Don’t Publish Your Post Prematurely, Ask Yourself These 9 Questions First

  • March 8, 2011 by Guest Writer
  • 40 Comments

Guest post by Karol K. of newInternetOrder

On your quest to write epic shit, you’re going to have to put more thought, more soul and more effort into each of your blog posts.

That means not publishing posts prematurely, before you’re sure that each post is insanely useful to your audience.

Before you publish your next post, try asking yourself these 9 questions first to make sure you’re not publishing prematurely:

1. Would it be better to divide the post into multiple posts?

Every post should touch upon just one central idea. Trying to explain every possible aspect about a given field in a single post is rarely a good idea. “The meaning of life” posts, I call them.

A better idea is to pick just one issue and address it in an easy to read, understandable single piece.

It’s easy to get caught up in this. Let me explain why. You, the author, are quite familiar with what you’re writing about. Whatever you’re about to write seems like common, obvious knowledge for you. That’s why you can consume much more information than someone who is new to this. You can wrap your mind around several different ideas within a single article. So you end up writing a huge monolithic piece that won’t be easily digested by your audience.

You don’t want to write a post that’s challenging to follow. People should enjoy reading it your post. It should be fun. A fun post is a concept much easier to achieve if you remember to share one idea at a time.

Easy reading is damn hard writing, but I promise you, sticking to just one single idea is much easier to write and to read.

2. Should I erase the first paragraph?

Here is an old writer’s trick that maybe you’ve heard of. Try this with one of your previous posts. Erase the first paragraph and see if the post gets any better. You will be surprised how many times your initial first paragraph is totally unnecessary.

What’s the deal? While writing a post we feel like we need to introduce the reader to the topic, so we try to do it in the first paragraph. But very often we tend to share unnecessary information that no one cares to read.

This is a mistake many of us make on a regular basis. Our English teachers might be to blame here. In school we were taught to always construct our articles in an introduction-body-conclusion manner.

Yes, you need to introduce your article, but make sure you’re getting to the point right away instead of just making small talk.

3. Did I create anticipation for the next post?

This is a nice trick. Try to end your post with a teaser, so to speak. Tell your audience what’s coming next.

This technique should create some anticipation if you’re planning to write a follow-up post.

If you want to put this technique on steroids just use a date along with the information. Something like “On Feb28th I’m publishing part two of “how to create a mind blowing CV”… you get the point. If you want people to be waiting at the door tell them when the door opens.

4. Did I end with a call to action?

Tell people what you want them to do next. You don’t want them to just leave your blog and do nothing.

Ask them to subscribe to your RSS feed, or leave a comment, or retweet your post. Remember, if you don’t ask, the answer will more often be “no.”

You can also end your post with a more detailed question to elicit more comments. Something regarding the post itself and the idea it shares. For example, if you’re writing about new trends in advertising, ask your readers which advertising trends they think are most important.

In a nutshell: end your post with a question mark or request.

5. Is the post helpful in a meaningful way?

It better be. Otherwise it’s not worth reading, and therefore not worth writing… Maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, so OK, you have to make it either helpful, entertaining or inspiring.

People tend to ask a certain question while reading a post. That question is: “what’s in it for me?” If the the answer isn’t clear during the first two or three paragraphs they will just stop reading and move on to the next thing.

If it’s neither helpful nor entertaining nor inspiring, scrap it. Don’t hit the publish button.

6. Will people want to share it?

This somewhat connects to the previous point, but it’s not the same thing. You might think that if something is helpful people will want to share it with their friends, but that’s not always the case.

We, internet users, tend to read many things during the day or week, but we don’t share every single piece with everyone we know. That’s because even though a post might be helpful and valuable, it isn’t catchy, it lacks something, or isn’t “mainstreamy” enough to share it with our friends.

This is a kind of an x-factor. Something that can’t be really defined, but we can tell its presence when it crosses our path. So just ask yourself: Will my readers find this post worth sharing with their friends?

7. Did I give for free what other people usually charge for?

Every blogger is told that they should create valuable content. But how can you tell whether or not the post is valuable enough? Let’s translate value into money, something fairly easy to do.

