Content marketing can do wonders for your business — if you get it right.
Here are 20 common mistakes and how to avoid making them.
1. Your content is boring
Your content is putting your audience to sleep — and that’s if they stick around to read it.
You may think your industry seems boring, or that your products are mundane. But your content doesn’t have to be.
Be creative and think about your market. What interests them? What motivates them? How could that spark a discussion or inspire people to get involved?
Maybe you have an inspiring story to tell, a question to ask or a crazy challenge to set.
Once you’ve done your bit, think about how other people could get involved. They could respond in writing, make something creative, take a photograph or produce a video.
2. Your content doesn’t fit your brand
You have fashion house aspirations, but your content feels like Primark.
Your brand should be at the heart of all your content marketing. So make sure every piece of content you create represents you properly by staying true to your brand and its values.
When you’re creating your content, think about:
- The way it looks — follow a consistent visual style
- The way it sounds — use a consistent tone of voice
- The subject matter — make sure it’s relevant
- The message — should be clear and on-brand.
3. Your content is sloppy
You don’t take the necessary time or care over your content and it’s riddled with problems that could have been avoided.
Examples of sloppy content include:
- Spelling mistakes
- Grammatical errors
- Needless repetition
- Lazy or inconsistent formatting.
These errors make 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-check your work before you publish it.
If writing isn’t your thing, you could consider doing something else, like producing a video, photo post or meme.
4. Your content doesn’t have value
You’re making your content all about you rather than using it as an opportunity to benefit your audience.
When planning your content, you need to think about what’s in it for your audience. If there’s no value for them, why should they bother reading it?
To create content that’s valuable to your audience:
- Answer their questions
- Inspire them with ideas and suggestions
- Give them the information they need
- Show them how to do something
- Offer professional help and guidance.
5. Your content is stolen
You don’t have the time or skills to create your own content, so you copy and paste it from other websites.
Plagiarising content from another website is a bad idea.
Aside from the copyright issue, Google will be able to tell if your content is duplicated — even if you’ve rewritten it in your own words.
To create truly original content
- Come up with your own ideas
- Do your own research
- Use your own insight and expertise
- Draw on your own experience
- Collate information from lots of different sources.
6. Your content is difficult to read
You write your content without any regard for your readers. It’s usually a solid wall of text with long, rambling sentences and no rest breaks.
This can make your content really off-putting. Reading on a screen is more difficult than reading on paper. You need to consider this when writing and laying out your content.
To make your content easy to read and digest:
- Use short paragraphs
- Make each sentence count
- Vary the length of your sentences
- Give each section a relevant heading
- Write clearly and use plain English.
7. Your content doesn’t deliver
You draw your audience in with a sensationalised clickbait headline that’s deliberately misleading.
Or you string them along with a long article or video, then don’t give them the answers or information they were expecting.
If you do this to your audience, you’ll leave them disappointed and sorry they bothered to give you their time.
Reward them properly by giving them what they came for. If the the title asks a question, make sure you answer it. If you promise 10 tips, give the full number and make sure they’re all different.
8. Your content doesn’t suit your audience
Your product is for young women, but your content reads like it’s written for old men.
Your content needs to be suitable for your market. It needs to speak to them using the right tone of voice and engage them in an appropriate way.
For example, if your main market is retired couples, a post on creating the perfect child’s bedroom might not be wholly suitable. But a post on gift ideas for your grandchild’s new bedroom could hit the spot.
9. Your content is just your opinion
You don’t bother doing your research or backing up your claims and, instead, present your opinions and ideas as facts.
To create the kind of valuable content that will be useful to your audience, you have to put the work in. And that means doing your research.
If you’re making claims, you need to substantiate them with evidence.
10. Your content isn’t searchable
You don’t take the time to optimise your content for the search engines, so it doesn’t come up in the search results.
There’s no point in creating great content if your audience can’t find it.
