For a long time, it seemed like every time I went to write a blog post, I would forget something.
Not the blog post itself, typically. But it felt like there were 100 things to do every time I wanted to write a new post! How could I remember it all?
Obviously, with a process. And this process comes in the form of a checklist.
There are lots of things that go into a new blog post. It’s way more than just the post itself! Here is my checklist of things you should review before you click the publish button.
Looking for a handy way to refer back to this when writing your own posts? Download a one-page checklist showing each step, in order. It’s easy to print (no big graphics that use a lot of ink) and simple to refer back to when you need it.
Get a free PDF checklist of the items discussed in this post. Print it to use as a handy reference when crafting your own blog posts.
The Post Itself
A Great Introduction
Make sure your post has a great introduction! You only have a brief amount of time to grab your reader’s attention. Give them a reason to continue reading by appealing to their emotions. What pain point will the post solve? What great outcome can they expect?
The average time a reader stays on your blog post is 37 seconds. SECONDS! This means that’s all the time you have to grab their attention. The way to do that is by writing an incredible introduction that makes them decide to keep reading. And if they keep reading, they’re more likely to read a second article, subscribe to your newsletter, or make a purchase.
It all starts with the introduction.
A Solid Conclusion
Also make sure you have a clear ending. You don’t want your post to just drop off without drawing it to a close. You may reiterate your main point to conclude your post. Or you might have a call to action – asking readers for a comment, or directing them to a service you offer that’s related to the post.
Conclusions are funny things. They’re incredibly difficult to write. To compensate, many of us begin the conclusion with the words “in conclusion”, which is unnecessary. Here are a few ways to conclude a blog post:
- Summarize the post
- Offer a free or paid download or other call to action
- Ask readers for comments
- Use a quotation that relates to the content
- Suggest what results may occur by implementing the post actions
- Warn what results may occur by NOT implementing the post actions
A Related Call to Action
If you do have something to sell or give away, make sure there’s a clear call to action. It’s up to you to decide if you want that to be at the beginning, in the middle, or at the very end. You might even put it in multiple places.
Your call to action is usually something to help extend your relationship with the reader, or something to help you make money.
For example, you may offer your readers a form they can use to subscribe to your mailing list. Tell them the benefits they can expect from subscribing. Or, advertise your Facebook group and ask them to join. These kinds of activities help move your relationship with the reader to a new level.
Or, you may choose to provide a free download in exchange for them subscribing to your email list. That’s obviously what we did here – you can download a summary of this post in checklist form, at no cost to you.
Finally, if your post is further down the sales funnel, you can go ahead and try to sell them something. Whether you offer paid services, an ebook download, or a full-blown course, you can choose to make this your CTA.
A Catchy Title
Your blog post title is the #1 thing that will convince people to stay long enough to read anything. In fact, it’s usually how they’ll decide to visit the page in the first place, assuming the post title is also your HTML title (what shows in Google) and your Pinterest pin title.
A Table of Contents
If your post is long, you may also choose to create a table of contents. This provides links to individual sections of the post, so readers can click to a section that particularly interests them. It’s also a great tool for readers who refer back to the post again and again, as there may be a particular section that spoke to them the first time they read it.
Did you know that a table of contents has a nifty SEO benefit, too?
Sometimes Google will pick up the in-article links from the table of contents and show those in their listings. That’s additional links from Google to your blog post that may entice users to click through to your post.
You can write a table of contents by hand if you have some technical savvy about internal HTML links. Or, you can use a plugin. On our blog we use the LuckyWP Table of Contents plug-in.
The slug is the part of the blog post’s address in the browser that comes after your domain name. For instance, the full URL to this post is https://www.netblazon.com/blog-publication-checklist.html. The first portion, “https://www.netblazon.com/” is the protocol and this blog’s domain name. The second part (before the “.html”) is the slug.
The slug should contain your important keywords, but also be short enough that it’s easy to read, share, and remember. Sure, most people just bookmark it or save it to Pinterest, but if you can make it simple, even better.
This is especially true if you want to share somewhere like Instagram, where they don’t allow hyperlinks unless you’ve got 10,000 subscribers. In that case, it’s really good to have short, memorable URLs!
Generally, you want to optimize your slug before you publish, then never change it. If you do change it, you’ll likely drop in your search engine rankings. Sure, it may eventually pick back up. But even if you remember to redirect the old address to the new one, you’ll probably lose traffic for awhile.
The meta description is text that doesn’t show up on the blog post itself, but is used to tell a reader what the post is about. Often, it shows up in the Google search results under your post’s link.
The meta description should entice potential readers to click through to the post to see what it’s about. Think of it like an advertisement for your post. The best meta descriptions generate a sense of curiosity, so that readers are enticed to click through and find out what the rest of the post really contains.
It should also contain your important keywords. Google often bolds the keywords in the meta description when they display it, when those keywords match what the user searched on.
Speaking of keywords, if you’re using Yoast SEO (and you should be!), don’t forget to set your focus keyword. Once you do, Yoast will give you lots of recommendations regarding your post, and it will help you optimize it for search engines.
Internal and External Links
If you don’t have both internal and external links in your blog post, Yoast will tell you. Make sure you have the following types of links for new posts.