Whenever you finish writing a post try to imagine a situation where a hired consultant advises their client using quotes from your post. Or, imagine a paid product that contains the same information as your post. Is that possible? Or would your content sound silly in either of those situations?

If you could charge for the information, you wrote yourself a piece of good, valuable content. Publish it.

8. Did I erase something because I was scared of saying it?

Afraid of a nasty backlash? Don’t be. You can’t please everybody, so don’t even try to. It’s better to a disagreeable response than no response at all.

So go back to your post, remember all the things you’ve erased because they were too outrageous at first glance, and put them back in the post. Read it again and make your decision to publish then.

9. Was I real?

What does “real” mean? Real means to be in tune with your style and your way of writing. That’s why you need to read your post after you’re finished writing it. See if it sounds like you. See if it’s honest. Do you really agree with the overall look and feel of the post?

Sometimes the outcome is surprising and you’ll find your post needs some heavy editing before you hit “publish.”


That’s it for the 9 questions. I’d love if you could help me out. Tell us what you think should be the 10th question on this list. See you in comments!

Photo by Helga Weber

Karol K. is a 20-something year old entrepreneur from Poland who shares his thoughts on Internet marketing and business at New Internet Order.


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TrafficColeman March 8, 2011 at 6:31 am

I say any post that is over 700 words or more should be divided up into post. People just don’t want to read that much at one time anymore..

“Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

wilson March 8, 2011 at 8:24 am

I personally don’t think that all post should be under 700 words, some, yea.

If you’re trying to offer value sometimes it’s hard to put out what you’re explaining in 700 words.

From what we’ve seen online, the blogs that write long posts typically do the best. Not to go that far, ThinkTraffic, Viperchill, Quicksprout.

But that’s my opinion TrafficColeman, I’m not saying you’re wrong. Just what I think.

Tim March 8, 2011 at 6:53 am

I’ve only briefly skimmed the headlines here.

My first thought was about how most successful blogs I’ve read were indeed helpful in some way, but some of the most incredible posts were just that. They were just posts. I feel unnecessary hostility toward the idea that I have to be helpful to be successful.

I’ll come back here after school and read the rest of this post, and I’ll change my opinion. There’s a good chance I agree with everything you’ve written.

Mark Cancellieri March 8, 2011 at 8:07 am

I am basically breaking a whole bunch of rules on my blog, but I have been doing it consciously. I am trying to write epic shit, although my posts might only be epic in length. :-)

I do try to make it easy to scan my posts by using bold and headings though.

Most blogging experts say that I should be posting frequently, but I have just decided to only post something when it is good and ready.

Time will tell whether I will be successful.

Karol K March 8, 2011 at 10:44 am

The thing with posting frequently has been on my mind lately. I think (but I’m not 100% sure about this) that new blogs can post every other day, but posting every day might be a little too much.

Look at it that way: I am subscribed to over 300 different sources through my Google Reader. Whenever I stumble upon an interesting blog I check how frequently the author’s posting. If it’s once per day then it’s probably too much additional stuff for me to take. The number of unread entries rises just so damn quickly that I don’t want to make the situation even worse by adding one additional entry per day. And it’s not just my point of view. RSS users are getting really picky nowadays. Having great content might just not be enough.

But as I’m saying, I’m not 100% sure about this, so feel free to disagree and tell me why.

Karol K March 8, 2011 at 8:16 am

It all depends on how interesting the post is. Plus, some arguments need more than that to get a point across. But I agree, there are some great short posts out there… Every single entry by Seth Godin, for example.

Jia Jun March 8, 2011 at 8:17 am

Nice post Karol.
No. 2 is something new to me, of trying to delete the introduction and straight into the post.
I would say No. 10 would be highlight the key points so readers to give a splash before deciding to further reading. This is important as readers don’t have so much time to waste on each post, so perhaps no matter how perfect the post is, without the first impression and attraction that leads readers to continue reading. It won’t work.

Karol K March 9, 2011 at 1:59 am

Just to clarify. Are you suggesting to include some sort of an abstract?