Make it search-engine-friendly by titling blog and YouTube posts with a relevant heading that uses the right keywords.
If you’re wondering what the right keywords are, look at the words and language your audience is using to search for that content online.
11. Your content is just advertising
Your “content” is actually thinly disguised advertising, or a blatant hard sell.
Content marketing emerged because people had grown sick and tired of all the advertising they were being exposed to. If your “content” is advertising, your audience will know — and they won’t thank you for it.
Remember, content marketing should have value for your audience and a clear What’s In It For Me? (WIIFM). It should give them a reason to consume it, whether that’s helping them, teaching them or keeping them entertained.
12. Your content has no goal
You’ve written your content with no goal or outcome in mind, so it ends up doing nothing for your business.
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 WIIFM for your customers and for you.
For example, if you’re a fashion brand, you might create a lookbook to showcase your new collection.
Or if you’re demonstrating something with a how-to guide, you could finish by offering additional help to those who need it.
Finish each post with a suitable link that gives your readers somewhere else to go. It might be a link to contact you, to find more information or to get the measure of your business by viewing your range or portfolio.
13. Your content is just for SEO
Your content is created purely for the search engines. It’s stuffed with keywords and has little value for your human audience.
While your content might rank well, this will just be for vanity metrics if it doesn’t help your audience or your business.
The best content is created for a human audience and optimised so the search engines can find it.
14. Your content is for the sake of it
On the occasions when you don’t have time to create something of value, you post something average for the sake of posting something.
Posting regularly and consistently has its merits. But posting average content is a bad strategy. It’s simply not worth disappointing your audience by posting something that doesn’t represent your usual high standards.
It’s better to prioritise quality over quantity and only post when you have something worth posting.
15. Your content isn’t comprehensive
Your content skims over the topic rather than going into detail. It doesn’t answer your audience’s questions or satisfy their needs.
Ideally, your content should look at the subject from all angles, cover all bases and answer all related questions.
This is the best way to keep your audience on your website and stop them going elsewhere to find the information and answers you haven’t provided.
16. 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 he 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, you’re just adding to the problem.
Vetting your sources means getting to the root of the story, finding who published the original research and citing them as your source.
But you have to check the dates on that research, too. Anything that’s more than three years old may no longer be relevant.
17. Your content assumes too much
You understand the ins and outs of quantum physics, and you assume your audience does too. So you don’t bother to explain the terminology or ideas for them — and you leave them lost and confused.
It’s unlikely that your audience will have the same level of knowledge and understanding you do. If they did, they wouldn’t need to be reading your content.
To make your content valuable to them, you need to pitch it at their level. Explain everything in detail and don’t assume what they know.
18. Your content strays into new areas
Your business is A, but you also have ideas and opinions about B, C, D and E. So you spout them openly and freely, even though you don’t have the knowledge or expertise — and what you’re saying is actually wrong.
The old adage is true — stick to what you know. Give your audience the best value you can by talking about what you do best.
19. You’re all quantity and no quality
You made a commitment to yourself to publish a new blog post every day. And you’re not going to break that for anyone.
So you post daily. Even when you’re busy. Even when you’re tired. Even when you’re neglecting your paying customers to do it.
But your content is lacking. There’s no substance, no value and no compelling reason for anyone to read it. And all your efforts sink without trace.
Posting with regularity is good, but the content has to be good too. If it isn’t, nobody will read it and it will all be a waste of time.
If you’re setting yourself a schedule, make it realistic and something you can stick to, but not at the expense of quality.
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. Because if you don’t, no one will see it.
I recently read some advice that said you should spend 20% of the time creating your content and 80% of the time promoting the hell out of it.
- Create relevant posts for your social media channels and include the link at the end
- Post on different days and at different times of day to reach as much of your audience as possible
- Email the links to your email list
- Feature the post on your website.
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 planning it and writing it.
Visit my website to learn more about my content writing service.
Or get in touch and talk to me about your needs.