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5 Things To Do Before Publishing a Blog Post

Whether you’re a new or experienced blogger (problogger!), you’ll find these five things to do before publishing a blog post helpful. These tips are from freelance writer and blogger Susan Johnston, of The Urban Muse — one of my most regular guest bloggers.

Before her tips, a quip:

“Put down everything that comes into your head and then you’re a writer. But an author is one who can judge his own stuff’s worth, without pity, and destroy most of it.” – Colette

This writing advice doesn’t just apply to works of fiction, short stories, or print articles for magazines, it applies to blogging, too! Cull your writing, fellow scribes…for that is what your editors and readers need. Click on The Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging for more tips – it’s one of my favorite books on blogging – and read on for Johnston’s five things to do before publishing a blog post…

5 Things To Do Before Publishing a Blog Post

Some of my best blog posts and other ideas come to me late at night in a flurry of typing. Still, just because I have a brilliant idea for a post doesn’t mean I should publish it right away! When I let a blog post marinate overnight, I almost always think of more material I want to add, find errors I want to fix, or decide that it needs a little more development before the post is ready for prime time.

Here’s a checklist of five things to do before publishing that blog post. (Admittedly, I don’t always do all five all the time, but I know I should!)

1. Read your blog post out loud. Often my brain works faster than my fingers and I end up skipping a word or two. Reading things out loud helps me find missing words or smooth out any awkward sentence constructions. Try it.

2. Add categories. Categories help readers find related blog posts and tell search engines about what your post is about. If you’re trying to optimize your blog for certain keywords (search engine optimization), then you’ll also want to think about a strong title and introduction.   

3. Go back to your blog post later. As mentioned above, one of the best ways to avoid errors and improve a post is to let it sit (or marinate) overnight. Most times you’ll go back to it with a fresh pair of eyes and a few more ideas, too.

4. When in doubt, leave it out. Blog readers appreciate short, punchy sentences arranged in short, scannable paragraphs. Sure, you want to work in some personality (your writer’s voice!), but if you find yourself rambling, it’s time to self-edit. Maybe you can break a longer post into two or save some of those extraneous gems for another blog post.

5. Include a call to action. In the professional writing certificate program I’m working my way through, the professor emphasizes the importance of writing a strong call to action or CTA. Even if you aren’t writing a banner ad or a brochure, CTAs are useful. For blog posts, that usually means asking readers to weigh in with their opinions and insights, as you’ll see below.

Fellow bloggers, what do you think? Do you follow these steps? And are other steps you would add?

And for more blogging tips, read The Huffington Post’s 8 Tips for Great Blogging.

Susan Johnston is a Boston-based freelance writer and blogger who has covered business and lifestyle topics for The Boston Globe, DailyCandy.Com, and many other publications. She also contributed a letter to the newly released anthology PS What I Didn’t Say.

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26 thoughts on “5 Things To Do Before Publishing a Blog Post”

  1. I think proof reading is the basic step before publishing article. Because of proof reading one can correct one’s mistakes. Thanks.

  2. Clare’s idea of a checklist is fantastic; I usually miss something when I publish a blog post!

    Jennifer, I think writers should leave more out of their blog posts and books than they put in. You’re right — editors do tend to help us with wordiness — but blog posts can run on for eons! Not so good for readers.

    Interesting, Stephanie, that readers are more likely to comment on a blog post with an image. I know that images add a great deal to posts….and it’s fascinating that they could even encourage readers to comment! Cool.

    Thanks for your comments, my friends.
    .-= Laurie PK´s last blog post ..New Suite101 Writers – How to Stay Motivated to Keep Writing =-.

  3. Stephanie - Wasabimon

    These are great tips – all of them are excellent advice. If I might add one, I’d say FIND A PERTINENT PHOTO! Even if it’s a stock image, readers love the visual element. In my experience, people are more likely to comment on a post with an image.
    .-= Stephanie – Wasabimon´s last blog post ..Korean BBQ-Style Hamburger Seasoning Recipe from the Steamy Kitchen Cookbook =-.

  4. Oh boy, this was good food for thought. I really need to work on the “when in doubt, leave it out” part. I have always had a tendency toward wordiness, but usually I have an editor who alleviates some of the results. Not so with a blog!
    .-= Jennifer L´s last blog post ..Don’t tell me what your interview subject had for lunch =-.

  5. Great tips – my top one is to write a checklist and use it everytime.

    ie – add tags and categories.
    Add the thumbnail image.
    Add an excerpt.
    Complete the SEO tags/title if required
    .-= Clare Swindlehurst´s last blog post ..Elf Name Generator =-.

  6. I agree with Laurie. Ruth’s blog is great but it’s more reflective, rather than instructive, so it probably doesn’t lend itself to CTAs. I should have included that caveat.
    .-= Susan Johnston´s last blog post ..Open Thread: What Are Your Freelance Fears? =-.

  7. I think I should write a post about inserting a “Call to Action”! Encouragement.

    But if you’re not a “CTA” type, then so be it. That’s the beauty of having your own blog — you can run it the way you like 🙂
    .-= Laurie PK´s last blog post ..How to Stop Feeling Depressed About a Relationship Breakup – Rita Rudner =-.

