Many Surprises When I Reviewed my First 50 Articles
Every article reflects upon you, the author, wherever you publish. Solid procedures prevent mistakes. I fixed my online articles.
Every article reflects upon you, the author, no matter how old the articles are or where you publish. You certainly don’t want them to be full of errors. Your error rate decreases as you learn from experience.
My first new article using what I learned from my review was curated within 3 hours. I don’t expect that every time, but the following article was much improved.
One of the most effective ways to improve is to learn from your own mistakes. For most people, receiving an explanation or reading instructions does not have the same impact.
Some mistakes are obvious to you, and everybody else. Others you may never realize you made. After a cursory review of my articles, I realized that
Some articles did not even have a chance to get curated.
One great thing about publishing on Medium vs. print articles is you can fix mistakes after the article is published. It won’t change the date or redistribute the article to your followers, but new readers will see the improved product.
So, I examined every article in detail. Maybe I could improve my draft-to-publish procedures. It was an enlightening experience.
The quickest way to avoid being curated is not to have a caption on the heading picture.
I left the caption off 7 times before I figured it out.
I constructed three of the seven pictures from clipart included with my software. The caption under the picture should have stated that with the date.
I did find one source and added the caption. I spent hours looking for the others, but finally replaced them.
Unfortunately, that error may have caused my most important article, in terms of impacting people’s lives, from being curated.
Your Partner has Diabetes, YOUR Life just Changed
As important to know as CPR. You are not diabetic but know someone who is — your life may also change
I plan to split it into two logical pieces, add some new information, and publish later this year.
All other pictures in an article must have captions, too.
Tags help search engines find and categorize your articles. I had 148 unique tags. Only 15 appeared five or more times and 98 were used only once. Some were almost duplicates, such as:
I found 11 such pairs. The others turned out to be unique since I write about many subjects. Five pairs were legitimate. I fixed the others.
I had to trick the editor into republishing. It won’t activate the button unless you change something in the text, so I selected a space and replaced it with a space.
Typos and content
I read my “Cat” article to my writers club in The Villages. They explain their critiques after you finish reading.
I didn’t expect many since it was the featured article on my profile and already had many claps. They issued slightly over one hundred critiques, although some were duplicates.
Managers: How do You Manage a Cat?
That skill keeps you from losing some of your best people. You will surely be frustrated. Knowing that someone has a…
I updated the article with all suggestions that did not alter the content.
SEO Title and Description
GOOGLE displays the article’s SEO Title and sometimes the SEO Description if you wrote one. If you didn’t, GOOGLE makes up its own. I didn’t recognize their importance until late in life.
I copied one of my titles to a GOOGLE search. It responded, “Do you mean …?” My SEO title was almost, but not quite the same as the actual title displayed on Medium.
You can edit your post and change the SEO text, without republishing. This takes some time, so I did a few per day until I reviewed and fixed every article.
I wouldn’t do this if I had published 1,000 articles, but 50 wasn’t too bad. If I had published 1,000 articles, I probably would have checked the latest fifty.
Draft-to-publish procedure and checklist
I now have a spreadsheet listing my articles with their kicker, tags and SEO description. Another tab contains the condensed tag list and I made a standard kicker list.
For new articles, I plan to do these things when I am ready to click the publish button:
- Confirm the kicker is above the title and is in the standard list
- Run the title and sub-title through the Headline Analyzer checking for emotional impact. I once tried over 20 possibilities. I occasionally use the Headline Analyzer on individual sentences within the story. It has improved my writing.
- Make sure the title and sub-title explain the story and are not click-bait
- Check all pictures for captions
- Confirm that I have 5 tags and no near duplicates. Add any new tags to the spreadsheet list.
- Use the “Read Aloud” feature to find errors. A sentence may be technically correct, but sound wrong.
- Ask the computer to find grammatical errors. Copy the article into the Hemmingway Editor and Grammarly. Some of their suggestions are spot-on, but others are weird, and wrong. You should think about each one and make the decision.
- Verify that the title at the top of the page, those displayed by the “Change display title/sub-title” option in the drop menu, and the SEO title all agree. I have seen all three be different.
- Write the SEO description, making sure it is the correct number of characters.
- Determine which publication to submit to, if any. Review and follow their guidelines.
- Decide if I want to create a shorter “friends” URL.
- Finally, add the article to my tracking spreadsheet and hit the publish button.
This list is much longer than I expected when I started writing it. You can do some of these things while writing. Even so, I go through this checklist when I have my final draft ready to publish.
This checklist is targeted for Medium, but you can easily modify it for other publishers. Most points are generic.
This exercise forced me to quit behaving like an amateur and be more professional. Editing before you post does that, as long as you don’t try to be perfect and never publish. It takes me about an hour or two.
I now have a formal procedure to follow and shouldn’t make so many mistakes.
Some writers with thousands of posts may feel they don’t need to do all of those things and don’t need a formal checklist. Good for them. I still need one.
Direct from the Medium curators: