The Ultimate Content Marketing Checklist: 40 Questions to Ask Yourself before Publishing Your Next Blog Post

content marketing

The beautiful part about content marketing is that it can bring you thousands of social shares, new email subscribers, and tons of comments, but only if your blog posts are masterpieces and you do content marketing right.

But content marketing has so many elements to it that it’s really easy to forget them, right?

To help you succeed, I’ve created a checklist. If you hit at least the majority of the items on the list below, your content will perform well.

Want to get a printable version of this post? Then click here.

Headline

Here are the questions to ask yourself when crafting a headline:

  1. Would someone type my headline into Google? – If they would, then you are more likely to get more search traffic.
  2. Does my headline evoke curiosity? – Curiosity-evoking headlines tend to get more clicks.
  3. Is my headline short and to the point? – If your headline is longer than roughly 57 characters, it will get cut off on Google’s search results page.
  4. Is my headline clear? – Clarity is important. If people don’t know what they are clicking on, they will bounce right off your site.
  5. Am I using emotions? – If you can invoke a common desire within your headline, it will appeal to more people.
  6. Does my headline contain any popular keywords or phrases? – If it doesn’t, don’t expect to rank for any terms on Google.

Introduction

Every blog post should contain an introduction. Here are some of the questions to ask yourself when creating an introduction:

  1. Am I hooking my readers? – You can do this by asking a question within your introductory paragraph.
  2. It is concise? – You want to get into the body of your post as quickly as possible. Three paragraphs is typically long enough.
  3. Does it provide a detailed overview? – Once people read your introduction, they should know if the post is a good fit for them.
  4. Did I include a picture? – You should start your blog post with some sort of media. Whether it is a picture or a video, it should be something that entices people to click through.

Body

When writing your blog post, make sure you ask yourself:

  1. Did I use subheadings? – They make it easier for your readers to read and skim your content.
  2. Are my paragraphs fewer than 5 lines? – Your paragraphs should never be more than 5 or 6 lines. Anything longer will make your content seem overwhelming to read.
  3. Am I creating a conversation? – You should be using the words “you” and “I” within your content. It will create the illusion of a conversation.
  4. Did I italicize my questions? – Italicize questions within your post. It will make your content seem more personalized.
  5. Am I telling a story? – Your readers will be bored unless you keep them hooked. There is no better way to do this than to tell a story.
  6. Am I using media to enhance my content? – From charts and images to video and audio, media will help personalize your post.
  7. Is my content concise? – If your content is filled with fluff, no one will want to read it.
  8. Am I trying to act smart? – Using fancy words and talking down to your readers is a great way to lose them.
  9. Did I tie in any current events? – Using Google and Yahoo news to identify trends will help you generate content that will bring in traffic.
  10. Which emotion am I appealing to? – Your content should appeal to certain emotions such as humor or anger. Pick one or a few of them, and use them throughout your content. The goal is to put your readers through an emotional roller coaster like soap operas do.
  11. Did I format my post correctly? – From bullets to block quotes, the formatting tools WordPress provides will make your content more digestible.
  12. Did I link out to anyone? – Link out to other websites when appropriate. This way, you can email those sites once you publish your post and ask them to share it on their social profiles.
  13. Did I mention any experts in my post? – Including other people’s quotes an opinions within your post, you will help your content gain more credibility. Plus, you can also ask those experts to share your content via the social web.
  14. Did I back up my claims? – You can’t make claims and expect not to be questioned. Using stats and data will help you create trust with your readers, and it will brand you as an expert.

Conclusion

When wrapping up your post, ask yourself:

  1. Did I end my post with a question? – This is a great way to help you generate more comments. Also, italicize the question.
  2. Was I able to summarize my post within 3 short paragraphs? – A summary should be short and to the point and provide the gist of your post to your readers.
  3. Is my summary shorter than 200 words? – If your summary is longer than 200 words, you are rambling. Ideally, it should be around 100 to 150 words.
  4. Did I leave things open? – Your post shouldn’t read like a final verdict on a subject. Instead, invite your readers to participate in a conversation about it.
  5. Does my conclusion encourage people to read my content? – Some people will scroll down to your conclusion before reading your content. If it is enticing, they will scroll back up to read the rest.

