By Neil Patel published April 10, 2016

10 Mistakes Content Creators Need to Avoid

mistakes-content-creators-avoic

Anyone who has created content knows that it can be a minefield.

There are so many ways to blow it. From a technical mishap to a social faux pas, you are constantly trying to avoid mistakes.

After more than a decade of content creation, I’ve learned a thing or two. How? By committing (or nearly committing) every mistake on this list.

I don’t want you to do the same. Sure, you can learn from your mistakes, but the less of that kind of learning you have to do, the better. Your goal is to nail it every time, and you can do that by reading about these 10 mistakes and knowing how to overcome them.

Let’s dive in.

1. Not understanding your audience

What if Simon Sinek had shown up to his TED Talk wearing shorts and a T-shirt with a 5-minute speech prepared for high school boys?

Simon-Sinek-inspirational-leadership

He would have blown it.

Instead, he knew his audience. He crafted his talk accordingly and absolutely nailed it.

Knowing your audience is the starting point for any successful content marketing initiative.

Knowing your audience is the starting point for any successful #contentmarketing initiative says @neilpatel Click To Tweet

If you are going to write about a certain topic — say cooking — then you need to 1) identify who you are targeting with your content, and 2) create content that will resonate with them.

If you don’t do this, your content won’t get read, won’t get shared, and nobody will even care. That’s a sad place to be.

The Pioneer Woman is a great example of a brand who knows her audience. She gets it – their mindset, their situation in life, their challenges, and their desires.

Pioneer-woman

Her blog has the perfect blend of style and substance that her readers love. As a result, she is one of the world’s most successful bloggers and has turned that success into New York Times best-selling books and a show on Food Network.

Know your audience, give them what they want, and you’ll automatically eliminate 90% of life’s problems. Sort of.

2. Not having an About page

In your rush to get online, don’t neglect your About page.

Whether you’re an individual or a business, readers want to know about you and they look for that all-important page.

Moz is a B2B software-as-a-service provider. Its blog includes a link to the company’s About page.

Importance-about-page

Luisa Zhou is a coach, and she has an About page.

Luisa-Zhou-coach

The About page is essential for connecting with your readers and establishing your trustworthiness.

Remember, the page isn’t all about you. Sure, you want to introduce yourself and tell your story, but you’re also trying to help your readers.

Every reader comes to your blog with a set of questions, challenges, or issues that they want solved. You can help them to address these issues and solve their problems.

3. Not promoting your content on social

Creating your content is only half of your work. The other half is promoting it.

Social media is the all-important connection between your content and your audience. That’s where they live, hang out, socialize, and share. Your content won’t be effective unless you get it out on the social channels like your life depends on it.

Buffer is a social sharing product so it knows a thing or two about the importance of social sharing. Each of its blog posts has multiple calls to action for social sharing, which is one of the reasons for its success on social media.

Buffer-social-sharing

Each of its articles racks up thousands of shares on social media.

Social-sharing-matters

Your social sharing matters. In keeping with the first point, make sure you know your audience well enough to understand which social platforms are best to reach them.

4. Not sharing personal stories or self-references

Would you ever talk to someone in the third person? If you’re having a chat with a friend, would you avoid ever referring to yourself?

Of course not! Then why would you do that in your blog? It sounds stiff and artificial.

The best bloggers are the ones who are comfortable using words like “I,” “me,” “my,” and “mine.”

These words aren’t arrogant. They’re just part of the way we talk.

Ramit Sethi is a great writer. He forms a personal connection with his audience by regularly referring to himself. Here are just a few paragraphs excerpted from one of his blog posts:

Remit-Sethi

Arrogant? Absolutely not.

Personal? Absolutely.

If you don’t refer to yourself – your mistakes, victories, experiences – it’s actually more embarrassing than if you do refer to yourself.

5. Having a lot of typos

I get it. Mistakes happen. Typos creep into your content.

Typos

Just don’t make a habit of it. Like it or not, people judge you based on your grammar and spelling. If you can’t spell or properly use grammar to save your life, you have a couple options:

  • Use software like Grammarly.
  • Hire an editor or proofreader to review your articles before you publish.

Copywriting isn’t easy, and we all make mistakes. The fewer you make, however, the more trust and respect you’ll foster with your audience.

For what it’s worth, this article will pass through at least three rounds of editorial and proofreading review before you see it. Even then, mistakes sometimes creep in, but you won’t see very many of them.

6. Not developing your own style or voice

A blogger and business coach who simply goes by her first name, Allison, explains that her biggest content mistake was “copying someone else”:

Not-developing-own-style-voice

It’s great to have role models and examples. There are some great content creators out there, and it’s fine to aspire to their style and approach.

But you have to create a unique style.

Here’s what Allison says she experienced when she played the copycat game:

  • I lost the trust and respect of several people who I admire the most.
  • I felt like an outsider.
  • I looked like a fraud.
  • I experienced ALL the bad feelings.

Allison has an awesome blog, and she’s no longer copying anybody. But her warning serves as a good reminder to those of us who might feel like copying.

Don’t do that. People will love you much more if you have your own voice and style.

7. Not including enough photos

Quick reminder: The more visually appealing your content, the more people will be engaged with that content. The brain loves images.

The more visually appealing your #content, the more people will be engaged says @neilpatel Click To Tweet

Lack-of-photos

Source

Keeping the image count high means that you’ll keep readership high, too. My articles often have 30 to 50 images, which have variety to keep people interested in what I’m writing.

8. Not looking at your traffic and analytics

For some people, looking at numbers is boooooring. If you want to be a successful content creator, however, you need to pay attention to your numbers. What numbers are important?

  • Traffic numbers
  • Bounce rates
  • Dwell time
  • Traffic sources

I recommend paying attention to a lot more metrics than these. These are the start, though, the bare minimum.

Keep an eye on your numbers, and you’ll be able to know what your readers are responding to so you can strategize to improve your content and increase your traffic.

9. Not focusing on article headlines

The most important single element of any blog article is the headline.

Why? More people read headlines than any other part of your copy.

Important-blog-element-headline

Source

If you’re having trouble engaging readers in your content, first pay attention to your headlines. Do they appeal to your audience? Do they make people want to click?

To instantly improve your writing, improve your ability to create titles.

10. Not interacting in the comments

A blog is a conversation. You started the conversation. It’s just good manners to stay a part of it. If you disappear when people start chatting in the comments, you can reduce trust and credibility.

Notice how Chrystie interacts in her comments. Her blog post was really engaging, and she kept up a long conversation in the follow-up comments:

Chrystie-interacts-with-comments

At the time I checked, she had left nearly 50 replies to comments, and a lot of them were detailed and lengthy. This is an example of someone who’s staying on top of the comments and interacting with readers.

When someone leaves a comment, they are often doing a favor. Respond with a little love and gratitude.

Conclusion

As I wrote at the beginning, content creation can be a minefield for mistakes. If you can anticipate and overcome these mistakes, you’ll be way ahead of the game.

What content mistakes have you noticed?

Get a detailed overview of the five principles that content marketing success is dependent on. Read our 2016 Content Marketing Framework: 5 Building Blocks for Profitable, Scalable Operations.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

Author: Neil Patel

Neil Patel is the co-founder of Crazy Egg, Hello Bar, and KISSmetrics. He helps companies like Amazon, NBC, GM, HP and Viacom grow their revenue. The Wall Street Journal calls him a top influencer on the web, and Entrepreneur Magazine says he has created one of the 100 most brilliant companies in the world. You can connect with him on Twitter @neilpatel.

Other posts by Neil Patel

Join Over 180,000 of your Peers!

Get daily articles and news delivered to your email inbox and get CMI’s exclusive e-book Get Inspired: 75 (More) Content Marketing Examples FREE!

