7 Questions To Answer Before Publishing A Blog Post

There was a time when publishing a blog post was easy. Just a few notes, jotted in a rush, a quick spell checking and then hit “Publish”. Well, it’s not anymore. At least for me. Besides the psychological benefits of “letting it all out”, a blog post has a much higher purpose. Again, at least for me.

On this blog alone, I have more than 300 blog posts published. I guess that somewhere around blog post number 200, I came out with a personal filter. A quality assurance system, if you want. At some point, just publishing whatever crossed my mind was not enough anymore, I needed something meaningful. Something that would create an impact, that would represent myself more than just random thoughts, rants or memories.

So, every time I am ready to hit the “Publish” button, I stop and look over those 7 questions. If the answer to all is “Yes”, I go ahead and let the blog post fly. If not, I move the post to the Drafts folder and move on.

1. Is It Useful?

Is this post actually changing something in my reality? Is something that I need to do? Sharing this will make a significant impact in my existence? Is there any way in which this blog post will improve my life? Answering “Yes” to these questions is the fundamental step. Of course, I usually use the short version: “Is It Useful?”

This puts blogging in a wider perspective. It’s not only a safety valve, ready to throw out a lot of internal garbage, shamelessly polluting the blogging ocean, it’s a way to make a difference, to create a better version of you. If you just need a place to puke your mental nausea, just keep a private journal, that will certainly help.

But if you let something out in the wild, you’d better make it count. Make it important for yourself. Make it something you would be proud of. If you post it just to have something out there in the blog, you’d better stop. It won’t make any difference, if you don’t really need it.

2. Is It True?

Every time I think of a blog post, I wonder if it’s something true. Or at least something that I can vouch for as being true. It must be something coming from my own experience. I think this is the fundamental difference between the new media, including the blogging phenomenon, and traditional media.

In blogging, everything you said is marked with your own touch. It’s your own take at things. It’s personal. Even if you talk about some specific news in an industry, adding your own point of view is what makes the blog post worthwhile. And I think I’m using the word “true” mostly as “authentic”.

If it’s not something true, authentic, the blog post will be melting pretty soon. As opposed to the traditional media, when the bare information, served quickly, is what matters, in blogging there’s your own point of view related to something of interest that’s going to promote your message. And the best thing you can do is to write from personal experience.

3. Is It Understandable?

That question is about how the blog post is written. Is it clearly outlined? The sentences are flowing nicely from one each other? Is it clearly described? It’s easy to read? The topic is clear? All those questions combined are giving the level of understandability. If I have trouble understanding what I wrote, I usually delete the whole thing.

Human brain is a fantastic machinery, but as with all machinery, you have to touch the right handles to get the best response. If you want to engage your reader’s brain, you have to send the right messages. You have to combine bare definitions with images and metaphors. You have to balance right brain and left brain triggers.


Making something understandable is not an easy task. But it’s a very rewarding one. And the good news is that once you engage on this path, you’ll become better and better at making things understandable. That in itself it’s a fantastic asset in any area of your life, not only blogging.

4. Does Anybody Else Besides Me Need This?

Are there any other persons who may benefit form it? A very personal story is not always a motivating story. It might be interesting to read but after reading, there’s not much to benefit from it. A blog post should enrich in some way other people too, otherwise, like for the first question, you’ll be much better keeping a private journal.

Many successful bloggers are covering this question with the sentence “write for your readers”. To a certain degree, I agree. You have to keep in mind your readers needs, goals or specific attitudes. But more than that, you have to write something that other people will find beneficial  in some way.

It doesn’t always have to be something funny. You can make your readers benefit from your writing even if you shake them a little. In fact, shaking them – as in shaking their beliefs, theirs ideas and their attitudes – will give them much more value than a funny picture. They may hate you in the beginning but they’ll thank you later.

5. Is It Shareable?

Will your readers feel the need to forward your blog post to other people? That’s one tricky question and I admit I struggled a lot with it in the beginning. There doesn’t seemed to be a clear model for a blog post to be shared and turned into a viral message. But after a while, I discovered some patterns.

First of all, in order to be shared by a lot of people, the blog post must respond a big “Yes” to the first 4 questions. But even if it does, this is not enough. To be shareable, a blog post must be more than useful for you, authentic, understandable and useful for your readers.

It must be written in a certain way. And that way is something that will make the sharer look great. This time is not about you, it’s about the reader. If your blog post will make him look (or be) like a smart, wit or knowledgeable person, he’ll share it. And he’ll be happy to do it.

6. Is It Easy Findable?

But besides word of mouth, which is the most powerful way to be promoted, by the way, your blog post must be found in other ways too. The most popular is search engine. So, before publishing I take some time to do a quick SEO survey on my blog. I don’t try to impersonate the Google bot, and for the sake of your mental health, I don’t advice you to do that either.

What I do, is to verify if there’s enough of a connection between the main topic and the words distribution. This doesn’t involve any complicated math calculus or tools, just a bird-eye read and simple analysis. It’s just like reading it with a simple SEO filter.

