Blogging weekly keeps clients coming to my door. I invest a minimum of 10 hours a week into writing. I say invest because that’s exactly what it is—an investment in the future of my business. I’d love to tell you writing is a breeze, but I won’t blow sunshine and daydreams up your arse. Writing takes work. You understand if you’re putting out daily, weekly, or monthly articles.
Unfortunately, most companies give up on their content marketing efforts before they get to enjoy the benefits of that hard work. I understand how it happens though. It’s easy to get demoralized when you spend time researching, writing, and sharing articles on social media and all you hear is crickets. Busting your tail on an article to have it fall flat is a punch to the gut.
Hold up before you hang up the pen. I’ll bet your flailing content is easier to fix than you realize. Give these 5 content marketing mistakes an honest assessment to see if you’re guilty, and then fix it.
#1 You’re selfish.
We had a client who wanted to build a content marketing empire, but they couldn’t grasp the idea that content marketing isn’t about them. We’d push for articles that solved a big nasty problem for their ideal client. Our team was confident these articles would kill, but the client wouldn’t green light the article because it wasn’t directly about their product. If the article didn’t revolve around selling their product, they’d veto it every time.
This is a prime example of being selfish. If every article you put out is about your product, case studies, or your company—you’re selfish. Stop talking about yourself and talk about your customer. Figure out what they’re trying to do and make it happen with an article. Help someone solve a problem and they’ll read, bookmark, and share it with other people. You’ll gain trust and be positioned as an authority in the industry.
Are you writing to help people, or are you simply writing to sell?
#2 You’re winging it.
A goal, strategy, tactics, and schedule are the ingredients for successful marketing. Winging it is a bit like navigating a major city in a foreign country where you don’t know the language. There’s a good chance you’ll end up walking in circles. Take the time to build a plan.
- A goal puts a big red X on the map and makes your actions purposeful.
- A strategy lays out how you’ll make the goal happen.
- Tactics and a schedule are the hard work that take you from point A to point B.
Winging it is skipping straight to tactics. It’s like walking around that foreign city without a map or translator. You might cover a lot of ground, but it’s doubtful you’ll actually go anywhere.
Are you taking purposeful action toward a goal, or are you shooting from the hip?
#3 You’re boring.
I’m no Hemingway (that’s for damn sure), but I can write in a conversational fashion that keeps my articles from sounding like an instruction manual. Personality shines through when you write like you talk. A lot of people are more concerned with sounding smart. Their articles end up reading like a textbook. That won’t fly on the internet where there are thousands of options for your audience’s attention.
I’m not qualified to hand out writing advice, but I can share a few tips that keep my writing casual. My articles, emails, and social posts started to resonate with more people when I made these changes…
- Write like you talk
- Cut all jargon.
- Slang is ok.
- Use contractions liberally.
- You can end a sentence with it, or start a sentence with and or but.
Create an outline for your articles, write without editing to keep your flow, read what you’ve written out loud, edit thoroughly to cut wasted words, and then read it out loud again. Keep tweaking until it sounds like you’d say it to a friend.
Are you writing to sound smart, or are you writing to entertain, inform, and inspire?
#4 You’re going too broad.
“Our articles and emails are where b2b and eCommerce companies get product, brand, and marketing strategies to help them grow their business.”
That’s our content manifesto and it keeps everything we write purposeful and focused. It’s easy to drift off topic if you don’t have an editorial guide of some sort. A content manifesto is the easiest way I know to stay on topic.
You won’t be known for anything if your writing is all over the place. It’s tempting to jump into new subjects, but you have to realize that people start following you for specific expertise or info. Live up to your promise and give them what they want. The return for you is awareness, credibility, and authority in a niche. Start by completing a brand script for your business and then knock out your content manifesto.
Are you steadily building authority in a niche, or are you spread too thin across topics?
#5 You’re inconsistent.
This one’s tough. You’re busy running your business, doing the work, and supporting customers or clients. The easiest thing to cut when you’re swamped is your content marketing.
You just can’t do that if you want to get traction. Like going too broad, you can’t build domain authority without consistency. You have to keep showing up with value for your audience. I’m starting to see this on LinkedIn and Medium right now. I’ve become more active and it’s showing up in my distribution. I’m getting 100% more eyeballs on my content (on both platforms) simply by posting on a regular schedule.
Force yourself into showing up with the psychological principle Robert Cialdini calls commitment and consistency. Commit to something in public and you’ll back up that commitment with consistent action. The need for consistency overwhelms all other emotions and motivations.
Without knowing it, I’ve been using the commitment and consistency principle to become a better marketer. I made public promises (in writing) that I’m going to deliver a ridiculously valuable email every Friday, a LinkedIn post every Monday, and a weekly blog and Medium post every week. It works. I feel obligated to live up to my promises.
Are you a reliable source of value for your audience, or are you an unpredictable visitor who shows up unannounced expecting attention?
Identify, fix, and prosper.
Honestly evaluate the content you’re putting out and ask yourself these questions…
- Are you writing to help people, or are you simply writing to sell?
- Are you taking purposeful action toward a goal, or are you shooting from the hip?
- Are you writing to sound smart, or are you writing to entertain, inform, and inspire?
- Are you steadily building authority in a niche, or are you spread too thin across topics?
- Are you a reliable source of value for your audience, or are you an unpredictable visitor who shows up unannounced expecting attention?
Show up on a regular schedule to solve specific problems your audience has and do it with some personality. That’s the best content marketing tip I can give you. Don’t ignore the things you’re doing wrong—fix them. If you steadily improve and keep showing up, you’ll see a return on your efforts.
Howdy, I’m Andrew Holliday, the founder of Special Sauce. We help b2b and eCommerce companies grow. Thanks for popping by to read this little nugget. If you liked it, I share one proven strategy each week that will make you better at cooking up demand for your business.