In addition to writing, I do a lot of proofreading and editing other people’s blog posts, presentations, and even important emails on occasion.
We all have strengths and weaknesses in our writing (for example, I spell “sentence” wrong about every time I use it), but a few mistakes crop up pretty regularly.
I wrote this checklist to help you weed out a few of those common issues in your own posts.
If you’re looking for more fundamental guidance on how to write great blog posts, check out
8 Tips to Avoid Business Blogging Catastrophe.
This checklist, however, is more about making sure that your awesome blog posts don’t lose any points with your readers on technicalities.
While these tips apply primarily to blog posts, it’s not a bad idea to check your Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ posts for these things, too.
Before You Publish Blog Posts…
1. Check for Consistency
One subtle signal of professionalism is consistency in structure, style, and even spelling.
- Be consistent about the style of lists you include. You get to decide whether to capitalize the first word of each point (or not) and whether you want to end each point with punctuation (or not), but you need to be keep them all the same.
- You also need to be consistent in the style of your headings. It’s okay to capitalize all headings and subheadings the same way, or to use "title capitalization" for the main heading and "sentence capitalization" for subheadings, but you need to be consistent within the class of heading. Here’s a great post on the topic from Grammar Girl.
- If you’re using a term that has alternate spellings (like ebook, e-book, and Ebook), pick one and stick with it!
2. Think about Formatting
When you scroll down the page, do your blog posts look boring? Are they just big chunks of text with nothing to break them up? Creative formatting can make a huge difference in whether people start reading your post and stick with it.
- Does your content naturally form a list? If so, consider a numbered list or bullet points to structure your post.
- Use headings. They help people find the content they’re looking for, and they keep a longer post from looking intimidating. Another perk - if you use the heading function in your CMS (see the photo to the right), search engines will rank the headings as more important content and you’ll gain SEO points for the post.
- Highlight important phrases within your paragraphs by bolding them. Like headings, this helps readers find the information they want.
3. Second-Guess Your Brain
It’s likely that you've chosen a blog post topic that you’re pretty familiar with, so it’s important to remember that you’re not writing for yourself, but for your reader.
- Check your post for industry shorthand, abbreviations, terms, and references that your readers may not understand, and be sure to explain as needed.
- Along those lines, do a quick read-through with a critical eye to make sure that your metaphors, examples, illustrations, and concepts translate well for everyone else. We all get a little “in our own heads” sometimes while we’re writing, and it can get in the way of communicating your ideas well.
- You know how to get in touch with your company, but your reader doesn’t. If you’re blogging for business, don’t make your potential customers go searching for your contact information or any other essentials that may have slipped your mind.
4. Don’t Skip Basic Proofreading
You can’t trust Word as much as you think you can. It doesn’t always understand context, so spelling errors, verb confusion, and other basic errors slip through frequently. If you have the time to let someone else read through your blog posts, a second pair of eyes is the best way to catch mistakes.
- Did you include an image? They are an extremely important factor in keeping readers on the page, and if people share your post, including an image will encourage their friends or fans to read it too. Extra points for video.
- Did you ask a question? Encourage your readers to comment by asking a specific question, a lá “Which is more important to your business’s Internet marketing plan, email or digital ads?”
- Did you target a single keyword in your title, URL, headings, and body copy? Tailoring a post to a keyword (this post is targeting the keyword “blog posts”) will help drive much more traffic to your website. SEO plugins can help you check your posts for their keyword use, edit your meta description, and more.
- Did you include a call-to-action? Whether you ask them to read related posts, download an Ebook, comment, or post on your Facebook page, readers respond well to guidance on what to do next.
Here’s an example of one of our fancy calls-to-action (by the way, you really should download the Ebook if you’re interested in using inbound marketing tools like blogging to increase your website traffic):
Remember, people don’t read the same way on the Internet that they do on paper. Because we are so inundated by information on the web, attention spans are shorter and people look for cues about what’s important. That’s why images, headings, lists, and different forms of emphasis help kick your blog posts up a notch.