I usually write at least two posts a week. Some weeks, I am publishing 4 or 5 posts. Years ago, even though I wrote every week, I still would forget to do something for my post. Then, I stumbled onto Syed Balkhi’s post “14-Point Blog Post Checklist to Use Before You Hit Publish” and I knew that was what I needed. I needed to create a checklist with all of the things I want to do with each post to ensure my post is ready to be published and marketed.
In this post, I am going to share the 12 items on my checklist that I follow when writing any post including this one. I always go through this checklist after I have written a post and before it is published.
1. Have you proof-read your post?
This may seem like something every would do every time but there have been times when I have a lot going on that I just want to hit publish and move on to the next task. So, the very first step in my checklist is to re-read the post looking for these key items:
- Do I have any misspellings or grammar errors?
- Does the flow of the post make sense?
- Do I need to cut anything out or clarify any points more?
2. Run through Heming Way App
A while ago, I stumbled upon the Heming Way App and immediately made it part of my workflow. This free app will check your writing and point out sentences or phrases that may need to be re-written as well as give you a readability grade level.
3. Add categories and tags
To help users find other relevant content on your site, you will want to use categories and tags. Depending on your theme, these may be displayed above or below your post’s content. Categories are great for overall topics and posts, usually, have one category. Tags are great for aspects of content and posts normally have 5 to 7 tags.
A great example of using categories and tags is a food blog. Categories would be the overall recipe topics such as “Lunch” and “Dinner” and tags would be types or contents such as “Chicken”, “Carrots”, and “Apples”.
4. Create an engaging, short title
Once I have the post written and edited, I start working on the title. There are many things to consider when creating your post’s title. Will it capture attention? If someone shares the post on social media, will the title entice others to read the post? Coschedule suggests a balance of common, uncommon, emotional, and power words. They also advise keeping the title scannable. They have a free Headline Analyzer that will help you improve your titles and headlines.
5. Create the excerpt
Most platforms including WordPress allows you to create an excerpt. This excerpt is then shown in your blog as visitors are browsing your site. You want to take advantage of this and create an excerpt that tells the visitor exactly what the post is about and why they should read it.
6. Create the meta description
If you are using an SEO plugin, such as Yoast SEO, you have the ability to set the meta description search engines use to display in the search results. If you are unfamiliar with search engine optimization(SEO) be sure to read my post “What Is SEO?”. Normally, I write my excerpt first and then shorten that down to create my meta description.
7. Are you using headers?
If users come to your post and see a wall of text, it is very likely they will be hitting the back button quickly. Breaking your posts into sections allow people to see how the post is laid out and which sections they might want to read over. Only 16% of users read your content word for word. So, making your post “scannable” is very important. Using things like headers and bulleted lists help achieve this. For more info on scannable content, checkout ProBlogger’s Scannable Content: 19 Techniques to Create it.
8. Do you have images in your post?
Most website platforms including WordPress allow you to set a featured image for a post. These images will show up in your blog and when people share your post on social media. In BuzzSumo found that articles with an image every 100 words get double the number of shares compared to articles with fewer images.Posts with images every 100 words get double the number of shares compared to posts with fewer images. Click To Tweet
They also found that Facebook posts with images get 2.3 times more engagement than posts without images. (Source). Don’t forget to add alt tags to your images for accessibility and SEO.
9. Add click to tweet
If visitors find your content useful and engaging, they may want to share it with friends or their audience. The easier you make this process, the more shares your post will have. Posts that I use a click to tweet box like the one above receive almost 3 times the amount of shares compared to posts that I do not use the box. I use the plugin Better Click To Tweet which makes it very quick and easy to set this up.
10. Link to other posts
If this post is the first post a user reads on my site, I want to show them other posts that might be relevant that they may also find useful. For example, if the user came here looking for ways to improve their blogging, they may also want to learn to use Google Analytics so they can improve their site so I would link to my introduction to Google Analytics post.
11. What is your call to action?
What should the user do after reading your post? Do you want them to leave a comment? Do you want them to sign up for your email list? Should they read other posts relevant to this post? Every post should have a call to action so the user can take action on the content from the post. For example, the call to action on this post is to download the blogging checklist PDF so visitors can go use the checklist on posts they are writing.
If you are writing your post in the editor, you will want to read through your content in the preview. Sometimes, your images or headers may need minor changes when viewed within your theme. Also, if you added links in your post, checking the links to make sure they work is a good idea.