So you started a blog. You just wrote your first article, and it’s sitting there in that scary preview state. Do you publish it? Yes, of course you do, but not before you make sure you’re getting the most out of the work you put into that article by following this simple checklist.
☐ Title it. I tend to lean towards a funnier title, often to learn that I’m the only one who finds it clever. It also might not do much for SEO or help the reader who is looking for information. The content of your post should be clear in your title, and the title should contain some keywords for that SEO boost. Being clever/funny doesn’t hurt, as long as it doesn’t hurt the chances of your blog article being seen. Try out Nathalie Nahai’s tip (@TheWebPsych) for a killer headline: Number + trigger word + adjective + keyword + promise. Example: 10 Crazy Ways to Cook Meat Well Done on a Sidewalk. You’ll probably click that, right? Doesn’t work for everyone and don’t overuse it, but try it out and see if you get more clicks.
☐ Categorize. Does this article fit into a relevant category? First off, for the blog itself, pick a small handful of categories to start with. Remember, the reader needs to be able to digest this and know what they are getting into when they visit your blog. From there, pick the few that this particular article fits into. You can always add more or reorganize as your blog gets bigger and stronger. Learn more about categories and tags.
☐ Add links. Both internal and external links can be helpful to your readers if they are applicable to your content. Don’t go linking to tons of stuff “just cuz” as it may have a negative effect on you. Read more about why Rand Fishkin of Moz (@randfish) thinks it’s important to incorporate links in your website or blog for such reasons as sending trackable traffic, incentivizing links in, and more!
☐ Insert image. An image not only breaks up the text on the page and makes it look pretty, but it also helps the article to stand out when you share it via social media…big time. If you own the photo, make sure the image is optimized for the web in size and dimensions and super important advice – watermark it. See Sprout Social’s “Always Up-to-Date Guide to Social Media Image Sizes” for specs.
☐ Read it. Read, read, and re-read. Ask a friend/co-worker to give it a looksie as well. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read something and thought, “Super, it’s perfect!” only to realize I used “there” instead of “their” — ugh, knot-in-stomach bad. Also, read it out loud — sometimes you’ll notice oddly worded sentences or confusing statements when reading aloud versus silently reading.
☐ Publish it. Once you’ve completed the blog posting checklist, hit that PUBLISH button. Of course you can always make changes to the post once it’s live. I know I often seem to catch typos or want to rephrase something the second after I set it free, but try to let it go and live on its own in the wide world of webs.
☐ Share it. Share it out on your social accounts of choice, and if you have a good support group around you, ask them to re-share! Friends love sharing stuff, so all you need to do is ask. If you’re still working on your social plan, check out my article from a few weeks ago on choosing social platforms to help get your started on the right foot.
Once you’ve completed these steps, be sure to keep your work alive! Later down the road you will have more posts and more followers, so don’t let your old articles get covered with dust. Link to them, re-share them, keep them going, update if facts have evolved. It will help to promote your blog as a whole and remind your readers of all you have to offer! Speaking of which, have you read my article on Newbie Twitter Tips? Just sayin’…
This post comes paired with Cook’s Illustrated’s Chicken Tikka Masala. It felt a LOT like a checklist following all those steps, but it sure was worth it!