Perfecting Your Blog Post Before Publishing It | Theresa Christine | Skillshare

Perfecting Your Blog Post Before Publishing It

Theresa Christine, Freelance Travel Writer + Blogger

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8 Lessons (34m)
    • 1. Intro

      2:09
    • 2. Lesson 1: Content (Keywords + Titles)

      4:52
    • 3. Lesson 2: Formatting

      6:06
    • 4. Lesson 3: Proofreading

      3:53
    • 5. Lesson 4: Images (part 1)

      6:09
    • 6. Lesson 5: Images (part 2)

      3:41
    • 7. Lesson 6: Misc.

      6:07
    • 8. Outro

      0:40

About This Class

After you've sat down and typed up a pretty killer blog post, all that you really want to do is hit the publish button and call it a day. Well, by following the steps in this course you can give your post an extra edge that will make it looked polished and engage your audience. At the end of the course, you'll have a blogging routine that you can follow to publish amazing posts rather than entries you feel simply weren't your best work.

This course will cover all the things that you can do once your post is written to make it totally web-worthy, including:

* Formatting and adjusting your content to be more SEO friendly
* Images and what you can do to them to enhance your post
* Commonly forgotten tasks to do's that will tie it all together

...and more. If you're looking to improve your blog posts, then this is the place to start!

This class is intended for beginning to intermediate bloggers, and geared towards WordPress users (although those of you using Squarespace, Wix, Blogger, etc. will still benefit from this course!).

