At a glance

Quick summary

  • Checklist: The 16 items on my checklist that I complete before I publish a blog post
  • Free plugin: I have an awesome, free plugin that I use for this! It even warns me to complete the checklist before I publish!

Why use a pre-publish checklist?

  • I use this checklist to ensure that all of my posts have everything they need before going live!
  • Things like making sure categories are set, the correct author is set, my content has no placeholders from when I was drafting it, etc.
  • Once I’ve finished writing a post, it takes me about 10 minutes to run through the entire checklist!

Install the free Pre-Publish Checklist plugin!

  • I use a phenomenal, free plugin called Pre-Publish Checklist to help me with this
  • The plugin adds an item to the Editor that allows me to complete the checklist items
Courage & Grow Post with Pre-Publish Checklist in sidebar
Courage & Grow Post with Pre-Publish Checklist in sidebar
  • It also throws a warning if I try to publish a post without completing the whole checklist
  • You can also set the plugin to require the checklist to be complete prior to publishing (otherwise the user isn’t allowed to publish)

Checklist items

Here’s a rundown of my checklist items with a quick explanation for each!

1. Setup: Author updated

  • I never user an administrator-level account to publish posts
  • This is for security reasons!
  • So, I have an author-level account that I attribute all of my posts to!

2. Setup: Permalink updated

  • I always update the permalink to the keyword I’ve decided on for the post

3. Setup: Consider scheduling post

  • Sometimes I publish right away. Sometimes I schedule the post to go live in the future.
  • This item helps me remember to schedule if I need to!

4. Category: Remove ‘Uncategorized’

  • WordPress adds the ‘Uncategorized’ category to posts by default
  • I used to forget to remove it, and I don’t love that it shows up on the front-end

5. Category: Add category

  • Reminder to add a category (or multiple categories)

Want to learn more about Categories vs. Tags?

Check out my post: WordPress Categories vs. Tags: What the hell is the difference?

6. Tags: Add tags

  • Reminder to add tags
  • Check out my post in the item above for more on Categories and Tags!

7. Campaign: Add campaign

  • Campaigns are a custom post type I’ve set up
  • For instance, if I add a post to the WordPress for Entrepreneurs Campaign, that’s what tells my email provider to send that post out to my list!
  • I also have Campaigns for things like Queer Pride

8. Featured Image: Set featured image

  • Every post I publish has a featured image
  • It appears somewhere in the header of the post, and it’s what appears in all emails and social media posts!

9. Excerpts: WordPress & RankMath excerpts set

  • I draft the excerpt for my post using RankMath’s Description field. It’s got a counter to make sure I keep the length right:
Screenshot of the RankMath description for this post
Screenshot of the RankMath description for this post
  • Then, I copy and paste that description into the default Excerpt field in the editor
Screenshot of the excerpt for this post
Screenshot of the excerpt for this post

10. Links: All links open in new tab

  • I don’t like when I’m reading a post, decide to click a link, and it opens in that same tab: I don’t like losing my place in the post.
  • So, for my own posts, I ensure that all of them are set to open in a new tab

11. Images: All images hyperlinked

  • For both accessibility and user experience, I want visitors to be able to zoom in on images
  • I already have a tool that enables zooming across the whole site. But, lots of folks try clicking/tapping the image to enlarge it.
  • I have my site set so that, if you tap an image, it opens in a lightbox.
  • To get this to happen, I have to link each image to the media file
Screenshot of linking an image to the Media File
Screenshot of linking an image to the Media File

12. Images: All alt-text set

  • For accessibility and SEO purposes, I make sure that every image I include has alt-text which describes that image

13. Content: ‘Post Coming Soon’ & placeholders cleared

  • When I draft posts, sometimes I decide to expand on a topic in a future post
  • Rather than leave things out, I’ll include a blurb like the one below
  • If I publish a post with one of these, I will deliberately leave the checklist item unchecked
  • Then, later, I’ll be able to see which posts have incomplete items in the list of all posts:
Screenshot of posts with Pre-publish Checklist statuses
Screenshot of posts with Pre-publish Checklist statuses
  • Otherwise, if there aren’t any placeholders, I’ll clear the item

14. Content: Title, Headings, Accordions have numbers (not Xs)

  • When I draft list posts, I often don’t know how many items they’ll have when I start
  • I also found that, rather than using ordered lists for heading-level items, it’s much easier to just type the numbers out manually
  • So, as I do that, I just start each item with an X
    • e.g., X. Category: Remove 'Uncategorized'
  • This reminds me to scan back through the post to ensure I’ve updated all of those to actual numbers before I publish

15. Content: Anchor link to comments

  • At the end of every post, I include an Others? Questions? section
  • Within that section, there’s a link that prompts visitors to leave a comment. If they click that, it’ll scroll them down to the comments section.
  • I want to be sure that’s on every post!

16. Content: No reusable blocks overwritten

  • I use a lot of Callouts in my posts. Like this:

This is a callout!

Pro Tip
This is also a callout!

  • To avoid having to create these every time, and to ensure that they’re all styled the same, I’ve set them up using WordPress’ Reusable Blocks feature
  • But, I don’t want to overwrite the Note or Pro Tip (or any other) Callout throughout my whole site, so I have to be sure to convert the reusable block to a normal block.
  • This item reminds me to do that before publishing!
  • (WordPress has an extra step in place to prompt you if you’re about to update reusable blocks. But, I like the extra safety net of this checklist item as well.)

Others? Questions?

Any thoughts or questions? Anything with which you disagree? Anything I missed?

Leave a comment below and let me know!