When you first start writing content for your new blog you may experience a feeling of both exhilaration and extreme nervousness – but don’t worry, this is both normal and natural; and help is at hand. Here’s a simple blog publishing checklist you can use to help you feel more relaxed and confident in your blog writing abilities before you hit the publish button.
1. Does your post contain audience approved content?
Re-read your article, have you written an article that’s going to be relevant to your target audience? Have you answered an issue they have? Think about the phone calls you receive in your business, what topics frequently come up as enquiries in your business? Address these topics as separate blog posts.
If you are selling something on your website, most visitors will expect some sort of commentary in the form of a blog on the website. Your readers will want to read about why product A is better than product B and they’ll want to do this before they even consider purchasing your product. Your article should be written for those readers, and respond to issues that they are most interested in. Make sure you use the same language and terminology your audience would use, rather than industry jargon and technical specifics the general Joe public wouldn’t understand.
2. Does your post have a captive attention-grabbing title?
Does the post title capture the reader’s attention? Usually the very first glance a reader has of your website is through the titles of your blog posts, which they have seen appear on the search results page as a result of their search engine query. It is important that you have included one or two of the key words or phrases that you know your reader will type into their search query and will assist the search engine to rank your article higher up in the list of relevant search results. Try to stay clear of clichés and overly clever titles – keep the title simple, so your reader is already prepared to read your post without feeling put off before they read. Ensure that the title will resonate with your reader.
3. How long is your post? What is a good post length?
How much is too much? How do you know if you’ve written too little? Each website or blog has its own criterion on length. Over time the length of posts generally have become longer, I try to work on writing 900 – 1200 words per article. Not because I am being verbose, but I have read that search engines prefer longer articles than shorter. It also allows me to include examples and mini case studies of examples of what I consider to be good web practice. They help illustrate the point I’m trying to make and make my concept/explanation more meaningful. It also allows my readers to connect with my blog post and possibly relate my discussion to their own life experiences.
If I tried to keep to a strict short word limit it would potentially have a negative impact on my ability to express myself clearly. By giving yourself a word limit range allows a greater way for you to express your thoughts from a variety of different angles and build a strong compelling case for your readers. Make sure your website visitors can understand the who, what, and why of who you are is critical. Substance and sound reasoning are essential to building a compelling, persuasive blog post.
4. Have you used intelligent and intuitive links?
If this blog post is one of your first blog posts you may not have enough of your own content within your website to link to. However, you do have the whole world wide web which you can link to. Find websites which share a similar point of view to yours and link to the appropriate web page. Links are useful because not only are your readers reading your post with their eyes they’re also using their fingers. They try to absorb and understand the information they are reading by finding similar or related content to reinforce what they are reading about on your blog post.
A good guideline is to have links to others websites open in a new window/tab and links that are links on your own website open in the same window/ tab. Try to only link on a few keywords within your blog post which gives you extra points with the search engines and extra points with your reader for being able to quickly scan your content. Make sure your readers can easily access and get to the information that is important and relevant to them.
5. Is your blog post written on a single topic or specific theme?
In a blog post, you want to keep each blog post on a single focussed topic or one particular theme. If you write multiple topics in the same blog post, you could end up easily confusing your reader. Separate the blog posts and publish them as individual articles or have them as a series of articles that you want to share. Related articles and ideas are always good to retain your loyal readers. Just not multiple ideas that may end up competing for attention.
Try to start each blog post with a pre-writing plan. The plan includes the key points you want to mention, any examples you want to highlight, and the meta tags and phrases that you use and others websites links that you want to use. When you review your post, go back and check that you have included all the aspects that you intended to write, based upon your plan.
6. Have you included visually stimulating content?
Have you included an image (or two) in your blog post? Your image is critical, as it should convey the content of your post before your readers even read a single word of your blog post. Remember to rename and tag your image with appropriate key words. Use an image description to help your image gain traction with Google Images. Whether it is a stock photo, a photo of your product, an infographic – make the image meaningful. Make your image big and prominent to give your readers a reason to focus and read your blog post.
7. Have you read your blog post out loud?
This tip may feel a bit awkward to begin with, but I encourage you to read what you have written out loud. You will be surprised at the number of inadvertent grammatically or typos are in your content. Be sure you read exactly what you have written and not what you think you intended to write. Read slowly, aloud and try to imagine others reading it. You do want to get the right tone and language and connect with your readers.
If you can find someone who would be prepared to read what you have written and act in an editorial role, that is also very helpful. Sometimes what you think and what you have written is not what you think you have conveyed. So another’s perspective to read your content can help clarify your thoughts and your words.
8. Do you want your readers to respond?
Have you included a clear call-to-action for your readers? Do you want them to leave a comment below your blog post? Would you like them to join you on one of your social media accounts and like your post or write a comment? If you want them to buy your product, ask them. Leave your readers with a sense of what to do and where to go next – for example, even adding something as simple as “if you found this article helpful please share.”