Updated: Jun 23
You have spent ages working on your blog, agonising over content and images, getting the length exactly right, checking your spelling and grammar, changing a word or a sentence here or there. You have reached the stage where you just want to hit that publish button, send your latest blog live and move on. Sound familiar? I am sure it does to most of us, but is there something we can do before we hit that button that will improve our blog and pay dividends in the long run? What if there was a checklist we could run through before we post so we would know we have covered every angle and could avoid hitting the button then thinking, “Oh, no! I should have done xyz before I posted!” That has happened to me more than once.
Over the last few weeks, I have spent some time investigating the art of blogging. I realised that I had much to learn to improve my blogging technique, to generate ideas for meaningful content and to get the most out of the blogging experience. While there are a number of sites giving advice on blogging, one of the best that I have come across is www.problogger.com, a site created in 2004 by Darren Rowse, where bloggers worldwide go to get advice and information on enhancing their blog. Problogger is home to a very prolific blog, a resource section, a jobs board, published eBooks and available courses (some free) as well as a podcast section where Darren has hosted hundreds of podcasts on blogging-related topics, with such useful titles as, what can you write about when all the good ideas are already taken? There is also a library available to subscribers with access to a range of resources. Darren’s advice is solid and covers all aspects of blogging, if slightly slanted towards making money from blogging which is not what I require. For those who do want to monetise their blog, however, there is some good advice. That said, if you are blogging for pleasure or because you are passionate about your topic, there is still much to learn about blogging well and this site has a lot to offer.
For those who would love that checklist of things to do before you post here it is!
Darren’s most recent offering was a free Facebook live session entitled, 23 Questions to Ask Before Publishing Your Next Blog which gives a comprehensive outline of the types of questions we should consider before pressing the publish button and letting our blog go live.
Some pieces of advice are common sense, such as proofreading our blogs, checking spelling and grammar, and ensuring that we have made the point we intended to make. Darren covers such topics as the importance of our blog title, of writing compelling opening lines and of ensuring that our post is easy to read. Ways to promote our blog are also given consideration and I must admit that, although I don’t want to make money from my blog, I would like to have more readers, as I’m sure every blogger does, so knowing how to promote my blog is useful. However, in my opinion, the real strength of this contribution to the art of blogging is that Darren’s ethos clearly comes across and that is what makes his advice so compelling. He views blogging first and foremost as providing a service to our readers and asks bloggers to keep the reader in mind by asking ourselves questions such as, what do my readers want to know? is my blog useful to my readers? how can I be of service to my readers? and he urges us to always try to connect with our readers and to provide genuine, honest content which is uniquely ours. I am happy to share Darren’s training session because I have gained so much from his insights and would like to pass that knowledge on to others who might similarly benefit (also, 1.5k viewers in the first 2 days can’t be wrong!). If it is something you require, a simple subscription to the Problogger email list will bring a wealth of invaluable information to your inbox on a regular basis.
My top 5 questions to ask before hitting publish
If I were to condense Darren’s list of 23 questions into the 5 questions that are most valuable to me at the present time, those questions would be:
Do I have an interesting title?
Since our blog title is what will initially draw readers to our blog from among the many hundreds of other blogs they could read, our title becomes important. It is said that the blog title may be the only part of a blog that many people will read, so our job is to entice them to read further, to read our first line, to become curious as to what the blog is about and want to read on. I underestimated the importance of the blog title in my early blogs, but I am now beginning to take note and trying to spend some time working on my blog title. It could be time well spent!
Is my content well written?
If I manage to encourage people to read my blog, I owe it to those readers to ensure that the content relates to the title, that I make my point well without repeating myself, that it is properly laid out and that it is easy to read. If many people just take a cursory glance through the blog it is important that their eye stops at certain main parts for a few seconds longer so that their interest is piqued. By adding headings, images, embedded content or quotes I break up the main body of the text and hopefully make it easier for the reader to find what they want to read while also encouraging them to read further.
Have I proofread my content?
Before I began writing my blog, in my professional capacity I often had to produce content that had to go out to the public domain. I always believed in proofreading what I wrote, especially since the word processor doesn’t catch every mistake. I don’t like to read writing that has spelling or grammar mistakes so I assume no-one else does either, therefore I need to respect those who might read my writing by checking everything before I hit publish.
Is my content useful to my potential readers?
There can be several reasons why people read a blog post. They might want to learn something or get ideas for a project they are undertaking, they might want to be entertained or they might want to identify with someone else who may be going through the same thing as they are experiencing. I have read lots of blogposts on learning different photography techniques, but I also like reading book review blogs, ideas for living more sustainably and blogs that provide thoughts on wellbeing, travel blogs and interesting personal stories, among others. If I question myself as to whether the content that I am writing will be useful to others I can answer by asking myself whether I would find it useful, and if I don’t think I would find it useful I can go back and adjust my content so that I can hopefully answer yes to the question.
How will I promote my blog?
To be truthful, this is an area in which I need to do more work. While I do promote my blogs to some degree on social media, it is not something I have put enough effort into, therefore I don’t reap the benefits of having lots of readers. My first step towards action in this area has been reading advice such as that given on problogger but I must confess, I am still mystified as to how some blogs get so many readers! The main advice I have read is, keep writing good content, pay attention to title and keywords, and give it time!
Read the original 23 Questions to Ask Before Publishing Your Next Blog below
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