As someone who writes content for the web, you know that this task isn’t exactly an easy one. For example, you have to follow so many guidelines, provide useful tips, watch your grammar and spelling, use reliable evidence, and make everything work so the content attracts both readers and search engines. Moreover, there’s very little room for error because of the fierce competition.
According to this article on Time, 55 percent of web readers spent fewer than 15 seconds actively on a page. In other words, you have only 15 seconds to capture their attention and persuade them that your content is worth reading.
Another study on the behavior of social media users found that 59 percent of all links on social networks were shared without even being clicked on. This means that lots of people choose to share content just after reading the headline!
Okay, I gave you these stats not to show that quality content writing is extremely hard but rather to demonstrate that you have to respect your readers’ needs and concerns and give them what they want. No excuses. If you don’t, your content will be boring and useless, and doing so is a sure-fire way to destroy your business and lose a lot of your time.
Giving your readers what they want means much more than producing content that doesn’t have grammar mistakes or fails to address their needs; it also involves avoiding the most common mistakes in content writing that some bloggers, copywriters, and other content writers overlook.
What are these mistakes? That’s the question that we’re going to answer in this article. Moreover, I’ll give you 5 practical tips on how to avoid 5 common mistakes so your content is easy-to-read, useful, and ready for some serious readership and conversions.
Mistake #1: Not Leveraging Reader Research
Some bloggers choose to write their articles without a thorough research to fuel their brainstorming process. For example, if their blog is about WordPress, they just write “how-to” articles because they are perceived as the most useful type of written content. Doing so is a mistake because their audience isn’t limited to beginner WordPress users who want to know how to install a plugin or use other essential features.
How to Avoid: Competitor/Hot Topic Research
Your brainstorming for content ideas should ALWAYS include your typical readers’ input! The people who visit your blog are an excellent source of ideas for your next articles, so researching their current hot topics is simply essential.
How to research what topics within your industry or niche are the hottest right now?
There are many ways to get from your readers. For example, you can ask them on your blog by creating a small survey where they can describe both common and specific topics.
Another good way is to perform a competitor/hot topic research with a tool like BuzzSumo. It’s essentially a platform for discovering the best-performing content in terms of shares on social media and popular websites. For example, let’s suppose that you’re running a blog about coffee, so one of your target keyword phrases might be “how to make espresso.”
We’ll type this in the search bar and press Search. Here’s what we found.
The best-performing articles are located on the top of the list, and the number of social media engagements is given in the columns on the right. As you can see from the menu on the left, I’ve filtered the search by date (Past year), but you can search for content that was shared the most in such short deadlines as 24 hours.
As the result, by analyzing the best-performing content of your competitors, you’ll also take your fair share of hot trends and increase your popularity on Google.
Mistake #2: Lacking Knowledge of Target Audience
Another popular mistake that many bloggers make before they even start writing. They just write their content about everything and anything, hoping that it will meet the needs of their readers. As the result, their marketing strategy lacks focus and their content performs not as well as it could.
How to Avoid: Create Reader Personas
It goes without saying that you should have a clear understanding of the audience that you want to target. This rule applies to both beginner bloggers and experienced ones!
One effective way to get a clear image of whom you want to target is to create reader personas. A reader persona is essentially an avatar of your typical reader that includes such important information as:
- Educational level
- Common questions they have about your industry/niche
- What they already know about your industry/niche
- How important is your industry/niche to them
- Reasons why they want to learn about your industry/niche.
To create rich reader personas that can supply you with sufficient information, you can use Google Analytics. If your blog generates good traffic numbers, you can enable demographics and interest reports by selecting the admin table and clicking on “Enable” in the Demographics and Interest Reports tab.
The tool will start collecting information so your job at that point is to thoroughly analyze them to create effective reader personas.
Another way to create reader personas is to use online research tools. If your blog attracts substantial traffic, you’ll probably need more information in addition to that provided Google Analytics. Some of the good research tools are Supreme Dissertations and Rated by Students.
Mistake #3: Failing to Proofread and Edit Effectively
Proofreading and editing of blog content is such an essential part of the content creation process, but many bloggers fail to complete it due to various reasons, including a lack of skills or time. The result of this mistake could be disastrous. Even one grammar mistake makes you look like an amateur who still learns the profession or even worse – a blogger who doesn’t care enough for their readers to check for simple mistakes.
