I’ve seen about 47 different “Ultimate Blogging Checklists” all claiming to be the last one you’ll ever need. And I think we can all agree that’s BS because nobody makes a blog post checklist like The Organized CEO.
I’m naturally obsessive, so I scoured the entire internet and surface of the planet, collected all the other checklists I could find, tore them apart, and restructured the best bits. Then I added everything they were missing and made it super easy to use.
Save Time With a Blog Post Checklist
This is the exact process I use for creating my own blog posts from the very first idea all the way through sharing it with my grandma. While I do keep a copy of the blog post checklist in my Google Drive, I actually prefer to go through the process in Trello so that I can make use of their checklist feature.
I have a template card that I copy each time I create a new post. I simply change the name of the card and fill out all the important information. Then I can check off each step as it’s finished. I find that’s easier than copying a Google Doc.
The checklist is divided into seven sections:
You’re not allowed to skip any of these sections! If you need to remove some steps that don’t apply to you, that’s acceptable. I totally understand if you aren’t using “The Twitter” and have no idea what “Click to Tweet” means.
I’m not going to explain each of these steps in detail in this post. We’d end up with an entire book (note to self: maybe you should write a book). But, let’s run through the basics so that you’re adequately prepared.
Blog writing is a HUGE undertaking. It’s so much more than just writing. Think you’re ready for it?
Section 1. Planning.
“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” - Benjamin Franklin (supposedly)
You don’t want to put hours and hours of work into a post only to have it fall flat when you share it with the world.
Start with a plan. It won’t guarantee viral success, but it certainly sets you up for it.
First, make a copy of the Blog Post Template. Feel free to edit it as needed for your own business. Every time you start a new post, just make another copy of the document and change the title. This gives you a great place to start and get those ideas flowing.
Fill out the basics of the template before you begin furiously typing like a court reporter at the OJ trial. I designed this template to give you a goal for your writing so that you aren’t wandering aimlessly through the blog wilderness without a map.
The most important part of the planning process is to identify what problem or pain point you are solving for your reader. It could be a question they have, knowledge they are seeking, or a problem they need a solution to.
Every blog post should solve exactly one problem. If it solves more than one, you should split it into multiple posts or a series. This will make it easier for you to setup SEO and easier for your readers to digest.
- Create a copy of the blog post template
- Choose a topic that aligns with your blog
- Choose a keyword phrase (up to 4 content words) for SEO purposes
- Select 1-3 categories
- Add 5-10 tags using keywords from the post
- Define the reader’s pain point or their question that you are solving
Section 2. Writing.
According to CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer (free tool alert!), the perfect title has approximately six words and fifty-five characters. You will also need to include your SEO keyword phrase.
Some people will tell you to write twenty titles before you choose one, and they’re probably right. But I find that exhausting. I prefer to write five.
After I have my five titles, I paste them into the headline analyzer and see what happens. Sometimes I need to tweak and try a few more titles before I settle on the perfect one.
Now you have your title, and it’s finally time to write, right?
Negative. You need an outline! Just like writing those dreaded research papers in school, you need a break down for each section of your post.
Maybe write the first sentence of your introduction, make a list of your section headers, and if you’re feeling really clever, write the first sentence of your conclusion. With the basic outline in place, it will be much easier for you to fill in the gaps with your knowledge and research.
Ready? Write! And for the love of all things cute and cuddly, SAVE YOUR DRAFT. Frequently.
Once you’ve finished the draft, go through it and make sure it is easily scannable. I know you want to believe that people will read every single beautifully crafted sentence that you’ve written, but the cold, hard truth is that not even your mother will do that (Test >> Hi, mom!).
The most important thing to keep in mind is that your post has to be easy to read. Mobile consumption, versus reading things on a desktop, continues to grow and shows no signs of stopping. With humans constantly on the go, your content MUST be able to go with them.
Use short paragraphs, bold only the most important sentences, always use headings and subheadings, and try to include numbered or bulleted lists. Everybody loves a good list.
Finally… check your spelling and grammar! Give the entire post a thorough once over. I cannot stress the importance of this.
How do you expect people to trust you if you don’t know the difference between their, they’re, and there? If you’re not grammatically gifted, invest in a program like Grammarly to help you.
- Create 5 possible titles including the keywords
- Write an outline
- Write the draft
- Save the draft in cloud storage
- Make it scannable
- Make all paragraphs 3-4 sentences
- Bold important sentences
- Use headings and subheadings
- Use numbered and bulleted lists
- Check for spelling and grammar errors
Section 3. Designing.
Once you’ve written a post, you’ll have a better feel for what kind of images align well with your topic. Remember to keep a consistent feel with all of the images on your site and add appropriate branding so that readers will recognize your work.
At the very least I recommend creating:
- 1 featured image
- 1 post image (can use a Pinterest image)
- 2 Pinterest images
- 1 Facebook image
- 1 Instagram image
You might also need additional images or graphical representations throughout the post to get your point across clearly.