Transcripts

1. Intro: Hi, my name is Theresa Christine and I'm a freelance writer and the travel blogger at Tremendous Times. Welcome to perfecting your blog posts before publishing it. I have had Tremendous Times for a number of years now but I've actually been blogging for much longer than that and I have had a lot of experience in publishing something that is actually not 100 percent ready to be published and then going back and making some changes and then finally after those changes are made, it is 100 percent actually ready. This course is designed to help you avoid that. Blogging is so great because if you do make a mistake you can go and change it but what we really want is for you to publish work that is 110 percent ready to go so that once you hit publish, you can go ahead and schedule it in your social media and get it out there and focus on other stuff. In this course, I'm going to be covering a couple of different things that you will want to do before you hit the Publish button. This will include the content itself and how you can make it more readable and more SEO friendly, what you should do to your images so that they really truly enhance your post and a lot of those really quite often forgotten items that you should be doing before you hit the Publish button and how it is that you can incorporate them into your blogging routine. I primarily work in WordPress so this course is going to be especially useful for those of you who do the same but if you use Squarespace, Wix or some other blogging platform, this course will still give you a lot of valuable information. Just know that if I do any screen shares it will be inside WordPress and the execution and also maybe some of the terms might be a little bit different in some other site like Tumblr. I am super excited to have you on class, welcome and when you're ready go ahead and move on to the next video so that we can get started. 2. Lesson 1: Content (Keywords + Titles): Hi there, and welcome back to perfecting your blog post before publishing it. This lesson is going to focus on two important aspects of your content, keywords, and the title or headline. Before we get into those though, I should just touch briefly on SEO. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. This is essentially a way of priming your blog post to be easy to find through search engines. The higher your SEO ranking, the higher up in the results you will appear in a search engine like Google. The higher up you are in the search results, the more visitors you'll get. So to improve your SEO, you need to scatter keywords and phrases that will indicate to a search engine what your content is related to. This means basically that you need to think about what words or phrases people will type into a search engine to find information and stumble upon your post. The best way to figure out some of the key words and phrases that you can include is to use a search engine. There are many but Google is by far the most popular and the one that I usually use. Let's say you're writing a tutorial on how to make a flower crown. You can type in, flower crown, scroll to the bottom of Google results and you will find searches related to this topic. These are the types of things people search for when they want to know more about flower crowns. In this list, you can see flower crown diy, and that seems pretty intriguing, so from there, you can dig even more to see what search results you can get from that. You might even try, how to make a flower crown or flower crown tutorial, to see the most popular results and pull some keywords and phrases from that. Now once you've got a few choice keywords, it's time to add them into your post. You do not want to go overboard here. Keyword stuffing is the active piling in as many keywords as possible in hopes to get a higher search engine ranking. It is a pretty unsuccessful tactic and it will really just make your blog posts sound like a robot wrote it. So instead, use your writers instincts here. Sprinkle them in, try not to be too repetitive to the point that it degrades your reader's intelligence. Your keywords will act as a subtle push to improve your SEO, but it should by no means take away from your message or your unique writer's voice. Additionally, make sure you have a descriptive title that uses these keywords or at least, one of them. This is a tricky piece of advice because sometimes posts can go viral with completely obscure non-key wordy titles. For example, this post from Blogger Erin Hensley Schultz, has been shared thousands of times. Even though the title doesn't include any keywords, the content alone is really powerful and captivating and that's what has made it so shareable. You should absolutely give your posts a headline that you feel best represents the work, and this may mean that you include SEO keywords, or you may choose to disregard them completely. The choice is yours. I personally tend to err on the side of SEO friendly headlines like how to stay connected while traveling abroad, because my audience is looking for tangible, clear information about travel planning. They don't want to have to try and search to figure things out. However, the alternative is not bad either. I could have veered off that path and injected a little bit more personality into the title, neither of these is wrong but if you do want to improve your SEO, this is a place where you should know it can be tweaked. Additionally in general, headlines that are around 50 to 70 characters perform well, but again, this is no rule that is set in stone. Your project for this course is to polish and perfect a blog post that you have prepared. Whether you edit inside the WordPress post editor or in a simple text editor to later paste into WordPress, be sure that you save it regularly if it does not auto save. Please do not lose that amazing work, I promise you I have done that myself and it is so frustrating. I'd like you for this lesson to go through the steps of locating some of those SEO keywords and phrases, and sprinkle them into your post. Also, come up with three to five headline options. For your project, let me know what keywords and phrases you've chosen and a few of the headlines that you've come up with. Once you're done with this, it's time to move on to the next video. 