Internal, outbound links
This kind of link goes from the post you’re writing to another post or page on your website. The page you link to should be related to the topic of the post you’re optimizing. Breadcrumbs, automatic related posts, etc. don’t count for this purpose. The link should be in the body of your post, embedded (but not hidden!) within the content of the post.
External, outbound links
This type of link goes from your post to at least one other page on a different website. Google wants to see that your site doesn’t exist in a bubble, so it’s always a good idea to link to a source or related article. It probably goes without saying, but make sure you link to a good site. No spam.
Internal, inbound links
Once your new post is published, link back into it from at least one other post. Internal links are extremely important for technical, on-site SEO. And having a link from another, established post helps Google crawl your new post more quickly.
One more note on links in general. It’s always good to have a link from another website to your new post. Just try not to be spammy about it. Google really hates artificial link-building. So I wanted to mention it here but I don’t want you to think it has to be a requirement.
Any Other Yoast Recommendations
Yoast will give you an SEO score showing you how optimized your site is. For each criteria, you get a green light (good), yellow light (ok), or red light (bad). Don’t by any means thing that everything has to be a green light. But make sure you’re making purposeful decisions. If some bullets are red or yellow, just make sure there’s a good reason for it.
Images are important for readers because they can perform lots of tasks. And image can be used to:
- convey an idea
- showcase an element of a location the post is about
- show how to accomplish something, in case the reader needs more than words to understand how to complete a task
- show what something looks like, in case the reader needs to find it
- simply show beauty in whatever form that means to you
Let’s look at some of the places images can be used in your content.
In content images are those that are interspersed among the written content on the page. Generally they help illustrate something you’re writing about in a paragraph near the image itself.
A Featured Image
Featured images are placed on the document sidebar when editing. They’re also sometimes called thumbnails, but they’re not necessary thumbnail-sized images. When you set a featured image, it is often used on your archive pages (categories, tags, search) that show multiple posts on a single page.
Some themes also show them on the blog post itself.
Image Alt Tags
You should spend time writing accurate alt tags for all images. The alt tag should give a basic description of the image as it applies to the post. For example, let’s say you have a post about exploring family life in Italy. Your picture shows a family eating a gorgeous meal.
Now, if you were writing for a food blog, your alt tag might be:
Italian family enjoying spaghetti on beautiful summer night.
But since you’re writing about family life in Italy, the spaghetti itself doesn’t matter. Instead, you may want something like this:
In Italy, family regularly gathers around the table at mealtime to connect, share stories, and enjoy each others’ company.
Make sure you write alt tags that match both the image itself and how it’s used within the blog post.
Social Media Readiness
I can basically guarantee you want your post to be as easy to share as possible, right? So getting it ready for social media is the next step. First of all there are a couple of images you will need. The first is a Pinterest pin image. These are usually vertically oriented with a 1:2 or 2:3 ratio of width to height.
The other is a horizontal image for the rest of social media, such as Twitter and Facebook. You may also want a square one for Instagram, but people don’t often share from a blog post directly to Instagram, so whether you need that will depend on your workflow.
Make sure the images illustrate and complement your post, are of good quality, and again, are optimized to download quickly.
Next, get your social media text ready. I prefer the Grow by Mediavine plug-in, which used to be called Social Pug. With Grow, there are 5 boxes you should fill in:
- Social Media Title – I usually use the same as my blog title
- Social Media Description – I usually use the same as my meta description
- Pinterest Title – I usually use the same as my blog title
- Pinterest Description – I usually use the same as my meta description, with some related hashtags added at the end
- Custom Tweet – I usually use the same as the Pinterest description
Having all of these in place means that when someone tries to share your post, everything is filled in. They don’t have to do any work – like writing their own title or description. However, they can change it before publishing if they want.
After You Publish
After you publish the post, it’s time to promote it. This can take many forms, but here are the most common.
The first thing you’ll want to do is share the post with your network on the various social media channels that you use. This may include your business or blog channels, and it may also include your personal channels.
Sharing a post on social websites helps generate traffic, gives social proof (when you have a “share this post” type of plug-in installed with counts visible), and may convince other readers to share with their own networks.
If you are a Pinterest and Tailwind user, then you will have shared your post to Pinterest in the step above. Now, share that pin to your Tailwind Tribes. This is a great way to get others to spread the word about your post, for you.
You should also use Tailwind now to schedule it to any remaining Pinterest boards, including group boards. Make sure to use a decent interval between the times you pin to each board. The new 2020 guidelines indicate we should be using an interval much longer than used to be recommended. I set mine to 6 days and 16 hours.
Email It To Your Subscribers
Your mailing list is most likely your best audience, so make sure they know about the post. The easiest way is to set up an automatic campaign using your blog’s RSS feed, but it’s much better to write a teaser email that entices people to click through.
But either is better than nothing!
Add it to Your Homepage
Finally if you show posts on your homepage, consider linking to the new post from there. That’s going to give it some internal link juice.
After all this you should be set! Don’t forget to test your post sharing buttons, and keep your eye on the post analytics for a few days, just in case.
Would you like a downloadable checklist version of this post? I made one just for you, and it’s free!
Use the form below to sign up for our list and I’ll send you the checklist in PDF format.
Get a free PDF checklist of the items discussed in this post. Print it to use as a handy reference when crafting your own blog posts.