Places where I look for SEO hooks are usually (and in this order): post title, post slug, headlines and paragraphs. If there is enough wording matching the idea, I will publish, if not, I make the necessary adjustments, most of the time using synonyms or replacing some parts of the phrases.

7. Did I Enjoy Reading It?

Being the first reader of my blog means also I am the first – and the worst – censor. If I simply don’t like something I wrote, I simply don’t publish.

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40 Responses to 7 Questions To Answer Before Publishing A Blog Post

  • Hi Dragos,

    I love these questions. I’ve been blogging for only a few months, but find it tremendously gratifying, and addicting. When I started, I knew that one of my purposes was to connect with others, and help anyone one else learn the lessons that I struggling to learn.

    Like you mention, I find that I am my toughest critic. Still, I think it is so important for every writer to question exactly what they are offering, and make sure that it is meaningful for others. I’m bookmarking this page so that I can go over your list before i publish my next post.
    :)
    Karen

    • Hey, Karen

      Thanks for the nice words and good luck with your blogging endeavors :-)

      As for the list, thanks for keeping an eye on it, but it would be even better if you could come up with your own at some point. :-)

  • Please correct to this:

    Does Anybody Else Besides Me Need This?

  • Nice quick outline. seems follow a keep it simple method before posting too. it’s not rocket science. SEO is an interesting thing, and some things seem too simple that you start to question “how did I not think of this before.”

    I’ll be thinking about this list before I make my next post. I am trying to become a better writer, and my blog is allowing me to work on that.

    • It’s never rocket science, once you get the hang of it. It’s not what you do, but the constant implementation of the habit. That creates a certain quality of the blog posts and also a certain structured approach in writing.

      Blogging never was rocket science anyway. Still, there are a few millionaires out there and they are millionaires from blogging only. That’s something even more interesting than rocket science, IMHO.

  • Thought-provoking post. Stumbled and tweeted it. ;-)

    I have bookmarked this post in my browser. Every time before I publish a blog post I will go to this page and ask myself these questions, and I advice other bloggers to do the same.
    .-= Gloson´s last blog ..Gloson Photography (24 Photos) =-.

    • Well, thanks for doing that, but as I already wrote it in the first comment, do assess what’s right for you. Come up with your own list. :-)

  • Hi Dragos

    Nice article!

    I also think that it’s worth looking through the eyes of the reader. If I ask myself what I look for in a blog (and of course that’s made up of individual articles) then these 7 pointers are certainly things I look for. Of course ‘Is It Findable’ has already been taken care of once I’m reading an article.

    There’s one other thing – and it could be part of ‘Is It Shareable’ – and that’s ‘Does It Look Good?’. It’s often hard to separate the look of an individual article from the overall look of the blog, but for sure I stay with an article that’s aesthetically pleasing compared to one that’s not. For example, are there attractive graphics or pictures? Is it broken down for ease of digestion with headers, numbered lists etc? In other words, has the author (or have I as the publisher) shown that he/she cares about the overall look.
    .-= Ian | Quantum Learning´s last blog ..Sticks and stones =-.

    • I admit I’m not that much into this one. I certainly understand the point, but it just seem a little bit uncomfortable to add a multimedia dimension to my posts. Looking for appropriate pictures and so on. I do value though the alternative content, meaning mind-maps, ebooks, and so on.

      But if I think carefully, I know YOUR blog posts are always exposing this nice look you’re talking about. And I admit also that I find them quite enjoyable because of that. :-)

      • There are some blogs that do very well without any graphic content and yours is definitely one of them.

        In your case, you clearly pay attention to the look of the article ….. using paragraphs, headings and generally using the screen space in a pleasing way. Somehow it wouldn’t be ‘you’ if you started using pictures, you just found your own way to present in a way that suits you.

        I see many blogs that look as they’ve just been thrown on the screen. While the content might be useful, shareable etc.. it just gives an impression that the writer doesn’t care about the reader’s overall experience.
        .-= Ian | Quantum Learning´s last blog ..Sticks and stones =-.

  • Idont Thinkso says: August 31, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    Easy Findable?

    I think #6 violates #3.

    Write what you want. Be oroginal. Be yourself. Don’t listen to “experts”.

    • I don’t see how #6 violates #3 but I totally agree with the end of your comment. I’m not an “expert” at blogging, I just failed a lot of times doing it :-)

  • I think we all need to ask ourselves these questions.

    Another point, I recently read is how our article will be around years from now. How would we feel about them in 10year, 20 years? 30? What will our kids or our grand-kids say about topics which we have written about???
    .-= BunnygotBlog´s last blog ..Lost In A Sea Of Identities =-.

    • Never thought about that until now. But you do have a great point here. We’re actually creating the content for tomorrow. Must be careful with that.

      • It is my point of view that we change ways of thinking with too much frequency over our life time span. I have seen this happen with my family, friends and myself.

        IMHO, it is not a bad thing, since we are only human and we are evolving over time, thanks God for that: we grow, no matter how old, we are able to mature.

        So, thinking if we will be proud of our today writing in say, 10 years, 20 or 30 years… may be a pointless exercise. For sure, we will not think the same about nearly anything in thirty years.

