how to write a blog post 5-point checklist for the perfect blog post

Creating the perfect blog post sounds like a tall order, and maybe laying claim to it sounds a bit pretentious.

Is there even such a thing as a “perfect” blog post?

Perfection looks a bit different for each person. What is perfect for your blog post isn’t for mine.

But there are qualities to that perfect post that apply to every blogger, no matter what the final outcome looks like.

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Derek Halpern takes the approach that there is a template for assembling your blog post that will make it perfect. He breaks a blog post down in a way that reveals where to ping your reader with emotion, where to prompt them to act, and how to make good use of promises.

We’ve even taken a swing at the perfect blog post ourselves here on this blog, adding in suggestions on the visual appeal, too.

Both of these approaches could work. There are plenty of methods you might use to write a perfect blog post.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a final universal “how to write a blog post” checklist, no matter which method you were going to use?

Yes, it would. So here you go.

1. Build Your Launch Pad First

You need to have a good launching pad for your blog post. You can build a great rocket, but you’d better build it on a launching pad or it goes nowhere.

how to write a blog post: first step is building your launch pad

That launching pad is made up of two key structures:

Hook Them With An Awesome Headline

Your headline is what makes anyone click, share, and read in the first place. This, more than anything, launches your post in front of your audience.

Also, consider your subtitles if you are using a WordPress plugin like Subtitles or its equivalent.

While subtitles won’t show up in other places off of your blog, depending upon your template design, the subtitles can be a powerful way to sneak in an extra reader hook.

Some catchy blog title formulas include:

  1. List: 21+ Ways To {Do Something} That Will {Produce Desirable Effect}
  2. How to: How To Make A {Thing} To {Produce Desirable Effect}
  3. Question: What Can {Thing} Teach You About {Unrelated Thing}?
  4. Controversy: Would You Do {Unimaginable Thing}? I Just Did.
  5. Numbers: 105 Easy Ways To {Do Something} That Will Skyrocket By 206% In 1 Year

Your headline should capture the subject and the value proposition. That means you’ll include your keyword and the benefit your readers will get when they read your blog post.

If you’d like extra help with your blog titles, use the free headline analyzer to optimize them to increase your social media shares, click-throughs, and search results.

Keep Their Attention With Your Introduction

I think of these things as the launching pad because the headline and then the introduction are what gets a reader to actually read your blog post.

The introduction will be something you’ll revisit when you are all through with your draft. But writing it first helps you put into words what you’re going to say in your post.

It might be clunky, but it’ll launch you into the writing of the actual copy. You can go back and make it amazing and full of hooks later, once your full draft post is done.

Here are a few tips to build your introduction:

  1. Value: Think of your unique angle for the blog post. Like your headline, share the value your readers will get if they continue to read your blog post. One way to think about this is with the classic marketing technique, WIIFM, otherwise known as what’s in it for me?
  2. Fact: Start with an interesting fact or stat about the content within your blog post. Alternatively, you could start with a fact or story that may seem unrelated, but tie it in through the introduction.
  3. Anecdote: What is a personal opinion you hold as true that could catch your readers’ attention?
  4. Question: Ask a question to help your readers understand the answer is covered throughout your blog post. What if kinds of questions work well for this: What if you never had to worry about {something} ever again?

2. Write The Draft Post

how to write a blog post draft

I’m running on the assumption that you’re working in a draft—and leaving enough time to do so—rather than writing and publishing in one fell swoop.

If you’re doing this (please tell me you are!), there are a few things to remember before you send your blog post draft to the next step.

Write Your Blog Post Outline

Blog post outlines help you cover every detail to make sure you publish comprehensive content that solves all of your readers’ challenges with the topic. They make sure you don’t miss anything while also keeping you from going too detailed.

Here are a few tips to get you started on your blog post outline:

  1. Find your big ideas and the key points beneath each of them.
  2. As you explore your good advice, include sub-bullets that turn the advice into step-by-step, actionable information.
  3. For your big ideas, think of “exercises” you can walk readers through to put your advice into practice.

