The Blog Editor’s Cheat Sheet: What to Do Before, During and After Your Post Goes Live

Writing a great blog post is only half the battle. There’s also the need to make sure your post looks and reads well, as well as figuring out how the post fits into your overall “blogging game plan”. Print out this easy, one-stop checklist to make sure you’ve got all the bases covered for a flawless post from start to finish.

Before You Post, Have You…

Saved Ideas as Drafts – Oftentimes, when writing a post, I’ll get a great idea for another post. Don’t put it off thinking you’ll remember it. Start a new post in a new window and jot down your idea, then save it as a draft. This gives you great content ideas to come back to when you’re feeling the bite of “Blogger’s Block”.

Hushed Up Your Inner Critic – Many people believe you have to have a certain number of posts in the virtual hopper before you can really start promoting. But there will never be a “best time to start” because your perfectionistic side will want to “just wait for that one perfect post” to hit (which never happens). As the motivational saying goes, “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.”

Created a Schedule – This Editorial Calendar WordPress plugin is a free and easy way to schedule posts and see the whole month’s worth of titles at-a-glance.

Create an editorial calendar

The WordPress Editorial Calendar Plugin makes it easy to see scheduled posts and drafts

Do Your SEO Research – Don’t write a post by the seat of your pants – have a purpose for it that ties into the overall goals for your blog. Do keyword research and craft a title that includes your best keywords but keep it to no more than 70 characters so that it will fit in the search engine results pages. Give people useful, actionable material that they can read and learn from. Scribe from Copyblogger can help give you some suggestions on ways to optimize your content.

Decluttered Your Uploads – By default, WordPress tries to be helpful by separating your uploads into month and year-based folders. You don’t want to have to comb through several months worth of folders to find one photo, do you? So uncheck that box to give yourself one folder to search rather than potentially hundreds.

Optimized Your Permalinks – This is a very common “gotcha” for veteran bloggers and beginners alike. Be sure your permalinks (found under Settings >Permalinks) are SEO-friendly, meaning they’ll either be set as /%category%/%postname% if you’re using categories on your blog or just /%postname% if you’re not using categories. This helps ensure your post uses the keywords you want in the slug name, and not p=123 or other defaults.

optimize your permalinks

Click “Custom Structure” to set up your Permalinks for optimum search engine optimization

When Writing Your Post, Don’t Forget to…

Get it all down first – Don’t focus on making your blog post perfect from the start. Just get a rough draft down, then go back and edit later. Likewise with bold, italics and other formatting. You can pretty it up once you get it on paper (err…screen). More on how to do that below.

Read Your Post Backwards – It will help you spot any mistakes you may have missed because your brain only scans the words instead of actually reading them – especially if you’ve been reading and re-reading it for quite some time.

Check for Common Grammar Mistakes – This is an instant credibility crumbler. Eagle-eyed web readers tend to spot grammar mistakes rather easily, so make sure your post is polished by avoiding common errors such as:

  • Your/You’re – Your signifies something that belongs to you, “Your shoe is untied”. You’re is short for “You are” – “You are responsible for your belongings.”
  • There/Their/They’re – There implies location, such as “Waiter, there is a fly in my soup.” Their refers to something belonging to others, such as “Their tent was pitched at the campground.” “They’re” is short for “They are” such as “They’re going to the movies this weekend.”
  • To/Too/Two – “To” can either come before a noun or a verb, such as “I’m going to the store” or “I need to sleep.” Too means “also”, such as “I think Spiderman is the best superhero too.” It can also mean an excess of something, like “I ate too many hot dogs.” And two refers to the number 2.
  • This/These – “This” is used for only one item, like “This red car looks like the one I used to drive”, whereas “These” applies to more than one, “These rolls smell delicious!”For more common grammar mistakes to avoid – see 20 Grammar Mistakes That Almost Everyone Gets Wrong.

Add a Single Call to Action – Ask yourself, what do you want visitors to do as a result of reading your post? Call you? Subscribe to your newsletter? Fill out a form? Don’t make them hunt for your “contact page” to do so. Put that form right on your page at the bottom of the article, giving them one-click access to get in touch.

