Content creation checklists

The following is a list of hints and tips for every type of web content.

Blog

Article

Press

Social

White paper

Product

Review

Web


Blog checklist

Blog posts are generally used to discuss a topic or to give information about a specific subject, and promote interaction with readers. They can be a commentary or personal opinion, or part of online brand advertising for an individual or company. If you are writing copy for a blog this will most likely be used for marketing purposes.

Eye-catching title

This is very important as it is the first impression you give and can be used to lure the reader in, while telling them what they can expect to learn from reading your post.

Subheadings

You should avoid large blocks of texts at all costs, as it deters readers. Short paragraphs (along with simple words and short sentences) are one of the basics of writing a blog post, and subheadings allow readers to skip to the information they're looking for.

Keywords

Always balance relevant content with keywords but don't cram them in! Make sure the copy reads naturally above all else.

Tone

Blogs are generally more informal than articles, so make sure your tone reflects this. If you know where the blog will be posted try to keep your tone similar to published posts.

Branded or generic

If the blog is branded, make sure you tie in the company with whatever point you're making (without mentioning competitors). A generic blog, on the other hand, should mention no brands at all.

Extras

If possible, include in-text links to other sites and sources. Also, statistics (where relevant) are always a bonus.

Proofread and edit

Essential when writing any copy, once you've finished make sure you go through your text to correct any errors and fine-tune your work.

Article checklist

Articles can cover a whole range of subjects, from news and general interest to specific topics. Generally the purpose of an article will be to persuade or inform the reader and encourage them to take some form of action, rather than simply to entertain them.

Headline

First impressions are key, and your headline should grab the reader's attention and make them want to read more.

Text

Long paragraphs are a killer and can deter people from wanting to read more. If you divide the content into smaller chunks you increase readability and will retain the reader's interest. Similarly, you should keep your sentences clear and concise – avoid jargon.

Subheadings

Using relevant subheadings with these shorter paragraphs means readers can easily find what they're looking for.

Tone

The tone you use should be determined by the purpose of the article, e.g. compelling to persuade, humorous to entertain.

Insight

Make sure what you write is genuinely relevant and engaging at all times, and most of all actually worth reading. Avoid stating the obvious and 'filler' content at all costs.

Keywords

Use keywords where relevant, but don't stuff them. You don't want to disrupt the article or make it read unnaturally.

Proofread and edit

Make sure you double and triple check your work for any obvious mistakes, and refine your writing wherever possible.

Press release checklist

A press release announces to the media something that is newsworthy. Often, the aim is to attract favourable media attention for a company or individual, while providing publicity for any products, services or events.

Newsworthy

Does your press release discuss something newsworthy that people will be genuinely interested in? Press releases should read like a news piece and not a blog or feature. Even if you haven't been given information that counts as 'news', try and put this kind of spin on it.

Structure

The structure of a press release should be as follows:

  • Headline
  • Dateline
  • Intro (who, what, when, where and why)
  • Body (further explanation, statistics, background or other details)
  • Boilerplate (an 'about' section for the company or individual)
  • Contact info

Third person

All press releases should be written in the third person, e.g. 'they', not from an organisation or individual's point of view, e.g. 'I' or 'we'.

Quote

To add credibility, press releases should include a relevant quote from a company spokesperson. If you've not been given one in your brief, summarise the key information with a positive spin in couple of lines and attribute to 'a company spokesperson'.

Content

Even if you're struggling to come up with a newsworthy spin, whatever you do, avoid sensationalism. Stick to the facts at all times, and make sure you're clear and concise.

Proofread and edit

As always, go through your work with a fine-toothed comb and make sure you've not made any spelling or grammar mistakes.

Social media checklist

Social media updates are used to engage and interact with a company or individual's community, and can cover a whole range of topics and functions. They can be facts and tips relevant to a service, be used to entertain and improve brand image, promote competitions and events, or to encourage an action such as the liking and sharing of content.

Tone

Generally social media should have a fun, informal tone. It's a way of humanising an organisation and connecting with people.

Short but sweet

With social media it pays to keep things concise. Whether or not you're limited to Twitter's 140 characters, attention spans are limited.

Content

Diminished attention spans means you should try and be as engaging as you can with social media posts. Write something that the reader will want to share with their network.