Most of the time, bulleted lists work well for outlines. The main bullets can be your H2 headings with your sub-points being the practical implementation of your advice.

Write All Of Your Blog Post Content

Creating solid blog post content starts with a great idea, careful planning, then excellent research, and finally, a proven process for getting the writing done.

This, most likely, is the most onerous and time-consuming step in the checklist: You have to write the darn thing.

For you, this means filling in the gaps in your blog post outline. The more detailed you are with your outline, the easier this step is.

Check The Visual Appearance Of Your Copy

According to Kevan Lee from Buffer, you should be aware of the amount of characters at the start of your blog post and not overpower readers. And according to Derek Halpern, fewer characters make copy easier for readers to comprehend.

To address this concept, start out by having fewer characters per line. You can build up as you go into the post, but for the initial immersion into your content, the reader shouldn’t feel as if they are drowning in copy.

One trick that the Buffer blog uses to achieve this, according to Lee, is to use an inline featured image to the right to force shorter character line lengths at the start. This keeps you from choppy sentences but still provides that visually inviting sense that the words won’t overwhelm you.

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Also be sure that you have enough white space.

My personal preference is for some larger paragraphs and a few shorter ones with a few one-liners (see the previous sentence) sprinkled around.

My thinking is that it’s a bit like a dinner plate. You have the meat (big paragraphs), you have the sides (short one- or two-sentence paragraphs), and you have the sips of water to wash it down (brief one-liners).

Too much white space—particularly if there are going to be several calls to action in the copy—can leave the reading experience choppy, like a TV show with too many commercial breaks. The final published edits don’t always preserve that in my copy, so it’s something you’ll have to work out with your team based on what your audience prefers.

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Check Your Logic And Conclusion

If you have an editor or someone on your team who gives your blog post a second set of eyes, they’ll help make sure your blog post flows smoothly (and logically) from the introduction through the problem all the way to the solution and call to action.

If you don’t have anyone to help you, give your blog post at least a day’s rest and read it with fresh eyes. You’ll pick out the logic and flow problems much better than if you’ve just written it.

A word about conclusions: We don’t spend a lot of time talking about them.

Conclusions aren’t as important or sexy as headlines and introductions, and most conclusions are…foregone. We sort of rush them to get to the call to action.

A conclusion should do a few things:

  1. Resolve the problem.
  2. Summarize what you said.
  3. Suggest action that the reader can take.

Take some time on your conclusion. It doesn’t have to be the amount of time you spend on your introduction, but do make an effort to tie things up and prompt a response or resolution.

3. Get The Draft Whipped Into Shape

how to write a blog with an editing process

Now that you have the draft of a blog post, the serious preparation begins. This is where you take the raw post and turn it into a thing of beauty (and it’s also why you get in the habit of working draft-refine-publish instead of write-publish).

Make Sure Your Post Fits Your Style Guide

Not every blog has or needs a style guide.

If you’re blogging solo, this may be the case. But even if your blogging team is just one or two, a style guide is a good way to make sure you do things the same on your blog from one post to the next.

If you don’t have a style guide, take some time to determine if you should create one. It makes the final steps before publishing a blog post a lot easier in the long run.

Some things to double check may include:

  1. Sentence case or title case subheadlines?
  2. Use of bold, italic, and underline
  3. Ampersands or the word and?
  4. Oxford comma or AP style?

Even a simple, one-page style guide will help you maintain consistency across a variety of blog posts.

Proofread And Edit

Once your draft post hits the proofing and editing team, things ease up a bit for the writer unless there are changes to be made. If you are the proofing and editing team, and don’t have a proofreader, then it’s up to you.

With a blog post, there are the usual things to consider—spelling, grammar, sentence structure—but there are a few things unique to a blog post not found in other traditional writing settings.

