It happens to the best of us. We hit “Publish” on our latest masterpiece and then go about our day. At some point we take a look at the post to see how it is faring, and immediately spot the glaring error.
There are a lot of things you can get wrong when publishing a post on WordPress. There are the obvious grammatical and spelling mistakes, and some more technical, WordPress related snafus.
I have found that the best way to avoid publishing something you would rather not is to follow a set checklist. It may seem rather anal, but it put a stop to the mistakes that I was commonly making.
I have gone into detail on each point, but once you are up and running you can just refer to the checklist itself.
- Set Your Scheduled Date & Time
- Decide Upon a Headline
- Draft & Edit the Post
- Add Images/Video
- Add Featured/Thumbnail Image
- Check For & Link to Related Posts
- Check Your Permalink
- Add To Categories
- Tag Your Content
- Read Through Your Article Once More & Submit!
1. Set Your Scheduled Date & Time
I always schedule my posts, rather than publish them. However, I have been known on occasion to hit “Publish” without a second’s thought, well before it is time for people to see my masterpiece in the making. The best way to combat this is to schedule the post for publication before you do anything else.
You may want to move this point further down the list if you are working close to a deadline. After all, you don’t want the post to go live whilst you are still working on it! But if you are working several hours or a day ahead of your planned publication time, schedule your post before you do anything else.
If you just hit publish once you are done (you maverick), you can of course skip this step.
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2. Decide Upon a Headline
I believe that the headline should always be set in stone first. If you do not know the headline of your article, then your post will probably end up being rather wishy washy. In the internet age, when the attention span of your average blog reader is comparable to that of a goldfish, it is extremely important to keep your articles sharp and focused. So decide upon a headline before you start writing.
Also, the title of your post should be no greater than 70 characters (including spaces). Please note that the limit includes anything within the <title></title> tags on the page.
3. Draft & Edit the Post
I don’t know about you, but whatever I originally write is never the finished product. I tend to “rush” through what I am writing, getting all of my salient thoughts on (virtual) paper before going back to see exactly how much of what I wrote actually makes sense. When it comes to article writing, getting everything out of my head is always the first priority.
Once I think I have exhausted all of my knowledge on the topic at hand, I will then go back and check over my work. At this stage, I will probably rewrite some sentences, add bits, take away bits, and format sentences with bold and italics where appropriate.
4. Add Images/Videos
I like to wait until I have finished writing before I add images. Once I am ready to add images, I will make sure that they are appropriately sized before I upload them. There is no point uploading a 1,000 sq px image if you are then going to resize it to 250 sq px on your post. Some of your visitors will be viewing on slow connections and will thank you for not packing your posts with large images.
The same principle applies for any images that you would like to be enlarged when clicked. Instead of uploading one large image and resizing it for your post, upload a small version and a large version. Everyone who doesn’t click on the image won’t have to wait for the large version to load, and those who want the larger version will expect to wait a few moments for it to load.
Finally, make sure that you appropriately credit any images you have sourced.
5. Add Featured/Thumbnail Image
The wording may change depending on what theme you are using, but you do not want to forget to set up an image that will display whenever your post is shown in excerpt format. That is a mistake that I made all the time before I started using a checklist.
6. Check For & Link To Related Posts
I talked enthusiastically about interlinking recently, as it is a great way of increasing engagement on your blog. So when you have finished with the bulk of your article, the next step is to check back through your old posts and see if there are any opportunities for interlinking. Check out the article I have linked to above for a full explanation of interlinking and how best to do it.
7. Check Your Permalink
This one has caught me out plenty of times.
One of the most popular posts on my blog to date suffered from a permalink disaster. When I first wrote the headline, it was to be “12 Steps…”. It actually ended up being “13 Steps…”, but I forgot to check the permalink before I published the post. Not only that, my permalink had an apostrophe in it, and WordPress didn’t like that one bit. I ended up having three different URLs for the same page, which made it rather difficult to keep track of.
Avoid such a messy outcome. Check your permalink before you publish the post. Personally, I would also recommend stripping out any unnecessary words and making it as short and keyword-rich as possible.
8. Add To Categor(ies)
Don’t forget to add your post to the relevant category or categories! WordPress will assign it to your default category if you forget to do so, and Murphy’s Law dictates that it will not be the category you want it to be assigned to. Find out more on how to keep your categories clean and tidy here.
9. Tag Your Content
If you are as much of a fan of tags as me, you won’t want to forget this step. Ideally, you’ll have a list of your tags that you can reference to make sure that your post gets tagged in all the right places. Check out this article for the full guide on using post tags in WordPress.
10. Read Through Your Article Once More & Submit!
Once I have done absolutely everything else, I like to give my article on last read. I will hit “Preview” and read it as it will be shown on my blog. This is a step that bossman James always likes to take (#9), and with good cause. There are things you can miss in the text editor (such as images not displaying as you would like). It is always worth giving your post one last read through as it will be seen by your adoring fans.
Once you’re finished reading, you’re all done! It’s time to hit “Publish” and brace yourself for the onslaught of love and admiration!