Anyone who has created content knows that it can be a minefield.
There are so many ways to blow it. From a technical mishap to a social faux pas, you are constantly trying to avoid mistakes.
After more than a decade of content creation, I’ve learned a thing or two. How? By committing (or nearly committing) every mistake on this list.
I don’t want you to do the same. Sure, you can learn from your mistakes, but the less of that kind of learning you have to do, the better. Your goal is to nail it every time, and you can do that by reading about these 10 mistakes and knowing how to overcome them.
Let’s dive in.
1. Not understanding your audience
What if Simon Sinek had shown up to his TED Talk wearing shorts and a T-shirt with a 5-minute speech prepared for high school boys?
He would have blown it.
Instead, he knew his audience. He crafted his talk accordingly and absolutely nailed it.
Knowing your audience is the starting point for any successful content marketing initiative.
Knowing your audience is the starting point for any successful #contentmarketing initiative says @neilpatel
If you are going to write about a certain topic – say cooking – then you need to 1) identify who you are targeting with your content, and 2) create content that will resonate with them.
If you don’t do this, your content won’t get read, won’t get shared, and nobody will even care. That’s a sad place to be.
The Pioneer Woman is a great example of a brand who knows her audience. She gets it – their mindset, their situation in life, their challenges, and their desires.
Her blog has the perfect blend of style and substance that her readers love. As a result, she is one of the world’s most successful bloggers and has turned that success into New York Times best-selling books and a show on Food Network.
Know your audience, give them what they want, and you’ll automatically eliminate 90% of life’s problems. Sort of.
2. Not having an About page
In your rush to get online, don’t neglect your About page.
Whether you’re an individual or a business, readers want to know about you and they look for that all-important page.
Moz is a B2B software-as-a-service provider. Its blog includes a link to the company’s About page.
Luisa Zhou is a coach, and she has an About page.
The About page is essential for connecting with your readers and establishing your trustworthiness.
Remember, the page isn’t all about you. Sure, you want to introduce yourself and tell your story, but you’re also trying to help your readers.
Every reader comes to your blog with a set of questions, challenges, or issues that they want solved. You can help them to address these issues and solve their problems.
3. Not promoting your content on social
Creating your content is only half of your work. The other half is promoting it.
Social media is the all-important connection between your content and your audience. That’s where they live, hang out, socialize, and share. Your content won’t be effective unless you get it out on the social channels like your life depends on it.
Buffer is a social sharing product so it knows a thing or two about the importance of social sharing. Each of its blog posts has multiple calls to action for social sharing, which is one of the reasons for its success on social media.
Each of its articles racks up thousands of shares on social media.
Your social sharing matters. In keeping with the first point, make sure you know your audience well enough to understand which social platforms are best to reach them.
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4. Not sharing personal stories or self-references
Would you ever talk to someone in the third person? If you’re having a chat with a friend, would you avoid ever referring to yourself?
Of course not! Then why would you do that in your blog? It sounds stiff and artificial.
The best bloggers are the ones who are comfortable using words like “I,” “me,” “my,” and “mine.”
These words aren’t arrogant. They’re just part of the way we talk.
Ramit Sethi is a great writer. He forms a personal connection with his audience by regularly referring to himself. Here are just a few paragraphs excerpted from one of his blog posts:
Arrogant? Absolutely not.
If you don’t refer to yourself – your mistakes, victories, experiences – it’s actually more embarrassing than if you do refer to yourself.
5. Having a lot of typos
I get it. Mistakes happen. Typos creep into your content.
Just don’t make a habit of it. Like it or not, people judge you based on your grammar and spelling. If you can’t spell or properly use grammar to save your life, you have a couple options:
- Use software like Grammarly.
- Hire an editor or proofreader to review your articles before you publish.
Copywriting isn’t easy, and we all make mistakes. The fewer you make, however, the more trust and respect you’ll foster with your audience.
For what it’s worth, this article will pass through at least three rounds of editorial and proofreading review before you see it. Even then, mistakes sometimes creep in, but you won’t see very many of them.
6. Not developing your own style or voice
A blogger and business coach who simply goes by her first name, Allison, explains that her biggest content mistake was “copying someone else”:
It’s great to have role models and examples. There are some great content creators out there, and it’s fine to aspire to their style and approach.
But you have to create a unique style.
Here’s what Allison says she experienced when she played the copycat game:
- I lost the trust and respect of several people who I admire the most.
- I felt like an outsider.
- I looked like a fraud.
- I experienced ALL the bad feelings.
Allison has an awesome blog, and she’s no longer copying anybody. But her warning serves as a good reminder to those of us who might feel like copying.
Don’t do that. People will love you much more if you have your own voice and style.
7. Not including enough photos
Quick reminder: The more visually appealing your content, the more people will be engaged with that content. The brain loves images.
The more visually appealing your #content, the more people will be engaged says @neilpatel
Keeping the image count high means that you’ll keep readership high, too. My articles often have 30 to 50 images, which have variety to keep people interested in what I’m writing.
8. Not looking at your traffic and analytics
For some people, looking at numbers is boooooring. If you want to be a successful content creator, however, you need to pay attention to your numbers. What numbers are important?
- Traffic numbers
- Bounce rates
- Dwell time
- Traffic sources
I recommend paying attention to a lot more metrics than these. These are the start, though, the bare minimum.
Keep an eye on your numbers, and you’ll be able to know what your readers are responding to so you can strategize to improve your content and increase your traffic.
How to Measure Engagement the Right Way
9. Not focusing on article headlines
The most important single element of any blog article is the headline.
Why? More people read headlines than any other part of your copy.
If you’re having trouble engaging readers in your content, first pay attention to your headlines. Do they appeal to your audience? Do they make people want to click?
To instantly improve your writing, improve your ability to create titles.
10. Not interacting in the comments
A blog is a conversation. You started the conversation. It’s just good manners to stay a part of it. If you disappear when people start chatting in the comments, you can reduce trust and credibility.
Notice how Chrystie interacts in her comments. Her blog post was really engaging, and she kept up a long conversation in the follow-up comments:
At the time I checked, she had left nearly 50 replies to comments, and a lot of them were detailed and lengthy. This is an example of someone who’s staying on top of the comments and interacting with readers.
When someone leaves a comment, they are often doing a favor. Respond with a little love and gratitude.
As I wrote at the beginning, content creation can be a minefield for mistakes. If you can anticipate and overcome these mistakes, you’ll be way ahead of the game.
What content mistakes have you noticed?
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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute