You did it. After several hours of being hunched over your computer, you’ve finally finished writing your blog post! Go ahead and give yourself a pat on the back. At this point, you might be tempted to go ahead and smash that publish button. After all, you’ve just spent a great deal of time writing. Now you probably just want to send it out into the world. But before you let the masses flock to your blog post like ducks hurrying to you when you offer them bread, go back over your blog post with a new set of eyes. We are all human and mistakes do happen in our writing. Therefore, when you go back over your blog post with a fine-tooth comb, check out these eleven things you must do before you publish your blog post.
Take a Break
The first thing that you should do after writing your killer blog post is to take a break. Get up and stretch your legs, eat something sweet or fruity, or go out a take a walk. By taking a break you are able to rest your eyes, limbs, and your brain. By doing so, you can come back to your computer with a fresh perspective. This break can be as long or as short as you wish, depending on how much time you have. You can take a short fifteen minute break, or a break up to a week. It doesn’t matter how long the break is. As long as you take a break, you will feel better and ready to tackle the next step in this checklist.
Read and Revise
After you’ve completed your break — whether it was long or short — it is now time to read and revise. I’ve known some writers who love this step, and some writers who don’t. Regardless of your personal feelings toward this step, it is one that is crucial.
While reading your blog post, keep an eye out for the following things. While keeping an eye out for these things, it might be helpful to have a thesaurus and a dictionary, or Google open in another tab in your Internet browser.
- spelling and typographical errors
- sentence construction
- word choice
- paragraph length
- grammatical errors
- run-on sentences
- incorrect prepositional usage
- overall voice of the writing
- incorrect use of verb tenses
While reading and revising your blog post, I suggest that you try to read from as objective of a manner as possible. I can’t tell you how many times you should read your blog post before it is deemed more than satisfactory. It may be that you may need to read your blog post only once, or you may have to read it at most ten times. No matter how many times you read your blog post, try to read it as objective as possible, or as someone who had just stumbled upon your blog and reading an article for the first time. Further, read your blog post at least once quickly, and then read it again slowly, paying attention to each word, each sentence, and each paragraph. Pay attention to how each component fits the overall message of your article. If there is a component (no matter how well written) that doesn’t seem to fit or strays away from the main point, then remove it heartlessly and swiftly.
Once you are done reading and revising your blog post, it is now time for the pictures. It is time to go through and add images to your blog post. I suggest that you add images that will help to accentuate or emphasize what you are trying to say in the article. I also suggest that you add images that were taken by you. By adding your personal images, you help to give an authentic and genuine feel to the article, making it truly your own.
However, if you are not the best photographer, you lack the equipment to take such photos, or you simply don’t have the type of picture that you need for that particular subject, then I suggest that you use a stock image. Now, WordPress.com offers a variety of stock photos that are free to use for everyone, as they have been given the proper creative commons license to enable this functionality.
However, if you don’t use WordPress.com as your blogging platform, or simply don’t want to use their images, then you are free to check out sites like Shutterstock, Adobe Stock, and Unsplash for images that are free for everyone to use. It is also a good idea when using these photos to take a look at their license and look at the limitations for their usage. It may be that you can use them on your site with proper accreditation, but you may not be allowed to edit, change, or sell them for financial gain. And even when the image is free to use, always be sure to give the proper accreditation in the caption. Give credit where it is due.
Write an Alt Text
After you insert images strategically into the body of your text, then be sure to write an alt text for the image. This is extremely important for accessibility issues. You might quite possibly have a reader who might not be able to clearly see the image. Therefore, it is important that you use this function to describe the picture.
When writing the alt text, take these suggestions into account:
- Write clearly and succinctly.
- Write no more than three sentences.
- Don’t use opinionated adjectives (beautiful, attractive).
- Be objective and non-judgmental.
- Use your senses to describe the image.
Write an Excerpt
The excerpt is a short description of what your blog post is all about. It is also a tantalizing hook to persuade your readers to click on your blog and read the post. Writing an effective excerpt is a skill that must be mastered in order to give your blog a look that is consistent and eloquent.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when writing an excerpt:
- Use one or two sentences.
- Incorporate your keywords.
- Use action verbs.
- Be clear and concise.
- Do not use a click-bait.
Add a Featured Image
Every blog article should have a featured image. A featured image is the image that you will most likely see at the top of every blog post. A featured image is like a book cover. And similar to a book cover, you may find the title of the blog post, the website domain, and the name of the blogger on the featured image. I think it is important to add a featured image as a reminder to the reader of the subject matter of the blog article and also because it helps to make the post look attractive and professional.
Add Tags and Categories
To help your blog post reach as many people as possible, it is crucial that you add tags to your blog post. Be sure to use tags that are relevant to the blog post. If you are using WordPress.com at least, then potential readers can find your blog post by searching for a particular tag. It is also important that you do your research before selecting a tag to see how much traffic that it is getting, and thus your chances of your blog post getting seen by the correct demographic.
If tags are used to help your blog post get noticed by the right people, then categories are used to help organize your content on your blog. This way readers can go to the category tab on your blog and pull up all of the content that is listed under that category.
[See also: 5 Blogging Tips to Create a Stellar Post to learn more about tags and categories]
Add Internal and External Links
In most blog posts, it is essential to add links for good SEO practices, or as a way to help your blog be more visible on the web. I strongly encourage you to add at least two internal links and two external links, if possible. By adding internal links, you are doing two things: 1–creating traffic to a previously written blog post and 2–offering additional information on the subject. By adding external links, you are also doing two things: 1–providing value to your readers by providing a website for research purposes and 2–letting your blog rank higher in search engines. On the other side of the coin, it is also important to keep in mind that it is never a good idea to flood your blog post with several links. It is best to have no links than to make every word clickable in a poor attempt at ranking higher in search engines.
Add a Call-to-Action
Be sure to add a call-to-action to your post before publishing. By adding a call-to-action, you help to give your blog post a sense of purpose. You are answering the question what’s next? for the reader. A call-to-action can be anything from a simple question, a request to follow you on a social media platform, or to subscribe to your blog.
[See also: 5 Elements You Must Have in Every Blog Post to learn more about call-to-actions].
Ask a Friend to Read It
This option might not be available to every blogger but if it is, then I suggest that you use it. Ask a family member, a friend, or a person that you trust to give an honest opinion to read the blog post. Asking someone else to read your blog post helps to give valuable insight and perspective. It may be that they might spot an error that you didn’t despite reading it twenty or so times. No matter how good of an editor you might be, sometimes we need a third party to spot discrepancies or other issues that just don’t make any sense.
[See also: 5 Benefits of Having a Writing Community to learn about the benefits of having a friend read your work].
Preview Your Blog Post
And finally, once you’ve completed all of the components in this list, then go ahead and preview your blog post before smashing that publish button. By previewing your blog post, you will be able to see how your blog post will appear to your readers. After previewing, you can finally hit that publish button.