Promotion

Before you publish your post, ask yourself:

  1. Am I publishing my post during the ideal time and day? – There is a science to content marketing. This chart will tell you when to publish your content.
  2. Should I publish the post on my site or someone else’s? – The best place to publish your awesome content is typically on someone else’s site. This blog post will explain why.
  3. Am I collecting emails? – You shouldn’t publish content unless you are collecting emails. Emails are the best way to get people to come back to your site.
  4. Do I have a lead magnet? – A lead magnet entices people to give you their email addresses. You can offer a free ebook or a PDF in exchange for an email.
  5. Do I have social sharing buttons throughout my post? – From using scrolling social plugins like Flare to placing click to tweet links within your post, encourage social sharing any way you can.
  6. Did I create a list of social profiles within my space? – Every time you publish a post, you should do outreach, asking people to share your content. I still do this even though I get hundreds of thousands of visitors each month.
  7. Am I using social media meta tags?If you aren’t, then your content won’t do as well as it could when shared on the major social networks.
  8. Did I mention my expert sources when sharing? – Including their user names in your tweets will increase the likelihood of them re-tweeting your content.
  9. Have I direct-messaged influencers on LinkedIn? – It’s a simple tactic that can help generate more shares. Read this blog post for template messages for LinkedIn.
  10. Have I re-purposed my content? – By turning your blog post into a PDF or a slide deck and sharing it on the web, you can get more traffic. Just submit these different versions of your content to sites like Slideshare, and you’ll see more traffic. Make sure you adjust the content, however, as you don’t want to be hit by a duplicate content penalty.
  11. Have I shared my content more than once? – You should be sharing your post at least 2, if not 3 times, on social channels like Twitter. Not all of your users will see your content the first time you tweet.

Conclusion

By asking yourself the above 40 questions, you’ll quickly find out if you are doing everything you need to ensure your content marketing success.

Don’t worry if you aren’t doing everything on the list… Just look at this post. I didn’t leverage every tactic. But the more you do leverage, the better off you will be.

So, what other questions should you ask yourself before publishing your next blog post?

P.S. If you are struggling to gain traffic to your blog posts go here.

Did you know Quick Sprout has software to optimize your website for search engines?

There are important changes on your website that will grow your traffic. Quick Sprout tells you how to make those changes.

Comments

  1. awesome post!
    i must bookmark this!

    • Glad you found it helpful. What part did you like most?

    • I am with you bro. Neil is a wealth of resources. Thanks for sharing, Neil. 🙂

      • What I got from Reading Quick Sprout blog for content marketing haven’t got from any other, neil’s knowledge is worth appreciating and he is the biggest influencer in his field(Kind of a big deal 😉 )

        Thanks Neil for sharing it.

    • hi Neil – awesome post and checklist – thanks so much! Yes I think I’d add ‘did you read through Neil’s checklist before posting’! I liked the bit about ‘put your readers through an emotional roller coaster like a soap opera!’ great thought! 🙂

    • Wow! It’s totally come in to the circle of content like ‘WoW’. 🙂

      Great checklist easily teach anyone to right a content like ‘WoW’

      Altamash Sid
      (from Altamash Sid & Brands)

  2. Cool man 🙂 Keep it up

  3. Shared it around to the content people I work with. Great list of things to ensure are right before pushing content!

  4. Venkatesh Macha :

    Very Good post,.. Thanks Neil..

  5. Great list! Extremely useful and fantastic to use as a reminder. Definitely bookmarking this one, Neil.

    I find that when I begin to write a blog/guest post, I always have a list in my head that I make sure I hit upon, but actually having a list on paper (or in this case, on the web), will only increase productivity and efficiency.

    When it comes to ending posts, I always try to lure the reader into leaving a comment, whether it be with a question (as you mentioned above) or by encouraging them to speak their mind about the specific topic that the post is about.

    Thanks again!

    • Matt,
      I typically create lists for everything that I do. It’s important so that you don’t miss anything. I think people often forget key things because they are so busy multi-tasking.

      Looking forward to hearing much more from you.

  6. Isaac Hammelburger :

    Great post, I like how you put an extra emphasis on headlines, those drive me crazy. You should probably also mention about making sure your content has some internal linking to your other content.
    What are your thoughts on planning your blog posts, do you think its worth spending time planning it out before typing away?

    • Isaac, I typically plan everything I do — so a short answer is yes haha.

      I focus less on the internal links now and focus more on making sure everything is contextual. At the end of the day that’s what matters most.

  7. Michael Lyons :

    Great suggestions. I never thought to DM influencers on LinkedIn. Have you encountered them getting annoyed or potential loss of reputation by just cold-messaging these influencers without a previous relationship built?

    • Michael, definitely not. They all understand the hustle so more often than not they will respect me more if I have reached out to them.

  8. Very Very important for online professionals.
    Great post. Thanks

  9. Hang on…I’ve already got the “37 point checklist on content” taped above my desk (and I use it before publishing every post)…now I have to tape this one next to it. You’re going to be wallpapering my office.

