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March 27, 2015

14 Common Beginner Mistakes in Content Marketing

Photo Credit: Adikos via flickr (CC BY 2.0)

No matter what it is, we are all beginners at something at some point. Being a beginner can be one of the most frustrating things for us grown ups, but think back to when you were a kid. Did you immediately learn to ride a bike by yourself or did you have someone teach you? How many times did you fall roller-skating?

For those of us who were around when the Internet was a new thing, how many times did we make major fails and tweak and tailor things until we figured it out? Quite a lot! Even now, many of us still make mistakes because the Internet is constantly growing.

14 Common Beginner Mistakes in Content Marketing

What does this all mean, though? It means that when you’re a beginner, you make mistakes, and even as you learn, you can still make mistakes. When it comes to content marketing, the same rule applies. Let’s take a look at some of the most common ones so you know what to avoid.

1. Having Duplicate Content. Duplicate content is a trap many beginners fall into because it is just so easy! You write up some great content, feel that it is perfect, and wham-bam, you have all you need, right? Unfortunately, no. You cannot have duplicate content if you want to rank on Google. That is one of the biggest no-no’s, yet one of the easiest traps to fall into. Train your brain to say, “Danger, Will Robinson” when you even consider using duplicate content.

2. Learning About Keywords and Subsequently Misusing Them. When you do basic SEO research, you will learn about keywords. These are great because they can help get your page noticed. However, a major and common mistake beginners make is misusing keywords. The two most common ways to misuse them is to either stuff them throughout your website and content or not use relevant keywords. You always need to make sure you aren’t stuffing or using irrelevant keywords to see the best results.

3. You Don’t Know Who Your Audience is or are Writing for One Type of Person. Another mistake beginners make is not knowing who their audience is or only writing for one specific type of person. You need to do audience research to learn about who your clientele and readers will be. In addition, you need to make sure you write to a broader type of person to get the most reach. You will quickly lose readers if you aren’t writing for everyone as best as possible. Don’t worry, this blog will show a few ways to write for a broader audience!

4. Coming Across as a 1970s Used-Car Salesperson. Sales used to be all about selling, selling, selling, and it used to be effective. However, when it comes to making sales nowadays, you need to make sure you don’t come across as trying to sell something. This can easily and quickly chase people away because many no longer like the salesperson tone. Instead of focusing on making sales, Vertical Response says to focus on helping. This might seem counterproductive, but you will notice more sales being made when you do this!

5. Not Enough Creation or Oversaturation. Another major pitfall for beginners is when it comes to content creation. Sometimes people will create a website and have some decent content, but they don’t publish or create enough. This makes their website stale and can drive people away. On the other side, oversaturation of created content can chase people away just as quickly because it comes across as spam and not genuine. Try to find the perfect middle spot for your business and website.

6. Using One Format for All Content. Remember how I mentioned the mistake of writing for one type of person? Well, I am sure you are wondering how you can write for more when you have a niche audience. The best way to do this is to not focus on only one format for all content. This is a massive mistake that many beginners make. Why are multiple content formats important? Because we all will consume content in different ways when we get on a website or social channel. Some people enjoy infographics whereas others prefer in-depth articles. Others prefer memes and many enjoy seeing photos with their social media posts. Videos, podcasts, photos, blogs, and other formats are vital because they will reach different types of people and broaden your reach.

7. Not Getting Help in Any Areas. No matter how much training and expertise you have, you will always need to learn new things. Because of this, you will need to get help in certain areas to learn the best way to do something. A mistake many beginners make with content marketing is either thinking it is way too easy to do, meaning they don’t need help or they are too embarrassed to ask for help. However, help is vital and you should seek it to make sure you are getting what you need. This could be hiring various copywriting experts, getting an editor, hiring a photographer, or taking classes on basic things. Don’t be shy; get help!

8. Not Having a Copy Editor. An area many beginners need help in is editing their content. Some people simply write and post without reading it. However, you might be one who goes over your copy over and over to catch mistakes. This is great, but the chances are very high that you will miss something in your proofreading. This is why having a copy editor is vital to all businesses. They can catch the small typos you look over and they are simply another set of professional eyes that can look over your piece to make sure it is the best it possibly can be.

9. Your Website Isn’t Easy to Navigate or View. Navigation is a major part of proper website design and is even important to SEO. However, another major pitfall for the newbie content marketer is not making a website easy to navigate. Create a web page that your clients can easily navigate by following a few simple steps and listening to client feedback. This will help improve the traffic to your site and could be what starts making you some incredible revenue.

10. Your Writing is Too Stilted or Full of Jargon. When you write content, you need to make sure that it flows well and is free of industry jargon. This is something beginners don’t often realize because many feel they need to make sure their content sounds super professional and smart. You can still make your content sound that way, but you need to approach it with a more laid-back feel; something that is easier to read. Hubspot suggests a great tip for creating easy-to-read content by making sure to write in your own voice.

11. Not Using Meta Tags or Writing Them Poorly. Another mistake that can really hurt your content is not using your meta tags by leaving them blank or using them poorly. When you write these tags, it will help improve your ranking and make it a link people want to click on. Use those tags and use them well!

12. Not Measuring Your Analytics with Google Analytics. Analytics are a vital part of content marketing because they can show you want content is successful and what is failing at bringing people in or converting them to leads. A great way to measure your analytics is using Google Analytics, which can help you find out just how well you are ranking. It will also show you the basics that will help you improve your content.

13. Not Using Social Media or Using it Incorrectly. Many businesses can get themselves set up and follow some basic guidelines for SEO and successful content. However, many of them don’t utilize a great way to get their content out there and bring in new people through social media. It is important to all businesses, brands, and individuals because it can act as a form of networking and will help bring in great clicks for your business. Make sure, when you are using social media, that you follow some basic hacks to get the most out of it!

14. You Don’t Use an Editorial Calendar. Do you take a few moments to Google how to come up with topics and wonder just how people keep their ideas together? They make an editorial calendar! Once a person as come up with topics, they can implement them into a calendar for the month, half of the year or the whole year. This can help keep a campaign on track, and make sure you are getting some awesome success from your content.

Time to Put What You’ve Learned Into Action

Did you learn something new that helped? Good! We all need a little help now and then and it is great when we take the time to learn all that we can. Take some time to apply what you’ve learned to your content marketing campaigns, and remember, never feel too embarrassed when you have to ask for a little help.


Julia McCoy is a serial content marketer, entrepreneur, and bestselling author. She founded a multi-million dollar content agency, Express Writers, with nothing more than $75 at 19 years old. Today, her team has nearly 100 expert content creators on staff, and serves thousands of clients around the world. She's earned her way to the top 30 worldwide content marketers, and has a passion for sharing what she knows in her books and in her online course, The Content Strategy & Marketing Course. Julia also hosts The Write Podcast on iTunes.