As a content writer for a marketing campaign, you’ll find that your skills gradually improve over time. The more articles you write, the better you understand the mechanics of article writing, the more you learn from your mistakes, and the easier writing articles becomes in the future.
However, the evolution of your skills is dependent upon your habits. With good writing habits, of course your content skills will flourish, but if bad habits encroach on your work, you may find the quality of your articles gradually decreasing.
These bad habits are all too common in the content marketing world, so if you want to preserve your upward trajectory, you need to eliminate them now:
Drawing inspiration from other sources isn’t just a good strategy; it’s a necessary one. You’ll need to read up on the latest news to discover new trends and report on them. You’ll need to do competitive research to see what types of topics your competitors have found success with. You’ll also need to do some digging to figure out what research on the subject has already been done. But this information shouldn’t lead you to write a summary piece, or essentially rewrite some of the material that’s already out there. It’s easy to fall into this trap, but instead, you should be using this information as background to write your own inspired piece.
In a similar sense, you must do everything you can to avoid simply restating other people’s opinions about a new development or about a certain topic. If you’re quoting a source directly and you wish to offer it as a piece of evidence or illuminate the topic’s current environment, that’s fine, but don’t simply pass off someone else’s opinion as your own. Whether you’re writing for yourself or writing for a brand, it’s vitally important to showcase strong, bold opinions—even controversial ones. Your voice should be unique; otherwise, why would people want to read your content?
This is a typical mistake of the content marketer whose primary goals relate to SEO. It’s true that the more high-quality content you write for a given site, the higher that site’s going to rank in Google. It’s also true that there are certain tweaks and adjustments you can make to your writing to make it more pleasing to search engine algorithms. However, writing exclusively for SEO is a bad strategy; even if you increase your rank and see increased traffic coming to your site, if your content doesn’t speak to that audience, they’ll quickly become disinterested and leave. In fact, if your bounce rates are high and Google can tell you’re trying to increase your rank via writing, you might actually lose ground in search engine ranks. Write for your audience first, and you won’t have to worry about it.
As a content marketer, you likely understand the importance of consistency in your writing. However, some content writers take this to the extreme, ensuring that each of their posts conform to a certain set of structural standards; for example, they might demand a specific length or a specific number of sub-headings for each article. Doing this can restrict your ability to write genuinely high-quality content by imposing unnecessary limitations on factors that are relatively unimportant.
When you get a good idea for an article, it’s easy to jump right into the body and plow through it. However, the title of your article is where you should spend the majority of your time. A strong title will captivate your audience and draw more people in to read your material. With a weak title, even the best content can go unseen. Make sure your title speaks appropriately to the body content of your article, and make it as concise as possible while giving it a “catchy” grab.
When you sit down to come up with new ideas, you’re likely hit with at least a handful of topics that you’d like to see on your company’s site, or a few ideas that pique your own interest. This isn’t necessarily a bad strategy for idea generation, but if this is your only means of unearthing new topics, you’re seriously neglecting the most important part of your content campaign: your audience. You need to learn and consider your audience’s needs when coming up with new content, as a priority above any other concerns or interests.
Nobody wants to read drab content, even if it’s well worded and universally practical. There needs to be some kind of entertainment factor in your writing, whether that’s a playful tone of voice, the use of in-jokes or pop culture references, or even just a handful of images to liven up the text. Keep your readers entertained!
Eliminating these bad content writing habits is your first step to improving your writing for the long term. Once you’ve smoothed out these rough spots, you’ll be clear to fine-tune the great habits of your content writing process, but remember—if you want to be successful, you’ll need to constantly evolve. The content marketing world moves fast, and the writers who spend the most time adjusting and improving are typically the ones who benefit the most.
Want more information on content marketing? Head over to our comprehensive guide on content marketing here: The All-in-One Guide to Planning and Launching a Content Marketing Strategy.