        I choose to write with truth about my feelings and thoughts as they are today. Honestly, truly, my point of view, today. Tomorrow will tell ;-)

        Thank you, Dragos, for a wonderful blog. I am glad I found you :-)
        .-= Alejandro Quiroga Alsina´s last blog ..Cuando la competencia se torna peligrosa =-.

  • [...] 7 Questions To Answer Before Publishing A Blog Post (tags: tips) [...]

  • I think you characterise “mainstream media” too simplistically – which is not surprising as it is a broad-brush term for a hugely complex thing. As a newspaper columnist for many years, I could say all your comments apply to writing for “mainstream” newspapers. As journalists we even consider your point about being findable, but we do that through boosts and cross-references rather than search engines.
    .-= Jo Ind´s last blog ..National Sport: Davies surprised by Dunne coup =-.

    • I worked as a radio journalist for 7 years, from a field reporter up to having my own live talk show. I know what it is. The main difference between mainstream media (TV & print) and new media (blogging, social networks) is in the way they are disseminating. There is usually only one broadcaster in the new media, as opposed to a team, in the traditional media.

      Maybe those comments fit into mainstream media as well, that I cannot be sure, because there are so many other censoring factors (not specifically in the bad side of the term). But when you are your own broadcaster, it’s definitely easier to apply all of these.

      Thanks for your comment :-)

  • Oh – and by the way I don’t write about football, as it says. My last blog was on finding Elizabeth Fry was my great great great great grandmother: http://bit.ly/c8o5d
    .-= Jo Ind´s last blog ..National Sport: Davies surprised by Dunne coup =-.

  • A useful post by any standards. Of course most of your points are newspaper journalism 101. But what’s interesting is how you’ve turned the old style ideas on their head. It’s a pity so-called professional media sites don’t filter material in a similar way.
    .-= Bill Bennett´s last blog ..Better writing: A warning =-.

    • Well, there is certainly some overlapping between traditional journalism and blogging. But I think in the last decade, traditional journalism started to lag behind blogging in terms of authenticity and reliability.

  • Dragos, this is all great stuff. I would add the timeless question too. It depends upon what you are after, but if your content is going to be stale a month from now, it’s going to hurt you. I get a lot of comments on old articles that people find. Further when I discover a new blog, often the most enjoyable and useful reads are the old articles.
    .-= Stephen – Rat Race Trap´s last blog ..When Wonder Replaces Hope =-.

    • I follow the same pattern, whenever I discover a new blog, I dig for the older content. Most of the time, the oldies are goldies :)

  • Hey Dragos, I really appreciate the way you laid this out. Bloggers that apply these points will be able to see their content sitting on top of a cushion of “also ran” blog posts that quickly sunk to the bottom of the web barrel.
    .-= Jonathan – Advanced Life Skills´s last blog ..What is the Biggest Obstacle to Personal Growth? =-.

    • Yeap, unless you take time to greatly reinforce your message and put some strength in it, it will simply lack the energy to stay afloat.

  • Great points Dragos. This would have been useful when I first started blogging, but still a great reminder on what blog posts should be like. I’d say if you’ve got great content you’d need a great title as well, like you said in your last point.
    .-= Steven Aitchison´s last blog ..12 Qualities Women Want in Their Men =-.

    • A catchy title is usually half of the entire post. I remember most of the posts I read by their title, not by their main ideas. Good point :-)

  • This is very cool. One I’m going to print out and read again. I could use some guidelines like this. My schedule is so hectic and I often am not sure what I want to post or I so MANY things I want to post. So I think this will help me focus. It’s very timely for me. :)
    .-= Robin Easton´s last blog ..Emotions: Portals to Soul =-.

    • It’s pretty difficult to enforce some self-discipline, especially if you live on the day dreaming side of the world. I know it took me several months until I was able to establish a solid posting speed. But once you got it, it tends to work on auto-pilot, it will actually drag you down in front the computer to write your piece, otherwise you won’t feel ok. :-)

  • Very nice outline. The ‘sharable’ point is the one I struggle with. Real estate is kinda dry to blog about. However, my posts are receiving traffic. :)
    .-= Colleen´s last blog ..Kennewick Real Estate Listings =-.

  • [...] Create a publishing filter and apply it every time your write. I have my own filter made up by 7 questions to answer before publishing and so far it worked great. Find your own, based on why and what you are writing. It’s a good [...]

  • [...] Create a publishing filter and apply it every time your write. I have my own filter made up by 7 questions to answer before publishing and so far it worked great. Find your own, based on why and what you are writing. It’s a good [...]

  • I don’t know If I said it already but …Cool site, love the info. I do a lot of research online on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks, :)

    A definite great read….

  • [...] Create a publishing filter and apply it every time your write. I have my own filter made up by 7 questions to answer before publishing and so far it worked great. Find your own, based on why and what you are writing. It’s a good [...]

  • Hey, great blog…but I don’t understand how to add your site in my rss reader. Can you Help me, please :)

    I’m Out! :)

  • 1 = yes
    2 = yes
    3 = yes
    4 = yes
    5 = yes
    6 = yes
    7 = who knows :P

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