3. Lesson 2: Formatting: Hi there and welcome back to Perfecting Your Blog Post Before Publishing It. This lesson will cover formatting your post. There is a lot of information here, so please make sure you are taking some detailed notes. Now, the first one is going to sound a little bit obvious. You want to have your content broken up into paragraphs. I mean, if you have a 800 word blog post and it's only two paragraphs, those will be some pretty intimidating looking paragraphs to get through. When your words are broken up into smaller paragraphs, it makes them much more manageable for your readers. They are so much more scannable and way easier to tackle. A lot of people scan through blog posts before they actually take the time to read it word for word. If you can make it easy for them to follow your post and just get a little taste of it, it means that they're going to be more likely to find what they're looking for and stick around if it seems intriguing to them. Aside from a logical paragraph layout, you can also make some of the text bold, which will draw attention to the really super important stuff and that just helps it stand out more. Alternatively, or in addition to, you can change text styles to be headings of various sizes. You can also use Italics for questions. This is something that I do pretty much anytime I include a question in a blog post. If you ask your readers a question, Italicizing it makes it look like you're leaning in and speaking directly to them. I cannot remember where it is that I picked up this little tip, but I think it was from [inaudible] who is an absolutely amazing blogging resource, FYI, I will include a link to her website in the notes. Italicize questions if you want to make your readers feel like you're sitting down and chatting with them over coffee. It's a great way to make them feel closer to you and much more invested and engaged in your work. If the blog theme you have allows a Read More tag, then, now's the time to determine where you'd like that. When readers go to your blog's main page, they will see a list of your posts. If you've inserted a Read More tag, basically that means they'll only see a portion of the post and then they'll have the option to click on it and read more. When they click this button, it then takes them to a separate URL, which is where the blog post actually lives, the entirety of it and this allows them to read it all. It's an easy way to keep your blog main page looking manageable and to actually tease readers a little and pick their interests. It is always a great practice to add in links where it's appropriate. Whether you link to other bloggers, or create backlinks, which are hyperlinks that lead readers to another article on your blog, this is a wonderful way to boost your SEO. Additionally, when you link to other bloggers, you involve them in your content and it is a great way to connect with them online. Last, while I am going to go into images a little bit more later, it's important to remember what images do for a blog post. For example, an image at the top can be enticing and draw people in, and when they're scattered throughout your post, they break up text and offer a more visual way to tell people what it is that you're trying to tell them. You can see in this post from Hiya Tootsie that the images simply makes scrolling through this post so simple, it's like second nature. They add to and enhance the message of the post and they make the content itself really easy to get through. Without images, this would just be a blog of text, and it might be the thing I would look at and say, "You know what? I'm going to try and come back to that later." That's not what you want, you want to have a blog post that someone looks at and says, "Wow, I need to sit down and read this right now" Your images do not have to be photographs, you can do illustrations or any graphics or visual representation of what you're looking for. But again, I'm going to go into that a little bit more later. Additionally, if you find that you have a lot of images and you just don't want to have this endless scrolling for your readers, you can utilize a gallery and that just blocks off your photos and makes them a little smaller so people can click on them and they can grow to full size. This makes it so that the post isn't get bogged down with too many images and too little texts, as you can see in the posts from Rock n Roll Bride. Adding in images makes everything a little bit more intriguing, a bit more readable, and again breaks up the text, it makes it more manageable. While this course is not going to go in-depth about videos, you can also consider including YouTube or Vimeo videos. This is just my personal preference, but in general, I tried to make it so that on a desktop computer, a reader wouldn't have to scroll excessively to get to the next piece of media. This is no rule by any means, and it really depends on how many images or videos you have to use and how long your blog post is. But based on those two factors, spread out your media somewhat evenly to keep things consistent throughout the post, and easier on the reader. For this part of the project, I'd like you to go ahead and format your blog post. Break it up into paragraphs that are not too long or too short, add in some bold, italics or some headings, and you can also add in links to some of your previous content, or content that is relevant on the web. I will also, like I said, be talking more about images later, but make a quick little note of where you think you'd like to add in a few images. Once you've done this move on to the next lesson. 