  • http://smemark.com/blog Hitesh Sahni

    Great advice as usual Neil. Another huge mistake is not creating and following a content calendar/plan. Most businesses keep publishing content at random without any specific purpose and schedule and as a result, fail to connect with their audience.

    • http://neilpatel.com Neil Patel

      Glad you liked it. Switch things up 🙂

  • https://twitter.com/KovalenkoVolo Volodymyr Kovalenko

    Cool stuff.
    The best point is the “I” thing (#4). Wondering how using it works if you’re not a top expert in the field. Need to test it.
    Thanks for this awesome Sunday article.

    • http://neilpatel.com Neil Patel

      Glad you liked it 🙂

  • Jennee

    I am in the process of rectifying #6. For a long time, I wrote in a voice I thought would be more likeable but I’m realizing that writing in my own voice is what will attract my ideal audience.

    It’s liberating to write and not spend half my editing time on self-censorship.

    Great Sunday read 🙂

    • http://neilpatel.com Neil Patel

      It’s always a great feeling, indeed. Keep it up 🙂

  • http://jacksonandwilson.com Mitch Jackson

    Enjoyed and am sharing. For me, #8 just isn’t that important but we all come to the digital experience for different reasons and experiences. Again, great read!

    • http://neilpatel.com Neil Patel

      Glad you liked it, Mitch. Let me know how it all works out.

  • Alex Lopes

    Neil, these are great reminders for new content creators like myself. #6 is the one I’m most focused on right now.

    • http://neilpatel.com Neil Patel

      That’s a good one! Keep it up 🙂

  • http://theiuvo.com/ Dan TheIuvo

    This is a good list, especially if you’re just starting with a blog. Good tips worth following.

    • http://neilpatel.com Neil Patel

      Let me know how the tips work out for you 🙂

      • http://theiuvo.com/ Dan TheIuvo

        Tnx Neil. For me they are good in order to be able to look back. 🙂

  • http://downsconsultingservices.com/ Randy Downs

    Another great article. I’ll have to remember to blog in 1st person.

    • http://neilpatel.com Neil Patel

      Glad you liked it!

  • Katie Ross

    Neil, how do you do that? Perfect, as always. The minute I read the article, the words Eloise Ristad once said appeared in my mind: When we give ourselves permission to fail, we, at the same time, give ourselves permission to excel”. Content creation – isn’t a piece of cake. A lot of things should be considered. I’m absolutely agree about grammar. It’s important indeed! We all human and we all make mistakes (honestly, every grammar nazi cries when reads my torrent of words), but for content marketers is essential to avoid howlers. Essential. Visuality plays an important role for me as I have a visual perception. It seems to my plagiarized content is a great mistake too! It should be avoided since the search engine is able to find duplication in the code of the site as well as in the texts. So to say, it’s better to check the content for similarities with duplicate finder software and not to risk. And, it isn’t a secret that readers never appreciate reading stolen ideas.

  • Aleksandra Tomaszewska

    Thank you so much! I am just starting my blogging experience so that is very helpfull. I can see clearly the traps I can avoid thanks to your article. All the best!

  • Carol Pearson

    You know what I really like about this article? You don’t just give the advice; you give real world examples on how to do it. Excellent stuff here. I’m sharing this will all my clients to make the work we do together that much better! Thank you, Neil.

  • http://www.callbox.com.sg/ Jayden Chu

    Even if it is a great one, it is still useless when no one is interested with your content. You must ensure your content will draw an audience, and simply not just an audience, but the desired and the right audience for your content.

  • http://www.thesagenext.com/cloud/sage50-hosting.html lily smith

    One of the greatest mistake people do is to not understand the real audience. You had explained it in a wonderful way.

  • http://www.bforblogging.com/ Kevin Johnson

    Very useful post, you have covered some interesting point like having an about page, article headlines, promoting on social etc. and I enjoyed reading it. I have bookmarked it as an reference on content marketing.