Does this sound familiar? You’ve written your post, done a couple of quick pre-publishing checks and hit the publish button only to realise you’ve forgotten something?
It’s happened to all of us at some point.
I really look forward to seeing a new live post and used to rush my pre-publish review just so I could see it on my blog.
Unfortunately I’d also find myself having to go back to edit the live post and republish it all over again when I remembered I hadn’t done some very important task.
After that happened one too many times I created the ‘Before you Publish’ Blogging Checklist as my editorial prompt.
Nowadays after I upload a new post I use the checklist to guide my final review prior to publishing. It has reduced the time it now takes me to get from Upload to Publish. It also means that these days when I publish a post it’s truly ready for public viewing.
Today I’m giving you your own version of that checklist in the hope you might gain the same value I have from it.
What’s in the checklist
The checklist has three sections each focussing on a different aspect of getting a post ‘publish-ready’.
WRITINGIs your post well written?
LOOKSDoes it look good?
SHAREABILITYIs the post ready for promotion and sharing?
Below is a brief overview of what you can expect to find in the checklist.
At the bottom of the post you’ll find a free printable version I’ve made for you.
I hope you find it useful but would love to hear any thoughts you have on how it could be improved.
The checklist assumes you know your audience and your post’s subject matter has been chosen to meet their needs.
An online audience wants pithy, concise writing. It needs to be active not passive. It needs to be easily scanned. Your pre-publish writing checklist is geared towards these aims.
Short is best
Use short sentences and short paragraphs. Most online readers want tapas not a belly busting feast.
Keep your readers attention
Keep your writing voice active. Make sure each sentence is effective and necessary. Cut as many words as you can from your final draft.
Provide value throughout your post but position the most compelling content towards the beginning. Readers attention wanes as they move down the page.
Call to action
What was the purpose of your post? Make sure your breadcrumbs lead your readers to a destination both you and they desire. Give your audience a clear call to action.
Get it right
Proofread. Spelling and grammatical errors are careless and depending on the type of post you have written, may cause readers to dismiss your message or bounce away from your blog.
Attribution is important. If you have used other people’s work as per the terms of their licence you may need to credit them in a specific way. Always check the licence.
If you have not used other people’s work directly but have drawn inspiration or raw data from it you may still want to credit them.
Once you’re happy with your writing it’s time to move on to the visual aspects of your post.
Images (graphical element)
Think of images and graphics as dressing for your writing. They should be relevant and good quality. Use a photo editor to refine and resize the image.
Ideally your images should suit not only your post but your blog as well. Aim for a co-ordinated look.
Headers alert your readers to where they need to pause in their scanning. Headers draw attention to important pieces of information in your post. You’ll also use them to make your post more promotable – we’ll talk about this more in the ‘Shareability’ section.
Too much clutter on your page is confusing and tiring for your readers to look at. Add plenty of white space around and throughout your post to combat reader fatigue.
Using lists, indents, blockquotes and other layout tools provide visual clues that a particular tract is important. Much like headers, these elements operate to catch your readers attention. They have the added bonus of creating extra white space in your post.
Finally, you need to review your post to make sure it is ‘share ready’.
You should have chosen your keywords when you wrote your post. Now’s the time to check you have inserted them in critical locations. Your focus keyword(s) should be incorporated into your:
- Post heading
- Page title
- Page URL
- Content (beginning and end of post at a minimum)
- Meta description*
*Depending on your theme you may be able to write your own meta description otherwise it will be extracted from the body of your post. The meta description is the brief summary that appears in a search engine result. Currently it is limited to 156 characters.
Overuse of keywords will see you penalised by Google for ‘keyword stuffing’. Aim for a proportion of around 4% of the keyword within the total number of words in your post.
Be sure you don’t harm the readability of your post – yes, you need to insert keywords but you need to do it so it’s not to the detriment of your writing.
Optimising your images touches on two different actions.
Your image is capable of being searched for. Therefore you need to do everything you can to make it findable. The image title/name and alt text fields should contain a clear description of what the image is. Think about the searches you do yourself in Google images. Let that be your guide as to the type of text you need to enter here.
Help search engines by ensuring your images aren’t too large. Otherwise it will take longer to load your page which is off-putting to both your readers and search engines alike.
People like pictures. Pinterest, Instagram and the like are driving the appetite of readers to discover images to share with their own followers. Why shouldn’t they be yours? Edit your images so they are desirable little morsels of shareability. They are an asset you need to flaunt.
From the viewpoint of a search engine, quality links to your site are a vote of confidence in your content. It tells search engines that you have something relevant to say that readers will appreciate.
Use anchor words and terms in your post to link to related content within your own blog. Vote for yourself and help readers find more information and stay on your blog for longer.
Link to other sites. A link to another site is a vote from you as to its quality – you are vouching for its content. If you want to include the link for your readers but aren’t comfortable with vouching for it you can tell a search engine not to follow the link. See here for more information about using ‘no follows’.
Although it’s not certain what if any benefits there are from linking to other sites, at the very least, it’s a good way to provide value to other bloggers.
Categories and tags
Categories and tags are used to organise your posts and make them easy for your readers to find. Tags are the more detailed of the two.
Think of a category as the overall classification. I might have a category called “Fish” where I store all my posts about yep, you guessed it,‘fish’. Within one specific and fascinating fish post, I might have labelled it with additional descriptors such as “freshwater” and “bullhead” – these are my tags.
The primary purpose of categories and tags is to aid navigation. Don’t use too many or overcomplicate them or you will reduce their effectiveness.
Before You Publish Blogging Checklist
So there you have it. These are the things I check to ensure my blog post is publish ready.
I hope you find this helpful. If you do, you could use the share buttons below the post to pass it on to other people you think may also find it useful.
Is there something else you’d like to see included in the checklist to make it more usable? Drop any suggestions in the Comments – I’d love to hear what you think!
Click on the image below to open the checklist in a new tab. From there you can save and print it.
The checklist is for your personal use but feel free to share a link to this page or pin the image.