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How to avoid failing at content writing

How to Avoid These 5 Crappy Content Writing Fails

Powerful content can be an incredible tool for your business but it’s not always easy to create. Mastering the technique of content writing requires skill and expertise, often gained through many years of writing for varied audiences and mixed platforms.

The risk of getting it wrong, of drafting copy that is unappealing and ill-conceived, can mean wasted time and effort on something that won’t produce the desired result.

Instead of engaging hundreds of readers, if not thousands, you’ll end up creating a website of unread pages or a stream of blog posts that have little purpose or relevancy, lack consistency and offer no return on your investment.

Your content must be well-written, it must address your target audience and it must serve a purpose by answering the ‘so what’ before inviting the reader to take action and learn more about you.

This might seem over-the-top but it ensures your written words will be read and people will notice you. Done badly and your content transforms from a good idea to a crappy reality. Here are five crappy content writing fails and what you can do to avoid them.

1. A lack of writing skill

It’s one of the most common fails. Everyone thinks they can write, which means everyone is a skilled and qualified writer. Wrong. Entering your most passionate ideas into a blog template won’t get you the results you’re looking for. If the piece isn’t well-written and doesn’t provide meaningful value to the reader, it won’t get an online reaction, search engines won’t recognise it as being of high quality and you’ll wonder why nobody ever reacts or leaves a comment.

It wastes your time and theirs so spend the money and invest in a quality writer who can add value to your team. Play to your strengths and quit pretending you’re a capable online wordsmith.

2. Not enough time allocated

It takes time and effort to create a single piece of content. Think 2-3 hours to write a post from idea generation to review stage, then up to an hour for edits, then another hour for image sourcing, publishing, social shares and responses. And I’m estimating on the low side.

To reap the results of an effective longer-term content strategy, you need a longer-term content creation plan. A great online reaction won’t happen overnight and thought leadership, influence and authority take time to build. To create success, you need to adopt a consistent approach to writing, develop a content plan or calendar for the way ahead, and allocate time to deliver the work.

3. You forgot your audience

It’s a rookie writing error but we’ve all done it before. You have a fantastic idea for a post and you start writing away. Before you know it, you have the makings of a masterpiece and you hit the ‘publish’ button. Then nothing. Viewer numbers fail to materialise, comments never appear and any hope of significant traffic dies a sad and lonely death. So what went wrong?

The answer is you forgot to consider who you were writing for. Did you think about the reader and what they wanted to learn from you? Did you adapt your writing for the platform’s readership? Did you address the burning issues of your organisation’s demographic? If you ignore your target audience, your content won’t resonate, it will fall flat and nobody will take action. Think about your readers’ pain points, how you intend to fix them and the value your written work will bring.

4. Content was not shared

The best part about creating powerful content is that it can be shared far and wide, and generally for free. People won’t suddenly start reading your work and visiting your site without there being a promotion strategy in place. The worst mistake is to spend hours writing something great and then you simply publish it on your site or LinkedIn profile. You have to do more than that.

On LinkedIn, promote it to your groups, schedule interesting status updates with links to the content, include it on your company page and share it with your colleagues. Publicise it across social media – on your Facebook page, Twitter and Google+ accounts. And come back to it in the future. If the post did well, bring it out of the blogging archives and share it again at a later date or rework it into a new piece with a slightly different angle. The possibilities are almost endless.

5. There never was a purpose

Every piece of content you create must have a clear purpose behind it. Are you trying to fix a client’s problem or address a particular need? Do you want to drive traffic to a new campaign or is there a special offer that you need to draw attention to?

Ask why you’re writing the content or risk creating something that is doomed from the start. Ensure the content fits to a part of your business strategy. Take some time to think about why someone would read this piece of work. Create a plan for matching your content to platforms or publications based on the answers to these questions.

Avoid these content writing fails by understanding why you’re creating content and what you want to achieve in the first place. By thinking about each of the points above, you’ll ensure you add value to the content writing process and place a focus on content that is high quality not crappy.

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Learn How to Do What You Love Most With This Free Manifesto

Are you thinking about changing your job but are fearful of doing so?

