Writing a blog post is a pretty straightforward deal for me. I’m usually writing about things I know pretty well, so I just write what I’m thinking at the time. If it’s a more detailed or complicated subject, I might do a quick outline first to get my thoughts in order.
But once all the writing is done, my brand new blog post still isn’t quite ready to exist on the world wide web yet! There are a few other things I need to do to before I hit that “Publish” button and send my little post out live to the world.
1. Check My Title
I usually give my post a title before I even start writing. But there are times over the course of writing that I change course or go off on a tangent. So before I publish, I always check my headline and make sure it still works with the content of the blog post.
I also double check that it’s SEO friendly, to help with my search engine rankings. I have a little trick I do – for the post itself, I (generally, although not always!) use something that’s good for SEO. But on my images, I go with a more viral type of headline, because I find those get shared more often.
So my blog post title may be “5 Ways to Do This Thing”; meanwhile, my image will say “5 Secret Hacks to Do This Thing!”
2. Check My Permalink
This is another thing that I do for SEO optimization. If you look at the top of your page, you see this:
You can actually edit the permalink by clicking edit. I try to take out any extraneous words so I have a cleaner, more concise URL with a keyword phrase. This is one of the things the search engines look at to decide what your blog post is about, so it’s a good idea to tell them exactly what it is.
Another reason this is a good idea – a long title usually equals a long URL – by editing your permalink, you can have something that’s shorter, making it easier to share in social media.
3. Add My Category
When I first started blogging, I didn’t pay much attention to categories, and my old blog about Peru is a hot mess because of it. Well, my momma didn’t raise any fools, so I learned to use Parent categories to keep things better organized. Just about everything on this blog fits into one of three categories – Blogging, Marketing, and Mindset Training, and then I can split them up into a few subcategories. It makes it much easier for visitors to find what they’re looking for!
4. Add My Tags
Tags are are similar to categories, but different. (In fact, I wrote a whole separate article about them – Categories and Tags). If your blog was a book, your categories would be chapter headings. The tags would be the index. Both are useful, and both should be used sparingly. And don’t forget in your tags (and categories) to write them like titles, that is to say, starting each word with a capital letter.
5. Read Through My Preview
WordPress gives you the option of previewing your post before you publish; take advantage of it! Don’t just check out your alignment – give your post a thorough read through, looking for any spelling or grammar flubs. A tip I learned – read the last sentence first and work your way to the beginning. It forces your brain to see things like “new” and helps you catch mistakes you might gloss over otherwise.
Another way you can catch spelling and grammar mistakes before you go live is by using Grammarly. It’s an awesome app that automatically checks your posts for more than 250 types of common grammatical errors as well as spell-checking. Grammarly can even help you improve your vocabulary! It’s helped me start to get over a bad case of “over-comma-zation” in my blog posts – I had no idea I was using WAY too many. 😉
Check it out by clicking here >> Grammarly
6. Make Sure Images Are Formatted
I mean two things by this. First of all, in your post preview, make sure your images look right – that they aren’t splitting up any paragraphs in a weird way. If you’re on Firefox looking at my blog, you may see some weird shizzle from time to time – Sorry, it’s optimized for Chrome and I haven’t been able to get it to work both ways.
But I also mean this: Make sure the title of your image is descriptive – I usually use my post title. You’re Alt-tag is super important too, because this is where Pinterest pulls their information from. You can type in a full description in that little box – tags and all. What’s more, it’s good for SEO – search engines can’t “see” what your image is, they figure it out by your description.
7. Check Your Subheadings
While you’re on your preview, make sure you’ve got your content split up into easy to read sections with bold subheadings. Check for any “too large” paragraphs, and break them up into easier to read sections. Big chunks of text are really hard to read on the internet – it never bothered me in books, but online, all I see is a wall of words that I don’t want to mess with.
8. Set My Featured Image
This is important for a couple of reasons. First, it’s the image that shows up on the index pages of my blog, so I want to make sure that my theme is pulling the image I want, not some random image from my post. Same goes for sharing – when I share to Twitter or Facebook, the featured image is the one that gets picked. In fact, I usually design a special image just for the “Feature” – one that isn’t actually shown on my post, but is sized to show up well on my front page and in social media.
9. Call to Action
Every post should have a call to action! I usually give people the chance to join my email community, but depending on the topic of the post, I may promote a product or service. Either way, this is the time to remember that we’re running a business here. Your content is being traded for something, it’s not really for free.
Sure a lot of people are going to read it and do nothing, that’s just the nature of business – a lot of people walk into The Gap without buying a pair of jeans. But there are going to be some people who are willing to comment, click on an ad, purchase a product or give you their email address in return for your awesome content. So make sure you’ve got something on your blog post that tells them exactly what it is that you really want in return.
That’s it! Once I’ve done that and got it all sorted out, I hit that publish button and let it loose into the interwebs to run free and dazzle people with my brilliance. 😉