What happens on the Internet stays on the Internet. This isn’t Vegas. So that uneasy feeling we get in our stomachs before we push “Publish” — whether it’s a 140-character tweet or a multiple-page case study — is warranted.

Mistakes are part of life. They will happen. I wouldn’t trust a writer or publisher who said differently. That being said, they can be minimized with the right editing and proofreading process.

cara-mcdonald-content-checklist

Copy the list below, or adapt it to meet your specific needs. But by all means, have a list. There’s something to be said for letting creative juices flow, but further down the funnel you need to have some process around firming up your content.

Online Content Publishing Checklist

1. Grammar

Does everything look clean? Did you run a spell check?

2. Links

If any URLs are included, are they correct? Are the pages they’re linking to OK?

3. Length

Is it too long or too short? Some media have parameters, some don’t. This free online word and character counter is helpful — I keep it bookmarked.

4. Voice

Does this sound on-brand? If you’re unsure, it’s helpful to refer to your voice/brand guide or run it by a colleague for a second set of eyes.

5. Grandma and Niece Rule

Your copy should speak to your target audience, but you should also be OK with anyone seeing it. I go by the “Grandma and Niece” rule and ask myself, “Would I be OK with Grandma reading this? Would I be OK with my 6-year-old niece reading this?” If the answer is “no,” I rework.

6. Value

Does this content provide value to your audience? (The correct answer is “yes.”) Strive to make your content user-centered.

7. Call to Action

Did you provide your audience with a clear call to action? You shouldn’t leave your reader wondering, “What next?” Their next step should be clearly defined. By you.

8. Channel Appropriateness

Is this the right content for this channel? Repurposing content across various media can be smart, but don’t try to force-fit content for content’s sake.

9. Citation

Did you cite your sources? This doesn’t apply to all content, but if you borrowed information from an external source, cite it! If you’re posting on social networks, consider “tagging” the source to help increase engagement — sometimes, the source will reshare your content.

10. Business Goals

And last, but certainly not least, does this content ladder back up to your business goals? Every single thing you do should. Just because you know a meme will garner a lot of engagement on Facebook doesn’t mean it’s right for your brand.

Phew. We made it.

The first few times you make your way through the list will take some time, but eventually it will become almost automatic to you. And a few extra minutes is worth your peace of mind when you confidently click “Publish.”

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