You can find royalty-free stock images all over the internet. Some require payment while others do not. My favorite resource for images is Ivory Mix. They have some free images and also a paid membership with even more included.
If you have Canva Pro, it’s a pretty fast process to create different sizes for the same image. This helps when you need to change things up for the different social media platforms.
If you don’t have the time or the patience to create images for your posts, I recommend hiring a freelancer for the job. Find someone you can work with long-term so that they become accustomed to your needs and wants.
- Choose a stock photo for your featured image
- Choose a stock photo for your pins
- Gather additional photos to add to your post (if needed)
- Design a featured image and save it as “Featured Image - Title of post - Website name”
- Make 2-4 pins and save them as “Pinterest - Title of post - Website name”
- Design additional images for social media
Section 4. Formatting.
Formatting your content is just as important as creating good content. At least, in my opinion, it is. No one is going to read your online content, no matter how good it is, if it’s not properly formatted, or if it’s just plain hideous.
This process is going to look a little different for everyone. One blogger may use blue and purple headers. One might like more white space. Another will have GIFs scattered throughout the post.
You have to decide on standard formatting for your posts and then make sure they are all consistent. My checklist will help you get started, but it’s ultimately up to you to set your own post style. You’ll definitely want to create an SOP [LINK] just for this process.
Before the Post
Simply copy and paste your draft into a new blog post on your website. Since this is going online, it will need a clear URL, also known as a permalink.
A permalink, if you aren’t familiar with the term, is your domain name + a slug. I’m not talking about the salt-phobic kind that leave slime trails on your sidewalk. This kind of slug is a short, reader-friendly description of your post. For example, the permalink for this post is:
WordPress automatically creates your permalink based on the title you enter for your post. However, you should try to shorten it and include your keyword phrase.
At the Top of the Post
If you don’t want to get into serious legal trouble, you need to disclose any time that you share affiliate links (according to FTC trade laws). Don’t try to be sneaky by using vague language or hiding the disclosure somewhere people won’t notice it.
The current best practice is to put it at the top of your post and make it as clear as possible. I have my blog set up so that an affiliate disclosure displays at the top of every post, whether or not there are actually any links included. Things change and you’re better off safe than sorry.
You should also add an image at the top of your post because we’re all visual creatures. Use the image that best fits the marketing platform you focus on. If most of your traffic comes from Pinterest, use an image created for Pinterest and make sure it’s easy for someone to pin. If you focus on Facebook, use an image for Facebook and make sure it’s easy for someone to share.
Throughout the Post
Add links to other post you’ve written that relate to your new one. Also add links to other websites and make sure those open in new windows. This will help boost your SEO. An easy way to include links to your own posts is to add a “Relates Posts” section at the bottom.
It can be helpful to your readers to include pictures in your posts for clarity and as examples of what you’re writing about. As always, keep the images consistent with your brand.
You’ll also want to add some categories and tags to your post so that readers can more easily find the content they are looking for on your site. Based on my research, the optimal number is 1-3 categories and 5-10 tags per post.
- Copy and paste your blog post onto your website
- Edit the permalink and include the keyword
- Format the headings (title = h1, subtitles = h2…)
- Place an affiliate disclosure to the top (if needed)
- Add links to other posts you’ve already published
- Add links to external sites
- Set external links to open in a new tab
- Add a “Click to Tweet” (if you use Twitter)
- Add a Call-To-Action at the bottom of the post
- Set your featured image, make the title “Title of post - Website name”, and write 1-2 sentences about your post in the alt text
- Add your pin at the top of the post, make the title “Title of post - Website name”, and write 1-2 sentences about your post in the alt text
- Add any additional images or pins, make the title “Title of post - Website name”, and write 1-2 sentences about your post in the alt text
- Preview your new post
- Double-check that the post is visually appealing and scannable
- Double-check links in preview mode
Section 5. SEO-ing.
Yes. SEO-ing is a word. And it really needs an entire course. Since we can’t cover an entire course in this post, you basically have 3 options:
- Take an SEO course and become an expert
- Hire an SEO expert
- Use my checklist (and/or other free info from the internet) to do the best you can
In the checklist, I’ll walk you through each step you need to optimize your post for SEO. Will it be perfect? Probably not.
The thing about SEO is that it’s always changing. If you don’t plan on keeping up with all those changes or hiring an expert, I’ll get you through the most basic and important steps. Many bloggers aren’t even doing this much, so at the very least, you’ll be miles ahead of them!
If you are using the Yoast SEO plugin — you should be because it’s the best and it’s FREE! — here are the various things it will analyze:
- Keyphrase in introduction
Checks whether words from the keyphrase can be found in the first paragraph of the text.
- Keyphrase length
Checks whether the number of (content) words in the keyphrase is within the recommended limit of up to four.
