High Standards: When is a Post Good Enough to Publish?

I have a confession to make. It’s why I don’t publish enough, despite how much you all inspire me each day.

Confession: My writing standards are way too high.

I want to publish more…I always do. But I constantly start a post, trash it, start over…

I thought I already found my confidence 🙁

Plus, I love discussions that follow a new post. It’s a major reason I blog and a major reason I started this Community. So why not recreate this feeling again and again?

In this post I’d like to look at what makes bloggers self-critical to the point of insanity and discuss how this hurts our overall productivity.

As usual, your opinion will really help.

The questions I ask before hitting publish


As bloggers, our work is as good as we make it. We all have routines and rituals we practice from linking images to styling the first letters of our posts.

But in terms of the content, how do we know when it’s ready?

It’s hard to say. Anyone with a few bucks to spare can start a blog. Themes are cheap and advice is commonplace.

It’s the blood, sweat and tears that goes into our posts that really makes a blog. Even if our audience is small, pleasing them is just as important if not way more important than pleasing a large audience.

Here are a few things I always consider before hitting the blue button.

Warning: I can be obsessive.

Does it flow?

A great copywriter Demian Farnworth has written on what makes a post flow, what makes it vibe together. Without flow our points risk getting lost in a sea of text. And that’s a major problem.

So probably the biggest question I ask myself before hitting that blue button is does the entire post make sense? Does point A flow to point D, or is it like some bizarre game to telephone where no one knows where things began? If I find I’ve gone on too many tangents and lost my path, I’ll usually start over. This causes serious delays.

Is it complete?

Yet another grey line in blogging, completeness is always subject to debate. Leaving a post incomplete is actually something some bloggers advocate (crazy I know), because you then leave ideas for your readers to arrive to on their own. These ideas are usually discussed in the comments, creating a more complete post after the discussion, which is actually great.

But when I think complete, I think more in terms of effort. Did I give a post all the information I have at my disposal? Did I half-ass (the horror) one section? If that’s the case, it’s back to the editor for a good strong reworking. Oy vey.

Does it work for my target audience?

This blog is only about 6 months old at the time I write this, but it’s already got a very firmly defined target audience: up and coming bloggers. Yep, that’s you 🙂

My audience is smart, motivated, and curious. I can’t just pitch common words into space and wait for the virality to ensue. Instead, understanding if “it works for the target audience” is a massive combination of 1-1 discussion in the comments, Twitter chat, and Analytics mining. I want to know what people want, and what they want more of. I would only hope that each posts gets better and better, and if I can not just hope but know, then all the better.

Of course, this takes hard work. I doubt folks would like a random movie review, or summary of my weekend, though they are quite fun!

Is it something only I care about?

A weird question for sure here but a relevant one. At times, I’ll commence a post with the inspiration flowing through my blood like Capri Sun. Moments later after jotting down 300 words, I’ll realize…wait. This post is going nowwhere because it’s something only I have a passion for.

Self-judgementalism sucks, but I think having a bit of self-awareness is important to blogging. Knowing that what you like might not be what the masses want can help you actually find what folks want and in get a lot more traffic over time.

These are questions I ask in my often vain efforts to write a masterpiece. But even with a good analysis, sometimes the product doesn’t get out the door because of perfectionism.

Blog-fectionism: Why I don’t publish a lot

I’m not a perfectionist in most things. My life is actually usually a mess and my roommate always yells at me for leaving the hot sauce out and leaving it on him to take our the trash (it’s 85% his anyways).

“The world’s best writers often lead lives of chaos so we can see brilliance on each page.” Tweet this quote!

But I am a perfectionist on the blog. I’ll often log in to see:

  • A typo….
  • An image is off center
  • My coffee icons don’t look nice!

I’ll instantly need to fix the minor issue and this takes time. It takes away from crafting another post or two you could enjoy.

Then once I do began writing at last, the above questions can create so much self-judgement that the post ends up in the trash bin.

I guess I’m a blog-fectionist. Anyone else?

