Creating content that engages readers isn't easy, especially these days, when marketers are churning out content at a hectic pace to attract readers and viewers. But in our haste to create fresh, useful content, we can make mistakes. But our audiences don't want to waste time on substandard writing.
This article highlights nine common mistakes that writers and content creators make, and suggests ways to avoid them.
1. Irrelevant or Poor-Quality Stock Photos
This first mistake doesn't directly concern writing, but it's vital for your readers' overall content experience. Finding good stock photos was a big issue for me when I started writing. I would put all my energy into writing; then, in the end, when the time for adding photos would come, I'd do that as quickly as possible, not being selective at all.
I know selecting photos can be annoying and time-consuming, but put some effort into it; try to place photos that reinforce the message you are trying to get across in your writing. It's also a good idea to add images one by one, as you write, while your ideas are fresh.
Alternatively, don't use photos: None is better than irrelevant.
2. Bad Grammar (And typos, Too)
Yes, you make grammar mistakes. You need to edit and proofread every piece of content you write. No matter how much experience you may have, you need to check your articles after finishing them, or you'll quickly earn a bad reputation.
If you can, find an editor to edit and proofread your texts. You can also use proofreading and grammar-checking tools, such as Grammarly, that you can use to polish your writing.
3. Inadequate, Unreliable, or Insufficient Research
No matter how good a writer you might be, you simply can't know absolutely everything. To write an excellent article, you need to know the ins and outs of a topic; you also need plenty of data to back up your claims—and to draw your conclusions based on sound logic and reputable sources.
More and more readers today are interested in information, evidence, data, and studies, not just someone's opinion. Yes, research takes time and hard work, but it will make your writing much better!
4. Being Too Plain and Simple
Sure, your writing needs to be easy to read, but that doesn't mean you should always try to keep it as simple as possible.
You don't want your writing to be dull and uninteresting to your readers. Expanding your vocabulary and giving yourself the freedom to create different textures and rhythms can make your writing more engaging and memorable.
Teach your readers something new and make them wonder.
However, you need to find the right amount of writing complexity that your audience can handle. If your content is too simple, you can't inspire the reader to act; but if it's too complex, they'll leave.
5. Poor, Chaotic Content Organization
Structure matters, period. You need to create an outline before you start writing if you want to avoid repeating yourself or going off on tangents. Your content must not seem overwhelming and exhausting to read.
Make sure there's a flow in the way you present information; readers need to have a sense of logical order while reading.
Creating outlines will also help you write faster and stay on point.
6. An Unsuitable Tone
You need to choose a topic your audience will like, but you also need to make it interesting for them to read. Both topic and tone should be guided by the needs and preferences of your target audience.
Find out what kind of style and tone your audience responds to well, and use that tone throughout your post. Sometimes, a big part of building your brand voice is focusing on what the audience wants.
7. Self-Promotion, the Wrong Way
There is nothing worse for a reader than recognizing that the writer is obviously trying to sell them something without giving them anything in return. If you need your posts and articles to be promotional, it's completely fine to do that... but you should be honest with your readers.
"Sell" naturally while still providing significant value to the reader through your content.
8. Being Obsessed With SEO and Keywords
When writing content for SEO, a lot of people get carried away: Keywords and links become their primary focus. Writers end up writing for search engines, not readers.
Focusing too much on SEO and keywords could make your content look and sound robotic, lacking that unique human touch.
Work on finding the balance between writing for the readers and SEO. First write your content for humans, then revisit it to add keywords and make any other necessary tweaks.
9. Not Owning Your Mistakes
Mistakes are a natural part of writing. Everyone makes them. However, you need to own your mistakes. Be accountable for them, and you will be able to resolve them and learn from them.
Mistakes can tell you where your weaknesses are and which part of your writing you need to work on more. Owning your mistakes shows that you have integrity as a writer and a professional.
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Avoid those nine mistakes when writing. But, if you do make errors, try hard to avoid repeating them. Read and reread your work intentionally to look for mistakes.
You may like these other MarketingProfs articles related to Writing:
- 8 Tips for Discovering Your Writing Genius [Infographic]
- Social Distancing Is Changing the Way We Write. That's a Problem.
- How to Write Your Face Off: Writing for Non-Writers
- The Cure for Crummy Copy: Laura Belgray of Talking Shrimp on Marketing Smarts [Podcast]
- 29 Ways to Improve Your Writing Skills and Avoid Content Mediocrity [Infographic]
- Four Writing Lessons From Dr. Seuss: Create Instantly Memorable Marketing Copy