  8. Nice tips–and you even executed them in the post. I, too, read my stuff out loud. I started doing it just for my blogs, because I post the same day that I write. Now I do it for all my writing–it really helps me strengthen my voice because I can hear the writing as I read.
    .-= Alisa Bowman´s last blog post ..Anatomy of an Argument =-.

  9. Great advice — including the commmenter’s suggestion to preview. I feel bad that I virtually never include a call to action; guess I’m just not the CTA type.
    .-= ruth pennebaker´s last blog post ..Dreaming in French =-.

  10. Great tips. I’d also add that you should plan on incorporating some sort of photography or graphic elements in your post to make it more interesting for readers.

  11. Check that your blog post actually communicates what you’re trying to say. On a daily basis I encounter blog posts that are basically well-written and seem like they have something interesting to say – yet I can’t figure out the author’s point!

  12. I just started reading my blog posts aloud within the last few months, and I’ve already gotten comments from readers about how much my writing has improved. Now if only I could drop the shyness and insert that call to action 😉
    .-= Tamahome Jenkins´s last blog post ..Local History: Bent Creek Experimental Forest =-.

  13. Wow, I’ve never posted an article on Quips & Tips that received so many comments in one day! Thanks, you guys — I’ve loved reading these comments. And thanks Susan for writing this guest post.

    Brandon, even whispering when you read your blog post out loud would be helpful! But, I have to admit that I never read my work out loud. Well, maybe I did once.

    Printedproof, I agree that letting our writing — whether it’s a blog post or a query letter to an agent — is a great way to make writing better. I never do that either! Well, not with my blog posts. I always, always do it with my “real” writing.

    Eric, that’s very interesting advice about removing your favorite part when your writing isn’t working. Hmmm….I want to try it.

    Jenn W, I like the suggestion about linking internally and externally. Susan usually does it liberally — I’m not sure why she didn’t in this guest post! Susan, were you too busy? 🙂

    MarthaandMe, we’re twins! Ha ha just kidding, but like I said above, I don’t read my blog posts out loud either. (Or is it aloud?)

    Jennifer M, I think you’re right that graphics make blog posts more appealing. I also encourage you to remember that perfection is highly overrated; we’ll always find errors in our work, or ways to make it better. Sometimes we find writing errors that readers would never notice…and, unfortunately, vice versa.

    Alex, I encourage you to ask your readers to comment! Rarely will they say anything critical. I don’t think. Mine never have, anyway!

    Landguppy, I hope this blog post marks the end of those annoying phone calls from your brother. 🙂

    Vera Marie, I hear you about having titles with only the bare essentials! My blog post urls are agonizingly long, because of “theadventurouswriter.com” at the beginning. I, too, like numbered lists!

    George, I just this week started using the post preview button in WordPress! I always edited the live post after publishing, but am learning to preview it first.

    Thanks again everyone for your comments!

    .-= Laurie PK´s last blog post ..How to Stop Feeling Depressed About a Relationship Breakup – Rita Rudner =-.

  14. Hi Laurie,

    I always use the preview post button in WP. I’m always amazed at the typos I find when I read the post in that format. Heh – I’ve even caught typos in the title!

    .-= George Angus´s last blog post ..A Very Worthy New Blog of the Week =-.

  15. I like the tip from one of the Jennifers about adding internal links. I also have gotten in the habit of reviewing the blog to see if I can add internal headlines, and/or break it down into one of those nifty numbered lists–and change the title to match. There’s another tip–be sure the permalink is pared down to the bear essentials with key words present, and be sure the title likewise has keywords.

  16. Wow, I should have used this advice a couple of times I can think of. Might have avoided annoying phone calls from annoying brother pointing out annoying spelling errors.

  17. I found the last tip really interesting. I tend to be shy about asking readers for reaction, but soliciting their opinion make sense. From now on I will try to put CTA at the end of my blog posts.
    .-= Alexandra´s last blog post ..Why Oceanview Property Is Not the Best Investment =-.

  18. I couldn’t agree more with this advice. I just started writing a professional blog and I think I may have spent way too much time reading it over and over (since a readership is not guaranteed until I build one! Right now you can’t even find the blog on the Website) and I found a lot of mistakes and extra words each time I read it. So thank you for this.

    Eric’s idea of writing ahead is a good one as well. I don’t really get the off-the-cuff, grammatically impaired blogging stuff. Those aren’t the ones I’m drawn to. But I love reading well-written interesting posts that teach me something (like this one) or that share something meaningful.

    I think I’d also add to include graphics since the Web is very visually driven and I certainly like the picture you have in this blog post…

  19. I think you’re right on the money with these tips! I find it really does help to write something and edit it later – that rule applies to everything I write. I’ve never read a post out loud and that is an interesting suggestion.

  20. Susan,

    I agree with your tips. I would also suggest adding links to other posts written by you or others within the post that relate to the current post that you are writing.


  21. I try to write far enough ahead (a few weeks) that I have time to revisit them just before the scheduled post. That moment away can make all the difference.

    I also follow the line that if the piece doesn’t work, find your favorite part and remove it. Everything usually flows well after that. We tend to spend a lot of time trying to make something that we think is especially insightful or clever work when it just doesn’t.

  22. I hadn’t thought of reading my post out loud before – excellent suggestion! Of course, I do most of my blogging when my wife is sleeping, so I might have to whisper…
    .-= Brandon Cox´s last blog post ..Just a Few of My Favorite WordPress Hacks for Better Blogging =-.