How we decide when a blog post is “done”
There is no such thing as a ‘perfect’ draft—so how do you know when you’re done? OSP uses a pre-publishing checklist to answer that question.
You’ve gone back and forth with your editor, made the necessary corrections, and closed out all the comments on the Google Doc. You feel like your post is done, but you might be wondering: is it really ready? Couldn’t it still be improved? Of course, it could, but that doesn’t mean you should invest more time and see diminishing returns. A clear process can help. Here are the final steps OSP team members go through before we finally hit ‘publish.’
Read the piece through in its entirety
Do a full read of your piece while resisting the urge to tweak words with your keyboard (you might even print a copy). Reading an article in its entirety will give you a sense of how the piece flows and whether you’ve covered the main points outlined in the briefing stage of the document. Make sure your thesis is easy to reference—write it down on a physical or digital sticky note—and check that your subheadings appropriately capture their subject matter. By the end of your read-through, you should have noticed the following points covered:
- Target audience
- Audience pain points
- Thesis statement
- SEO keywords (as needed)
Phone a friend
There are only so many editing rounds a writer and editor can go through before losing sight of the bigger picture. Ask a colleague who hasn’t been closely involved in the process—and perhaps resembles your target audience—to read it for a gut check. They’re not there to make line edits, but to give you a simple “yes, this looks good to go” or “make one last change (and here’s why)."
Preview a live version
A benefit of writing online and publishing within a CMS is previewing your posts online before you publish. Sometimes, your page’s design and visual layout can help you see opportunities to tweak things or add images to break up the text. As many readers access web pages on their phones, remember to adjust your screen size or breakpoints to make sure the post will read easily for most devices.
Perform a final check
Sometimes when you go back and forth with your editor and make changes, new errors are introduced. Before you publish, perform one last copy edit as a way to make sure everything’s in place. It’s also a good time to:
- Make sure your images are accessible by adding captions or alt text.
- Add links to relevant resources (and check that they work).
- Optimize your SEO terms where possible.
- Add clear call-to-actions.
Have no fear
Once you establish a process to 'know when you're done,’ hitting publish gets a lot easier. It might not look exactly like ours, but if it makes you more confident in your drafts, your process is successful. And remember: when you’re publishing with a CMS, you can always go back and make changes or edits.
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