4. Lesson 3: Proofreading: Hello, and welcome back to perfecting your blog posts before publishing it. This lesson is going to focus on proofreading. I know this is very not exciting at all and something you probably already know that you should do. But do you? I can honestly say I have left out the proofreading step of my blogging simply because I felt like I was on a roll and had absolutely made something great, only to publish it and then reread the posts later and discover a spelling mistake or grammatical error. Yes, the beauty of blogging allows you to go back and edit your mistakes. But you really can never know for sure who might stop by to your blog and notice these errors. You never know what you might miss. Excellent grammar and spelling are one of the factors that will make people trust your opinion more and make you seem like an educated authority on your topic. Poor grammar and spelling will do the exact opposite. Not only that, but proofreading does give you the chance to look through your work and make sure it flows and hits all the points that you want it to. The bottom line, proofreading is not a separate part of writing a blog post. Actually, it's something that you need to factor into the time that you spend working on a blog post before you publish it. Simply consider it a part of writing the post and not a separate thing that you have to do. Now, when it comes to proofreading, you have a few options. The easiest one is to just go ahead and hire someone. If you really dislike it that much or you don't feel like you're able to proofread your own work, you can find either a personal assistant or a dedicated proofreader. The downside to this is of course, that you have to have the money to invest in this contractor. The upside though is that it is definitely a worthwhile investment, and you can just rest assured that your content will come out sparkly clean. If this isn't an option, but you still like the idea of having someone else eye your work, ask a close friend, a family member or a partner to help you out. A loved one who supports you and has a little extra time on their hands will certainly love to help you out. Alternatively, if you happen to connect with other bloggers online or if your mastermind groups, you can offer a trade, say, you offer to proofread their blog posts and vice versa. The most common option, especially for beginners, is to just DIY your proofreading. Of course, this is tough and it means that you really have to slow down. Otherwise, you're just going to be skimming through your work rather than actually picking it apart. So remember how much proofreading can improve your work and have the patience to do it right. I really don't like proofreading that much, but I do it for tremendous times and I always make sure to do at least two passes through, more if I have time. Additionally, you can try reading your material out loud. This slows down how you go through the words and it gives you the chance to hear it in a new way, and figure out what does and does not work. Another tactic is to read your work a sentence at a time going backwards, ensuring that you don't miss anything. For your project in this lesson, consider which proofreading option works best for you and implement it. Also, think about who you know that you could ask to help you out and proofread as a favor. It's definitely helpful to know who you could turn to if it's something you need help with in the future. Once you've written this down, you're ready to move on to the next video. 5. Lesson 4: Images (part 1): Hi, and welcome back to perfecting your blog posts before publishing it. We are going to go ahead and talk about images. This lesson will cover finding some good images and branding them if you so wish. When it comes to including images in your post, whether they photos or illustrations, you actually have to own the rights to them. That's right. You cannot simply swipe any image off the growth into webs and use it even if you credit it to its source. So you have a few options. One, use images from the Internet by first receiving permission from those who took or made them. This obviously means reaching out to people and waiting to hear a response, if you ever do. Two, make your own images or take your own photos. Most smart phones have a pretty decent camera these days. Now, the downside here is that you might get a lot of different coloration and your photos won't be edited, and if your strong point really isn't creating graphics or taking photos, you might feel like yours end up looking a little subpar. This is where the next two suggestions will really come into play. Three, purchase the rights to them, like on a stock photo site. I think that stock photos probably have a pretty bad reputation because we think of like a woman eating salad, or people laughing around desk at work, and they don't really seem very vibrant or very realistic. However, if you find a site that works for you and you can find a prize point that works for you, then this is a great way to go for. Find alternative sites that offer free or inexpensive, royalty-free images, such as Death to the Stock Photo, Flickr creative commons, or unsplash. Death to the Stock Photo is a paid membership site, and when you pay, you get access to their entire library of photos to use for whatever you wish. Flickr creative commons is a place on flickr where people have uploaded their photos and designated certain rights to them, so you can use the photos, but for the most part, you have to either not alter the photo in any way or you also have to credit the person who took the photo. Unsplash is probably my favorite site in the entire world. It's amazing and I highly linked encourage you to check it out. They offer completely free images for you to use and they are beautiful. You can check the notes to see some of the direct links to the sites to find images to use. Once you know what images you'd like to use, it's time to brand them a little. Even if you haven't hired someone to create your brand, blogs always look the most polished and professional. When images between different blog posts are consistent, this may mean that the filter's on all of the photos and every blog post of the same or that the illustration style is similar. A great example is Nubby Twiglet. She is a fantastic design blogger. So as you can imagine, all of her images are carefully curated. This is a very high standard and I just think her images are beautiful. Nomadic Matt is a travel blogger and his images are a little more real life. Their travel photos that he's taken, they look good, but it's nothing crazy. These are regular photos that he has taken for tremendous times. I've decided on a certain text and style with my main photo that everyone sees first. So when you go to my main page, you see all these photos that are very consistent. Don't feel like you have to decide now, and never ever change the style that you go with. But you can go ahead and start experimenting and to find out some consistent imagery style that does work for you. These images will not only help you and promoting your posts on social media, but they'll make you seem a little more authoritative in your field. You can experiment with all different types of things: filters, fonts, borders, illustrations, color palettes, and whatever else you'd like. I've listed a few resources in the notes that I like to use for photo and image editing, but my short list of favorites is afterlife, an app on the phone, Adobe Photoshop, and Canva. You can also use Pinterest to find images that people have branded for their social media for inspiration, and you can visit their sites to see how this plays into their blog if you need a little bit more guidance. You have your images, before you upload them, go ahead and give them a descriptive filename. So instead of 8024.JPEG, changed the name to something like, so Halloween Costume. This might not seem too important, but it all comes back to SEO. Descriptive titles will give you a little boost, so be sure to change them before you upload. Now, it is time to upload images into your WordPress blog. You have two options here. The first is you can go to the media tab and click add new. It should appear at the top. You then I can drag and drop or directly upload whatever media you would like. Alternatively, you can add media into a post as you're editing the post, click the mouse in the editor where you would like your media to appear, and then click on add media. At this point, it will look identical to if you had just gone to the media tab. Then you will either choose from what you've already uploaded or add in your images there. For this project, go ahead and source the images that you'd like to use, edit them, and upload them into the media section of your dashboard. Also adding some of those images into your skill share project so they can check them out and see what you're working on. Once you've done this, it's time to move on to the next video. 6. Lesson 5: Images (part 2): Hi, and welcome back to perfecting your blog post before publishing it. I'm going to continue with the images discussion, to give you a few pointers that will make them even more of an asset to your blog post. First, for aesthetics, aim to make your image sizes consistent. Not every single image has to be the exact same dimensions, but they should be the same width. This goes hand-in-hand with formatting, but basically by making all of your images the same width, it's going to be much more consistent and much more pleasing to the eye. Personally, I recommend going with the same width as your text. This allows the images to be big, and beautiful, and really eye-catching while also enhancing the content of the post. If you are writing a post, and you're including images that are all different sizes, it will just kind of look messy, and confusing. Have some standard width, that you would like to use throughout your blog. When you click on a photo that is in your post as you're editing, you have the option to adjust the size. So, try it out and see which size looks best to you. Then stick with that size for every piece of media in the post. While you're at it though, also edit the title, alt text and caption if you so choose of the uploaded images. This is also just really helpful for SEO, and social media purposes.They are excellent extra tools to just improve the post. What you need to do is, go to the Media tab, and edit each one individually. The title is merely a description of the image. The default title will end up being the filename as you uploaded it. If you feel like it's suitable, you can leave it, but you can also change it if you'd like. Alt text, is alternative text. That's what it means, and it is basically texts that shows up if an image fails to appear on your site. It should be descriptive of what it portrays, like boy sitting by tree. Captions, are text that you'll see alongside, or below an image. It's a little separated from the bulk of a blog post. Whatever you write in the caption section, will be visible to your readers. It's up to you if you want to include captions or not. They can be a fun way to give readers a little more of a taste of your personality, by including something witty or quippy. It can also just give people more information, that you feel bogs down your post a little bit. Last, you will want to set a featured image. This is going to be the image, that will appear when people share your posts on social media, or when they scroll through your blog archives. As you edit the posts in WordPress, on the right, you will have the option to select a featured image. Do so, it will bring up the media tab once again, once you click on this, you will then basically be picking from your media uploader. Once that's set, you can always remove it, and put in a different one if you feel that it's more suitable. For this lesson, you're going to wrap up all of your work with your images, edit them so that they are a consistent size, and it also includes titles, alt texts, and captions, if you're interested. Decide on, and set your featured image and make a note in your skill share project what your featured image is. Once you've done this, go ahead and move on to the next video. 