Have you been offered an international assignment but the prospect of leaving loved ones is too much?

Or do you watch other people lead a more fulfilling, exciting life laden with opportunities and adventure, wondering why the same thing never happens for you?The Life Less Ordinary Manifesto - a guide to living a better life

I’ve experienced all of this and more. I changed my location, working world, way of life and approach to lifestyle. I wanted to live my life to the fullest, not watch it pass me by. I wanted more from this life and I point-blank refused to settle for less.

So I created a blog called In Search of a Life Less Ordinary, which has gone on to become a leading expat, travel and lifestyle site. The blog is about making major life changes for the better – from moving abroad to changing your working world, exploring the great outdoors to learning to make time for the things that matter.

I recently relaunched the blog and, with the relaunch, I released a new eBook called The Life Less Ordinary Manifesto. Best of all, I want to let you know that it’s completely free and now available to download.

The site and eBook are awesome. Russell’s openness and willingness to share his knowledge and experience are what make him one of my favourite online voices.
Katie Mayors, Host of Wanderlust on Bondi Beach Radio

About the Manifesto

I wrote The Life Less Ordinary Manifesto as a call for people to declare their intentions to live life differently – on their terms, not the way others expect.

It’s about knowing when it’s time to make those major life changes, whether changing a job, moving location or simply making tweaks to a currently unfulfilled life.

I wanted to create a short eBook based on popular blog posts that showed the challenges you might face in changing your life for the better and how to take those first small steps towards living a life with more fulfilment and purpose.

Helping you learn how to do what you love most. How to be who you want to be. How to find wonder in the world.

A truly original voice with a pen overflowing with insight and positivity. This book is packed full with gems of wit and wisdom.
Jack Scott, Bestselling Author of Perking The Pansies and Turkey Street

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What You’ll Learn in the Manifesto

If you’re facing difficult decisions and crave change in your own life, then this manifesto is for you. You’ll learn:

  • The steps I took to improve my life and give it greater meaning.
  • When the time is right to make those changes to live a less ordinary life.
  • That change won’t be easy but it will be worth it.
  • How to take those first steps to turn a dream into an exciting new reality.

How to Get Your Own Free Copy

You can get your own free copy of The Life Less Ordinary Manifesto by joining my newsletter list at the Manifesto landing page here.

Once you confirm your email address, you’ll receive a link to your free PDF copy of the manifesto.

This is excellent. I love it. But then I knew I would because it’s exactly what I believe too.
Vicki Jeffels, Award-Winning Expat and Travel Blogger

The Ways You Can Help

This manifesto is free and is being downloaded around the world. If you have already downloaded it yourself, then I want to say a heartfelt thank you. It means a lot to me.

If you would like to see the manifesto reach more people, please share among friends, family and within your circle of influence. Post the link on Facebook, email the manifesto page URL here to a friend, download the eBook and make copies for the people around you.

Most importantly, please tell me what you think. Did you enjoy it? Could you relate to it? Leave a comment below or email me directly using the contact form on the blog.

Download Your Free Manifesto Today

Time to change your life? Ready to stop dreaming and start taking positive action to make those changes?

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Just enter your email in the sign-up box to get your FREE copy of my eBook. Once confirmed, I’ll send a PDF straight to your inbox — at no cost to you whatsoever.

I hope you love the new look site as much as I do and enjoy reading The Life Less Ordinary Manifesto. Don’t forget to let me know what you think below or on the blog itself.

Vary-Your-Content

Variety is the Spice of Life! Are You Varying Your Content Enough?

At The International Writer, we’re fortunate to work on any number of diverse and interesting things that come across our desks each week.

It might be a press release or a website page, a social media post or an online article for a leading retailer.

Our latest job was to write a news story for Edelman and General Electric here on wind turbines and the development of a wind farm at Boco Rock in eastern Australia. It’s fascinating stuff being a content writer and no day is ever the same.

We’re creating an incredible mix of content for our clients which tells us one key thing: it’s more important than ever for a business to vary what it puts out – and where it puts it – in order to satisfy an increasingly content-hungry audience.

So what can you do about it?

