with a fresh mind.
2) Assess the problem
Take the draft and assess where the post is falling down. If it’s a few minor tweaks then you can just make those. In most cases, a post that’s broken will have bigger issues such as these:
- Structurally it’s fallen apart, not flowing in a compelling or logical way
- It somehow got off topic and is now a post about some other aspect of the topic than you had intended
- The post content is weak and won’t providing the intended value to readers
3) Pull out a clean sheet and re-outline the post
I put the clean sheet and the broken post side-by-side (usually on my monitor, but you can do it physically as well). While referencing the broken post as needed, re-outline the post so that it meets your original goals in terms of what it says, how it says it and the level of value it provides.
- Rework the post structure with this new outline
- Plot where valuable chunks of existing content can go in the new outline (so you save any nuggets)
- Identify areas of further research or thinking (to add more value and to fill any gaps)
4) Do any additional background research
Research the areas that you had identified in the previous step.
5) Rewrite the post using the new outline
Now that you have a new outline and have completed all of your research, you can start writing the new version. Remember to follow the new structure – don’t try to rework the old broken post by moving chunks around. You’ll get a much more cohesive post if you start fresh and pull in limited pieces from the previous version (or even write them into the new post as needed without any cutting and pasting).
6) Check the post for value and flow
Now that you’ve rewritten it, you should have a fresh post that you can check over. Does it flow now? Is it adding value to your readers? If so, go on to the next step…
7) Toss your old post!
Toss that old version and post the new fresh post (and don’t look back!).
Use this strategy for your own posts or when editing others’ posts
This is the strategy that I use for my broken posts or for posts that I need to edit for this blog or for the Wrike blog (where one of my roles includes blog editor). When I get posts from other people that are “broken”, I’ll do the same thing with those posts (e.g. I’ll outline a new version) or will walk through this process with them so they can rewrite the post.
How do you deal with broken posts? Let me know in the comments.
Tom Treanor is the founder of the Right Mix Marketing blog. He’s the author of the Search Engine Boot Camp, the co-author of Online Business Productivity, and regularly speaks at industry and corporate events. His writing has been featured on the Content Marketing Institute, Social Media Examiner, Copyblogger and other leading industry blogs.