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January 30, 2015

7 Content Mistakes You Should Know & Avoid

Photo Credit: Adikos via flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Developing content without a clear strategy can lead to mixed results. For instance, you can write great content one day and on another day your content can be quite terrible in comparison. Trying to be consistent in your content creation is what you as a website owner need to do – because consistent content is right up there with consistent updates when it comes to writing a great blog.

As a writer, you have to put your content production at the fore of your tasks and remember that producing good content doesn’t have some hard-and-fast rules about it. That’s what makes being a blogger a difficult job.

Luckily, there are a few things that you can avoid doing if you don’t want to develop bad content. Good content is not necessarily the opposite of bad content, but if you stop creating bad content, more and more of the pieces you do create will fall into the good content category.

For the writer (and even a general business owner) trying to make their mark online, I’ve noted a few top errors to avoid.

7 Bad Content Mistakes To Never (Ever) Make

Here’s a roundup of some of the most frequently committed content mistakes to avoid:

1) Writing Only When the Muse Takes You. There’s a quote that equates genius to ninety-nine percent perspiration and one percent inspiration. Unfortunately your muse isn’t on a clock, but you are. There are a lot of different sites that claim that you should write when you have something to say. That may be good advice when it comes to developing content for a blog that updates once a month, but serious bloggers can’t subscribe to the idea of waiting for inspiration to strike them. Successful bloggers replace inspiration with well-planned topic research that covers trending keywords and that is also relevant to their niche target audience. Waiting for inspiration to take you can take days, months, or even years. That’s why some published authors wait for years before they publish a new book. Inspiration fuels passionate writing, this much is true. However, inspiration isn’t what you as a pro blogger should be aiming for. You should be aiming for on-time delivery of content. To that end, you need to schedule time to write. Stephen King recommends to writers that they write every day, even if they don’t want to. Some of it will be terrible, but quite a lot of it won’t. And the more practice you get, the less you’ll find yourself struggling to write as time goes on.

2) Going Big or Going Home. Far too many blog advice sites offer this gem. To be honest, advice like this is probably more like a lump of coal. As writers we are implored to write well, put thousands of hours into our craft and create something that changes people’s mindsets and ideas overnight. We are told that doing this will make us great, and we all aim for greatness, right? The long and short of it is that the people who get famous for one piece of content are the ones that provability deems to be outliers. Harper Lee wrote “To Kill a Mockingbird” in the 50’s, and through it the mindsets of a generation of children were changed. She never produced another book, and her name lives on to this day as one of the most recognizable names in American Literature. She sets the standard to which we writers are held, on which our dreams are predicated. Reality has this annoying habit of being more practical than our dreams. For a writer to be recognized in this day and age he or she must chip away at the massive monument of marble in order to finally produce a magnum opus. The nineties should have taught us that there’s no quick route to anything. Weight loss in weeks, millionaires in months and loves of a lifetime should have been disproved when we turned the corner into the year 2000. You don’t have to go big or go home. You can go little by little and eventually you’ll get to your destination.

3) Writing for Yourself First. Writing for yourself is a great way to let stuff out that’s been banging around in your head all day. As writers we have this penchant for creating great works when we’re ready. One thing you should be wary of is to write for yourself when you’re doing content production. To be fair, if you like doing content production and are passionate about your content then by all means, write for yourself first. Your audience will love you for doing that because it’s very difficult to fake sincerity for a topic you don’t particularly like. If you’re not a fan of the topic, then write for your audience first. I am reminded of Tom Sawyer’s revelation when he realizes that it’s only work if it’s not fun. If you make it fun, then it isn’t work. Although you can do this with content creation for a number of topics, the sad truth is that at some point you will be tasked with creating content for which you have no passion and no zeal. To avoid passing on this indifference to your readers, it’s best to adopt a neutral tone. If you want to create content that you enjoy writing, by all means, start a personal blog but when creating content professionally, write for your audience first.

