Let’s face it — if your business doesn’t publish regular content, it’s missing out on countless growth opportunities. Done right, content keeps you top of mind in your market, expands your reach, helps others, builds rapport, and ultimately bolsters your bottom line. But, it’s possible for your own content to work against you, to actually hurt your business.
There is an unbelievable amount of content out there about creating content (this blog is but one brick in a large wall). Naturally, there’s a ton of disagreement in the industry because different tactics work for different people. However, there are a number of generally accepted content cardinal sins that could sabotage your efforts and your enterprise.
Let’s explore some.
Not Having a Point
I’m guilty of tip toeing through the verbal tulips at times, but I make sure that what I write has a clear purpose. If it’s not obvious why a piece of content exists, then at best, it didn’t do what the creator had hoped. At worst, it confused and irritated the audience. So ask yourself before you hit publish — have I made my point? Have I added value?
Speaking to Everyone
When you speak to everyone, you can’t speak to anyone in particular. That’s bad when you’re trying to attract customers. The best messaging meets your prospect exactly where they are in life and offers what they need in that moment. It’s no easy feat — but you’ll have a much harder time reaching those you can help if you aren’t speaking their language.
Confession time: As a new business owner, I’m still working on this. While much of my content caters to the busy small business owner, some of it casts a wider net so that I can broaden my network and augment my cash flow.
I don’t have a larger than life personality, so I sometimes wonder how I can stand out in this competitive landscape. However, I know that I don’t need to be the loudest or the flashiest to differentiate myself (and neither do you). The key is finding something in yourself that your market can’t get elsewhere.
For me, I focus on creating (usually) polished content, written in a conversational tone, that lets readers into my life while showing concern for theirs. Am I the only one doing these things? Nope! But I’m the only one doing them my way.
Tell me: What do you do to make your content memorable?
Not Being Personable & Personal
Content that presents like a textbook authored by Ben Stein is going to make people think they’re interacting with a bot. Your content shouldn’t be some emotionless presentation of facts. It needs to connect to real humans who have real questions and problems. Show some humor and some empathy. And tell some relevant stories about yourself, too. Being relatable goes a long way in building relationships and fostering trust.
Focusing Too Much on Yourself
On the flip side, your content is really supposed to be all about your target consumer. It should address their pain points and desires with snippets about you interspersed to make them feel like you can help. If your snippets start to dominate your content, you’ll appear narcissistic and put people off.
Noteworthy: Sometimes, a piece of content is intended to be extremely personal. If you’re sharing a lengthy anecdote as part of a larger point or because you think your audience wants to hear it, that’s one thing. Even in that instance, though, I would still try to find a way to involve your community.
Littered with Errors
Mistakes are understandable and forgivable. To err is human, right? However, if your copy is full of glaring issues, you’re going to frustrate readers and make them question your credibility. The tools to check yourself (before you wreck yourself) now go so far beyond spell check. I personally like Grammarly (not an affiliate link). It’s a web-based tool that underlines problems in red, making them easy to spot and correct.
No Visual Appeal
Graphics, photos, embedded videos, and other visuals make a blog post much more pleasing to the eye. They draw you in, augment the written word, and improve readability. It should be top of mind when creating a post.
Confession time: I’ll admit it — this is an area of opportunity for me (aka: a total weakness). I slap on a featured image, use headings to break up my text, and call it a day. But it really isn’t enough. At some point, I may hire a virtual assistant (VA) to enhance the reader experience and make my posts prettier. Stay tuned!
Failing to Interact
The whole goal of your content should be to reach people that you can help. So when they comment or leave questions on your posts, you should be jumping for joy! A real opportunity to connect is before you — don’t ignore it! You could alienate the person who attempted to engage with you. And you’ll definitely discourage others from participating since their words seem to get lost in the void.
Noteworthy: Most consumers understand the concept of being busy — they’re likely living a full life, too. Because of this, they don’t expect an instantaneous response from you, particularly if you’re a very small business. However, you should make every effort to check for and respond to them in a timely manner.
Being Too Sales-y
Content is created for the noble reason of helping others. It’s also created to drive business and make some serious money. There’s nothing wrong with making a profit. But — if your content tries to make a sale at every turn, your audience will bail. They’ll see you as a giant infomercial and will quickly move on to a content creator that better attends to their needs.
Tell me: How do you feel about seeing a sales pitch at the end of a blog post? Do you feel duped? Are you irritated? Or do you think it’s OK if the post was good?
Not Promoting Content
You spend hours on a post, podcast, or video and finally hit publish. What a relief — you feel like you’ve breathed new life into your site, your community, and your business. But, you’re not done yet. If no one knows you put out new material, how are they going to check it out?
That’s where promotion comes in. If you have an email list, send a blast. On social media (you should be!)? Spread the word there, too. I know that it can be tough to find time for this extra step, but it’s critical. And, there are tools that can help. I personally use Smarterqueue (not an affiliate link) to automatically post to my social media profiles at set intervals and with set content. I know I’m not using it to its fullest capacity, but it’s been great so far.
The most important takeaway is to tailor your content to your audience. Do they want to hear more about your life? Tell them. Are they OK with more frequent calls to action? Include them. If you listen carefully, they’ll tell you their preferences. If you can’t hear them — just ask!
By steering clear of these totally avoidable content faux pas, you’ll enrich your business, not hurt it. If you’re looking around sheepishly because you’ve committed some of these errors — don’t worry. Owning a business and creating content is an evolutionary journey. As long as you’re progressing, you’re golden.
Chime in: What did I miss? What big mistakes do you see people making with their content?