You see it all the time and all over the internet, “How do I get more reads?” It is never as easy as you might think unless of course you are not against unscrupulous or “black hat” tactics. However, even those will catch up to you sooner or later. The more important and underserved topic should talk about how to be a better and untroubled writer. That is why the following cheat sheet or checklist was created. Letting the word know what type of writer you are by producing solid and mistake free content is a sure fire way to grow a following. Will it happen over night? Probably not but follow these rules and you are on your way.
SPELLING: This is the easiest possible thing to check… there’s a spell-checker right in the WordPress module if you are a person that uses WordPress. However, you would be hard pressed to find any program that does not have some form of spell-check embedded. Beyond that, though, are you using the right word if there are homophones? (For instance, did you use the correct version of there/their/they’re?) Tidying up any mistakes here will significantly improve any writer’s content.
PUNCTUATION: Take your time and proofread your work before you make it live to the world. Did you properly use quotations around direct quotes? Did you properly use apostrophes? Did you put a colon where you meant to use a semicolon? Punctuation can make or break an article. Just look at the next section to understand why. Take a break from your article, then come back and read it out loud. Doing this will allow you to find things that you have missed when reading it to yourself.
FLOW: Are your sentences too long, with comma after comma where two or three distinct sentences would be clearer? Or, conversely, are they even complete sentences? Have you broken up paragraphs properly, moving to a new line when you move on to a new point about a subject?
NUMBERS: Are you following the stylebook conventions on writing numbers? Remember, zero through nine are written out; 10 and higher are written in numeral form. This holds true in ALL cases, without exception. In addition, ordinal numbers (first, second, 11th, etc.) should follow the same conventions (spell out first through ninth, use numerals from 10th upward) and should not use superscript for the letters. And never use ordinal numbers for dates (For example, write “August 5”, not “August 5th”.)
PHOTOS: Did you remember to add a properly-sized (I.E. 600×330 pixels) featured image? Have you sized the photos embedded in your article properly and aligned them to the left or right to have text wrap around? Have you taken the extra time to make sure all image are roughly the same size within your post? Have you properly cited the photographer and agency that created the original pictures you’ve used? The display of an image will set the tone for the incoming reader. The little things make all the difference.
FORMATTING: Are your images and text aligned properly? Have you used TablePress or another formatting tool to create and embed your tables so that they format properly? Does anything look out of whack when you preview the article? If so, fix it and do not blow it off. All of these things matter.
NAMES: People’s names and job titles are things that can make or break your legitimacy as a writer. Spelling names properly is essential, and something that spell-check does NOT always pick up. Getting the name and the job title correct is essential when writing about people, which is inevitable in every article you write.
STATS: You can’t fool the internet… if you get statistics for a company, a team, or anything wrong, you WILL be called out on it by the general public looking for an excuse to knock the legitimacy of your argument in any way possible. Have you VERIFIED the accuracy of the statistics you cite and have you SOURCED them properly?
DATES: Like statistics, getting the dates correct is an expectation. Getting them right is the least readers expect… and getting them wrong will leave many questioning whatever else you say. Did you verify that you have the correct date or the correct situation? Make sure, or you’ll hear about it from one troll or another.
PLAGIARISM: This is the most dangerous risk for a writer, and the least excusable of any mistake you could possibly make. Plagiarism isn’t just a direct cut-and-paste of an entire article. Have you regurgitated the text from Wikipedia or another site? Have you copied large swaths of things you’ve written in the past? That’s plagiarism. Don’t do it, not just for the website’s sake but for your own.
These 10 points can make or break your writing, and these are the things that editors are reviewing when they comb through your work. Make sure that you cover all your bases on this checklist, and you will make the editor’s job easier. In turn, your work will get posted faster and you will provide a product that readers will enjoy making them want to come back for more. You will be on your way.