Perfect Dad March 8, 2011 at 8:57 am

Great advice! I suffer from the meaning-of-life post syndrome. And I’ve never heard that “Erase the first paragraph” idea. Awesome. I’m a new blogger so I’m still finding my legs, but thanks for the tips. Some of them are not obvious!

Karol K March 9, 2011 at 2:02 am

Meaning-of-life posts are great as a writing exercise (so to speak), or as a warm-up before writing the main post.

Wayne John @ Southern California Web Development March 8, 2011 at 9:31 am

I’m terribly guilty of writing a piece and doing a few edits then publishing. I don’t sit on my posts for very long. Although, I have some that bake for months before they see the light of day.

The hard part is getting in the minds of your readers. When you’re at one level, normally higher than your readers, how do you adjust your brain and write something that will fit your audience? It’s a task to be sure, sometimes.

Heh, I’m going to list these and keep them by my monitor for a while…we’ll see what happens. I’m always looking to improve, so this is perfect.

Wonderful stuff!

Karol K March 9, 2011 at 2:10 am

I think that the ability of publishing a post quicker and not sitting on it for too long comes over time. Of course, while maintaining the same quality. (Maybe a more experienced blogger could confirm this (?))

When it comes to using the right tone I always try to imagine that I’m explaining the thing I’m writing about to my friend (not my mum, or my boss, or a complete stranger).

raven March 8, 2011 at 10:46 am

For the most part my posts are worthwhile enough, I think, but I really fail at consistency. I’ll have a good strand of posts every couple of days, then I fall off and you never hear from me again until 3 weeks later, haha.

Btw, #2 is definitely a tip I hadn’t thought of. Good advice :)

Karol K March 9, 2011 at 2:14 am

Being absent for 3 weeks may be risky. Do you see many unsubscribes when you come back?

Pamela March 8, 2011 at 10:58 am

Well, Karol, it might be so obvious to you it didn’t even make the list. But unfortunately, bloggers still need to be told to proofread before hitting publish. Someone can have really awesome ideas but if I get distracted by bad spelling or punctuation, I probably won’t be back.

Karol K March 9, 2011 at 2:19 am

Wow, I honestly don’t know how could I have missed this one. Proofreading is probably one of THE most important things. Especially for someone who’s not a native speaker of English (cough… me).

Phyllis Zimbler Miller March 8, 2011 at 12:34 pm

Karol –

Pamela said what I was going to say — if the post has spelling, punctuation and grammar errors I frequently stop reading.

But there’s one thing I can add: Please be careful about spellcheck errors.

I just read a sentence on a home page (in big red type) and I kept re-reading the sentence trying to figure out the meaning because I got stuck on the word “verses.” Finally I realized the word “versus” was meant and not “verses.”

Phyllis Zimbler Miller
http://twitter.com/ZimblerMiller

Karol K March 9, 2011 at 2:22 am

Spellcheck errors can get you in trouble, I agree. My spellchecker, for example, hates the word “twitter” and tries to change it to “twister” whenever I use it.

Daniel March 8, 2011 at 2:15 pm

Yeah, pretty much all of these points on my mind right now. I’ve got a handful of half finished posts that I’ve been agonizing over. I want them to be great and useful, but I’ve been struggling with veering off on tangents that should probably be their own posts or just cut.

I do use the ‘yank the first paragraph’ a lot. I find that more often than not the first paragraph ends up being more about me figuring out what I’m writing about than serving as a useful introduction.

As for the question of posting frequency, there is no way I could post everyday. Right now I’ll be happy if I can consistently post once a week.

Great article!

Karol K March 9, 2011 at 7:42 am

Once a week is fine as long as you’re doing it consistently.

Susan Liddy March 8, 2011 at 6:06 pm

Love this one: Did I create anticipation for the next post?
Need to put some thought into that. I don’t believe I do that with my blogging at all.

Thank you for the inspiration… off to read more of your blog now.

-Susan Liddy

Karol K March 9, 2011 at 7:43 am

Thanks and see you soon then :)

The Fire Finder March 9, 2011 at 12:26 pm

I have been working on this. After finding your blog yesterday, I have been reading everything and I posted my first EPIC SHIT post today. lol. Well at least I thought it was for me. I went back after I read this today and made some changes. Thanks for the info.

