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Anyone in the content marketing world knows how tough it can be to produce stellar, consistent content that does so well that it knocks it out of the park. From thinking about blog topics, writing the content, proofreading, editing and then finally publishing, content marketers do a whole lot more than just publishing content.
For many businesses content marketing is one of the largest customer acquisition channels and people spend millions of dollars hiring quality writers. Even for my business, content marketing is where I find my most valuable customers that consume my content and fall in love with my writing and me.
But it wasn’t always like that, and today I am going to share the 10 mistakes content marketers make and some of the things you can do to avoid them. Funny enough, I have made most of these mistakes and I would rather you learn from my mistakes instead of making the same ones repeatedly.
1. Not focusing on quality but just on quantity.
The number one rule of content marketing lies in produce quality, consistent content over rushed infrequent pieces for your customers.
An example I love to give is if I were running a cooking show such as Martha Stewart’s on the Food Network. If Martha pushed content out inconsistently and her shows did not show the full preparation of the meal her show would be a flop.
Let’s bring this example to your content marketing strategy. Most customers that produce weak content and infrequent amounts of content suffer in creating a powerful lead generation machine for their business. The rule of thumb I use is to start small and high quality.
For B2B businesses 1,500 words or more usually do the best such as the KISSmetrics blog. If you are in the B2C business 700 words or more will convert the best. Similarly, if you can only commit to one blog post per month stick with that and continue pushing great content and increase from there.
2. Not proofreading your work.
I get it it’s hard to be a good writer and editor. When I first started out I would get messages from my friends offering to help me proofread my content before I published them.
You really have two options when it comes to making sure your content is error free.
- Use Grammarly, a free tool that is a chrome extension as well as an app. All you do is insert your content and Grammarly will find errors. If you publish a lot of content like me, buying the premium version will give you access to things like editing sentence structure and premium tools.
- Hire an editorial team. Obviously, this is a more expensive option, but this individual will do a much better job making sure the content is error free. I use my editorial team to proof read all my content and add any relevant examples to make my content more relatable.
3. Not doing research on your topics.
Have you ever ran across a topic and said to yourself “I want to write about that!”? Well, that’s a great way to run into trouble early on. The best way to combat this is to use tools like BuzzSumo that help you analyze which posts do the best by keyword or URL.
Buzzsumo becomes a boon for content marketers because they can analyze and see what articles did best instead of guessing. You can even sort through which posts did the best one which social channel over others.
4. Not writing content that is in-depth.
Content marketing may be a sexy term, which is why more than 78 percent of marketers believe that content is the future of marketing. But there is a major difference between fluffy content and in-depth content that teaches you about a topic.
I tend to stick to the mantra that content marketing should be an opportunity to inform someone about something, and is a way to give away everything you can for free. You may say that it could mean that people could steal your ideas, but the reality is most people don’t care enough to implement what works and don’t have the interest to go through the errors in the process.
The way you can create content that is in-depth or evergreen content is to share everything you know about the topic. For example, I wrote this article about Twitter growth and how I grew my Twitter following to 50,000 followers in one year. To date, this is the most viewed article on my blog because it informs the reader. I’ve actually received six to eight clients a month that needs help with growing their social profiles even though I’ve taught them exactly how to do it themselves.
5. Not building your readership.
Have you ever started a blog and realized that no one is reading the content you are publishing? Unfortunately for me, that story is something that is more apparent than not.
In fact, a little trick I learned is that promotion should be 80 percent of content marketing and 20 percent should be writing. What this means is if you are spending two hours writing a meaty blog post, you should be spending almost eight hours promoting that content to influencers, people who you have linked to on your website and even reaching out to people who could use your content.
I love using a tool called contentmarketer.io which helps me find influencers email addresses quickly instead of wasting time manually finding them. It even lets me send emails quickly from the interface.
Secondly, a tip I learned is that your list is everything when it comes to building readership. According to HubSpot, your email marketing database degrades by almost 22.5 percent every year. This is why it’s incredibly important to make sure that you are actively using techniques to add to your readership.
6. Not writing consistently.
The moment you start writing an article is the beginning of a relationship between you and your readers. And just because you stick to a schedule doesn’t mean you will actually follow through with it.
The moment you stop producing quality content is the moment that engagement drops bringing up suspicions of the blog or business being out of business. The best thing you can do early on is starting small when it comes to the amount of content you are trying to produce.
7. Not outlining your work.
Some of the best pieces of content I have seen are articles that flow with the thought process of the actual writer versus jumbled up content that doesn’t speak to what a reader may be thinking about.
I’m not here to take you back to your high school AP English Class, but studies have shown that outlined content does significantly better than content that is written on the fly.
I publish about 10 articles a week, and my process for outlining is simple. First, I write out the introduction and write out the points that I will be listing in the articles. Then, I write out the conclusion and start adding in elements of the article that I know without having to do extensive research. Once the body of the article is completed, I can then use a series of tools to come up with enticing titles that will do for the article.
8. Not learning what content works and what doesn’t.
The biggest mistake that a marker can make is not A/B testing their content. What does that mean in this context? This involves constantly working with your content and seeing which pieces work better than others.
For example, try writing a short article that’s only 300 words and then a few longer, in-depth articles. You can track metrics like click through rate, visitors, social shares, and even comments on the articles.
The key to successful content is testing it.
9. Not writing for a specific niche or audience.
Similar to selling a product, writing content can have it’s on hurdles. Let’s say you are trying to sell ice cream. If your target market for that ice cream is everyone, you will learn very quickly that there won’t be a solid base of people that consume your content.
Similarly, focusing on a specific niche is incredibly important to attract the right types of readers that will end up buying your products or services.
An easy way to do this is to get to know who your readers really are by using great tools like Qualaroo to see what your reader’s concerns and struggles really are. That is what they will search for most and what will get read on your website.
10. Not optimizing your website.
Believe it or not, but website design, feel and performance are major factors that influence whether people will actually visit your website or not.
In the beginning, I thought creating a basic design wouldn’t affect the way my readers affected with my website but I was dead wrong. In fact, I started modeling off of the best websites out there to learn more about how they laid out their website with a call to actions, and opportunities for readers to put in their email address appropriately.
Secondly, it doesn’t hurt to pay for a good hosting plan. At first, a shared hosting plan works well but after some time you will find that your website speed slows down tremendously. One of my favorite hosting services is Digital Ocean which is self-managed hosting.
Content marketing, if done correctly, can be one of the most profitable customer acquisition channels for your business. But the reality is nothing comes without hard work and dedication and that’s what you can do to succeed in content marketing, especially by avoiding mistakes that I have made.