    • Tim, haha it looks like you’ll definitely have to add more to the wall. I like to make these lists to help people out.

  10. Randy Kauffman :

    Another great post. I am making a manual for my office with your stuff. lol.

    Thanks Neil!

  11. Justin @ Workado :

    Great list of questions. Might seem a little overwhelming at first (just due to the amount), but as you write consistently most of these will become second nature.

  12. Thanks, Neil, for the check list.

    I also find useful in many cases to list in the introduction the main points that are discussed/covered in the post.

    Something like
    “In this post you’ll get to know how to: …”

    • Michael, I definitely think that is a helpful tip. One that I have definitely used in the past. Thanks for the reminder.

  13. Excellent post Neil!! This puts it all together and makes it easy to understand.

  14. Navneet Singh :

    Thanks for sharing the content marketing checklist Neil. I liked the re-purpose point the most 🙂

    • Navneet, glad I could help. I think that point really drives home the fact that you need to utilize and re-use all your content whenever possible.

  15. SUPER Neil!
    The way i see this list: if someone does half the suggestions, he/she is half-way to beating 90% of so-called content marketers (i prefer, content pushers).

    Super again,
    Teddy Afro https://twitter.com/teddyafroalbums

    • Teddy, definitely. I think this is a pretty comprehensive list and doing half of these, like you mentioned, goes a long way.

  16. This is a great checklist. I am actually a copywriter but I am quickly learning writing content for your own brand is much harder than writing for other people. This checklist will come in handy!

    Leigh

    • Leigh, definitely true. It’s tough to really figure out how to position your brand through content marketing.

  17. That’s it… I’m just renaming Evernote to “Neil Patel Posts”. Because that’s what seems to mostly go in there.

  18. Thank you, Neil. I found the tips about creating the headline especially helpful. I often find myself writing (what I think) is a great post, and then losing steam when it comes time to put a title on it…NOT the best way to do things! So I appreciate your checklist. In fact, I am going to use it today!

    • Karen, I don’t think there necessarily is a “right” way. However, you should really focus on the points on my checklist and I think you will capture some really easy low hanging fruit.

  19. Great checklist, Neil!

    I think linking out to authority sites is actually also an underrated tactic in terms of SEO – as it can help if you are seen as a ‘content hub’ of reliable information and resources.

    It also makes for a better user experience if you can direct your audience to places where they can learn more about themes you touch on in your content.

    • Carl, thanks for the feedback. Glad that specific part resonated with you. I incorporated it into the post to really get SEO minded people thinking. I think at the end of the day the User Experience portion of a blog is vital.

  20. Thank you for the awesome high quality articles you write Neil! Always help me a ton! Wish you an Awesome day!!! 🙂

  21. Thanks for this wonderful article.I appreciate your effort.Well written and analyzed as well.

  22. Donald Wheeler :

    Thank you, Neil – for those of us trying to build an audience by blogging ‘great’ content, your suggestions/check-list are a god-send (or FSM-send, anyway). Thank you for sharing this with us all! I was particularly weak in the body and promotion aspects – I now have a *very* clear of how to proceed

    • Donald, glad I could help. I think this list will definitely help you beef up the body and promotional aspects. If you have any specific questions please let me know.

  23. Neat! Just the kind of thing that fits into a busy schedule and can improve a post with very little time and effort. Thanks Neil 🙂

  24. Brilliant thanks Neil! Am particularly working through your Promotion section there and have pinned this up by my desk to check off. (Love lists by the way, great format to work with 🙂 ). Also thanks for linking the article at point 38., I hadn’t seen it before and it is also super-useful!

    • Katie, glad I could help. At the end of the day I want to make it easy for people to replicate my overall process.

  25. Massage Tool Deep Pressure :

    Hi, Neil,
    I have read your full article very carefully to know information about blog post. I’d glad to you that you are excellent blogger to keep higher blogging information in your every blog post. I like it and next time I will follow you upcoming all post.

    • Glad I could help. Please let me know if I can help in any specific way. Also, keep me updated on your progress.

  26. Thanks for sharing, Neil.

  27. Thanks mate. This checklist will come in handy!

  28. This was great.

    I’ll be ‘checking’ this before submitting any new articles.

    Thanks, Neil.

  29. Great suggestions! Neil thanks for sharing.

  30. Very useful tips for serious bloggers, one should follow almost all of the suggestions.. Thanks Neil

  31. This is really great content marketing guideline NEIL. I have very strong interest in content marketing. This will me to be more stronger in this subject 🙂

    Thanks a lot 🙂

  32. Anbudsassistenten :

    Tremendous list, Neil. Thank you!