7. Lesson 6: Misc.: Hi, and welcome back to perfecting your blog post before publishing it. This lesson is going to cover a few of the commonly forgotten things that you can do to tweak your post and add on those finishing touches. First of all, make sure you add a category or two to your post and tags, if you'd like. Categories are the bulk topics that you cover on your site. For example, make-up, movies, parenting tips. Giving your post a category will help people who come to your site find posts in that topic and if they like this new post, they can also click on the category name and find other posts that deal with the exact same category. Categories can also have parents, creating this sort of umbrella of topics that allow you to hone in on and get more specific with. The Dieline features five categories at the top, some of which are then broken down into even more categories. This just makes finding what you want way easier and it keeps the navigation menu clean. Just imagine if they had all of these categories as their own individual parent category. There will be at least 20. That would be a complete nightmare aesthetically, it would look awful. What they've done here is just made it easier to find and also made it more pleasing to the eye. You can also add in tags while you're editing your post if you'd like. These little word nuggets can be used sparingly and kept short and just used whenever you feel it's relevant. Using an endless list of tags doesn't really help you, it actually hurts you. It's the equivalent of keywords stuffing for SEO. Instead with a post, you would want to focus on 1-3 tags maximum, that allow readers to navigate a little further. For example, if you were about to post brownie recipe, you may use categories like desserts or baking. But your tags will allow you to cover content that is similar but might appear in different categories. For example, chocolate, brownies or walnuts could all be tags. Tags are optional and really only enhance your reader's experience when they're done correctly. But having a category at least one is mandatory. If you have to focus on only one or the other, go ahead and focus on categories, it's the mandatory thing. You want them streamlined and you want them to make sense before you even worry about tagging. As you're looking in the editor, you will notice that you have a button to socialize. This basically automatically shares your blog post on whatever social media accounts you hook up to it. I don't do this personally. I use Buffer for social media scheduling, but if this is the route that you want to go, then all you have to do is connect whatever platforms you'd like to use and you're good to go. The post gets published and it will automatically be tweeted, shared, and distributed on all of these platforms. Okay, your blog post is almost ready to go, but you still need to determine how you want your readers to respond. Here are a few examples of what your goal might be and how you could achieve it. Do you want to get comments on the post? Ask your readers a question at the end and tell them to respond in the comments. Do you want your readers to purchase something from you or join a webinar that you're hosting? Go ahead and include that link at the end to remind them what the whole point of the post was about. Would you like them to join your mailing list? Include a sign up box? Should they sign a petition for something, make sure that you direct them to it. Remember that you won't get what you don't ask for, so be sure to let your readers know and be clear on what you'd like them to do at the end of this amazing post. This is called a call-to-action and it's you basically saying, "Hey, if you like this make sure that you also do this thing. " and it encourages involvement and engagement from the reader. Do not be discouraged if you're a newbie blogger and engagement is a little low. I have definitely experienced that but keep that call-to-action in there. Blogs will take time to grow. But one thing that certainly helps is when readers feel like they're able to get more involved. Go ahead and try out different tactics to see what works out best because it might just simply be how you're approaching your call-to-action. Try humor, try branded image at the end, try questions, do whatever feels right to you, and don't be afraid to experiment. You're basically done but before you pop the champagne, there is one last and final thing you should do. You should always save as a draft before you hit publish and preview your post. This is such an important step and will allow you to see if you missed anything or if something looks off or a little bit wonky before you actually publish it. Then if everything looks great and you give it the A-okay, it's good to publish. Now this is the last part of the project so it's time to organize your categories and tags and put them into the post. Tags only if you decide that you want to use them and work in a solid call-to-action. Once you've hit publish, make sure to include your blog post link in your Skillshare project. Once you've done this, you can move on to the last and final video. 8. Outro: Congratulations, you have made it to the end of the course. I am so happy that you've stuck through it and I hope that you've learned a lot of things that are going to make your blogging even better and make it, hopefully, even more streamlined and easier for you when it's time for you to publish a new post. I'd love for you to leave a review of this class and let me know how it helped you, and also check out my other courses here on Skillshare about blogging and writing. Thank you again, and I am really looking forward to checking out your project, and also seeing your finished blog post. I hope see you in another Skillshare class soon.