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 beneficialÂ 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. Alternatively, you can use a plugin like this: Scribe SEO Plugin.
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.