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The Ultimate Writers’ Checklist: Use It To Score Your Blog Posts and Articles

Author: Charlie Cook   |   September 24th, 2012

The copy, the emails you send out and the newsletters you mail to clients and prospects are your voice and as such you want people to read them, love the content, be moved by it, share it and respond to it.

What makes good copy? Is the piece you wrote any good? Should you email it or publish it?Copywriting List For Stellar ArticlesOr if you paid good money for a writer to craft your copy for you, how can you evaluate it and give them constructive feedback?

Use the following checklist and ask yourself:

Reader Centric
1. Is the piece organized into the following sequence?
a. prospect’s problem (70%)
b. solution in terms of the prospect’s concerns (20%)
c. call to action (10%)

2. Is it clear who your target audience is? E.g. if you’re writing for investment advisors does it reference them, their goals, etc or is it written in general terms that could apply to any business?

3. Is it written in the readers’ language, filled with “buzz words,” the key words and phrases that tell your target audience, “I speak your language”?? For example if you’re talking about dentists instead of “small business” you use “dental practices”.

4. Does your copy demonstrate to the reader that you understand and empathize with their problems, making you a logical person to offer solutions?

Provides A Reason To Read
5. Does your headline jump out and grab your reader’s attention so they know right away, “What’s in it for me?” And give with a rock solid reason to read your articles, blog post, email or letter?

6. Is your headline email friendly, e.g. 5-8 words long?

7. Is your headline a compelling attention-grabber? Will it “stand out in a crowd” of emails, blog posts, and flood of information fighting for your readers’ attention?

8. Is the benefit of reading the article or post so attractive, so enticing that it’s impossible to ignore?

9. Does the headline include a strong hook?

10. Does the copy successfully, completely and quickly answer the question “What’s in it for me?” so the reader never has a chance to ask, “Why are you bugging me?”

First Paragraphs
11. From the first paragraph or two is it clear what the focus is, e.g. what’s the primary problem the piece is talking about and going to help the reader solve?

12. Is your first paragraph so powerful that readers will be unable to resist reading the rest of the article?

13. Does the lead, the first few sentences of the first paragraph, grab the reader’s attention with one of the following:
a. A controversial statement – such as “Did you know 93% of all Audiology practices are deaf when it comes to this…”
b. A clear statement of an urgent problem (one shared by our target audience) – such as “I just sent out 20,000 postcards and only got one response. What can I do to attract more patients?”
c. Or an intriguing storyline

14. Does the lead give the reader a compelling reason to read the next sentence, the next paragraph?

Are you using a story to paint word pictures that change what you’re saying from “an intellectual idea” into “an emotionally and tangible idea” so your reader can relate to it?

– Is a clear and detailed picture painted of the problem with enough specifics to make it believable?

For example: Brian from Salt Lake City had invested over $20,000 in his online marketing and three years later was only getting a couple new patients from his site each month. Which meant he was pouring all his profits into his marketing and getting basically nothing back, making it impossible for him to keep up with his bills, much less even have the money to buy the his season ski pass for the nearby ski hills outside the city renown for their powder snow.

15. Do you point out your prospects’ most nagging problem, “pour salt on the wound” by listing all the negative consequences of having that problem, and then step in to “save the day” with the solution you share?

16. Is it written in a virtual conversational style where you include questions and answers to engage the reader?

17. Does it avoid sounding pedantic, like you are lecturing the reader?

18. Is it written in a consultative fashion, asking questions and answering them as a coach or mentor might, positioning you the writer as the expert?

19. In addition to any “logical” points does it strike a strong emotional chord for prospects, appeal to their hearts as well as their minds?

20. Have you addressed your readers’ “hidden desires”? Do you talk about the living large, long and easy… depending on your readers?

21. Does your copy speak in an active voice, rather than a passive style? And written with action-oriented words?

22. Have you hit the accelerator with your copy to the max with power words like unsurpassed, gigantic, revolutionary, ultimate… etc? Well at least up to the speed limit?

23. Do you make use of powerful words like “right away,” today” or “immediately” other ways to imply “instant gratification” to today’s “give it to me this second” readers?

24. Does your copy, leap off the page with a “contagious enthusiasm” and infect the reader?

25. Does it contain at least a modicum, if not a mountain of drama… building from start to finish?

Includes One Big Idea
26. Does the solution section include one big idea, one key tactic, strategy that most people overlook and make it clear that it’s not just small potatoes?

27. Does it reveal to your prospects your secret and let them know the reason why?

28. Does it tell people what to do, but not how to do it, creating a perception of need for your services?

29. Have you made it clear to the reader that your solution will work faster and better, give the reader more free time?

30. Does it include a few facts and figures to provide credibility to your solution?

31. Is the solution presented in way that will make the reader say, “this is just what I’ve been looking for.”

Easy To Read
32. Do you regularly re-energize the readers’ interest by placing compelling sub-headlines through out the copy?

33. Is your article, email or blog post – “easy to scan” and formatted to include plenty of white space, wide margins, and easy to read fonts?

34. Is your copy broken into easy to digest short and succinct paragraphs that are no longer than a couple of sentences long?

35. Is the copy written in simple, concise – easy to understand language that even Al Bundy and any fifth grader could understand?

36. Does it flow from one tantalizing cliff-hanger to another?

37. Is the message crystal clear, what the primary problem is, the easy “aha” solution and what to do – so that anyone of average intelligence would understand it?

38. Is your line length no longer than 60 characters in width?

39. If you’re sending an email, did you include a post-script, the few sentences almost every reader pays the most attention to, to summarize the main problem, solution and call to action?

Provide Clear Next Steps
40. Does the call to action leverage the problem and solution as shared in the article? For example, “Want to attract 100 patients a month as Brian did? Find out how by….

41. Have you listed all the most compelling reasons why the reader should act now — stop the pain fast, be ahead of the competition, don’t miss out, etc?

42. Is your call to action specific rather than general? E.g you tell people exactly what to do and where instead of just asking for a general contact us.

43. Do you clearly communicate a sense of urgency in your call to action? Is it clear to the reader that doing nothing, procrastinating, etc will mean missing out… and that will feel dumb and kick themselves for delaying?

Your Score
Did the piece you were evaluating get a perfect 43 out of 43 score?

Don’t worry. Hardly any will. The key is to use the checklist to identify what needs to be fixed, and continually improve your copy, your marketing and your sales.

Oh, and let me know what else needs to be added to the list.

P.S. Want some examples of good copy. See below.

Story Based Content

What’s Your Recipe?

All Apples and No Pie

Reaching Perfection

Use This Tactic To Get More Leads in 15 Seconds Or Less

News Based Articles

Should You Be Using Twitter To Reach Customers

Educational / Data Dump Type Articles

– 10 Phone Marketing Mistakes To Avoid

One Response to “The Ultimate Writers’ Checklist: Use It To Score Your Blog Posts and Articles”

  1. John Williamson Says:

    This is a great check list for technical writing. When I work with companies or read articles online, writing style and organization always pop out. At RPM Revenue Drivers we try to help companies succeed in growing their markets and these steps you listed in writing is vital to a succesful marketing or advertising campaign. Great article!

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