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Blog Writing Checklist: Have You Covered These 8 Blogging Essentials?

If you’re new to blog writing or if you just feel like you’re not quite hitting your stride, this post is for you. Some things are so much easier when we have a checklist to use and we do a little planning before we write! In this post, I lay out eight things that I cover in each and every post and I recommend you give this approach a try.

The List Post

Readers love to read list posts — for example, “5 Ways To Win a Negotiation”. The advantage for you is that they’re easy to outline, to research, and to write. In the example below, we’ll follow a wedding photographer as she thinks through a blog post that she can write for her business blog.

I recommend that you get out a pen and paper or open your favorite word processing document. Read the post once all the way through. Then come back and fill in your own ideas step-by-step until you’ve outlined your post.

The Essential Blog Writing Checklist via @IleaneThe Blog Writing Checklist:

1 – A Topic that Covers Your Customers’ Need For Information

I sometimes call this an information gap. Are you addressing key gaps in knowledge that your customers have? Just so you know, you don’t have to write about your own business. You can write about other interests that your target customers have.

For example, if you’re a wedding photographer, you can write about how to get the perfect wedding shots. Or, you can write about the top wedding sites in your town. This second one has the advantage of drawing your target audience (brides), using more local keywords (for SEO) and of getting you known by the wedding venues (referrals)!

Will your blog post address your customer’s needs or what they really want to learn about?

2 – Choose Your List Type

Once you know the general topic that you’re writing about, you need to choose what type of list post you’ll write. For example, here are some possibilities (the number is just a placeholder):

  • Myths: 5 Myths About …
  • How To: 5 Ways To…
  • Tools: 5 Tools to Help You…
  • Ultimate List: 54 Ways To…
  • Mistakes: 5 Mistakes Couples Make…
  • Best: The 5 Top Honeymoon…

Look around at other blogs and you’ll see other types of lists that you can use. Do you have an interesting angle for the post?

3 – A Unique or Compelling Post Title

Come up with a headline or angle for your blog post that is compelling and interesting. To continue the photographer example, here’s one option for her article: “Review of 5 Wedding Venues in San Mateo County”. Pretty boring.

How about this? “The 5 Most Romantic San Mateo Wedding Locations” or “5 Secret Bay Area Locations To Make Your Wedding Unique”. You can probably come up with others, but I hope you get the point!

4 – An Opening That Draws Your Audience In

The opening paragraph (or sentence or two) is like the doorway into your post. If it’s interesting, they’ll enter. If it’s not, you’re out of luck.

You can use the opening to hook them in a few ways. You can tell a story or quote statistics on why the topic you’re about to cover is important. Or you can personalize it to their experience (“You’re planning your wedding and are feeling frustrated by the traditional venue options…”) or use your own experience as an example (“A lot of my clients struggle with…”).

Here’s an example of how you can start by telling a story for a post by our intrepid wedding photographer:

“This was the most challenging assignment I’ve ever had. I was asked by my best friend to help her find a bay area wedding venue that would make her wedding unique. Different. Unusual.

Oh. And after I find it, then I would have to find a way to shoot the wedding in a way no one had ever shot a wedding before.

I had my work cut out for me…”

5 – Gather Your List

You want to make this a great post, so don’t just put the first few things that come to mind. Do some brainstorming, ask some friends or business associates and do some research to make sure you cover your bases. If you want to go the extra mile, go visit the venues yourself. If you’re a photographer (as in our example), why not take some original shots of each venue? You don’t have to do this but that’s a great way to stand out from the crowd!

Narrow the list to the top points and make sure you start out strong but maintain a pretty even level of quality across your items. Consider adding bullets or numbers and other formatting to make the points stand out in the post.

6 – Write Your Closing

A big problem is that people “limp” into the closing. They get tired of writing and they finish with a weak ending. One or two lines that basically conveys “I hope you enjoyed this — thanks”. No, no, no. You want to end on a strong note.

Wrap up by referring back to how you started the post (“Mission accomplished. It was a challenge but I found the ideal location for my best friend’s wedding. I hope this list gives you some starting points to create your own dream wedding…”). Also, inspire them into action.

