Whether you blog for fun or profit, or a little bit of both, you will be more effective and successful if you consider these 10 Questions every time you put fingers to keyboard.
1. Why am I blogging?
Is what you’re sharing relevant, worthwhile, necessary? Relevant content reflects information (including opinion) on current events. Worthwhile content will appeal to your niche audience. Necessary content is … necessary. You feel compelled to share it.
2. What do I want to accomplish with this blog post?
Early on in my career as a blog consultant, I learned from some of the experts I followed that there is more to sharing information on a blog than… just putting it out there. You need to have a goal. Just ranting or sharing what you made for lunch (unless you’re a food blogger) isn’t enough. A goal gives you focus. In your focus, remember your reader. It’s all about the reader. It’s not about you.
3. What do I want the reader to do… when she is done reading my blog post?
This is often referred to as a call to action. Perhaps you want the reader to sign up for your newsletter (we often use that as our call to action); perhaps you would like the reader to visit a landing page with more information; perhaps you would like the reader to share what you’ve written or buy a product. Your call to action is part of the necessary focus – when you have a necessary action for readers to perform, your blog post becomes more than just words put on paper. So to speak.
4. Am I being clear?
It’s easy to rant, or to share your opinion. It’s easy to quote someone else about a topic you’re passionate about. The reality is, when you rant or share opinions or quote others, without proper context, you’re creating content no one will read or share. Learn to write well – use a beginning, a middle and an end. Never “assume” the reader will understand. Never continue a post from last week, without an opening paragraph recapping last week.
5. Did I do my research?
We bloggers strive to be taken seriously as writers, for the most part. Gone are the days of rambling on about the baby’s poopy diaper, or the dog howling at the mailman, even humor bloggers need to qualify content sometimes. Content needs to engage the reader. Content needs to be believable. If you’re educating and/or informing, you need to show your sources and you need to prove you did your homework. Use at least three sources, and vet them. Yes, that means make sure they have done their homework and they are trustworthy as sources.
6. Did I spell check?
I am not suggesting the tool in Word programs that allow misspellings throughout your writing. I am suggesting, you… as a writer… spell checking your content. Read it out loud. Read it out loud again. Poor spelling sends a message. What do you suppose that message is?
7. Did I grammar check?
Refer to #6. Replace spell with grammar. If you’re at all in doubt, look it up. You do own a Thesaurus and a Strunk and White, right?
8. Did I edit?
Very few of us can write a blog post or anything else that doesn’t require a little editing. Perhaps a good bit of editing. I recommend folks write a post, let it sit for 24 hours, reread it and fix the problems, because it will have problems. If it’s an important post, covering important content, I recommend allowing a second pair of eyeballs to peruse it. A trusted friend. Do this well before you click the publish button.
9. Did I add the right pictures? Are they optimized for the web?
Okay, I know that’s two questions but they are relevant to the topic of images in posts. Remember to optimize for size, clarity, focus and appropriateness. We used to tell folks all blogs need three links and an image, but that’s so 2001! Today, you need more than one image but you could get away with just one link. Images engage readers and links support question #5.
10. Did I add the right links? Enough links? Too many links? Are my links relevant, worthwhile and necessary? Enough said.
I’m sure there are other questions you should ask yourself. In a world where the written word is often misunderstood, misinterpreted or ignored by readers that fail to actually read (I’ll write a post about THAT someday!) it’s so important for the writer in you to pay attention to these 10 questions.
Share more questions bloggers should ask themselves, in the comments below. And, heed the call to action.