For example, the editor may be in charge of making sure the page slug is shortened to an ideal keyword phrase, and may also create the SEO metadata for the post. They may be running SEO checks on the content, the headline, and optimal keyword selection.

In other words, it’s more than just crossing Ts and dotting Is. After writing the actual content, this might be the most important step.

Here are several things to watch out for in your final edit:

  1. Is your keyword present in your page title, meta description, and headline?
  2. Have you included the keyword or similar words throughout your blog post?
  3. Are sentences around 20 words long and paragraphs about two sentences long?
  4. Are there spelling mistakes?
  5. Are there grammar mistakes?
  6. Are all links working?
  7. Are special div classes used appropriately?

4. Create Associated Content

how to write a blog post and leverage associated content

There are peripheral bits of content that go along with your blog posts, and these should be prepared once you have the post finalized. They serve as messengers to let the world know you’ve published something, and come in several forms.

Create Giveaway Content

As you’ve noticed on the CoSchedule blog, we like to give things away to our readers. It isn’t a question of if we’ll provide something extra, but what.

That’s why I’m phrasing this fourth step in a way that assumes you are preparing to give your readers something extra.

This is where your graphic designer creates the images and infographics that are going to help your blog post stand out. I like to see this step after the draft, at least, so that creating worksheets, graphics, and downloads is a bit easier since there is actual copy to work with.

Whether you prefer to do this before the editor/proofreader step or not (to give your designer more time to work) is up to you, but I would recommend waiting for the writer to finish the draft at least. Ideas and approaches can change from the initial take, and if the graphics and peripheral content are created too early, a blog post might not fit the images or content created by the time it’s finished.

Here’s how to create bonus content your readers will love:

  1. Brainstorm supplementary content types like checklists, templates, worksheets, guides, and infographics. What will work best for complementing your blog post?
  2. Create the asset as an editable document (like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, or Google Docs) or a PDF. Editable documents are nice because they can help your readers put your advice into practice immediately.
  3. Gate your bonus content using a tool like LeadBoxes available from LeadPages.
  4. Embed the LeadBox code into your blog post.

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Create Social Media Posts

Once your blog post is ready to publish, you’ll have plenty of pull-quotes, summaries, and graphics that you can use from it in your social messages.

Using CoSchedule, or a similar tool, create unique messages for your blog post that publish immediately when the blog post publishes, and then drip out according to your social publishing schedule.

While some bloggers worry about any form of automation when it comes to social media messages, there’s no reason to avoid scheduling messages ahead of time.

The fact is, most “auto-publishing” isn’t automatic if you’re creating the content alongside the blog post. You, not a robot, are the one generating the content. Simply setting a time and date in the future for it to publish doesn’t mean you’re turning lazy. It means you’re more likely to actually share your blog post more than once (which you should be doing).

Another aspect to creating social media is using a plugin like Click To Tweet, creating easily shared quotes within your post. Whether you do it in this step or in the editing step doesn’t matter, but you should consider it as important as the social media messages you schedule.

5. Publish And Promote

how to write a blog post after publish: Promote it

Now that everything is in order, publish your blog post.

Yes, just take a deep breath and click that button.

And then… promote.

Promoting your content involves those social media posts you created and scheduled in step four, but there’s more to it than just that. Promoting your blog post means:

  1. Take part in conversations on social media and in the post’s comment section.
  2. Share it to your regular email list.
  3. Begin integrating it back into your editorial calendar as you decide how you will repurpose your blog post’s content.

promotion tips for how to write a blog post

Now You Know How To Write A Blog Post

Every blog post is different, and the end result will reflect that. The approach, however, is generally the same. You can easily spot a blog post that did not methodically work its way down this checklist. It’s riddled with errors, clunky page slugs, bad spacing, last-minute graphics—you know you’ve done it.

Follow the checklist. Take a look at the recommended reading for greater detail if you’re a new blogger. By the time you’re at the end, your post is ready to go.

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This post was originally published on Feb. 25, 2015. It was updated with new information on Dec. 21, 2016.