Whether it’s the wittiest of blog posts, the most convincing of sales pitches, or the most researched of articles, you’re doing yourself — and your business — a real disservice if you hit the “publish” button before you take the time to answer these 5 questions about your web content:

1.  Does this specific piece of content build trust?

Building readers’ trust is the #1 goal of content marketing.  It doesn’t matter how many witty anecdotes you pull out or how many facts and figures you list.  If people don’t trust you when they get to the end of the piece, you have failed as a content marketer.

After all, people don’t do business with people they don’t trust!

2.  How does this specific piece fit into your content marketing strategy?

As important as fresh content is to the search engines, you can’t publish things just to publish them.  Even if you’ve got some really great pieces, they’ve all got to be working towards something.  If you don’t have an overall content marketing strategy in mind, you’ll never accomplish as much as you could — or should.

So, how do you know if this specific blog post/article/newsletter/video fits in with your strategy?

Take an honest look at it, and determine if it’s relevant to your target audience’s needs and wants.  Also, figure out if it’s chock full of timely information that your audience can put to good use right now.  And, be sure it makes you look like a creative genius.  After all, every good content marketing strategy needs to focus on building up your reputation, too!

3.  Is it a “have to” or a “want to”?

Yes, content marketing is a must for anyone who wants to succeed on the web, so you’ve got to find time for it in your schedule.

However, that doesn’t mean it can come across LOOKING like it was forced into your schedule.

Even if publishing a new blog post is the last thing on earth you have time for before your big business meeting, you can’t give your readers that impression.  If you hate your content, your readers will hate it, too!

Instead, you have to approach each piece of web content as a “want to” — meaning that you want to share information with your readers, because you’re genuinely passionate about the topic.  If you can’t do that, your content marketing strategy will never be a success.

After all, if you’re not passionate about what you’re writing about, how can you expect your readers to be passionate enough to visit your website, sign up for your email list, buy your product, or do anything else that you want them to do?

4.  Are you putting your very best foot forward?

Even if you have published hundreds of articles or thousands of blog posts before, someone is always seeing you for the first time.  That 1,001st blog post you “cranked out” could be the very first one a potential client reads.

After all, you only get one chance to make a good first impression.  If there’s ANY chance your piece of content is just OK, don’t publish it.  Instead, do whatever it takes to make it perfect.  Once it hits the web, there are no do-overs.

Re-thinking that whole “cranking out” strategy yet?

5.  Do I know how to leverage this?

Contrary to popular belief, your work isn’t done when you hit “publish”.  Instead, you need to generate as much exposure as possible for every piece of web content.  That means posting it to your RSS feed, letting your social media followers know about it, telling your email list about it, publishing it on niche-specific bookmarking sites (not the giant ones like Digg, where you just get lost in the shuffle — ones like Biz Sugar, that cater to your specific target audience.)

Once you come up with an “exposure routine” for every piece of content, the hard part is done.  Physically carrying out the routine only takes a matter of minutes!