- Keyphrase density
Checks whether the (content) words from the keyphrase are used in the text and whether they are used often enough (but not too often, 0.5 and 3%). For a match to be found, all content words should occur in one sentence.
- Keyphrase in meta description
Checks whether all (content) words from the keyphrase are used in the meta description. A match is counted if all words from the keyphrase appear in a sentence.
- Keyphrase in subheadings
Checks whether the subheadings reflect the topic of the copy (based on keyphrase or synonyms). A subheading is considered to reflect the topic if at least one (content) word from the keyphrase is used in it.
- Link focus keyphrase
Checks if there are links in the text, whose link text contains keyphrase.
- Keyphrase in image alt attributes
Checks if there are keyphrase or synonyms in the alt attributes of images.
- Keyphrase in title
Checks if the keyphrase is used in the page title.
- Keyphrase in slug
Checks if the keyphrase is used in the URL.
- Previously used keyphrase
Checks if the words from the keyphrase were previously used in a keyphrase for a different post.
- Keyphrase distribution (only in Premium)
Checks how well the words from the keyphrase are distributed throughout the text.
Other SEO assessments
- Text length
Checks if the text is long enough.
- Outbound links
Checks if outbound links are present and followed.
- Internal links
Checks if internal links are present and followed.
- SEO title width
Checks if the title has a good length.
- Meta description length
Checks if the meta description has a good length.
- Text length for taxonomy pages
Checks if the taxonomy page has a good length.
- Stale cornerstone content (only in Premium)
Checks if you’ve updated your cornerstone articles recently.
- Subheading distribution
Checks whether long texts are divided by subheadings.
- Paragraph length
Checks whether the paragraphs exceed the recommended maximum length of 150 words.
- Sentence length
Checks whether the sentences exceed the recommended maximum length of 20 words. It then calculates the percentage of sentences that are longer than 20 words. If more than 25% of your sentences are longer than 20 words you should shorten some of your long sentences.
- Consecutive sentences
Checks whether there are more than 3 sentences in a row that start with the same word.
- Passive voice
Checks whether the number of sentences containing passive voice exceeds the recommended maximum amount of 10%.
- Transition words
Checks whether there are enough sentences, 30% or more, containing transition words.
- Flesch Reading Ease
Checks how easy to read the text is according to the Flesch Reading Ease test.
- Text presence
Checks whether there is enough text in the copy.
- Single H1
Checks if there’s only one H1 heading in the copy.
That’s kind of a lot.
The good news is you don’t have to do every single one of these things perfectly. You do however need to get into the habit of doing most of them.
My suggestion is that you write your draft first and then go back through and make it SEO friendly. It’s extremely distracting to try adding keywords in perfectly as you’re writing.
- Add the keyword phrase in the first paragraph
- Add the keyword phrase in the first heading
- Use the keyword phrase 3-4 more times throughout the post
- Write a meta description using the keyword phrase (up to 155 characters)
Section 6. Scheduling.
Before you schedule your post to be published…. proofread, proofread, proofread. Then read it out loud to yourself if you don’t have someone who can look it over. It might seem strange, but I promise it’ll help you catch sneaky mistakes.
When you’re 100% certain that it’s time to send you brainchild out into the world, hit schedule, change the date and time, and wait for the crowds to swarm!
Just kidding. Celebrate a little. Then go to section 7.
- Set the date and time for publishing
- Look over the post one more time
- Schedule it!
Section 7. Sharing.
If you ask a marketing person, they’ll tell you this is the most important part of the process. They might be right, but I’m just too tired from all my organizing to argue with them.
You can’t just publish your post and expect all the world to come flooding in to read your brilliance. You. Have. To. Share. It!
Don’t feel like you have to use every single social media platform out there. Pick 2-3 where your audience is hanging out and focus on those.
There are a lot of tools like Tailwind and Recurpost that can help you automate this process if you don’t have a dedicated social media person on your team.
- Add the post to your blog page (if needed)
- Add a link to your new post in older posts that are similar
- Click on the “Click to Tweet” to share your post on Twitter
- Share the post on Facebook
- Share the post in Facebook groups (if allowed)
- Add the post to RecurPost to loop on Facebook and Twitter
- Share the post on Instagram
- Share the post on LinkedIn
- Pin your images to your main board on Pinterest
- Use Tailwind to schedule the pin to repin regularly
- Share the pin in Tailwind Tribes
- Write an email and share it with your email list
You should be ready to take on the blog post checklist now that we’ve run through some of the basics together. It’s time for you to venture out on your own and share some awesomeness with the world.
Four to five million blog posts are published every day. Make yours worthwhile. Make it you.
GET A FREE COPY OF THE BLOG POST CHECKLIST
Or create your own using the steps I’ve provided in this post. Once you have your checklist all set, I want you to use it on your top 3 evergreen posts.
- Go through your top 3 posts and make sure that you’ve completed all of these steps.
- As you create new posts, use the checklist to help you along.
- When you have time, go back through your archive and update everything that remains.