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Tips on Article Writing: Making a Checklist for Writing an Article

Updated on February 25, 2013
A checklist for your article writing routine will keep you focused and moving
A checklist for your article writing routine will keep you focused and moving | Source

When you're trying to get paid for writing, you need to run your freelance writing jobs just like a business. You are your own boss. You are also your own employee. One of the best tips on article writing available is to create a checklist for writing an article that works for you. You need a checklist that includes the action item versions of all the best article writing tips for SEO you've found as well as all the information available on the web and in your head on how to make money blogging.

Why Make a Checklist for Writing an Article

The best reason I've found for writing a checklist to follow with each article is to cut writers block. I get to spend more mental energy writing my articles and coming up with ideas. I waste fewer mental cycles remembering what to do next, or what SEO step I've forgotten this time.

I enjoy reading about writing. I spend a bit of time each day cruising writers blogs, communities and forums looking for ideas. Having a checklist I follow rigidly lets me combine the key learnings I pick up from those blogs into my daily routine. If I find a great article writing tip, I will figure out what the action step is and put it in my master checklist.

A checklist for feature writing will help you hit all your SEO goals. If you have a standard operating procedure checklist that includes all the social media sites you bookmark or share your new articles, then you won't have to worry about whether you remembered to share on Google+ (because everyone forgets Google+).

Even pilots who fly every day still use checklists. Why not writers?
Even pilots who fly every day still use checklists. Why not writers? | Source

Freelance Writing Jobs Need to be Run Like a Business

If you're trying to start a career as an online entrepreneur, you need to practice being very efficient. Article and feature writing is an entirely results-based occupation. If you're not writing quality articles, you're not earning. And if you're not writing quality articles quickly, then you're not earning much. Jim Estill's copyblogger article on writing 20 minute articles might be hyperbole, but the point is there.

Other businesses that thrive on efficiency and process quality use checklists and Standard Operating Procedures almost religiously. From Starbucks baristas getting the machines ready in the morning to make caramel macchiatos to an airline pilot going through an engine start-up checklist she's performed a thousand times; when it needs to be done well, efficiently and perfectly, it happens off a checklist.

How to Write a Checklist for Your Writing Projects

The first step to writing your checklist is to note down each step you take to write your next project. No matter how small or obvious the task is, make sure it gets written down from start to finish. Then, find someone else who has a checklist for writing projects and see if there are any steps you are missing.

I prefer to use Evernote with its checkbox feature to store my master checklists for articles and websites. Each time I start a new project, I create a new “Folder” and copy the master checklist into it. All research, notes and the article document itself go into that project notebook. I will have it available on any computer I'm at as well as my iPhone in case ideas strike me.

The most important step is to actually use it. Each time you realize you missed a step in the master checklist, go back and add the step. If you come across a way to improve your writing, change the original checklist to include that action step.

Best Writing Tips to Include in Your Checklist

Include all your research steps. Any web resources you come across, clip them in Evernote into your current project's notebook. Any keyword or SEO research you do, make sure those action steps are included. Don't just say “research keywords” as an action item. Break them down so you could literally hand it to another person and expect them to do it as well as you. The goal, as mentioned before, is to cut the mental cycles involved in your process. Make it automated so you can spend all your energy creating great ideas and great articles.

Make sure there are steps for looking up images and videos if you usually include them in your work. Also include looking for proper Amazon and Ebay keywords if you're using those services to monetize your work.

Please remember to include simply letting your finished project sit for a bit before coming back to read what you wrote. Steve Aedy's Article Writing Checklist very nicely explains stopping for a second and coming back to your content for another read.

Finally, include your off-page SEO steps for after the article is done: tweeting the link, liking the article on Facebook, or including links to this article in your earlier work (and vice versa).

Impact of These Feature Writing Tips on Writing Articles

Every time you forget an SEO step, skip adding your Amazon module or skimp out on research, you cut the click-through-rate for your article's monitization and increase the bounce rate as readers decide not to engage with your content. If you can improve a CTR by even 1 out of 100 readers, then you've significantly increased your income. If you can improve your search engine ranking from page 2 to page 1 because you remembered to make use of some tips you found, then you will vastly increase your traffic.

But just as important, the less mental cycles you spend reinventing the wheel, the more ideas you will have and less stress you experience writing.


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    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      These are valuable writing tips here and one should carefully consider when article writing.

    • JRGray profile image

      Jason R Gray 4 years ago from Falcon, Colorado

      Thanks for the comment, #BrightMeadow! And the best part of setting up a checklist routine is whenever you stumble across other ways to improve performance it gives you a structure in which to give them a try. Win/win.

    • BrightMeadow profile image

      BrightMeadow 4 years ago from a room of one's own

      Lots of great advice. I'm always looking for ways to improve my performance. I'll have to give these a try.