How to Avoid
There are two essential parts of a quality proofreading and editing process: doing it immediately after writing and after some time. For example, you can look for such mistakes as grammar, spelling, punctuation, and word selection immediately after you wrote your piece and then let your brain and eyes rest a little bit and do it after some time.
To increase the effectiveness of your proofreading and editing, you can also use online tools. There’s a wide variety of suitable tools available out there, so here are some of the best to check out.
- Grammarly. A popular online proofreading tool that uses sophisticated technology to identify typos, inappropriate word selections, passive voice overuse, and other typical content writing mistakes.
- Flash Essay. If you want to have an option of human proofreading, definitely check out this one. In addition to providing machine proofreading, Flash Essay also offers a proofreading by experts in content creation.
- Get Good Grade. Another tool for quality human proofreading that you can use to identify both simple mistakes such as typos and complex ones such as context and idea flow fails.
- Hemingway Editor. Copy and paste your text into this editor to find mistakes and improve readability of your articles (the tool even gives a score to your texts!)
- Rewarded Essays. A tool that you can use to get personalized ideas for improvement of your content and detailed reports about your work containing readability score, use of clichés, and so on.
- IsAccurate. In case you need to localize or translate your content for an audience whose native language is other than English, use this tool to locate reliable translation agencies with good feedback.
Mistake #4: Failing to Provide Evidence
Your readers want proof that every tip you give them works, otherwise your content won’t be useful. To give them the proof they want, you have to provide specific facts, case studies, and other evidence.
How to Avoid: Include Evidence from Reliable Resources
Let’s compare two examples.
1) Many digital marketers use email marketing today. Among the most effective tactics in this marketing strategy is personalization because it ensures that the message’s content is tailored to the needs of recipients. Tailoring the message to the needs of readers involves some additional techniques as well – for example, including a meaningful call to action – that are also popular among marketers.
2) Email personalization has the potential to help you accomplish your marketing goals. According to the 2017 State of Email Marketing report, 50 percent of marketers said that message personalization was the most effective tactic that helped them achieve their goals. To ensure personalization, they use additional tactics such as including a meaningful call to action, which was also found effective by 32 percent of marketers, the same study says.
Which one of these examples sound more reliable? Of course, it’s the second one. The first one doesn’t back up any of the claims it provides.
On the other hand, the second one has the kind of evidence your readers are looking for, so be sure to provide it by researching your topics thoroughly and giving links to reputable sources like in the second example. If you feel like you need some assistance with researching evidence, feel free to check out the best writing services using Top Writers Review.
Mistake #5: Failing to Include a Call to Action
As a blogger, you know that each article you write represents an excellent opportunity to convince your readers to perform an action you want them to take (subscribe to your newsletter, write a comment, etc.). However, many content writers including bloggers fail to take advantage of this opportunity and doesn’t end their articles without taking that extra step of inviting the readers to interact with them.
How to Avoid: Include Textual/Image-Based Call-to-Action (CTA)
The best way to invite your audience to interact with is to include a call-to-action (CTA). “CTAs can be both textual and image-based, and are a critical element that identifies the action for readers,” explains Anne Wyatt, a content writer at Hot Essay Service. “CTAs can be placed both at the end of an article or in the middle of it.”
The best techniques for writing effective CTAs include the following:
- Embrace action words. Instead of using boring words like “click here” and “download,” test combinations with active words like “sign up here,” “reserve your seat now,” “find the best solution,” and “create your product today.”
- Emphasize immediate benefits. This technique works great if you want to share some resources, provide a free trial, or make an offer that the customers can benefit from immediately. Examples of such CTAs include “Start Saving Now,” “Get my Discount Now,” “Claim Your Premium Account For Free,” “Subscribe and Get Marketing Tips Ever Day” etc.
- Don’t try too hard to sell. Your readers are probably fed up with in-your-face-advertising they see every day on the Internet, so they won’t appreciate another hard-sell copy. So avoid writing CTAs that make you look like you’re trying too hard to sell, e.g. “Buy It Right Now.”
Writing easy-to-read, useful, and engaging content is all about avoiding horrible mistakes that made many bloggers and content writers fail. While learning from mistakes is a good strategy, too, avoiding them altogether is an even better one, agree?
Hopefully, the techniques and tips I described in this article are helpful to you to improve the quality of your writing and reach your marketing goals more effectively and efficiently. Feel free to share your experience with using them in the comments!