Writing Workshop: Before You Hit Publish

writing for the web checklistWhile my Kansas City friends were stuck with more snow, I spent the end of last week soaking up the sun and fun in the Gaylord Biodome at Blissdom (where is that sarcasm font when you need it)?

At V3, we work with agencies and brands and do a lot of blogger and influencer outreach. My recent workshop: Writing for the Web: What, Why and How to Kick Butt At It is intended to help bloggers master the art of not only writing for the web, but also understanding how to deliver great results for the brands and agencies they work with.

Content marketing is the number one strategic marketing focus for brands and agencies, so when bloggers understand the basics of content marketing, they can better position themselves for relationships that are mutually beneficial. And agencies and brands, we’re all over that.

But writing for the web and effective content marketing takes skill. It’s not as easy as writing a blog post. And the work doesn’t stop when you’ve written the post. The distribution channels you develop and relationships you’ve cultivated over the years can have a huge impact on the success (read that: reach and impact) of your content. Equally as important is tracking your results and reporting back to your brand or agency partners–which is delivering the ultimate value as a content partner.

But distribution and reporting are things I’ll cover in a subsequent post. Back to writing. Here are the bare bones, must-do things you should do before you hit that “publish” button:

Before You Hit “Publish”

The Basics

  • Your headline is key. Make sure it’s compelling, captures attention and is clear on the value your post delivers. Cute but unclear won’t cute it.
  • Make sure your post is 300 words minimum and no more than 700.
  • Images are important. Sometimes an image is what makes me read your post, so be sure and include one.
  • Your first paragraph is very important. Make sure it delivers the key message of the post and that it’s short and compelling.
  • Cite your sources and make sure that any claims made are linked to clear sources.

SEO 101

  • Your headline must be 60 characters or less.
  • Your first paragraph must be strong and include the keyword or keyword phrase from your title.
  • Make sure you’ve included a link in your first sentence or first paragraph that connects to a related piece from the blog on which you’re publishing.
  • Include 2-5 additional links within the body of the post that connect to relevant material on relevant external sites, as well as the site on which you’re publishing. All links within the body of the post should not be to your site or to the site that your post is appearing on.
  • Make sure your links use text phrases 2-5 words long and describe where the link leads (i.e. use “writing for bloggers” vs. “click here”).
  • Use bolded subheads in your post to help readability.
  • Use keywords wisely in your subheadings.
  • All images have captions, alt text and titles relevant to the post topic.


  • Read the post aloud to proofread before publishing.
  • Use contractions. This will help your writing sound conversational.
  • Ask yourself if you’re using needless jargon and if so, ditch it.
  • Make 100% certain that your post delivers what the headline claims, otherwise, you’ll annoy your readers.
  • Don’t ramble. This is where reading aloud will help you. If your content isn’t on topic, get rid of it.
  • Provide valuable action steps instead of vague, empty statements.
  • Finish with a strong call-to-action at the end.
  • Edit, edit and edit again.

And there you have it–your pre-publish writing checklist. Bookmark it, print it out, tattoo it on your arm–whatever you do, make sure you keep these tips in mind as you’re creating content for the web. My wish is for you to develop fantastic, long-lasting relationships with great brands and agencies. And hopefully these tips will help you write content that knocks their socks off.

Image: Courtney Dirks via Compfight cc

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