7 – Choose Your Post Picture

I often choose a post picture after I’ve written the post, just in case the direction of the post has changed slightly or if there’s a certain point I want to emphasize with a visual. Of course you can have more than one picture but it’s important to include at least one. It helps break up the monotony of the text and can help convey an emotion or specific point.

Also, when blog posts are shared in social media, often the picture is shown (on Facebook, in LinkedIn, and of course on Pinterest) as a thumbnail. This thumbnail, in addition to a good headline, will help get readers to click through to your blog post or to share it with their contacts, expanding the reach of your content.

8 – Your Call To Action

After the closing (or as part of it), you can include a call to action. This is where you might invite them to contact you for a free consultation, to subscribe to receive your newsletter, or to register get your free “Guide To The Dream Wedding” report. Try to focus on one main call to action versus several. Don’t be obnoxious but you can’t forget that you have a business to run!

Okay, now go through the blog writing checklist again step-by-step and outline your post. How’d that go?

You should now have an easy method to create compelling list posts for you blog that your clients will love. Let me know in the comments the headline of the post you came up with!

About 

My name is Tom Treanor and I help companies, solopreneurs and bloggers accelerate their content creation with my Fast, Easy Blogging Course. Don't forget to follow me on Twitter.

106 Comments (click here to leave a comment)

  1. Hi Tom,

    #1 is critically important. Identify a need, locate a problem, be a solution provider. Many forget this basic step before writing a post.

    Before I publish I dwell on conversations with prospects. I note questions individuals posed to me. I check out patterns. The patterns tell you exactly what you need to write about. If I person questions, 20 or more have questions. Few unique problems out there because most people think along a certain line, especially those who struggle.

    Keep a log of interactions. Record conversations online. Check out the patterns. The questions. If you see issues popping up with individuals persistently, delve into this topic on your next post, or series of posts. So easy to bring in more readers if you provide solutions with each post.

    Never post just to post. Or because you are supposed to write 1 post daily. Post to solve some issue. Post to help someone out. Post to provide a service, to provide real value. Make a positive impact with each post. Your readership grows, your online business grows, all good things in your life begins to grow, because you provide a solution to a need.

    Bloggers generally forget this idea, in name of certain rules, like posting daily, etc. Post because you have something valuable to offer the world. Post because you want to help someone with a problem.

    If you chat with few prospects scan the comments section of top blogs. Plenty of fodder for blog posts, plenty of issues to be addressed, plenty of top shelf research material to be digested, and used, for excellent, value-packed blog posts.

    Dig deeper than the average person. Think your posts through.

    Thanks for sharing Tom!

    Ryan

    • Ryan,
      Excellent comment and I totally agree with you! Your suggestions for finding topics all hit the mark for me. Along the lines that you mentioned, here are a couple more that I do. I often think back to conversations with prospects or clients and think about where they were struggling most. Those are great fodder for posts because often these are commen hurdles.

      A second one that I’ve done is to find other blog posts in my industry and read the comments (especially if the blogger has asked for “where are you struggling”). These conversations can provide great insight into the real challenges people face.

      Thanks for the comment!

  2. Such an important article. In addition there are other things that you could add to your blog writing checklist, but you have tried to cover the most touched on areas. I know it helps me out when I am writing out blog posts because I am such a noodle head.

    • FS,
      Yes, I wanted to keep it straightforward because sometimes the kitchen sink posts overwhelm everyone! I’ll probably write a part 2 which includes the next 8 or so things that get layered onto the post.

  3. Amrik Virdi

    Hi Tom, I enjoyed your post and I feel that #3 is very vital for blogging success.

    Here is a technique I like to use.
    – Create your URL to reflect your desired keyword phrase.
    – Create your blog page title/headline to be something compelling and shareable.
    – Promote and build links to it.
    – Down the road, change the page title to match the URL keyword.

    This allows you to get CTs, traffic, links at first, with the end goal of the page being optimized for your desired keyword phrase.

    I think many bloggers have missed the importance of the Title in creating direct and organic traffic. I really found this useful.

