Practitioner Marketing How to Tell When Content is Ready to Publish
March 28, 2019
By its nature, content is subjective. It would be nice if there were a quantifiable, black-or-white, metrics-based assessment we could perform to determine objectively whether content is “good” and ready to be published, but there isn’t.
That doesn’t mean you should publish content without first performing an assessment to determine whether it’s likely to meet your goals. A lack of evaluation could lead to content that doesn’t advance your marketing agenda.
Let’s walk through strategies for assessing whether content is ready to publish. We’ll focus in particular on blog posts written for a technical audience — the type of content we specialize in at Fixate.
Determine your content’s goals
You can’t assess whether your content is good enough to publish unless you first determine what you’re hoping to gain by publishing it.
At a high level, almost all content worth publishing has some shared goals. It should engage people. It should make them want to learn more about you — the company publishing the content.
But once you dive into the particulars, the goals behind a piece of content can vary widely. Are you hoping that your blog post will simply drive traffic to your website — traffic that could convert into leads? Or do you want the content to increase the length of time people spend on your site, without necessarily attracting new visitors? Maybe the purpose of the content is to educate people who are already your customers. Or maybe it’s to establish you as the subject-matter expert on a particular topic for a very small and specific audience.
These are all different types of goals. One blog post might do a good job of achieving one of them, but not the others. That’s why it’s important to determine what, specifically, your content needs to do before you think about publishing it — or, ideally, before you begin writing it.
Does the content have the right technical depth?
If you’re publishing blog posts for a technical audience, it’s important to make sure the content contains the right amount of technical depth to reach that audience.
Of course, what counts as the right amount of technical depth will vary depending on what the purpose of your content is (which is why the section above about defining goals is important). Sometimes you need content filled with code-level examples. Sometimes you’ll instead want thought-leadership content that expresses original opinions or offers perspective on a technical issue without getting into code-level specifics. Sometimes a good blog post provides a high-level overview of a range of technical topics, or a 101-level introduction to a technical concept without going into the kind of depth that would scare away newcomers.
Each of these types of content can be effective for achieving different goals. Once you’ve defined the goals for a piece of content you plan to publish, you can assess whether the content is technically specific and detailed enough to meet those goals — or whether it’s too technical and will alienate some readers.
Is the content well-written?
Writing quality is a tremendously subjective thing. Still, when it comes to technical blog posts, it’s possible to identify a few key qualities that an article should have if it’s written well.
One is skimmability. If someone reads only the title of your post, the introduction, and the first few sentences of the subsections, will he or she know what the post is about and/or want to read the whole thing?
Clarity is also important. Is the article’s purpose and agenda clear by the time the reader finishes the first paragraph? Does the article contain pithy sentences? Are there unnecessary words that don’t contribute to the meaning of the article?
Grammar counts, too. You might not think your typical DevOps engineer or programmer cares about the difference between it’s and its, but many do, and poor grammar undercuts your overall credibility. The same goes for typos.
Another consideration, depending on your audience, might be how well someone who is not a native speaker of the content’s language can digest the article. If you want to reach non-native speakers, it’s a good idea to keep sentences short, avoid overly complex words, and steer clear of phrases or figures of speech that only native speakers will recognize.
Don’t overthink your content
It’s very important to ensure before publishing that a piece of content aligns with your goals, has the right level of technical depth to support those goals, and is well-written.
It’s equally important to avoid spending so much time analyzing a blog post or trying to perfect it that you never publish it. (Or, by the time you do publish it, your marketing landscape has changed, and the post is no longer what you need.)
A blog post that gets published on time and achieves 90 percent of your goals is worth infinitely more than a post that never gets published, or gets published far behind schedule because you spend too long trying to make it 100 percent perfect (which experienced writers and editors know is impossible). Perfectionism will undermine an otherwise strong content-marketing strategy.