Anyone who’s dabbled in perfectionism knows it can prevent you from creating. You try to rid the page of mistakes and pretty soon there’s nothing left to show at all. It’s like the story of the kid who tried to shape the perfect heart for his Valentine. He keeps cutting around the corners thinking his heart is getting more beautiful, but pretty soon it shrinks so small it’s hard to tell it is a heart at all.

Given this, it’s important to find a balance. I know if I write when I’m relaxed and confident I’m more happy with the result, and more likely to publish. Maybe this works for you?

Without this balance it’s almost impossible to maintain productivity.

When are posts good enough to publish

When I was flown of to San Francisco on behalf of Adobe, I remember asking Adobe’s CDO (design officer) a question. The guy made logos for each product, like the logo for Illustrator.

“When do you consider a logo good enough to use?” I asked over a panel of bloggers.

These products go to millions of customers, massive corporations, and stakeholders who want things looking just right.

“Well. When I think it’s good enough,” he said, smiling.

“And there’s a whole checklist of things, too,” he added.

Clearly this guy had the authority to deem a project done with or complete. Afterall, someone has to have the final say.

In blogging, we can’t just create our best work every single day. If you can, please tell me your secret.

I know for myself, I write better at 1am than at 12 noon.

And, I write better on Fridays than on any other day of the week. How inconvenient! When I wrote my first post at ProBlogger, it only took me about 1 hr research, 1 hr writing, and 1 hr editing. I knew after those 3 hours that it was perfect.

How do you know when a post is perfect? On larger blog projects, when is it ready to get out the door and go live?

Things like weekly routine, external pressures, and environmental stress all control how we blog. Then there’s the internal things, like work style, drive, and determination. Equally valid.

Hear from you

I guess I’ll polish this off with a few questions because I’d really like to hear from the Community on this whole issue of self-critical-writing-isms. I feel like this will be one of those posts where the discussion outweighs the article.

  • When are you least likely to be self-critical?
  • When do you know a post is good enough?
  • Perhaps most importantly…
  • Why do you think some writers are able to produce more great content than the rest?

Let’s see, post a comment and tell us about your writing standards.

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17 Responses to "High Standards: When is a Post Good Enough to Publish?"

  1. I think a post is good enough to publish when it is free of spelling and grammatical errors, contains correct and useful links, provides the reader with a call to action, is labelled and categorized, and includes the “more” tag.

    Since Networked Blogs shows the first few lines of each blog post that does not “begin” with a picture or image, it is critical that readers are captured within the first sentence.

    Blogging is not easy. Pardon me. Blogging can be easy, but successful blogging takes effort!

    It wasn’t until the last few days that I learned how to add a “tweet this quote” or a “tweet this” link to my blog.

    I even wrote a post about this, so others can learn how to do this!

    1. Hi Lorraine!
      What’s Neworked Blogs? This is special as heck, great advice. How do you think we capture in those first few sentences?
      More great stuff soon,

      1. You need a Facebook account to join Networked Blogs, and you login using Facebook.

        It is very cool. You find blogs to follow, add your blog to it, and then adjust your settings. You can get new followers for your blog, too!

        I love the daily email that tells me of new posts that are made by the writers of the blogs I follow.

        It is a great networking tool, too.

        Try it, please, Greg, and see how awesome it is.

        Then write a post about it, letting all of your readers here know about it. Just give me credit, and link to my blog, Lorraine Reguly’s LIfe. (I believe in giving credit where it’s due…and I would do the same for you.)

        I think that your readers will love it. Your blog can be on any platform, too. I have two blogs, one WordPress blog, and one Blogger (Google) blog, called Poetry Perfected.

        Both can be connected.

        If truth be told, I have a Tumblr blog, too, which I have, on another note, connected to my WordPress blog, so that when I publish a post on Lorraine Reguly’s Life, it it publicized to my Tumblr blog.

        It’s all easy to do, too.

        I only began blogging about 6 months ago, four days after getting a new laptop.

        Anyone can do this…as long as you can read, follow simple directions, and click buttons!

        I love it!

  2. Write every day. Hit publish. Learn from your mistakes and write again the next day.
    You will develop a habit, and a “writing brain.” There is no such thing as perfect.
    Write, read, edit, publish. And then do it again.
    Sort of like a new release of a software product. They know there are bugs, but they still ship.
    I write daily at http://www.ipaintiwrite.com and my cat writes when he feels like it at http://www.thecatwhowrites.com.