    • Amrik,

      I totally agree with you. I run an SEO workshop and page titles, URLs, picture file names, alt tags, internal links and other components are areas that I focus on. Sometimes people have a hard time just writing though so hopefully the post can lead people through the basics. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Great post Tom. I guess you can never get too much of advice when it comes to blogs, and blog posts in particular. Thanks for the informative read.

    • Thanks Michelle. Some people need to go with the basics before they try to many different marketing tricks. This is definitely written for the newer bloggers or for people not feeling like they’re making traction. I appreciate your comment!

  5. Great tips.

    Great points covered in the article and I really like to have a call to action point and I think this is what matters a lot with in your post. You have to use it very intelligently to get your traffic to convert it to your prospect.

    • Thanks Ayaz. Yes, the call to action is a critical point but a lot of people don’t have them in their posts. If they’re just writing but not clear about how the posts fit with their goals, they may be spinning their wheels. The call to action helps them tie the blog post to the strategy.

  6. I do recommend making a list of what you’ve to do, It is like making a plan. This way it will be easy to do a research.

    And it is very good idea to write about your area, like you mentioned in your first point.

    thank you for the nice post.

  7. Thanks Faria. Following a checklist is a great way to save time, especially if you don’t write as often or are just starting out. Thanks for stopping by!

  8. I think lists are so important. I have a to do list every day that I make the night before. That way I don’t forget anything that I wanted to put into my day or work. Lists are essential to blogging as it means you can fit everything in and take notes on what your readers want and then give it to them.

    • Harriet,
      I agree – lists and process are important to be consistent with your blogging. I use a list of blog posts that I’ll be writing and for which blogs which is another helpful one to start. Thanks for commenting!

  9. Hi Tom,
    I am newbie in Blogging arena and Ilean Mam Knows it…. And really thanks for this post i just love your all points.
    Thanks for sharing this worth article.

  10. Hi,
    Where do you like getting post photos? Do you use Flickr? If so, how to you make a Flickr photo a featured image (assuming you insert the Flckr embed code)?

    Any other free places for images?

  11. Hey Tom,

    Great tips! I can get exhausted with list posts, both reading them and writing them, but as long as there’s a good, healthy mix of list posts with how-to, general info & review posts, then I can handle it. :)

    My blog definitely lacks a call to action or even a takeaway portion, but it is packed full of information! :)

    • Hey Morgan. You do have a lot of good information there and I think you’ve got some well-placed calls to action (subscribe, etc.) that are not to obtrusive. I agree that mixing types of posts keeps it interesting for the writer and the reader so I’m with you. Also, including video like you’ve done is a good way to mix it up… Thanks for the comment.

  12. Nice info which will be prove so useful for all blogger and online marketers. That kind of activities also make very good and nice way to search our destination.

  13. I just recently started opening some of my blogs with a multiple choice question. This coupled with a call to action at the end of the post has gotten me a big increase in comments.

  14. I definately fall under the category of getting lazy when it comes down to writing the closing. I usually feel so exhausted and run out of writing juice by the end of an article. I’m still quite new at this stuff but I’m working my little butt off!

    • Jessica,

      I think the important thing is to realize that the closing is important (so you’re already there now!). I still often am anxious to wrap that last part up as well. Just consciously take some time to make the closing as good as the other parts of the post. Just like a movie – you hate when they tie up all the loose ends too conveniently and quickly. Make sure they leave with a strong finish. Thanks for the comment!

  15. Chris

    This is a great starting point for writing a blog post and believe me… I need all the help I can get! Thanks for sharing.

  16. I am not good in writing and i think i have no skills for it too. But when i read your post it made me rethink again, that there is still a possibility that i can write a great blog of my own. I will try it so wish me luck and thank you for your post.

  17. I think that using this informative post that you have shared Tom will sure help a lot of online marketers, specially when they are up to visitor and traffic , I am sure that this will increase our site in its fullest potential to gain enough traffic that they need.

  18. Hi Tom,

    This check list is pretty helpful, I use checklist to prepare for a new blog post. It’s save time and don’t really mess my post up. Thanks for your suggestion.

    • Kenny,

      I agree. The compelling post title is what draws the reader in whether they see it in social media or on your blog. And I know you’re an SEO guy so we know that the Page Title (the thing above the URL) is key for the search engines too – these two things are key. Thanks for the comment!

