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These days, we all need to create a lot of content. Great blog posts aren't often written on the first try, but with a little effort before and after you write, they can get a lot better. Often, the piece I started isn't the one I ended up with. This could be because I found some new information as I wrote it, decided that a point didn't make as much sense as I thought it would, or a million tiny reasons along the way. Regardless of why, it is critical that the what I am writing still meets the goals and needs of the audience I wrote it for. So, I have created a simple set of questions for both before and after I start that has worked really well for me and just takes a few minutes.

3 Questions Before Writing 

It is easy to have an idea and just start writing, but if you answer these questions first, your content is much more likely to be focused and appropriate for your audience. It is easy to write these out ahead of time at the top of the post and then delete them before publishing.
  1. Who am I writing this for? The audience determines the tone, language, level of detail and complexity, length, style and many other aspects of the blog. Writing to that reader will make the post much cleaner and appealing to them when it is done. Example: "My reader for this post is beginning to intermediate blog authors or content marketers."
  2. What is the one key point I want the reader to take away from this? This is the focal point of the post, and you will use it in the introduction and the conclusion, as well as supporting it in the body. Example: "I want the reader to know that great blog posts are easier to create with a little pre and post writing effort."
  3. How will this post help the audience? The key point focuses the piece, but it still has to help them "do" something with the information. Example: "After reading this post, the reader will be able to use these questions as a guide for their own content, so that they can write better blog posts."


A Checklist after you are done Writing 

Once the post is written, but before you hit publish, go through this checklist and make sure that what you have produced still has the quality and value you imagined when you started.
  1. Does the introduction quickly explain what this post is about and why the reader should continue to read?
  2. Is the post skimmable and readable? (lists, whitespace, bold, titles)
  3. Does it use appropriate language for the audience?
  4. Is the post useful and valuable?
  5. Is the post clear and focused on one key topic?
  6. Does the post link to any previous posts?
  7. Does the post back up claims with reputable external sources?
  8. Does the conclusion sum up the topic and re-establish the key point?

I used this checklist on this post and caught a few things as a result that I changed for the better. I hope that this is as useful for you in your writing. Let me know what you think, or if you have your own posting guidelines you use.

Post by John Maver
Sep 4, 2015