You know those awesome blogs that produce great articles time after time? I’ve got about 25 I follow regularly, and the one thing they all have in common is quality.
Beyond being written well & full of useful information — they’ve got great formatting, images, anecdotes & an eye catching headline to boot.
Seems simple, right? Well that’s the magic of good writing. What’s simple to read is not so simple to create.
Why You Need a Blogging Checklist
Blogging isn’t easy. There’s a lot of thought & preparation that goes into every single awesome article that’s published. It’s easy to forget a step or two, and it might be days later before you realize what you’d forgotten to add in that last post.
A checklist helps you come up with your own standards. It keeps you from having those “oh shit” moments when you realize hours later that you published an article that morning with lots of missed points and no internal links.
Every blogger will end up having a checklist they follow, whether consciously or not. From my own experience (and lots & lots of mistakes) here’s the one I recommend. Here’s the 10 things I double check before publishing any post.
1. Edit Your Headline to Get More Views
Now I am not suggesting creating clickbait titles that don’t deliver on a promise. What I’m suggesting is using some of the proven methods that get more clicks on your headlines such as:
- Using Numbers aka Listicles
- Include the Word “You” or “Your” When Applicable
- Use Adjectives that Describe a Benefit like Simple or Easy
- Use Specific Advantages or Benefits like “Save 20% More By…”
- Make a Promise (That You Can Keep of Course)
- Define What the Purpose of The Article Is About
Many pro bloggers spend hours tweaking their headlines, coming up with at least 20 possible titles for each post. Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? But unfortunately if you don’t spend that extra time making catchy headlines the chances of people reading your post is pretty slim. It’s always worth the extra time & effort.
Use a Headline Analyzer Tool
Writing catchy headlines doesn’t come naturally, it’s something I still struggle with. To make it easier use a headline analyzer tool to get yourself used to writing “high scoring” titles.
Once you think you’ve got a decent headline run it through a headline analyzer like the one from CoSchedule to see what sort of score it gets:
You can enter as many titles as you want to compare scores and see how they measure up to one another.
From personal experience I can tell you titles that use either power or emotional words get a lot more clicks. A few words & terms that consistently perform well in titles are:
- You (or Your)
- How to
- Need to
For this article I decided to stick with “need to” rather than promising that these 10 tips we’re going to be easy, quick or simple.
I stuck with the list post because they perform well and they keep me on topic & force me to narrow my focus to the points in the checklist that are most important.
You don’t have to follow all of these guidelines, just pick a few that work with your given title and go from there. These headline analyzer tools give you a rough guide to what sorts of titles appeal to a wide range of people.
And when it comes to your work I don’t see anything wrong with changing your title a little to get it seen by more people. As long your title stays in line with what the article actually delivers there’s no reason not to gussy it up a bit.
2. Do a Consistency Check
Your consistency check will vary by blog or project, but a few things to keep in mind are:
- How many images did you create?
- Do you have a decent feature image?
- Do you always use Title Case in your headlines?
- Did you add the alt text to your photos?
- Do you have a clear call to action?
If some of your articles have done well before go back & check what qualities they used. If those articles happen to have more photos than usual create some more for your next piece.
Do you always start your articles out with a funny anecdote or interesting statistic? Keep all of these little details in mind to give your blog some consistency.
Next time you’re reading one of your favorite blogs take a look at how they start their posts, how they finish & how they’re formatted.
3. Double Check All Links
It’s tedious I know but it only takes a minute. You don’t even want to know how many times I’ve caught an irrelevant link in my own stuff well after I’ve hit publish…oops.
4. Go Back Through & Add Relevant Internal Links
It’s much easier to add internal links on older blogs than new, so if you’ve only written 5 posts at this point it might not be possible.
Adding in relevant links to other posts you’ve written is a good way to get more of your audience reading old material. And if you do have a blog with 25 posts or more it’s a good idea to go back into your archives once and a while to add some new internal links into your old stuff.
5. Edit Your Post, But Not Immediately
If possible let your draft sit for a day before editing. It’s much easier to catch errors after a post has sat for awhile than right after you’ve written in.
Take a walk, read a book, do something engaging in between the writing & editing phase.
Self editing isn’t easy and one of the biggest mistakes is trying to do it right after you’ve finished that first draft. It’s still to fresh in your mind, it needs time to sit & your brain needs a chance to step away from it.
6. Does Your Post Have a Call to Action or Point to Make?
One of the most important parts of your post is the action, inspiration or feeling it creates in your readers. People don’t remember every post they read, but they remember the ones that made them feel something.
Do you want to inspire them to try something new? Do you want them to laugh & share your story with their friends? Do you want to overload their brain with so much information they’ll have to bookmark it to take it all in?
Whatever it is make sure that goal is met. One of the easiest ways is to add a call to action at the end telling people what to do next.
If you want more comments ask an engaging question at the end of your article. If you want more shares ask for those at the end. If you’re selling a product make it look good & add a link to buy it at the end.
7. Make it Easy to Read
While personal essays don’t have to follow the “easy to skim” test it’s a good idea for most informative posts to do so.
Let’s face it – we’re a bunch of skimmers. How many articles do you read all the way through? How many times have you clicked away as soon as you saw the way an article was written?
It’s much easier to take in information when we see it laid out in a nice pretty format in front of us. Here’s a few ways to make your post easier to read:
- Use subheadings to break up different points/examples
- Add in lists when applicable
- Use great images when possible to help tell your story/give examples
8. Add in SEO Friendly Stuff Right Before Publishing
I tend to do this step last, and if I wrote a decent post (as in relevant & to the point) it’s not so tough to add in all the SEO bits. Check your post over for the following SEO points:
- Does your article have a main keyword? (the subject of your post, usually 2-5 words)
- Can you write a decent meta description (160 characters describing your post & it’s benefits)
- Did you add alt text to your image(s)? (something that describes the nature of your image)
- Did you format your article in an easy to read fashion? (broken up by headings, short paragraphs)
- Does your article address the most common questions/concerns in regards to your keyword?
9. Make Your Permalinks Prettier
Have you ever seen an article that ends with stuff like “=2879_xxvi”? Well we don’t want that. Your permalink can be edited to be both relevant & prettier.
In the default WordPress editor just below where your post title is you have the option to edit your permalink aka the website address that your post will have.
Special note: Be sure to edit the permalink before publishing. If you do it afterwards all of those links you’ve already sent out via social media will land on a big ole 404 page.
10. Add Social Media Images For The Networks You Use
I’m not a big fan of trying to be everywhere, but when it comes to social media picking one or two platforms to focus on is key. Remember to add in that Pin-worthy image if you promote on Pinterest, create a nice square image with a quote for Twitter, etc.
If you’re just getting started with blogging I understand that this list seems daunting… it is. But once you’ve written a post or two (or 300) they become second nature.
Blogging isn’t easy, and there is a lot to learn. But these 10 steps will help you create posts that are more likely to be shared & enjoyed by your readers. Take those extra couple minutes before hitting publish and make your articles shine.