    1. I like that comparison to software products. Like software blogging helps people, and there’s no saying we have to achieve perfection before beginning that process.

  3. Hey Greg,
    This piece is really compelling. I simply write for my readers to decide whether it is good enough or not.

    And hey, the tone I use in each post is chatty.
    I write as if having a conversation with a friend on the spot.

  4. Hi Greg, thanks for the follow on Twitter. I just skimmed through several of your posts and see you have a lot of excellent material here. I’ll definitely be reading.

    This is a great post. I’ve only just started the blog on my site, but I have definitely found myself being a bit of a perfectionist when writing my posts. I obsess most over the title. I usually know exactly what I want to write about, but can’t start writing until I’ve gotten the post title just right. (On my last post, I still wasn’t satisfied, and I edited the title three times after publishing). Anyone else encounter this problem? Any suggestions? I try to follow post title formulas, but still struggle with this, especially because once the post is published, the URL shouldn’t be changed.

    Anyhow, other than that, I’m not too afraid to hit publish because I know I can always go back and edit the post if any typos or other mistakes slipped by me.

    1. Great to see ya here from Twitter Nicole.

      Wow, interesting to hear your struggles. Where do you blog? Custom Permalinks if you use WordPress self-hosted. That plugin lets you change titles and URLs independently….

      You present a lot of good ideas for a new post….so stay tuned!

    1. ALWAYS awesome to hear from you Abdul.

      Glad this connected with ya. What’s sort of process do you follow before hitting the ol blue button?

      1. Thanks, Greg. It’s always great for me to get in touch with you as well.
        And yeah I follow simple steps:
        1) Re-Read
        2) Best of CTA (Call to Action) Words/Strategies.
        3) Proofread (Myself)

        That’s all for me.

  5. Ola dear Greg,
    this is a really interesting post you wrote there and hits the nail on the head for me and I think for a few other people as well.

    The biggest problem I have when writing is making sense of it. For me it is sometimes hard to express what I want to say in english, because I am not a native speaker. So there is always this frustration, when i have the feeling not to express my self right.

    Before I write a post, I write down what this post should contain, which part I write in more detail and which information is just outlined (so I can write posts later about this topic and can connect posts). This helps me a lot in finding out, when my post is good enough for me. If I have everything written down and made sense of it in a “senseful” order, I deem it good enough 😀 And also it is kind of cool when, while you are writing, think of new things to add.

    I think some other blogs can produce more content (and I don’t say it is necessary great content) because some have internalized phrases to use. Lets compare it with authors who publish nearly every month a new book or story, and when you just look at it, the story seems great, but the content is actually sucked dry, its nothing new and fresh. And this is, what I think, happens to blogs which are posting so often, they kind of repeat themselves and don’t bring new perspective (for me at least).

    I kind of like your attitude in blogging, for me it sounds like you post things, when you think this is worthy to be said. So I value your posts, because I have the feeling you just don’t have post-eritis and that you think about what you post. (if this makes sense)

    Love, Saskia

    1. Howdy Saskia 🙂

      What language is native to you?

      YES, adding new things is like my bread and butter. Ideally my thoughts flow perfectly first try but…yeah right.

      I know too, some blogs are so eloquent, but there’s not substance no meat. So, perhaps the painful writing and stumbling around are more valuable??

      I could def post more often, think about it…..but I’m all about progression. I want the progression to really tell a story on it’s own here….from Welcome Post to where we are now 🙂

      Thanks for those ridiculously smart thoughts.

      Keep writing,


      1. Howdy Greg 😀

        I am from Germany, even though I grew up with learning english like in 5th grade, sometimes I have trouble in expressing myself. Buuut practice makes one a master.

        Oh I love Storytelling, its not just about entertainment, its about proving a point and teach something and you definitely do that in your posts.

        Don’t pressure yourself, I think your posts are good timed and you wouldn’t be so successful if you did something wrong 😉 or let me rephrase: Your success proves you make something right!

        Have a wonderful weekend!

        Love, Saskia.


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