  19. I like your #1 about other interests – that expands your reach and viewers to your blog. You can really get creative with it too. I think the SEO part will not be as important soon with the changes coming from Google. It may be good for bloggers and great content sites without the SEO as their #1 priority.

    • Lisa,

      Yes, so many people think the only way that blog is head on about their topic. If they’re reaching the same audience, they can blog (or bring in guests) to talk about adjacent industries. The fixation on SEO can get annoying sometimes so it’s important that people also focus on great content too! Thanks for the comment.

  20. Like how you pointed out the importance of the title; many times I have started reading a blog that had little to do with the title! It should be concise and explain easily to the reader what the blog is about.

  21. Attempting to help your reader with needs they may have or ones they did not know they need is king. Even great SEO work will not win over your readers, because if they found your post or site>>keywords “they found”.
    Content will set you apart from your competitors, and of course knowledge of your niche. Focusing on the “SELL” too much can be a major distraction from your primary goal, your reader.
    Absolutely concur that a good title will entice not only humans, but spiders and robots. So when you write, just write your post until you cannot write anymore. Be patient when deciding to publish, for there is most likely some editing and rephrasing and more research to be done.
    Truly believing that a “Call to action” is not necessary for every single post you write, will probably be your downfall.

    Thanks for your top-notch post Tom

    • Bryan,

      I like the idea of waiting to publish. A couple of times I’ve published and had second thoughts and done some re-titling or other changes (like picture change). Also I agree with you on the need for calls to action and the focus on sell that can hurt your content. Thanks for the comment!

      • I have heard plenty of quotes from people that inspiring, but the one that sticks the most is “Hurry-up & Wait”. Of course this can be used for any type of situation, such as waiting for the bus. Waiting in the D.M.V. line to re-new your license.
        But if we are talking about something that is going viral, this has really been key for me. Thanks again for your post!

  22. Fortunately majority of the posts I write are based idea of writing. I emphasize on the post title and the readers need of information a lot. It helps in bringing in visitors and then by providing them the required information, it becomes easy to convert them into regular visitors and thus readers.

    • Saksham,

      I think you’ve got the right formula. Focus on what readers really care about and make sure you spend time on a good headline. Thanks for the comment.

  23. You covered the essentials of a blog. And yes I agree with you, sometimes a writer is too tired to end with such a compelling paragraph. More importantly, the call to action should be convincing enough.

    Thanks for the great article!

    Spatch MErlin
    How to Blog Guide

  24. Hey Tom,

    The opening paragraph gets me every time. I want it to be something that gives my reader a flavor of what they can find in the post as opposed to just a general intro. I like the idea of telling a personal story or using a statistic. It’s those kinds of things that get your reader to stay tuned.

    I love these types of descriptive ‘to do’ lists. This is one to tack to my cork board for daily reference, so thanks for that :-)

    Liz

    • Liz,

      Yes, some people have troubles closing and others have troubles with a good opening. I’m still experimenting with different openings and another commented mentioned using a multiple choice question as an opening. The best thing is to find some posts you like (that fit your style) and try modeling some of your openings on theirs. Good luck with it.

  25. Write for your readers. I recommend for your writing to be solutions to problems they may have.

    This works all the time! :)

    The image is so great to leverage for your persuasion in your article. People are very visual these days.

  26. Well written. I agree with you about the awesome POWER of A Unique or Compelling Post Title. Without it not many people will even click through to even read what you have written. So, that’s obviously one of the most important tips in this article.

    Thanks for sharing it!

    • Kingsley,

      Agreed! Assuming you start with a good topic, the compelling headlines is the place to spend brainpower getting it right! Thanks for the comment.

  27. Great tips especially point 4. I’m currently writing a load of articles for a new blog of mine and just been thinking about that and how to start them in the most interesting way.

  28. I love posts that address a problem and provide a solution. I don’t mind a ramble post here and there, but I always want to know what’s in it for me. If there is no value in your post, people won’t take the time to even click on the title to read it anyway. This was a great outline for new bloggers.

    • Sonia,

      Yes, I agree with you. Sometimes if it has too much navel-gazing and not enough of a point or helpful advice I get a bit bored. Thanks for the comment!

  29. Tom,

    This is a great checklist and so important for everyone to remember when creating a compelling blog post. I really enjoy your writing style. Thanks for sharing!

    Karen

  30. Definitely a must for anyone writing blog articles. The checklist is a productive way to put it also so people can go through to make sure they have all the points that make up a great article. I especially like how your article about writing a good article is the exact article you think is good.

    • Thanks Elana,

      I accidentally didn’t put this as a reply initially (so people may see it twice).

      Exactly – the post is also a model for the reader. Thank you very much for the comment!

  31. I’m starting a blog on my new site, but found on my previous blog that list posts are by far the most popular type of posts. It not only makes a post easier to read, but helps engage the reader more than a non-listed post in my experience. There are of course exceptions, but I would recommend trying list blogging for anyone starting out. Of course, the content still need to be good.

    • Jonathan,

      I agree. A great list post can get a lot of attention and the list aspect makes it easy to outline and write. Thanks for the comment!

  32. Hi Tom, Many thanks for the informative post. I am a new blogger so am still at the stage where I make mistakes and this post will be a good post for me to refer back to when creating posts. Definately one for the bookmarks ;-)

    Many thanks

  33. Thank you for the tips! I was always doing something similar like this, but every time forgot about pictures, or it would not come to my mind. From here as i can see, the pictures and the right ones are very important and useful. Thank you again!

    • Thanks Sally. Yes, pictures are critical in that they liven up the post, convey a message and help with social media sharing. Thanks for the comment!

    • I agree with you. Use a straightforward process at first two write move valuable posts and you should be able to get more traction. Thanks for the comment.

  34. Thank you so much Tom for having time to share this topic. As a newbie, I will try these 8 things to make my blog be a essential one. Thanks for creating a platform to allow any of your readers to be able to express themselves freely. Great websites!

      • Hi Tom,I am so thankful that these 8 things I used for my blog is true,very essential one! This method that I am using is very effective and helpful one. Got a good comments after they read my article. Thank you so much once again for sharing your very useful article Tom. Keep up the good work!

  35. Really great point you discuss with us. Its very valuable and informative post for me thank you so much for sharing this post.

  36. Excellent article Tom,
    Surely, proper planning and formatting can do wonders to a blog post.

    List posts are a favorite of mine, good to see an entire post dedicated to proper formatting of a list post.

    The start is always an important part, more so for a list post, as many readers are just going to skim through the points. Unless the start is compelling enough, it will always be a quick run down the article and if the closing can’t hold them, the article will never achieve it’s potential.

    The actual points in the middle will always be the meat, and unless well researched, it will all be thin content. Sometimes, taking that extra yard, as you mentioned – taking pictures and exploring the venue – becomes the key elements in deciding the magnitude of how well the post is going to do,

    cheers!
    Uttoran Sen,

    • Dr. Kavita,

      Yes, I agree that that’s important. For many beginning bloggers getting good content is a challenge so I started there. The more advanced can really start to figure out their keywords and add that in to the post, page titles, picture alt tags/file name and links (with anchor text). Great point!

  37. Great post, I agreed on what you want to tell. But still I’m thinking whether or not it is important to include call to action.

    • Narendra,

      I think it’s pretty important but ties closely to your goals. If you’re trying to build a mailing list, definitely a report or other way to do that. If you just want more regular readers, how about a call to action to subscribe to your blog? What do you think?

  38. I would like to extend my appreciation regarding this article said. Thank you for sharing it. It is very informative and helpful. It plays a big change in my career.

  39. A post title is very crucial when it comes to blogging. It gives a brief review of the whole article being followed. Blogs will always be successful if the above 8 essentials are followed. It is very important to have a good title.

  40. An important part of improving your ranking in search engines is frequently writing good, high-quality content for your site, writing a checklist is very essentials. In making a checklist, it can help that Google can understand what your page is about. Glad you provide checklist here the very helpful especially for the newbies. Keep on sharing…

  41. Having a checklist is essential. It really helps you write your blog post. Everyone has something that they can write about what to do or what not to do.