You spend hours creating content that you hope will benefit your business, but it’s easy to undo all your hard work with some simple errors.
These mistakes can leave your output dead in the water, doing nothing for your business, and in some cases even harming it.
Here at Prize Content, we don’t want that to happen to you, so we’ve put together a list of 10 mistakes to avoid while planning and writing content for your business.
You can use this list as a reference when you write your next piece of content. When you think you’re finished, have one last run through the list to make sure your content is free from the kind of errors that trip up so many writers.
Let’s get started!
1) Don’t Write without a Clear Understanding of Your Audience
This should be the first thing you think about when it comes to content creation; miss this step and you fall at the first hurdle.
Without knowing who your audience is, how do you know who you’re writing for, what they care about, and how you can help them?
When you take the simple steps required to understand your audience, you can write content with a picture in your mind of exactly who your content is for.
If you’re not sure how you get a clear picture of your audience, read our guide to reader personas here.
2) Don’t Write without a Clear Purpose
What are you trying to achieve with each piece of content? Do you want to inform, entertain, persuade, or a combination of those things?
Whatever your intended goal is, make sure it’s understood and clear at the outset. If you’re writing at the request of someone else or another department in your organisation, check with them what they hope to achieve with the content.
If you’re not clear on this important step, you risk losing your focus and creating a piece of content that fails to deliver what you want from it.
And if your reader finds your content confused, lacking in purpose, or boring, they’re less likely to want to read anything else from your organisation. Planning at this stage means less pain later!
3) Don’t Start without a Clear Plan or Structure
Are you tempted to sit down and start writing a new piece of content every time the idea is fresh in your mind?
Don’t. Take time to create a structure for the piece you’re writing. Here are a few useful rules to follow when structuring any piece of content;
- Explain what the content is about and how it can benefit the reader in the first paragraph. This is your opportunity to grab the reader’s attention, so make sure you can cover the 5 W’s; who, what, when, where and why.
- Create a separate paragraph or section for each point you want to cover in detail. The first sentence should be clear, simple, and concise. Expand on the details in subsequent sentences.
- Use headings. This helps you retain your focus, and gives the reader clarity about the flow of the content.
- At the end of the article, blog, or whatever type of content you’ve written, include a paragraph summarising the main points you’ve made and how the reader can benefit from them.
If you don’t sketch out the structure of your piece before you begin, you run the risk of losing your thread, missing out important elements, and writing overlong content that loses its impact.
4) Don’t Forget a Call to Action
When you’ve written an engaging piece of content which adds value for your audience, there’s one last thing to do; add a call to action (CTA).
Your CTA should prompt your reader to take the next step in the journey that’s brought them to your content, helped by the information they’ve gained from reading it.
Your CTA doesn’t have to be about selling your product or service, but if you want to tie the content in to your offering then now’s the time.
If you don’t add a CTA, your audience might be unclear about what they could or should be doing next, and will go somewhere else to find the answer.
5) Don’t Write Content That Doesn’t Add Value or Solve a Problem for the Reader
One of the main purposes of content marketing is to grow brand authority and trust, by putting out content that helps your audience in some way.
Even if your main focus for a particular piece of content is to entertain, you need to make sure that the reader takes something of value away from reading it.
A good practice is to continually ask yourself ‘so what?’ throughout the writing process, and answer that question in your content.
By doing this, you are constantly explaining the value in what you’re writing. As a result, there’s no risk of the reader finishing up the piece without understanding what they were meant to gain from it.
6) Don’t Turn It into a Sales Pitch
Remember, you’re trying to add value for your audience.
Your content shouldn’t end up being a promo piece for your products; readers will feel like they’ve been tricked into reading it, and their trust in your brand will be undermined.
If your piece is about the benefits of using your type of product of service, you could even go as far as mentioning competitors’ offerings as well as your own when providing examples. This shows that you really have the audience’s best interests at heart and builds that all-important trust.
7) Don’t Leave the Reader with Nowhere to Go
You’ve written engaging content, provided a CTA, and explained the link to your organisation, but what happens now?
To make your reader’s experience as beneficial as possible, you need to help them take the next step.
It could be links to other related content that you’ve created, downloadable resources, or your product pages. It could even be links to external sites.
Whichever option you choose, directing readers to other learning opportunities is a great way to engender positive sentiment.
8) Don’t Assume Your Work Is Perfect
Typos happen. You might write ‘amazing’ three times in as many sentences. You might get ‘affect’ and ‘effect’ mixed up.
It’s easy to make mistakes, and when you’re reading your blog post for the 500th time, it’s easy to miss them too. That’s why you should get somebody to proof your content when you think it’s finished.
If they can provide advice about structure, grammar, and spelling then that’s great, but at the bare minimum you just need another pair of eyes to pick up obvious errors.
Why should you care? Because if you’ve not taken time to make sure your content is accurate or error-free, readers could assume that you have an equally relaxed attitude toward mistakes in the rest of your work.
Sloppiness isn’t a good look in business.
9) Don’t Forget to Promote Your Content across Social Platforms
You might have written the best post for your website that the world has ever seen, but if nobody reads it then it’s pretty pointless.
You need to direct people to read the post, and the most effective way to do that is by posting about it on social media.
That way you can alert your existing followers as well as other people who might be interested in the post using hashtags. Your content can be shared and generate more attention through likes and comments, creating reach far beyond what could be achieved by simply posting it on your website.
TL;DR? Share on social!
10) Don’t Neglect to Notify People on Your Mailing List
People give you their email addresses for your mailing list, so you can contact them with valuable information related to your business.
You’d be surprised how many companies think that just means emails about sales or new products, but by neglecting to notify your mailing list about new blog posts (or other content), you’re missing out on an audience that you know already cares.
So make sure you send your mailing list a short message directing them to your content, and reinforce the existing relationship you have with them.
And there you have it: 10 mistakes to avoid when writing content.
Keep this guide handy and check it regularly throughout your content-writing process, and you can ensure you don’t make the mistakes that trip so many writers up. Happy writing!
Prize Content’s professional writers have many years of experience creating engaging content for a range of audiences and sectors. If you want your business to benefit from their rigorous approach to content writing, get in touch here.