UPDATED SEPTEMBER 13, 2023
Content marketing works
I’ve been a content writer for more than 14 years.
And I’ve spent those 14 years learning and perfecting my craft. To create high-performing content that attracts the right visitors to your website. Content that informs, educates, inspires, and entertains. And sometimes content that converts readers into customers,
I know content marketing works, because it’s worked for me and my clients. Many of whom have told me that they came to me after reading the content on my own blog.
But content marketing doesn’t work for everyone. Because some content writers make fundamental mistakes. And in this article, I’m going to show you 20 of them.
So, without further ado, let’s dive in and get to the good stuff.
20 common content marketing mistakes
1. Your content is boring
This is the number one content creating no-no. Your content should never be boring.
But what counts as boring content?
Well, for example, it could be:
- Dry — A mundane or complex subject delivered with no personality, no enthusiasm or no attempt to make it relatable and accessible.
- Monotonous and repetitive — Content that has a flat, monotonous tone and doesn’t vary its format or presentation.
- Vague — Content that lacks substance in the form of research, evidence, facts and figures.
- Too corporate — Corporate = stuffy = boring. Your content should be more natural, informal and conversational.
- A boring subject — Actually this one is a red herring. You see there’s no such thing as a boring subject, because even the driest, most mundane subjects have an audience of people who want to read about them.
Here’s how I write about dull subjects without boring your audience senseless >>
2. Your content doesn’t fit your brand
You have fashion house aspirations, but your content feels like Primark.
Or the content you’re publishing for your food van has the air of a pretentious high-end restaurant.
Okay, these are extreme examples. But a disconnect between your brand and your content will cause confusion and make it difficult for your audience to understand what your brand is and how they should feel about it.
3. Your content is sloppy
You don’t take the necessary time or care over your content and it’s riddled with errors and oversights.
Depending on your content that might be:
- Spelling mistakes and typos
- Grammatical errors
- Design bloopers
- Video captioning errors
- Factual inaccuracies…
… you get the idea.
This makes your work look unprofessional and as though you haven’t taken the necessary care.
You don’t want your main engagement to be from people pointing out your mistakes, so make sure you double and triple-check your work before you publish it.
4. Your content doesn’t have value
If you want your audience to consume your content, it has to have some value for them — a ‘What’s In It For Me?’. It should be something that helps, inspires, educates or entertains them.
In addition, your SEO-optimised content should be something your visitors are actively looking up. Because this is what will bring them to your website.
For example, a title like:
- Mac vs Windows is valuable. It’s something people are searching for because they want to see a comparison
- Our company training day in the Peak District might be great for your investors, but it’s not something your prospects are going to be looking up and will be of little or no interest to them.
5. Your content is stolen
It used to be the case that lazy people who didn’t bother to create their own content would just copy and paste it from another blog onto their own. Until Google got wise to that and started down-ranking duplicate content.
Now we have self-appointed “influencers” advocating that you steal other people’s content and repurpose it with the help of AI. They’re even giving tutorials on how to do it.
This is a bad idea, because:
- It’s unethical — and essentially still stealing
This is still someone else’s content. And they haven’t taken the time and effort to create it so you can just repurpose it for yourself.
- It’s unoriginal
It’s not your idea, it’s not your take and it’s not your brand. The content you’ve created won’t tell your audience anything about you, your way of working or your capabilities.
- Posting AI content doesn’t make you look good
AI content sounds like AI content — and everyone will know. Unless, of course, you’ve rewritten it in your style. But if you’ve been so lazy and unoriginal that you’ve stolen it in the first place, why would you bother to do that?
6. Your on-screen content is difficult to read
Your written content should read well on a screen. If it doesn’t read easily, chances are, your audience won’t bother to read it.
For example, maybe:
- You don’t understand how reading on a screen is different to reading a book, so you write solid, impenetrable walls of text with very few line breaks or headings between them
- The colours you’ve chosen don’t have enough contrast — or you’ve typed on top of a picture or pattern — so it’s difficult to distinguish the text from the background
- You’ve used a typeface that’s too small or too fancy and it’s making it hard to read
- You’ve centre-aligned all your copy or have over-long lines of copy that span the entire screen.
7. Your content doesn’t deliver
Your content should deliver what it promises. Otherwise, you’ll leave your audience disappointed and sorry they bothered to give you their time.
This will happen if you:
- Draw your audience in with a sensationalised clickbait headline that’s deliberately misleading
- String them along with a long article or video that doesn’t give them the answers or information you promised
- Shortchange them with fewer tips than you promised
- Don’t give sufficient information or detail.
8. Your content doesn’t suit your audience
Your content needs to speak to the market that will be buying from you.
But it won’t if:
- The market for your sofas is retired couples, but your brand shoots look like P-Diddy’s crib
- Your product is marketed to young women, but your content sounds like it’s written for old men
- Your recipes need the kind of ‘store-cupboard essentials’ your low-income audience just don’t have.
9. Your content is opinions presented as facts
You want to create the kind of valuable content that will be useful to your audience. If you’re making claims, that means you need to do your research and back up those claims with evidence.
If you don’t bother to do that, your content will just be your opinions.
10. Your content isn’t searchable
First, not all your content needs to be visible on the search engines. Some content might be just for the visitors who’ve already made it to your website.
If you’re creating content with the intention of bringing new visitors to your website, that content needs to be keyword-optimised. Otherwise the search engines won’t be able to find it and put it in the search results where your audience can see it.
11. Your content is purely for SEO
The opposite problem to content that isn’t searchable is content that’s created purely for SEO. This kind of content is primed with all the right keywords, but typically has little value for your human audience.
While your content might rank well, this is just vanity metrics if it doesn’t help your prospects or your business.
12. Your content is just advertising
Content is not advertising. If anything, it emerged as an antidote to advertising, because people were getting sick of being confronted by advertising everywhere they went.
Content should give value and be worth your audience’s time.
You can produce all kinds of content — including a small amount of sales content. But the primary role of content is not to advertise or sell — it’s to help your audience buy.
13. Your content has no strategy or goal
As much as your content shouldn’t be openly selling, it should have a clear goal that you want to achieve for your business. In short, there should be a ‘What’s In It For Me?’ for your customers and for you.
But it will only work for you if there’s a strategy behind it and some goals you’re working towards.
You should aim to finish each post with a suitable link that gives your readers somewhere else to go. That might be links to more articles on the same theme, a link to download a lead magnet, a link to view your range or portfolio or a link to contact you.
14. Your content is just for the sake of it
You made a commitment to yourself/your business mentor/your SEO to blog regularly. And you’re not going to break that for anyone. So you keep posting. Even when you’re busy, when you’re tired, and when you don’t have anything meaningful to say. Even if it means creating content you know is average and not up to standard.
Posting content for the sake of posting is a bad strategy, because when it’s average, it will only disappoint the audience you’ve worked hard to engage. And it could make them reluctant to consume your content in future.
15. You’re not publishing content regularly enough
Research conducted by Hubspot revealed that customers with with blogs gathered 68% more leads than customers without.
Having a blog is important, but consistently adding new content and auditing old content is equally important. New content will keep your site fresh and current. And the more regularly you post content, the more regularly Google will come back to crawl your site and index that content.
To post meaningful content regularly, you need a content strategy and a content plan. The strategy will ensure that your content has a purpose and the plan will mean you always have something meaningful to post about.
16. Your content isn’t comprehensive
If your content skims over the topic rather than going into detail, it may not give your audience everything they need. And that means they’ll have to go elsewhere to find the information and answers you haven’t provided.
The best way to avoid this and keep them on your site, is to make sure your content is as all-inclusive as you can make it.
17. You haven’t vetted your sources
Dave, from ‘Dave’s Blog’, says that 95% of people are unhappy with their mobile provider. He doesn’t have any sources for his information, but you decide to quote it anyway — because if Dave said it, it must be true, right?
The truth is, there’s a lot of misinformation on the internet. And if you’re repeating everything you read without any scrutiny, you’re just adding to that problem.
Vetting your sources means getting to the root of the story to find who published the original research and making sure the information is still current enough to use before you cite it as your source.
18. Your content assumes too much
Your content should understand your audience and their needs. And it should help them get from A to B — with A being where they are now and B being more educated, informed and inspired. But for this to happen, you need to understand your audience well.
If you assume too much about them, your content could be confusing, irrelevant or miss the mark completely.
For example, you might be assuming:
- How much they already know
- What they’re interested in
- Why they’re looking for your content and what they want to gain from it.
19. Your content strays from your expertise
Your business and area of expertise is A, but you also have strong opinions about X, Y and Z. So you discuss them openly and freely, even though they have nothing to do with your business, your knowledge or your expertise.
Problem is that this irrelevant content deviates from your key messaging. It will confuse your audience and Google, which isn’t what you want when you need readers, domain authority and a ranking in Google’s search results.
20. Your content isn’t promoted
Creating your content and hitting ‘publish’ is just the beginning. You then need to promote it far and wide to get in front of as many people as you can.
But you create your content, hit publish and then forget about it — so a big portion of your engaged audience never even gets to see it.
Do you need help with brand-friendly content marketing?
I’m Jenny Lucas. A freelance content writer based in Leicester, UK.
If you need well-researched, high-impact blog content your audience will love — I can help you by developing a strategy, content planning and writing.
Visit my website to learn more about my content writing service.
Or get in touch and talk to me about your needs.