Wouldn’t it be great if there was a blog post checklist you could just follow and be sure all your bases were covered?
Anyone who blogs knows that it isn’t exactly a cakewalk. It’s a lot of work to keep up to date posts, engage on social media, create amazing content and get it all seen by the right people (aka your target audience). Luckily, you’re awesome and you’re working hard to make sure that happens. But how do you know you’ve hit all your bases?
One of the biggest complaints I hear from clients is that they just get so overwhelmed by the whole blogging “thing”; they can’t keep it all straight. And fair enough! After four years of successful blogging, I still have to check myself (and my blog post checklist) before I wreck myself – do I have my posts lined up? Have I edited enough? Did I update correctly? How about promotion? Aye! It’s enough to make a girl’s head spin! (…and that’s without the bottle of wine I just drank).
From inception, to writing, to publishing and promotion – I’ve got you covered, my loves. I’ve put together a very simple, very effective checklist that you can follow along your blog posting path. Think of it kind of like a recipe – it’s a guideline to get you from point A to point Z, ingredients to finished dish. Of course there’s always room for improvisation and you can make it your own to fit your unique blogging goals, just adjust it for you!
Before the Post
Choose your topic. This might seem a little obvious, but you can’t start writing unless you know what you want to write about. This means choosing an overall topic (i.e. snails that sneeze) and then the scope (i.e. how to catch a snail sneezing). If you just sit down to write without having a focus, you will ramble and your content will suffer, and your blog will die a quick yet painful death. Having a blog schedule and keeping a blog binder will make this process much easier for you. From here you can take 20 to 30 minutes to plan your post, focusing on key points, quips and where you want it to end up – not only will the final post flow better, it’ll make it easier (and quicker!) to write.
Keyword search & selection. As part of your SEO (search engine optimization) strategy, you’ll need a keyword. A keyword is a search term that’s (hopefully) popular with audiences and doesn’t have too much competition. This will help your post get seen by a larger audience by helping Google organize its results. Don’t waste too much time on this, only around 10 – 15 minutes.
Title research. So you have your topic, your scope and your keyword, now you want to pick a title for your post that incorporates all of that AND appeals to some kind of emotional appeal. After all, people respond to the feelings words cause them to experience, not to words themselves. The Advanced Marketing Institute has a tool called the “Headline Analyzer ” where you can type in your headline, select a category for your blog and then see how “emotional” it is. The higher the better and you can experiement as much as you like! You’ll get the hang of it after a few tries – shoot for a rating of 25% or better. Again, this should only take 5-10 minutes.
Create or source any images and graphics you’ll need for your post. Whether you create your own images or use someone else’s (always always ALWAYS give credit and link back to them if you do), getting these in line before you begin the post will speed up your writing time and make it easier for everything to come together. Be sure to size them approporiately so you can use them on your blog as well as social media channels. I usually make the primary feature image in 3 different sizes: Blog post applicable, Facebook friendly size, and one more for my newsletter.
Super awesome insider tip: Size your images for your blog posts no bigger than 800px. There’s no need for larger images and if you leave them too big, you’ll use up all your space on your hosting provider.
Pour yourself a glass of bourbon and get ready to write. Do I really need to explain this point?
During the Post
Write your posts conversationally for human, not search engines. Something I often hear from people is that they have trouble using their chosen keyword in a natural way. I agree – it’s very difficult to remember to include your keyword throughout your post as you write without sounding like a spam machine. Here’s a secret that will hopefully ease this pain for you: Incorporate your keyword after you complete the first draft of your post! That way you can strive on maintaining the post focus, writing conversationally, and telling a story, while making your post bot friendly afterward.
Tell A Story. Your posts should provide some kind of emotional value for your readers – this means they should either be educational, entertaining or unique. Get it out of your head that stories begin with “once upon a time” or need to be “point of origin” tales – a story in this context simply takes us along a certain thought path of the writer, flows in some way, and usually ends with some kind of conclusion.
Include a call to action. This can be that conclusion. At the end of your story, ask your audience to engage with you in some way. This can be done through questions, invitations to comment, requests to meet you on social media or sign up for your newsletter, etc… The point is, once you’ve finished writing conversationally in a way that appeals to your audience, you want to engage with them to keep them interested in you and your stellar content. Be sure to respond to these calls to action as they come in to further your exposure and the increase the relationship between you and your readers.
Incorporate your keyword. The length of your post will dictate how many times your keyword should show up but aim for a few times through out the copy and you’ll be fine. Make sure it sounds natural – you still want the post to be readable by humans.
Add alt tags & image titles to your pictures. Now you want to take your post to the next level, SEO wise. This goes beyond keywords to pictures! Adding alt tags and image titles is much simpler than it sounds and will optimize your post even further so search engines have a higher probability of finding your content. Plus there’s the added bonus that should someone want to pin your image on Pinterest, it’ll appear with a description already ready for them!
Use headings (h1, h2, h3, etc…). These will help guide your readers through your posts, break up your content so it’s easier to read and assist Google to crawl it’s way through your pages. Again, this is something you can add in once the post is written to make it easier. Try to work your keyword into the headings if possible.
Select categories or tags. Be sure to use tags or categories so both your audience and WordPress can sort through your content appropriately.
Edit. Edit. Then edit once more. If you’re even remotely serious about blogging or your online reputation, you want your posts to be polished. After all, if you can’t be bothered to proof read your own work, why should anyone be bothered to read it? Mistakes will slip through and it’s not the end of the world, but if you consistently have major errors on the page, people will stop coming. This means before you publish or schedule your posts, read them out loud in the preview screen – this will force you to see and hear them in a different light, allowing you to catch grammar, punctuation, spelling, tone, and alignment issues before they catch you. With your pants down.
Ensure your post SEO is up to par. You’re almost done! Double check your SEO (if you’re on WordPress you can use Yoast’s in post SEO tool) after you edit and then bam! You’re good. to. go.
After the Post
Share on your social networks during peak times. This can be live, and will vary depending on your audience and niche, or you can schedule them with a tool like Hootsuite. But PLEASE, whatever you do, don’t use an auto-updater. Your audience can tell if you’ve written a post especially for them or if you’ve written something can span the entire breadth of social media. Length, hashtags, @ symbols, language, times, etc… all tell people something about how much you really value them. You wouldn’t send out a mass text to thank people for the wedding gift they gave you, you’d make it personal. Keep your online interactions just that – interactions.
Include it in your newsletter. If you have a newsletter (and you should), line up the post to be included with the text or title and image – this will not only make your newsletter come together faster for each mailing but it will also provide you with a reserve of content if you have a slow week or month.
Review & Update your blog schedule and/or binder. Having a blog schedule and/or binder is one thing, maintaining it is something else entirely. Keep on it and check it before and after each post. Be sure to plan ahead and keep the ideas flowing. This is your foundation – keep it clean, organized and tip top so your blogging (and other marketing efforts) don’t become one giant sticky mess without a payoff (the worst kind, am I right?).
Now I know there’s a lot of information here, which is why I’ve created an actual blog post checklist for you to use at your blogging leisure! Just save the graphic at the top of the page and the one below by right clicking, selecting “save as” and then keep on your desktop or print it off and add it to your blog binder. Make your way through, point by point and before you know it, you’ll be throwing out blog posts so fast you’ll do circles around Superman! Or Thor…. He’s so dreamy.
Now what about you? What do you find most confusing or overwhelming about blogging? Do you use a blog schedule? Do you have a checklist of your own? Did I miss anything? Share below (it’ll only take a second – I want to hear your thoughts!)