5 Tools We Use to Check Our Blog Posts Before Publishing
Content marketing requires discipline and consistency in order to generate results, and as most writers know, consistency can be hard to achieve naturally. With every post, you need to ensure that your topic is relevant and valuable to your readers, that your grammar and wording is clear and free of errors, and that your post is formatted in a way that reads easily and catches the attention of your potential readership.
Thankfully, there are thousands of tools available to help you maximize the efforts of your content marketing strategy. These five are some of the most useful we’ve found for checking, reviewing, and polishing our posts before we publish them:
1. Google Drive.
Google Drive is a free tool anybody with a Google account can use to markup and share any document or spreadsheet. If your content marketing strategy relies on more than just one person, this is a near-perfect tool for collaboration.
Collaborating on written material is difficult when working independently, even with modern word processors. Microsoft word has their reputable “track changes” feature, which can showcase any changes one person makes to an already-existing document and allow for commenting to explain those changes, but it’s limiting for a number of reasons. First, the document needs to be passed back and forth a number of times before reaching its natural, definitive end. Google Drive allows for mutual access at any point, allowing users to keep track of each other’s changes—even as they occur in real time. Second, edits can get messy after a few layers of changes. Determining where one person’s intended phrase ends and another person’s edit begins can grow difficult quickly.
Before we take a document live, we give it one more round of possible changes from everyone involved in collaborating on it. Even if your writers work independently, it’s still a good idea to pose them to the group for comments and additional thoughts. Plus, Google Drive automatically backs up all your information—so you never have to worry about a hard drive failure.
The most important factor in your content marketing strategy’s success is your audience, and PopSurvey helps you understand yours. If you’ve ever wondered what your audience thinks about your content marketing strategy, or if you’ve ever wished you could read your customers minds and find out what they want to read—try using PopSurvey to get the answers.
Think of PopSurvey as your content marketing focus group. Depending on the length and detail of your post, you might want to roll it out to a handful of your users to get their thoughts before publishing it for the masses. With a brief survey, you should be able to capture the thoughts of your readers accurately, and incorporate them into your article. For example, if your test audience finds that your article isn’t helpful because it doesn’t have enough concrete examples, you’ll then have the chance to rework the material in question.
Obviously, you may not have time to scout for a test audience and send out a survey before every individual blog post, but you can also use them as occasional tests to see how your overall content plan is working. Ask your readers what they like and don’t like in terms of your topic choices, material length, material depth, and stylistic choices.
While no proofreading tool is completely foolproof, the tool over at Grammarly is pretty thorough. The types of spell checkers found in Microsoft Word and WordPress are great at catching spelling errors and a handful of grammatical errors, like incomplete sentences, but most other syntactical errors slip by, and sometimes these programs will identify mistakes that aren’t actually mistakes.
Grammarly is no substitute for a human proofreader, but it can save you a lot of time by pinpointing errors that an ordinary word processor might overlook. The best thing about Grammarly is that it explains why each mistake is highlighted; for example, instead of merely highlighting a questionable phrase, Grammarly will explain the grammatical rule in question, and why the specific phrase is violating it. It’s an indispensable tool for new content marketers, as it educates and explains many common errors, but it’s also valuable for seasoned content marketers who just need an extra set of (digital) eyes on a work before publishing it.
Before we go live with a blog post, we run it through one final check to make sure everything is in line with our quality standards.
Storify is one of the best way to integrate streaming content into your blog—and by that, we don’t mean YouTube videos. We mean actual news and social updates from your users. While we don’t take advantage of this for every blog post, it is a great option to keep in mind, especially when you’re posting news or other time-sensitive content.
The best feature of Storify is its easy social media integration. Storify works with dozens of social platforms, but one of the easiest and most beneficial for a blog draft is its use with Twitter. A Storify-treated blog can pull in up-to-the-minute tweets featuring a given hashtag or topic, giving your users an added layer of personal engagement and immediacy.
Storify has other features at an enterprise level, designed specifically to help teams of content collaborators work together in a meaningful way. Not only can you research trends on social media to learn more about what users think of your source material, you can also link together with your fellow writers and reviewers to create the best, most up-to-date pieces for your blog.
PhotoPin is an awesome complementary tool we use to pair great images with our content. All the images found through this search tool come from Creative Commons, and are generally free to use. Simply including an image with your blog posts can increase engagement and click-through rates enormously, so if you’re not already adding an accompanying image with each of your posts, it’s time to start.
We like PhotoPin because it has one of the most thorough and intuitive search functions on the web. Simply type in whatever you’re looking for, and you’ll immediately be met with hundreds of free photos to peruse at your discretion. Keep in mind that while most images are free to use, some images have restrictions for commercial use—and you’ll also have to give proper attribution out of respect for the image owner.
Even with those restrictions, PhotoPin remains one of the best image searchers on the web. If you’re in the habit of including images in your blogs regularly, swing by PhotoPin to pick some up before every blog post.
Every content marketer has unique preferences and a unique system of writing and editing, so if these tools don’t work for you, odds are there are plenty more that can enhance the quality or efficiency of your writing. Become familiar with whichever tools work best for you, and improve your capabilities even further.
If you need more personal assistance with your content creation, or if you’re interested in partnering with experts on your core strategy, reach out to us, and we’ll work together to find a solution that works for you.
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