It’s time to write a blog post and you’ve opened your Evernote blog post ideas notebook as you settle in to compose the first draft. From that moment to publishing the post and spreading the word, you need to remember a few important steps to take. Here’s a checklist to follow every time you write a post for consistency and completeness.

First draft – Shoot for 500 words but don’t go lower than 300. Unless you’re Seth Godin. Evernote features a word counter. So does WordPress and other blogging platforms. Google rewards long form posts so go ahead and feed your soul with an occasional 1000+ word epic.

Descriptive, succinct title – Avoid turning your title into a sentence. 7-9 words will do. Keep in mind that the title display in search engine results is limited to 70 characters. And, don’t be vague or hyperbolic; your reader should know what the post is about from the title. If the post provides a solution, consider using the question as the title.

External links – Give credit to your research sources by linking to the web pages. It’s also a factor in SEO and might even score you a coveted reciprocal inbound link.

Add related posts – Internal linking increases page views and helps your readers find related, useful information without leaving your blog. If you’re using WordPress, check out their Related Posts plugins.

Assign a category – One category will do. Two is OK, but no more. If you find it difficult limiting categories for many of your posts, it’s time to reconsider your blog’s taxonomy.

Add tags – You can go crazy here. Add as many as you wish. If you think of categories as the table of contents of a book, consider tags as the index.

Add an image – Images increase readability and the potential for sharing, particularly on social media. Flickr and Wikimedia are good places to look for free images. If you use images from other sources, remember to include attribution. Each social platform has its own preferred image size and it can quickly become a time suck trying to accommodate each. A 2:1 (700 pixels x 350 pixels) ratio works well for most.

Spelling and grammar check – Evernote, WordPress and just about all writing tools have a spell-checker. After the Deadline is a great WordPress grammar and spell check plugin. If you can, get someone else to look it over. Finally, read the post out loud – errors in punctuation, spelling, and sentence structure will become more obvious.

Formatting – In todays harried world, people scan before deciding to read. Use blockquotes, checklists, bold and italics, bullet points, paragraphs, headlines, subheadings, etc. Few things make a potential reader flee more than a huge block of text with no guideposts.

Edit – This usually means chopping around 20 percent. Keep the piece tight – use adverbs, adjectives and qualifiers sparingly. Same with flowery language. Chop. Chop.

Check hyperlinks – This seems like a no-brainer, but in a rush to get a post out, bloggers often skip this.

Share on social media – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social channels are primary referral traffic sources back to your blog, as your analytics will confirm.

This checklist will become second nature to you as your blogging frequency increases. Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to blogging, so use this as a guide and hone it over time to fit your own unique subject matter, voice, and audience.

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