When you first decided to start a blog did you imagine pouring your heart out for a couple thousand words, adding some gorgeous pictures, hitting publish and then waiting for all of the people to come and marvel at your work?
It’s not quite that easy, is it?
There’s a lot that has to happen right before and right after you hit publish on a post to make sure you are giving your hard work the best chance possible to not only be found by your potential reader, but to also make an excellent impression on them.
That’s why we put together this blog checklist for what to do right before, right after and then a little while later after you publish every post.
What To Check Off Your Blog Checklist Before You Publish
I still remember hitting publish on my first post, almost 7 long years ago. I was nervous.
I was nervous because I thought the process was:
- I write.
- I publish.
- People come read.
Ahh, so delightfully naive.
And actually, it was probably a good thing I didn’t know what to do to get people to come read what I’d written because back then, my posts were tragic.
The writing itself wasn’t terrible. But literally everything else was.
Luckily I’ve learned quite a bit since then about what it takes to get people to a post AND keep them around to read a bit, too.
Writing your amazing content is the start, but right before you hit publish on that post, there are some really important steps you need to take.
7 Things to Do Right Before You Hit Publish
Seven may seem like a lot but over time these things will become so natural to you that you won’t even notice them.
1. Write a Great Title
Do me and you a giant favor and don’t publish your post until you’ve got a standout title. Your title is the first impression you’re making with your reader.
A great title inspires your reader to click, share and read what you wrote.
A great title showcases the topic of your posts, evokes some emotion and connects you with your reader.
That’s a lot of work for such a teeny tiny string of words, right?
If you need help with your titles check out our post The Simple Formula We Use to Write Titles That are Irresistible.
2. Edit Your Permalink
Before you hit publish on your post, take a look at your permalink and make sure it’s concise and to the point and whenever possible, includes your keyword for SEO purposes.
As an example, if I didn’t change the permalink on our “titles” post, the permalink would look like this:
Instead, because I edited the permalink before I published, it looks like this:
Nice and tidy, right?
3. Add Some Stunning Images (That Make Sense for Your Post)
Pictures are an excellent way to break up your content and add some interest for your reader.
But you have to be careful with images, too. They need to make sense in the context of your post. A post about camping should have images of campsites, not fire engines.
Unless it’s a story about a fire at a campsite?
Just make sure the pictures make sense to the story.
You also need to be sure that your images are optimized for both SEO and site speed.
For SEO purposes, you’ll want to include your keyword in your alt text. That description in the alt text is used to describe the image for people who are visually impaired and using a screen reader, but it’s also a place Google will look for further clues as to what your post is about.
For site speed purposes, you want to compress your images so that they aren’t slowing down the speed of your site. WP Smush is a good free option for compressing images, but we really love Short Pixel AI for perfectly optimized images for any size screen.
I actually love proofreading posts. I know I don’t catch every typo, every time, but when I do, it’s like a tiny victory to me in a battle of the larger war of presenting my content in the best light possible for my reader.
I know it’s the last thing you feel like doing when you’ve poured all of your brain power into the writing of the post, but seriously, it’s just not a good first impression if the post is riddled with typos.
A couple here and there, I can understand.
But proofreading isn’t just about typos. It’s a smart idea to come back to your content with fresh eyes after writing so that you can make sure that thing you thought was brilliant at 2am when you had that spark of creativity, is in fact brilliant and not just a little mad.
Grammarly is an awesome tool to help you catch the small and simple things.
5. Preview And Scan for Readability on Desktop and Mobile
I want to write this in bold because it’s probably the one most people forget.
Before you hit publish, for the love of God, preview your post on desktop AND on mobile.
As bloggers, we are on desktop creating content most of the time. But our readers are almost always on mobile.
You need to make sure you’ve created a great reading experience for both devices. You do not want giant walls of text. You want white space. You want headers and lists and images.
You also want to keep distractions to a minimum. Pop ups, slide ins, ads and anything else that is taking up precious screen real estate can be distracting for your reader. Think about ways to minimize them.
One of the best things you can do quickly and easily for SEO is to interlink your own posts. Before you hit publish, make sure your new post is linking to one or two of your other posts that are relevant to it.
This is an excellent SEO practice, but it’s also a way to direct your reader around your site.
If they’ve arrived to read your article about how to build a campfire, then maybe they will also be interested in your post on the best tents to use.
In this case you’ll want to add a link from your “how to build a campfire post” to your “best tents” post and one from your “best tents” post to your “how to build a campfire post”.
7. Fill In Your Yoast
The Yoast SEO plugin makes it easy to remember some of the SEO habits that will help make your post Search Engine friendly.
So add your focus keyphrase, fill in your SEO title and write a meta description.
And now you’re off to the races! Time to hit publish!
Yes, there are other SEO plugins that are worthy to check out so let’s just say this checklist item could say “check with your SEO plugin”.
4 Things To Do Right After You Publish
Some might say that this is where the real work begins.
I’ve even see some marketers say that you should spend 50% of your time creating content and 50% if your time promoting it.
1. Promote On Social Media
You’ve done a lot of hard work up to this point, it’s time to let people know about it!
Make some pins, write a tweet, post it on Insta or add it to your Facebook page, but get the post out to your audience, wherever they might be.