Call to action

If the purpose of the post is to get the reader to do something – e.g. like and share – make sure this is explicit and easy to do.

Proofread and edit

Just because the situation is much less formal, there is no excuse for sloppy writing! Use correct punctuation, capitalisation and spelling at all times, and try your best not to revert to text speak.

White paper checklist

A white paper is an authoritative guide that aims to help readers make a decision, understand an issue, or solve a problem. There are three different types of white paper – backgrounders, which describe the benefits of a product or service (used to supplement a product launch or similar), numbered lists, which deal with questions or give tips and points (used to get attention), or those that give solutions to a problem.

Title

Make sure you include a title that includes the words 'white paper' while also making it clear what the paper is about.

Understand, Simplify and Explain

As a writer of a white paper you should be able to USE the information given to you – Understand, Simplify and Explain. Stay away from filler!

Tone

The tone of a white paper should mostly be formal, but make sure you're neither too simplistic nor too complex. If you know who your audience is, cater to them. For example, if your audience is professionals in the subject area, give plenty of technical details, whereas if it is laymen then be more direct.

Problem/solution

If the white paper is one giving a solution to a problem, make sure you describe the problem, giving specifics such as figures, dates and names, the background of the problem and a step-by-step guide to the solution.

Numbered lists

These are great as they allow the reader to skip and scan through the text, keeping their interest. These are better for quick tips rather than detailed analysis, and they should still be well researched and clear.

Proofread and edit

Make sure all your facts and figures are correct, along with the usual check of spelling and grammar.

Product description checklist

Product descriptions include the vital information that consumers need to know about a product, together with compelling reasons why they should buy it.

Describe

Make sure you include the purpose of the product, along with its composition and features. Give technical details where appropriate, and avoid bland clichés such as 'superb quality'. Instead, be specific as to what makes the quality so superb. As a rule, avoid superlatives such as 'the best' unless you can justify them.

Explain

What are the benefits of this product? Why should people buy it?

Buyer

Who is the ideal buyer for this product? Make sure you keep them in mind and appeal to what they are likely to be looking for.

Tone

Use the word 'you' throughout the text, and use sensory words. Because this is online, the reader needs to be able to experience the product in their imagination.

Structure

Make the content easily scannable by using headlines and bullet points.

Keywords

Include keywords if required, but ensure that the copy reads naturally.

Proofread and edit

Always double check your work for any mistakes, and refine the text as much as possible.

Review checklist

A review is an evaluation of a product or service, and can be written either from a professional or consumer perspective.

Be prepared

If you can, actually use the product or service – if not, do lots and lots of research. You need to sound like you know what you're talking about so your opinion can be trusted.

Content

To begin with, give a detailed description of the product or service. Then use concrete examples of using it and how you found it. You need to give proof as to why you've come to the conclusions you have. Try and give a balanced opinion; even if you're aiming for a positive review you should include pros and cons to give your review credibility and authority. You should also include a buyer description – who would most benefit from using this product or service?

Tone

If the review is a consumer review, you should use the first person and an informal and chatty tone. If it's a professional review, you should be more formal and authoritative.

Keywords

If you've been given keywords to include, make sure you insert them where possible, without disrupting the reading of the text.

Proofread and edit

Ensure you've not made any basic spelling and grammar mistakes, and if you've given specs and facts double check that they're correct.

Web page checklist

A good web page is easy to navigate, addresses the intended audience and helps them to gather relevant information quickly and easily. Commercially focused pages contain USPs (Unique Selling Points) and a compelling call to action.

Have a clear call to action

What do you want the visitor to do when they visit your page? If you have an ecommerce site, you will want them to buy obviously, if you offer a service it may be to fill out an enquiry form, or pick up the phone and call you.

Sell yourself

What is it about your product/service that makes it unique? Why would a visitor choose to do business with you over your competitors? Don't be modest, this is your opportunity to shout about how great you are!

Know your audience

Understanding your audience and addressing them in the right way is crucial. Talk to them in language that they will appreciate and understand.

Think about usability

Make your content accessible by breaking it into manageable chunks. Use descriptive subheadings to ensure that users can quickly find what they are looking for.

Make your text scannable

Studies have shown that website users skim read text online. Highlight any key points by boldening or using italics.

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