Add Related Posts – In addition to the Call to Action, have some related posts below your contact/subscribe form (or your phone number if you want them to call) that are closely tied in with your original post. You can add related posts as simple text snippets, like with the popular “Yet Another Related Posts Plugin” or you can add related posts with thumbnails using WP-Thumbie or the Related Posts Thumbnails plugin.

wp thumbie

Display thumbnails with related posts plugins

Make All Links Open in a New Window – Each time you add a link in WordPress, you have the option of ticking the “Open in a New Window” box. Do it. There’s nothing more aggravating to a reader than clicking a link and missing (or forgetting) the rest of the article they were originally on. Help make it easy and convenient for them to read your posts by ticking that box.

Make All Links Open In A New Window

The “Open in New Window/Tab” check box in the Insert/Edit Link dialog box

Fill Out Your SEO Section – You’re likely using one of two of the more popular WordPress SEO plugins, All-in-One SEO or Platinum SEO Pack. Both of these plugins allow you to fine-tune your search engine information for each post and page. This is where you’ll add your title, description and keywords. Some SEO plugins fill out the keywords section automatically, but it’s a good idea to review it anyway to make sure it includes only the keywords you want to focus on.

Fill Out Your Excerpt Section – Your excerpt is a summary of your post and is sometimes used by search engines in place of the meta description, and in some social networking plugins each time you make a post. If you’ve never used the Excerpt section in WordPress, it may be hidden. You can get it back again by clicking the Screen Options tab under the “Howdy, YOURNAME” section in the WordPress Admin dashboard.

Set Up Images and Media – There’s no point in uploading a 1,000×1,000 pixel image when you only want to make it 250×250 pixels. It’s best to resize your images before uploading. Not only will this help make them the size you want, but it will also decrease loading time considerably. NOTE: WordPress’ image resizer doesn’t actually resize images for you – it reads the whole 1,000 pixel image first, then resizes it to fit the screen. What you want to do, to save disk space and bandwidth, is to upload that image at 250×250 pixels to decrease the amount of work WordPress has to do. Faster site loading time – happier visitors – everybody wins.

Add Tags if You Use Them – Tags are a great way to organize the content of your posts In such a way that visitors can easily read more on the topics that interest them. Keep in mind, tags are not the same as keywords, so putting in something like “dog, dogs, puppy, puppies, training” on your dog training site won’t really help. Instead, you’ll want to create broad set of tags that, like categories, can be used for several articles, like “dog training”, “puppy training”, “training tools” and so forth.

Add Your Post to Categories – If you have categories set up on your blog, WordPress will add your post to the default one unless you select where you’d like it to go. The default category is almost always “Uncategorized” which doesn’t help your search engine optimization at all. So create and click a couple of categories where your post would make the best fit.

Rework That Title! – Your best friend in the world of blog post writing is the almighty title, or headline. There are lots of great posts already out there on the web that tell you how to craft your headlines, but one of my personal favorites is the How to Write Magnetic Headlines series from Copyblogger. This 11-part series walks you through how to write attention-getting titles – not just on blog posts, but also on social sites like Twitter, that get your links clicked and your articles read.

Before You Hit Publish, Preview – Always preview your post before hitting the publish button, to make sure that images are aligned, captions are correct and everything about the post is on the mark. Nothing causes visitors to bail out faster than a poorly-formatted post.

My Post is Live, Now What?

The work isn’t quite done yet, but you’re on the home stretch. Now’s the time to spread the word.

Respond to Comments in a Timely Fashion – “Thanks for the post!” doesn’t cut it anymore. Let people know you appreciate the time they took to respond. Discuss a few of their points or share your own. That’s what gets the conversation going – and keeps people coming back.

Share on Social Networks – Make it easy for visitors to share your article using a WordPress plugin like Digg Digg, which lets you create a Mashable-style social sidebar with easy one-click sharing buttons to all of the most popular sharing sites (you can pick and choose which ones you want to show).

Automate Your Posts – There are plenty of WordPress plugins out there that will automatically post to Facebook and/or Twitter. If you’re using a self-hosted variety of WordPress, try Wordbooker. If you have a WordPress.com home for your blog, you get it even easier with their Publicize plugin. While there’s a plan to make a self-hosted blog version available, there is no launch date as of this writing.

Got all these points covered? Congratulations, you’re ready to launch your new post – hopefully to a fanfare of comments, likes and trackbacks! Got a step I’ve missed? Tell me about it in the comments below:

About the Author: Sherice Jacob helps bloggers improve website design and increase conversions. Download your free conversion checklist and web copy tune-up at iElectrify

  1. Sherice,

    Can you change your permalink structure on an established blog without losing all your link juice?

