Six Tips for Trimming Content
Spread it Out
This sounds like the opposite of keeping it short and to the point, right? Well what we mean is this: If you have several ideas to get across, stop trying to cram them into one article. An article that is cluttered with too many points, too many ideas, too many calls to action will be a chore to read whether it’s five hundred words or fifty. If you have too much to say, five short articles will be easier to read than one big one.
A picture really is worth a thousand words. No, really, it’s not just a cute saying. Many writers in television, film and comics will actually insert photographs and drawings into their scripts because it makes for an easier reference point than spending a thousand words describing the exact color of a character’s jacket, or what exactly the Martian invaders look like. Using a stock image website for photos and clip art will help you to get your point across quickly, and if you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for, hit up one of the artists or photographers on a site like Fiverr for custom-made images.
Edit on Coffee
Whatever you use for a pick-me-up, you may get great results out of jumping into editing right after that first caffeine or sugar boost hits you. This puts you into a state of mind where you want to get to the point. Anything that bores you when you’re on a coffee kick will bore the reader just as quickly.
Lead With the Facts
News articles traditionally begin with the big facts, the hook, the details that you want to know when you first see the headline. The chronological summary of events comes after that opening summary. If you have a piece that feels a little unwieldy, go back to the start, add a paragraph that leads with the big “statement” your piece is making, and use that as a guideline to trim the rest of the article.
Set a Maximum Word Count
Set a reasonable maximum word count (anywhere from 300-600 is ideal for web content), and get your content down under that number by any means necessary. If it can’t be said in around 500 words, then it probably can’t be said in a way that makes for an effective blog post.
Some articles just aren’t really salvageable, and a bad article can really throw your marketing plan off the rails. If you have a piece that just isn’t working, that you can’t boil down to 500 words or so, scratch it and start over.
In conclusion: Never be afraid of the backspace key.
Writer Bio: Gilbert S is a writer and artist who lives in rural New Mexico with his wife and his dog, Sir Kay.