Writing a blog takes more than a pot of coffee and a way with the written word. When blogging, your strategy is the difference between posts languishing in obscurity, lost forever to the depths of the Internet, and those that are readily plucked up like ripe tomatoes from the vine. This post aims to provide an exhaustive list of the content marketing checklist we consider before publishing a client blog.
1. Coffee. The process always starts with coffee. Do I have some? Is there sufficient coffee, or should I create more?
Headlines & Topics
2. Is it something that someone might type into Google? If not, it won’t show up on any search engine results, so we’re likely dead in the water right here.
3. Does it convey emotion, particularly high-arousal, positive emotions? Emotions like Awe and Happiness are great indicators of the relevant sharability of a post.
4. Does it create curiosity? Will it draw people to click it? A click is just an investment of a few seconds, but if you can’t get a customer to invest that much time into your brand, how will you get them to spend their hard-earned money with you?
5. Does it leverage one of your tentpole goals? As a content marketer, you will want to have several main topics on which you become a leading expert. Does this article help you to meet one of these goals, or is it off-topic? If it’s off-topic, it might be worth turning into a guest post for a related blog as part of your link building efforts.
6. Does it fit your brand’s communication style? What kind of brand are you? Are you here to educate, entertain, or present news?
7. Have you told the reader what to expect? Just like in high school, blog posts should carry a solid thesis statement. You have to tell the reader exactly what they will get out of reading your article.
8. Are you holding the reader’s interest? The goal of your headline is to get a reader to skim your introduction. The goal of your introduction is to convince the reader to read the rest of the article. Creating interest is the key, perhaps the only, responsibility of the introduction.
9. Are you ending with a treat? A tightly-written introduction starts strong and ends with a treat, like a mint on a pillow. Wrapping up your introduction with a clever play on words, smart statement of fact, joke, or other copywriting tool ensures that your introduction doesn’t taper off…
10. Is there a picture? Our eyes are drawn to pictures. Include one so that the reader knows where to start reading.
11. Is it short? Spend no more than 20% of your article on your introduction. Even for very long articles, 100 words should be plenty.
11. Have you fulfilled your promises? You made promises to the reader in your headline and introduction. Did you fulfill these promises?
12. Have you written enough? Write only enough to answer the topic at the level of detail you intended to answer it, and no more. The deeper you want to cover a topic, and the more broad a topic is, the longer your body copy should be. For example, a topic like “bubble gum” could be covered in three words, “Flavored chewing rubber,” or in a 300 page book. If you want to write at the level of depth of the book, your topic needs to be significantly smaller in scope (How Bubble Gum is Made).
13. Have you created a relationship? Each post in your content marketing strategy should aim to create a relationship with a reader. Have you bared enough of your soul for this to happen?
14. Have you created a desire for more? When blogging for businesses, the end goal is always to sell more products. Did your body copy create a desire to learn more about the products the company offers?
15. Have I used subheadings? Breaking up your content into subheadings is crucial for readability.
16. Have I used short paragraphs? Use no more than six sentences in a paragraph. Anything longer gets unwieldy to read.
17. Did I format my post correctly? Have you properly used bold, italics, blockquotes, bullets, and numbers to ensure readability?
18. Have I told a story? Is the story worth reading?
19. Have I created a multimedia piece? How much ancillary media is included with my post — are there YouTube videos, Tweets, or other content that could be included to enhance the story?
20. Have I linked my post to any current news or events? If your post is meant to be evergreen content, avoid current news. Otherwise, if your post is time sensitive, use Google News or Yahoo to find relevant news articles that cover similar topics.
21. Have I cross-linked all jargon to appropriate resources for more information? If you’re using techniques or topics that you have covered elsewhere on your site, have you linked them all?
22. Did I substantiate all facts and figures? If you make claims in an article, you should provide a references section where these claims are backed up.
23. Did I tie up content loose ends? Summarize the main point of your argument and restate your thesis.
24. Did I include a call to action? What was the point of your article? Did you ask the users to take an action?
25. Did I end in a question? You should leave your article open to rebuttals and new facts. This shows other bloggers, commenters, and social media readers that you are willing to engage in a conversation.
26. Did I invite readers to participate? Reminding readers of your comments section can help encourage participation.
27. Is my conclusion short? Spend no more than 150 words on your conclusion. Your article is already finished. Don’t use your conclusion to reach a specific word count.
25. Did I proofread? Don’t forget to spellcheck.
26. Did someone else proofread? Let someone else read it, too. Mistakes cost sales.
27. Did I schedule the post for the ideal time of day? You should have visitor metrics that will help you understand when content is best published on your site; barring that, weekday mornings and afternoons in your time zone are typically best.
28. Did I create a social media schedule for the post? Your social media schedule should stretch out over the next year, maybe two. Not everyone will see your content the first time you post it. Not everyone will have time to click it the first time they see it. And not everyone will read it the first time they click it. Keep putting eyeballs on it.
29. Am I collecting emails? Do you have a way to return people to your blog?
30. Am I collecting leads? Have you created a lead magnet?
31. Have I included social media sharing opportunities? Are your posts correctly tagged for social sharing? Have you included sharing buttons?
32. Have I notified influencers of my new post? Reach out to your network of influencers and ask them to share your content on social channels.
33. Have I repurposed my content into multiple media? Turn your blog post into a YouTube video. Turn your videos into tweets. Turn your tweets into a story. Begin to see your content as multimedia stories, rather than blogs.
34. Do I need to schedule follow-up articles? Is this article a part of a series? How will it fit into your topical strategy?
35. Have I added new topics to my editorial calendar based on what I should cover next? This point is parallel with 21. If you referenced topics in your post that you will need to write about later, add them to your calendar now.
36. Is this post related to any old posts that I could update? Can I add links to this post into my old posts?
37. Should I create advertising to promote this post? Promoted content sees quicker traffic and is more likely to go viral. What paid promotion makes sense for the content you’ve created, if any? Are you using retargeting to reach out to readers again?
38. Am I using analytics correctly? Are you tracking enough data to understand how your content marketing efforts are serving your greater business goals?
39. Did I schedule a time to review this post in 3 or 6 months? Posts that don’t generate sufficient traffic to your site should be repurposed, culled, or rewritten to avoid low content penalties. Give your post time to get off the ground; if it doesn’t, do something differently.
40. Did you proofread it again? Formatting artifacts can be introduced after publishing. Be sure to proofread your post again once it’s live and make any changes you need before you start promoting it.
41. Did you bill your client? If you’ve gotten this far, you’ve earned your pay as a professional blogger. Send your invoice.
Following this checklist before publishing a blog post ensures that you are making an investment into your company rather than spending money on expensive content that’s serving no purpose. Is there anything you do before publishing that I missed? Let me know in the comments.