Writing isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Even as a freelance content writer in the game for five plus years, I still have my off days.
While you certainly can’t always be perfect in your writing, the key to churning out professional copy is self-awareness. Recognizing when and where you’re making mistakes is the first step towards drool-worthy content.
Below, I’ve outlined a few of the most common mistakes that even professional writers make, and a few ways you can avoid repeating them.
#1. Failing to Edit Your Work
Before you say “duh, editing is writing rule number 1” ask yourself if what you’re doing is real editing or just proofreading.
An editor will go through your content and pick out grammatical errors, yes, but they will also add and remove information as they see fit. Take a similar approach.
Edit to make a positive change in your writing. Edit to engage and refine what you have to say. This goes way beyond red-marking spelling and grammar errors, and I would argue it’s more important.
#2. Not Researching the Topic
Say you sell jewelry and want to write a post about the most common types available. You might think you have enough knowledge in your noggin to come up with a killer blog without doing any research. And you’d be wrong.
Every single piece of content you create—particularly for your business website—should be well-researched. Information is constantly being updated, and what may be considered up-to-date information today might be irrelevant tomorrow.
Let go of your ego and do some research on the topic you’ve chosen. Pull together quotes from industry leaders and respected brands and include them in your content to build authority.
If you’re trying to boost traffic via SEO, do some research on your topics and titles to make sure they’ll target the right audience.
#3. Writing too Fast
Putting content, blog posts, or articles on your website just to have them there isn’t going to do you any good.
I constantly work with clients who want their content yesterday, simply because they don’t understand the importance of slowing down and creating valuable content for their audience. I don’t blame them. Google will quickly make you yesterday’s news if you fail to regularly post fresh content on your website.
Don’t get caught in the trap of pushing out blogs for the sake of having them. Instead, write slowly and simplify what you want to say. A well-written piece may take time to create, but it will serve your goals better in the long run.
#4. Not Thinking About Your Audience
If I were to ask you who your audience is right now, you’d probably say something like “Moms aged 25-40 looking for xyz” what you’re less likely to say is something like “a woman who works 6 days a week, is raising 2.5 kids, and is passionately into sports.”
My point is, demographics only go so far. As a writer, it’s your job to know exactly who you’re speaking to. What does their life look like right now? Are they struggling to keep food on the table? Do they want a way out of their financial troubles? Do they suffer from a higher than ideal body weight but are hopeful there is a way out?
Each piece of content you write should be targeted to a certain person, not to a generalized group of people. You should know that person like the back of your hand. When they get up, what social media sites they prefer, and what they like to eat are the kind of details you have to have if you want to create an effective content strategy.
#5. Not Creating an Outline for Your Article
This goes back to English class, but the rules remain the same for blog writing.
An outline keeps your thoughts in line as you begin to write, and it makes the process faster. Before your fingers hit the keyboard, you’ll know what you want to say if you have an outline in place.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that your content doesn’t really matter. Not only is Google looking at it, so are your potential customers. Be cognizant of these mistakes and work tirelessly to avoid them in your writing.
As a freelance writer who specializes in web copy, I am constantly working to improve my writing. If you need relief from your company blog or could use some help writing content that sells, then drop me a line. I’ll happily help you create content that improves your website.