13 Step Blog Checklist to Make 2013 Your Best Year Ever

The One Secret to Take Your Blog to the Next Level

Want to make 2013 your best blog year ever?

Did you know that there’s one really simple secret to succeed at blogging? Can you guess what it is? It’s so obvious many bloggers overlook it.
The secret to blog success is: keep blogging Tweet This

The reality is most bloggers jump into blogging and get burned out before they see the results of their hard work. Hubspot research shows that you need to have at least fifty blog posts before you start to gain traction.

3 Easy steps to keep your blog going

To keep your blog going, follow these three easy steps:

  1. Follow a less-is-more publishing schedule. Instead of posting when the spirit moves you, publish on a regular schedule like a magazine or newspaper so readers know when to find new content. Don’t feel that you have to publish every day. Do what works for your. BUT, the key is to post fresh content at the same time and day(s) every week.
  2. Take a Goldilocks approach to blog post length. Keep your posts not short and not too long but just right (although an occasional long post will work.)
  3. Get out from behind your computer to build your reputation. Comment on other blogs and write articles for other blogs. (Note: we don’t accept guest posts.)

13 Point checklist to get your blog on track for 2013.

The best way to get your blog on track is to follow these thirteen steps.

  1. Examine blog performance to-date. The best way to improve your blog is to determine what you’re doing right and what needs improvement. Many bloggers would prepare to take an ostrich approach to blogging by not looking at their analytics. While this may be less stress inducing, it doesn’t show you where the problems are. Check:
    • Blog visitors. Why do they come to your blog? What proportion of visitors return?
    • Blog marketing. How do visitors find out about your blog?
    • Blog content. Which articles do readers like? Does it depend on writers, topic or format?
  2. Periodically, re-assess your blog’s goals. Is your blog just a journal or a cost of doing business? Is it supporting your business goals?
  3. Re-evaluate your target audience. There are two elements to this step: “Who are you reaching versus who do you want to reach?” and “Has your business or blog focus changed in the last year?” If so, how will you modify your blog to meet their needs? At a minimum, reexamine your marketing persona to assure that they reflect what your  audience is looking for from your blog.
  4. Check your blog’s foundation. Many bloggers overlook this since it’s under the hood and not something they’re expert at.
    • Determine if your software is up-to-date. Is your blog running on the most recent version of your software (i.e. WordPress)? If not, it’s a good time to update it.
    • Verify your blog’s speed. This is a critical factor because it influences search optimization. Here’s a fuller explanation of blog speed.
    • Assess your blog plug-ins. Are they the most effective ones for your blog? Are they slowing your blog down?
  5. Assess your rules and other legal details. It’s a good idea to read over your house rules and fine print to ensure it’s in line with your current needs. In a large organization your legal department can take care of this.
    • Terms of use.
    • Disclaimers.
    • Copyright At a minimum, change the copyright date in your blog footer.
    • Privacy.
    • Comment guidelines.
  6. Spiff up your blog design. This doesn’t mean totally changing your blog’s appearance. Rather refresh your blog. It’s the equivalent of buying a few new accessories to give new life to your blog. Ensure your blog is aligned with any changes you made to your overall brand.
    • Branding. Ensure your 360° brand supports your blogging efforts.
    • Seasonal décor. This particularly important if you’ve incorporated holiday details that need to be removed or changed. Determine how you’ll change content seasonally or monthly.
    • New images. Nothing catches readers’ attention like images. Change author bio shots at a minimum.
    • Tweak your overall blog design. Here’s a blog design checklist to help you.
  7. Plan your 2013 editorial calendar. Integrate your blog content into an editorial calendar. Ensure that it’s aligned with your content marketing’s editorial calendar.
    • Develop your 2013 promotional calendar. Is it aligned with your overall marketing plans? Here’s how to create a promotional plan.
    • Determine your core columns.  Like a magazine, these are your regular features. Based on analysis and your business plans, stop those columns that aren’t performing well and introduce new ones.
    • Add other content formats. This includes photographs, infographics, other images, video, audio and presentations.
    • Include guest blogging. Incorporate other people’s posts on your blog and your posts on third party blogs. Here’s how to write guest blog post guidelines for your blog.
  8. Examine your keyword plan. Reassess your keyword plan and your 2013 strategy to ensure that your blog efforts support your overall search plan.  Here are some useful blogging search tips.
  9. Put out your blog welcome mat. Make your blog inviting to visitors. Understand that readers will check who’s behind the scenes at your blog.
    • Update your About page.
    • Spiff up your content to attract attention. To this end, ensure that it’s presented to attract attention and maximize engagement. Here’s a content marketing checklist to help you.
  10. Plan your blog marketing. Whether your blog is a stand-alone effort or part of an integrated content marketing plan, to maximize results you must ensure that each post is promoted. (Here are twenty tips to help you build your blog list.)
    • Owned media.
    • Social media.
  11. Play well with others. A blog doesn’t exist in a vacuum; each blog is part of the larger blogosphere. Therefore you must participate by reading and commenting on other blogs, sharing other blog content and contributing guest blog posts.
  12. Evaluate your blog budget and manpower needs. Yearend is a good time to evaluate your resource needs.
    • Blog team. Is your current blog team effective? Do you have the right mix of skills? Where do you have gaps?  (Here’s good list of skills you need.)
    • Blog resources. Do you have enough budget to keep your blog going effectively? Remember content doesn’t happen for free.
  13. Analyze your blog metrics. The biggest mistake bloggers make is just looking at their top line numbers. It’s critical to track the metrics you need to ensure you’re on course to meet your blog goals. Here are 65 blog metrics to help you.

To maximize your blog’s ability to achieve its goals, it’s important to assess your performance to-date and to keep blogging. Further, it’s useful to check that your blog still appears fresh to both new and returning visitors.

Is there anything else that you’d add to this list?
If so, what is it and why would you add it?

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen


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  • Maringa

    Hello Heidi,

    Thanks for the clear and extended checklist! Very usefull! And it’s clear I made a few rookie mistakes this year but will be better prepared in 2013 ;-) Happy holidays!

  • It’s All In The Package

    Absolutely love this list. Thanks for sharing.

    Particularly, this stood out to me as a blogger (and someone who tries to be very engaged offline, with the local social community):

    “Comment on other blogs and write articles for other blogs.”

  • http://twitter.com/SEColoMedia Vincent Gearhart

    Great Job Heidi! Some very nice nuggets of wisdom in this post. Thank You!

  • Jennifer Agrazada-Schreiner

    Awww. Number 3 from 3 easy steps to keep your blog going made me sad. Haha! Kidding aside, of course it’s Heidi Cohen’s blog. Thanks for the tips!