Use all of the avenues at your disposal

The great thing about the Internet today is that you can be as creative as you like in getting your message out there via a number of recognised (and often free) ways.

First, figure out what works best for you.

Facebook is king for mainstream content sharing but is it the most appropriate venue for highlighting your latest specialised product or service? A LinkedIn company page might be better or consider the ability to reach mass audiences through Google+ and Twitter. And what about using a blog or news page on your website?

Then, once you decide on the methods for varying your content and getting your message across (and try to aim for at least three or four to ensure good variation), start to consistently use them on a regular basis.

Know what your customer likes and wants

Next, look at the type of information you’re sharing (or want to share) and make sure it has enough variety and relevance to ensure your reader remains interested and engaged.

Instead of posting weekly pieces on how to do this or why to do that, share news about your company or industry, let us know where you’ve been and what you’re working on.

Tell us a bit about your people and why they do what they do. Show and tell – we want to see pictures and graphics, not just text and a wooden tone. Incorporate infographics, audio and video, and include longer, more in-depth posts that your reader (and Google) will prefer.

But don’t just rely on the blog post because there are lots of other ways you can connect and engage with people. Think Google hangouts, Twitter chats, Instagram meet-ups and more.

Keep it fresh and original

Whatever platforms you use and the types of content you share, make sure you keep it all fresh, original and compelling.

You’ll need to revisit existing content regularly and update where you can – tidy up web pages and reinvigorate a blog that appears stagnant. Put out a new press release or review your post scheduling calendar.

And if you’re struggling for ideas or motivation, come back next week where we’ll show you how to fill up your writing well of inspiration.

But keep writing, creating, publishing and sharing. Focus on quality and variation, not quantity and low cost.

Follow some of these rules and you’ll be putting some varied content spice back into your business’s life.

Compelling Business Content by Shutterstock

How To Create Business Content That People Will Share: Lessons From Upworthy

Ever dreamed of writing a blog post that strikes a chord with hundreds, if not thousands, of people?

It’s the kind of content that’s instantly shared across social media, snowballing as traffic is driven to your website in even greater numbers, while generating incredible new leads.

I’ve written hundreds of posts – some do well, others less so – and nothing beats seeing the social sharing icons tick over as your audience immediately connects with the topic – and passes the post on.

So what’s the secret to social sharing success?

I recently met Sara Critchfield, Editorial Director of Upworthy, at her Vivid Sydney talk, entitled On Media, Marketing and Making People Care. Upworthy is the world’s fastest growing media company and one that challenges the rules of traditional media to put out content shared by millions of people every week.

Upworthy posts videos only, no text, and focuses on sharing content that “most people” will like.

And it works.

The organisation’s website currently pulls in 50 million unique visitors per month from publishing an average of seven pieces of content per week.

It’s all fascinating stuff but what can your business really learn from Upworthy’s success at putting out business content that people want to share?

Appeal to your audience

Make sure your business content – blog posts, articles, news stories, web pages – is compelling and grabs the reader’s attention.

Sara says this is the only kind of content that Upworthy distributes. Nothing is published that is dry or boring. Upworthy’s aim is to curate content that is meaningful, engaging, inspiring, gripping – and is subsequently shared by millions.

Focus on the packaging

Your online content needs to be packaged the right way. If it isn’t, then it doesn’t matter how good or well-written it is, it simply won’t be shared.

Upworthy places a major emphasis on headlines and images, spending hours tweaking and refining the key things you’ll first see when you jump onto social media. And, once you click it, they’ve got you.

Share on the right networks

Which social networks are the best ones for your business? Is Twitter the right place to announce a new service or should you focus on Instagram as the launchpad for your latest product?

Upworthy optimises everything it does for Facebook, says Sara. If you want to be where most of the people are, this is where it’s at. And, while Facebook isn’t for everyone, she believes that you have to figure out what works best for you.

The final point to take away: remember that if you do want your work to go truly viral, you need to write the kind of content that not only your clients or friends will share, but that their friends – and friends of friends – will also share.

If you’re interesting in learning more about how best to optimise your business content to get it in front of as many people as you can, send me a note via the contact page and let’s talk.

Have you found success in sharing online? What tricks or tips did you employ?