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!
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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

Post Coming Soon!

That blog post I just mentioned is on my list to write, but I haven’t gotten to it quite yet.

In the meantime, I’m happy to help you out (for free!) if you run into an issue that this missing post would answer.

Click the button below to shoot me a note.

  • 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:

Note
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.)
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Others? Questions?

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

Leave a comment below and let me know!