Not every social media platform works for every niche, so make sure you are spending your time in the right places. Pinterest is a great visual platform that works great for a lot of topics, but, for instance, a non-visual niche like Personal Finance might not do quite as well as a Food blog on Pinterest.
2. Plant Some Flags
Planting flags is a great way to build your authority in your niche. How do you plant a flag?
You go to the places your potential audience hangs out and be helpful. It might be Facebook, it might be Reddit, it might be Quora, but you actively seek out the people that are asking questions about your topic.
Making this a habit immediately after you finish a post is smart because it’s one of those things that is easy to put on your blogging to-do list but then somehow never gets done.
You don’t necessarily need to drop a link to your post (some platforms don’t want you to), but you want to look for questions that are relevant to the topic you wrote about it and just be helpful and answer them.
You’ll start to build some name recognition as an expert on your topic.
3. Let Your List Know
The people that have joined your email list might not be remembering to go check your blog every week to see what you wrote about. I mean, they like you, but they have lives and if you don’t give them an occasional nudge, they might forget to go look.
You might not need to do this immediately after you publish, especially if you’re publishing more than once a week, but you should be sending the people that were good enough to sign up for your email list a quick message to let them know you’ve created more helpful content that they might be interested in.
Make sure you remember to ask them to share your content, too! They trust your content and are more likely to want to share it with their own network of people.
4. Reach Out To Your Peers
If you’ve linked to another blogger in your niche or if you know another blogger in your niche who will appreciate the post you’ve created, reach out to them and let them know about it.
I know you think it seems pushy or salesy or annoying. It’s not. If you’ve got something good to share, you should share it.
They might be happy to then share your work with their audience. That would be pretty awesome. You’re suddenly exposed to a whole new audience.
If they choose not to, no harm done, right?
2 Things To Do In the Week After You Publish
Most bloggers tend to think the job is done once they do the initial marketing after a post is publish, but that isn’t so.
You’ve created something that should be doing work for your blog for as long as it is up.
That means you always have to help it along.
1. Check Analytics for the Post
I know you’re laughing at me right now. Like any blogger waits a week to look at their analytics for a new post.
Ok, fine, I know you’re going to probably peek at it daily, but give the poor post a little bit of time to circulate before you start to look closely at the analytics.
What kind of things should you be looking closely at?
Well, pageviews, first of all. If they aren’t performing as well as you had hoped, then you need to think about why that might be.
I know the first thing you’re going to do is assume that it’s Pinterest’s fault, but I urge you to take a serious look at your content before Pinterest takes all the blame for disappointing pageviews. People don’t share bad or even mediocre content and they don’t share content that is difficult to read.
So make sure the content is on point and make sure your post is offering a good reader experience.
If pageviews are looking good, then take a peek at a few more things in your analytics.
Look at time on page. Does the time on page for the post seem to match up with how long it should take to read the post? Or are people landing on the page and leaving after a minute or so?
If people aren’t spending a fair amount of time on the post, what can you do to improve that?
What’s the Exit%? If it’s high, what more can you do to make people stay on your site and read more instead of leaving?
2. Respond to Comments
If you have comments enabled on your posts, then you are absolutely obligated to respond to all of the real (non-spammy) commenters.
Someone has taken the time out of their day to respond with a kind word or a question about your post then you should be tripping over yourself to lay out a red carpet for that person.
Especially if you’re new and not getting a ton of comments.
You should even find a way to respond to the not so kind commenters. I’m not talking about trolls, but if someone brings up a valid but negative point about your content, then put on your big girl pants and respond. Kindly.
You might just be further asserting your opinion on the topic, but if you can foster candid dialogue with your readers through your comments section, then you’re going to learn a lot about your audience.
2 Things to Do In The Long Term After You Publish
Remember, you’re always seeing how you can improve upon what you’ve published. Each blog post is an asset that can do work for you as long as you keep tending to it.
1. Revisit your SEO
SEO is something that needs consistent nurturing. You don’t “SEO” a post and it’s done. There are several things you’ll want to check in the long term:
- Go back and do additional interlinking. It’s more than likely that you’ve written at least one or two new posts that you can link this old post to and from.
- Check to see if the post is showing up in searches for your keyword. If it’s not, what can you do to help it out?
- Update the post with any new information that might make the article more comprehensive.
2. Promote It Again. Periodically.
Don’t let that perfectly good post languish just because it’s been a couple of months since you wrote it.
You can send it back out to your social media followers and even your email list with an appropriate and relevant message.
Do this in moderation and only when it’s appropriate.
On Pinterest, for example, we’ve found through our Pinterest Traffic Study that posts need a “rest” period.
Your email list doesn’t want to see a list of your old posts in every email, but if you’ve written them a valuable message that happens to be relevant to an older post, you should definitely include a link to it.
Ready To Hit Publish?
Yes, you are ready now that you know everything you need to do to give yourself and your post the best shot at success.
I know it seems like a lot. 15 things on that list. But no one said it was easy (ok, a lot of people say it’s easy, but they aren’t giving you the whole story, are they?).
It’s not easy, but you can do hard things. So go ahead and hit publish.
If you aren’t quite sure how all of this fits into your blog strategy then I suggest you check out the Blog Simple Guide below.