3 things writers must do before clicking ‘publish’

Check your headline, subheads and verbs before you send your post or article out to the Internet. Here’s why.

On Spin Sucks, we’ve shared tips for brainstorming blog post ideas and making sure your blogging strategy is on target.

For writers of all sorts of online content, there are crucial last steps before you publish your post or article.

You’ve proofread the text and done keyword research, and you want to make sure—before you send your content out into the big, scary Internet—that your article is the best it can be.

The tips below are for perking up your content. They’re for when you have time only for a quick spit-shine before you post.

1. Check your headline.

You’ve read enough tips to know that you should have spent ample time on your headline.

Before you publish, think about your target reader. Is he familiar enough with your subject that your headline will grab him?

If I’m aiming for someone who writes online content, is crunched for time and just wants to improve what he does every day, the headline for this piece is on target.

Other headline considerations:

2. Tweak your subheads.

Wait. You don’t have subheads?

Fix that first. Break up your text with subheads. Make sure at least one subhead includes your keyword. Once you’ve done that, you can play with the subheads.

Think through the following:

  • Do your subheads help readers scan? Most of your readers will scan—at least at first. If your subheads don’t help them figure out what your post is about, the subheads aren’t good.
  • Do your subheads give too much away? If the reader can pick up everything he needs to know about your post just by reading the subheads, what’s the point in writing several hundred words?
  • Do your subheads add personality to your piece? Show some personality. Add some flair. Put a joke in a subhead. Maybe throw out a pun (depending on your topic, of course).
  • What else can you do to break up your copy? Can you pull out some quotes, or add a bulleted or numbered list?

3. Spruce up your verbs.

I adore David Sedaris. His writing knocks me out every time—and it’s even better when I listen to him read it.

I listened to one of his books on CD during a period when I was working quite a bit on my writing. I had just been through an exercise in which I worked on using stronger verbs.

If you read or listen to Sedaris’ writing, you’ll notice how funny he is. He’s not often cited as a craftsman of the English language, but I think he is.

If you can stop laughing long enough to pay attention, you’ll notice he chooses great verbs. (Scan through this piece in The New Yorker if you don’t believe me.)

Strive to be like Sedaris. Before you hit publish, think about places where you can use stronger verbs strengthen your verbs.

A caveat on verb-related blog-writing tips: You still should sound natural and avoid business-speak. Please don’t replace “use” with “utilize.”

Bonus: If your verbs are strong, you’ll naturally eliminate passive voice.

OK, it’s time to share. What are your favorite last-minute writing tips? What do you do just before you hit publish?

A version of this article originally appeared on Spin Sucks.


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