    My blog is 3 years old and I have the date in my Permalinks… I’d love to get rid of it though…

    Thanks

    Ryan H.

  2. Ryan, you can but make sure you do 301 redirects to ALL your old links in your .htaccess file. This means you will point each old link to each new link. That should preserve 90% of your link juice :)

  3. Great checklist! I will certainly save this article for some of my clients. I also like the schedule plugin! Thanks for sharing.

  4. Thanks for the checklist. Some really useful and often times overlooked tips.

    I have only two concerns:

    1. “Open in a new window” option is, by default, unchecked and for a good reason. It is unacceptable from a usability standpoint as no visitor is expecting this behavior when clicking on a link.

    2. Search engines using excerpts instead of meta descriptions. Could you tell me some more about this?

    Thanks again.

    • So if you don’t fill in a unique meta description for your blog post (or any webpage on your website for that matter), the search engines will create one for you.

      Now, from a marketing perspective – it’s probably better if you come up with your own meta description that will help market your article the way you want. So don’t leave that part up to chance ;)

  5. Does kissmetrics use a call to action plugin for the CTA at the bottom of each post or do you manually insert it each time?

    thanks,
    Simon

  6. Nice before and after list! There are certain posts that can be re-purposed. By adding blog posts together you could offer a free ebook or make them into an infographic. You could also take posts and make them into a quick video or podcast. This won’t work for all posts and in some cases you will want to combine to get a good result, but it does leverage the work you have already done within the initial post. Then all of those items can also be shared on social media. One more thing, you could take a post and look at how to re-write it for another niche and then pitch that as a guest post on another blog (note: not suggesting using the same piece but only some of the same ideas applied in a different way).

  7. an awesome post that is a must read for every blogger. I can say that i haven’t read such a great checklist ever. systematic and easy to understand language made me easily memorize each point. Thanks a lot for this post.

  8. Great list of things to do, many thanks.

    It stuns me that people need to learn the difference between words like to/two/too but I’ve seen it often enough to welcome it’s inclusion.

    However I fundamentally disagree with your advice to open links in a new window by default (at all in fact!). You must leave the user to make their own decisions and be master of their browsing experience. The number of times I’ve seen users open a new window without noticing it and then experience huge frustration because their browser’s Back button doesn’t work. Don’t do it! :)

  9. First of all, the advice to “open in a new window” is not followed in this post. All the links I clicked required me to use the “back” button to return to the post.

    Personally, I love the fact that a link takes me to a new window. That way I don’t lose my place in the current website and I can quickly just choose the tab to go back instead of hitting back, back, back…

  10. Great post! There’s some really good advice for most of us here. I’d like to say a word of warning regarding promoting your own posts too much, or without thinking about it. Because of the new Google Panda and Penguin updates you can actually do more harm than good to your articles in the long run. Here is a bit more on that topic if the editor allows the link: http://socialmediarevolver.com/syndicating-your-own-blog-content/

    Have a good one!

    Cheers,
    Kris

  11. Kudos for this post and the site in general. Very informative, concise and relevant topics. Keep up the great work, I’ll definitely recommend KISSmetrics.

    Cheers,
    Finkus

  12. Thanks for the great post. When it comes to great SEO plugins, WordPress SEO by Yoast is the very best. It is one of those plugins that you would wish were free. I switched from All In One SEO to Yoast and it has done wonders for my blog.

  13. Great post man!
    Thanks for sharing such an informative post.keep on sharing.

  14. Useful tips. Saving ideas as drafts (when you have them writing other posts) is great advice. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve forgotten ideas because I didn’t do that.

  15. i have been putting off writing a post regarding how to write for wordpress. Looks like you beat me to it neil. I will definitely be linking to this when i do write it. Maybe I can write a gp for your blog regarding how to do keyword research for your blog posts.

  16. Very useful and informative article. I will definitely use some of your tips on my website. Thanks for sharing.

  17. Well! all information is very useful for me,actually i am new bie and i don’t know the best way to edit blog sheet but after read out this article its really help me out to make a perfect blog sheet.
    i would like to thank you so much for such a nice article.

  18. Great article.

    I am still learning so I need every bit of help.

    One thing I am wondering is the thumbnails for the posts.
    My blog is how-to articles about coding and template customization, When I started I decided not to have thumbnails. But now after reading lots of tips, I am starting to think that thumbnail is important part of the post.

    So my question is this:
    What are the best sites where you could get FREE images for the thumbnails?

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