  33. Thank you for sharing, Neil

  34. Neil, It was a amazing Checklist, I love your articles, continue sending excellent emails… Thanks,

    Bruno

  35. Holy shit i just save this to my evernote ! Thank you Neil !

  36. This content is really very nice,thanks for the content.I haven’t recieved any comment,likes ,share on my blog post.Now I got the reason where I lacked.

    thanks neil

  37. Kristy Bernales :

    Hi Neil, I just wanted to give a quick shout out and Say really this is ultimate post that gives you practical tips to make it happen. I really enjoy reading through your articles. I’ve bookmark it for future references and Tweeting it too.

  38. Pankaj Chobharkar :

    Every time you publish a post I wonder what more can this guy write about content marketing and you leave me pleasantly surprised each time!

    Thanks for this great post.

  39. Thanks for this wonderful post,am a big fan a daily reader of your blog Neil.Just bookmarked this one.

  40. Nishant Bazzad :

    Great List. Extremely helpful. Before this post, I can’t even think about most of the points mentioned but I think next time I have to check them.

  41. OptimizePress Suck :

    Thanks Neil for this Great post.
    I like the point headline should evoke curiosity. Headline is the very first thing any read will read first. So the main job of a quality reader is to make that reader to read it.

    Thanks

  42. Ryan Biddulph :

    Hi Neil,

    #1 is my fave question.

    Do people find my headlines interesting? People click if you peak their interest.

    If folks are Googling your headlines you’re on the right track. Check search terms, then, simply work off of these phrases. I’d add some colorful adjectives and action verbs to the headlines folks Google for.

    As for content, it should either tell a story, or simply inspire the stuffing out of your readership. Bland posts are not allowed.

    Be inspired, act inspired, and keep writing, to improve the quality of your offering, and to market your content like a pro.

    Know why you’re growing your blog and business and you will follow these successful tips.

    Thanks Neil!

    Tweeting from Bali.

    Ryan

    • Ryan, always a pleasure reading your additional tips. Thanks for the great tips. I think your point about bland tips really will resonate with readers.

  43. Thanks Neil for this awesome checklist.
    All points are very relevant for content marketing, specially the points on conclusion part is really eye opener for me.
    Thanks again for the post.

  44. Hey Neil,

    thanks for sharing. Great speech at the Pioneers Festival! 🙂

    best regards,

    Nadeem

  45. Jagadeesh gowda :

    It is nice,This is help to create awareness in our country India(Bhaarath jaago jaago)…!

  46. Bold is Gold

  47. These points are very useful, i will definately use these from next time.

  48. Good questions to ponder. Nice checklist Neil. Your information can truly help bloggers create notable and engaging contents for marketing. Well-pulled off.

  49. Thank you for the checklist! Great questions to ask yourself.

  50. Great post. Loved the checklist, lots of easy ideas to follow.

  51. Awesome post Neil.

    Thanks a lot for taking the time out and writing this 🙂

  52. Nice post.

  53. You nailed the topic Neil 🙂

    I must say that this is an awesome post. I’ve learned so many questions to ask for myself before publishing my next post.

    I respect your efforts in bringing such killer posts, keep writing for us 🙂

  54. Neil, Thank you so much for great checklist!

  55. Hey, I see you have a twitter account, do you tweet all your new posts?

  56. Avertising.com @ James Sullivan :

    Hey, I see you have a twitter account, do you tweet all your new posts?

  57. Salvador Triveno :

    I really appreciate the run through on paid traffic. It’s an area that I want to start using but I had no idea where to start. Thanks!

  58. Emily Johnson :

    Nail, great post! Unfortunately, I always have problems with writing perfect headlines. Thanks for the helpful checklist!

  59. Awesome!, Helpfull! thank you!

  60. Another great post. I am making a manual for my office with your stuff. lol.

    Thanks Neil!

  61. Shared it around to the content people I work with. Great list of things to ensure are right before pushing content!

  62. Great list of questions. Might seem a little overwhelming at first (just due to the amount), but as you write consistently most of these will become second nature.

    • It takes practice, like anything else. Your learn will happen at an accelerated pace, before you know it, you’ll just know these things automatically.

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  64. Great post. Just what i was looking for. Also is there any checklist for post publishing?

    But thanks for this great post. Really helped me finish my work. Thank You.

    Eric

  65. What’s up, its nice artticle about media print, we alll be
    familiar wwith media is a fantastic source of
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  66. Mehndi Designs :

    Definitely awesome post! So many great resources curated for novice and veteran content marketers.

    Thanks, all!

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