4) Article Marketing. About a decade ago, article marketing got noticed as a means of getting content out to a large number of people in very little time. It involved writing an article or series of articles, posting them on a collection of article directories and waiting for someone to use that content. Google caught on and quickly removed this as a valid way to drive people to your site. Directories have largely been replaced by content aggregators that collect content and build links between them in a Google-friendly manner. The amount of effort that a single marketer could put into link building a decade ago would net him or her profits relatively quickly because of the number of people that used to frequent these article directories. Well placed backlinks to previously written articles by an author created a series of backlinks that could quickly grow to massive size. Today, backlinking is used as a method of determining the legitimacy of a site and how well connected it is with its peers. To that end, using articles garnered from a directory is almost certain to end horribly for a content producer.

5) Bypassing Blogging and Going to Social Media. Social Media is a major talking point in the world of online marketing today. Bloggers get most of their visits from Facebook, twitter and other social media and social networking sites. There is a major flaw in the idea that bypassing blogging and going straight to Facebook is a good idea though. On Facebook’s terms of use, it clearly states that content that is produced and put on their site is theirs under copyright. Thus, by creating content and placing it on Facebook, you cede your right to have it anywhere else. Facebook’s content hoarding is one of the major reasons why larger companies tend to run their own blogs independent of the Facebook space but have a dedicated page to share updates on their blog or their company. In addition to allowing them to engage with fans, it also protects the right to their written content by having it served on their own private server. Copyright issues online can be a major problem, but be assured that anything that you post on Facebook is officially Facebook’s. It’s a far more feasible solution to simply have Facebook drive traffic to your own independent blog posts.

6) Doing it All Yourself, All The Time. Let’s be honest: how much time can you really devote to writing every single one of your blogs? To be successful, every Batman needs his Robin, etc. In other words, you need help. Now here’s the thing. You have brilliant ideas in your expert head; you need to share them with someone who is a fabulous writer. Once you have the writer (or writing agency), just jot your ideas down in notes weekly, or write a whole topic, and hand that off with a bullet list of your input to the writer. It shouldn’t take you more than 5 minutes per piece or topic, and you can let the writer do the heavy work.

7) Updating Once a Month. Although you don’t have to update once a day, you should update more than once a month. Multiple times a week is preferable, but once a week is pushing it. By updating once a month, you limit the amount of time that your readers can see what you post, but you also lose the interest of your readers by taking too long to update your blog. Readers are fickle beings and they tend to view once-a-month posting as abandonment. Blogs regularly post one update a day, sometimes multiple times a day. In order for you to get the most out of your posting in terms of subscribers and traffic your posts must be consistent and they must be regular. If you’re running a professional blog you need to have your posts come in on time. Deadlines are very important for writers because it gives us a way to schedule our work and to figure out how and when to write. Once-a-month updates destroy the flow of a blog and make it much less interesting than a blog that updates once per day. Seriously – who wants to follow you if you’re only putting out content once a month?

There is no shortage of niche blogs that update much faster and your target audience is sure to prefer a blog that is more regular than one that needs an age to give them something new.

Avoid the Pitfalls and Be a Winner

There are a ton of ways content creation and sourcing can go wrong. However, if you manage to avoid the pitfalls of regular content creation, the content you create or source would fall between the limits of great and good. Mediocre content has no place on your blog and by staying away from these recognizable content mistakes you can easily ensure that you don’t get sucked into the trap of having bad content. The question you have to ask yourself is this: “Am I willing to sacrifice the reputation of my blog for cheap content?”


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Julia McCoy is a top 30 content marketer and has been named an industry thought leader by several publications. She enjoys making the gray areas of content marketing clear with practical training, teaching, and systems. Her career in content marketing was completely self-taught. In 2011, she dropped out of college to follow her passion in writing, and since then grew her content agency, Express Writers, to thousands of worldwide clients from scratch. Julia is the author of two bestselling books on content marketing and copywriting, and is the host of The Write Podcast. Julia writes as a columnist on leading publications and certifies content strategists in her training course, The Content Strategy & Marketing Course. Julia lives in Austin, Texas with her daughter, husband, and one fur baby.

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