Karol K March 9, 2011 at 1:21 pm

Epic shit is the new black!

Murray March 10, 2011 at 2:24 pm

I’ve been doing #2 (ha!) a lot lately. I’ve been going back and what I’ve realized is that I tend to start my posts a bit dry; I want my readers to get right into the action and by removing the first paragraph (or highly editing it), people “get it”; they know what they’re getting themselves into and it keeps up the momentum right form the get-go :)

gautam hans March 13, 2011 at 10:45 pm

Very relevant!

Especially, the point about introductions – I use an introduction to start the flow of writing. Due to this, the quality of introduction is very low and I have to delete because it might seem irrelevant.

Also, we forget to see if the article has actual value or not. It might appear that you are adding value, but, the case maybe exact opposite.

Karol K March 15, 2011 at 6:16 am

You’re right Gautam. I didn’t realize this at first, but when you’re writing the introduction you are not in the right flow yet. That’s why it sometimes turns out to be not as good as the rest of the post. Good point.

Bojan March 14, 2011 at 10:07 pm

This is genuine article in a way. I always have that first paragraph problem. Most of the times I delete it even before it gets into my Wordpress version.

Alex March 16, 2011 at 10:04 pm

Wow Karol, now that is a good list of reasons!

actually relevant in tdays blogosphere. Thats a first ;)

Amber March 21, 2011 at 1:18 pm

Sometimes I wish I could have someone proof my blogs before I release them, but if I can’t I’ better improve my spelling. It helps so much to have a person with fresh eyes look over my blog posts.

Joy April 4, 2011 at 10:01 pm

Was very useful..I even tried to ask the questions when i recently posted it worked out to be helpful..

Joy

Susann Akers July 6, 2011 at 8:40 am

I write a fashion blog. The reason for it is twofold – to get people to visit my ecommerce site and secondly to earn a few extra bucks which will help pay for the SEO for my website. It is doing neither at the moment. My posts are very short – the main part of the blog are images. I have read a lot of the ideas on here and suggestions, not sure though if they apply to my blog though. I will keep reading and trying different things out to see which works best

Wayne John @ Southern California Web Development March 8, 2011 at 9:28 am

I tend to believe that the longer the article, the more rank it might get in Google…there’s more for the bot to chew on.

wilson March 8, 2011 at 9:48 am

And that’s a good thing, right?

Karol K March 8, 2011 at 10:32 am

Good point, Wayne. I haven’t thought about it this way before

Wayne John @ Southern California Web Development March 8, 2011 at 9:53 am

I think so. :)

But, it should also be consumable by the readers too. There’s that balance, right?

Sarah Russell March 9, 2011 at 6:26 am

Sometimes the topics I cover can’t be adequately addressed in less than 700 words, and wind up being closer to 1,000-1,500. Yeah, that’s long, but I try to break posts like that up into sections to help make it more “digestible” by readers.

Karol K March 9, 2011 at 1:24 pm

Yes, that is important. If your post is a long one always make sure that it’s easily scannable by using subheadings (for example).

Daniel March 9, 2011 at 10:31 am

You know, I’m not sold on the high frequency blogging thing. Though I’m sure it depends on what your niche is.

For me personally as a consumer of blog info, it doesn’t matter to me how often somebody posts if the content is helpful to me. I don’t go browse blogs for fun. I use a feed reader and I sign up for email alerts if possible. When I have free time to read I’ll peruse my feed reader for interesting topics and I’ll click through when I get email about new articles. I’m far more interested in one good, deep article than I am in 5 short surface level posts. It would never occur to me to unsubscribe because I hadn’t seen a new article in a couple of weeks. In fact I would say that I’m much more likely to unsubscribe if I’m getting flooded with lots of little, detail deficient articles.

Just food for thought based on my own habits.

Cheers!

Karol K March 10, 2011 at 1:51 pm

This is what I was writing about in my other comment. You see, my personal opinion is that posting frequently is not a must, and posting too often may not even be beneficial if you’re a beginning blogger and don’t have much credibility.

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