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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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The Truth About Online Writing (and Why Quality AND Quantity Matters)

The age of the online piece stuffed with SEO keywords is dead, long live the genuinely well-written article.

For too long, SEO experts the length and breadth of the planet have been filling online content with keywords and phrases to ensure a particular blog post, web page or online story ranks highly on a Google search.

What’s more, content mills have reigned supreme, churning out generic and often average writing with the sole purpose of stuffing a business website with the kind of junk that search engines traditionally feed off. And often at a ridiculously low price that businesses can’t help but be drawn to.

The focus has been on keyword-driven content – and lots of it – with the result being often just what a business is looking for – an appearance near the top of a search query and the loose guarantee of plenty more work.

But those days of keywords and quantity, unimaginative prose and mass-produced content have started to ease with recent changes to Google’s search result algorithms. These algorithms are the critical things which decide how well a business places on a search results list.

The new world is a different beast altogether with Google putting much more emphasis on quality writing in preference to keyword-laden content.

While it will still reward quantity of content, the emphasis will be on quality. Lots of well-written pages will equal lots of reward from Google.

There will no doubt still be a need for the content mill and SEO expert, but Google won’t appreciate it if they stick to past behaviour, so they – and the rest of the world – will need to change.

Quality and quantity will define the new online writing world. And that should be a welcome scenario for any credible business and its talented content writers.

Do you agree that quality should come before quantity? Or should there be exceptions to this rule? Let us know in the comments below.

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5 Ways to Ensure Your Content is Great

What exactly makes epic, compelling written content? How can you tell if what you have on the page is exceptional or just plain average?

For a start, your content has to be well-written. It has to be written professionally with a focus on engagement and interaction.

In other words, it should consist of sentences that are carefully constructed with a view to informing and educating the reader, encouraging their reaction to the piece and, in simple terms, stimulating a conversation, be it by their commenting and sharing of the post.

Links and social sharing (like Tweets and Facebook shares) are both activities that Google calls “signals” of high-quality content. In other words, content that will sit at the top of their search pages.

And content that gets shared often is content that is:

  1. useful (solving the reader’s problem)
  2. interesting (relevant and catches their attention)
  3. audience-friendly (readable and well-constructed)
  4. sticky (the reader wants to settle in, learn more, take the relationship further)
  5. unique (a time poor reader wants to discover new material, not re-runs).

It all sounds relatively straightforward but, for too long, business content writers have been writing for search engines instead of people – in effect, they’re writing spam rather than meaningful words that benefit your business.

It’s wasting their time, your time and generally annoying the people you do manage to get your message in front of.

At the end of the day, high quality content will naturally bring more traffic and greater popularity to your site. Search engines intuitively prefer sites with quality content. For example, a website with content on one page that informs while, on the next page, content that engages.

Simply having a great website design or posting frequently on your blog is no longer enough.

The online content you put out as a business is one of the most important tools for providing information to showcase and sell your services and products.

So when it comes to writing for your business, if you can’t do it yourself, then hire someone to write epic, can’t-put-down-able content, which will drive customers to your site and persuade them to do business with you.

Have we missed anything in the list above? What else do you think makes great content? Share with us below.

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Introducing The International Writer: Business Writing that Puts Words to Work

It’s official.

The International Writer has launched and we’re proud to reveal our brand spanking new website, tell you more about who we are and reveal exactly what we do.

On this website and across our social media platforms, you’ll see us talk a lot about content – exceptional, engaging, authentic, inspiring, high quality and meaningful content.

Content is everything you and your business put out for the world to see. It can be online only and include website content, blog post content, industry news content, social media post content, and even an eBook or three. But content can also be more traditional – reports, submissions, press releases and policy documents.

Think of content as every written word you use to market, sell or inform others about your business and brand, whatever medium you might use to get the message across.

And this is where we come in. We help you get your message across. We write your business content.

But we don’t just write any old content. We rely on our background in business, government and the online world to write exciting, engaging words that deliver your message, strike a chord with your readers and bring them back for more.

Our founder is Russell Ward, one of Australia’s most exciting lifestyle and travel bloggers, responsible for the successful website, In Search of a Life Less Ordinary.

For the past three years, he’s been writing online for thousands of readers, steadily growing his following across social media, and learning the value of high quality, engaging and inspirational content. He’s also an experienced business writer and has a history with professional services firms and government.

The International Writer is a culmination of his blogging experiences, former careers in communications and policy, and passion for content writing aimed at the international and travel and tourism fields.

We mainly work with small and medium enterprises. It’s rewarding to see the results of our efforts when we help a small company with its writing needs – we might write their website copy or draft a series of online articles for their blog subscribers, lead a Twitter chat or article write for their magazine. Whatever it is, we write to ensure that particular organisation meets its business goals.

Our specialty is international trade. With a background in online and careers spread across different continents, the international arena is where we want to be. We’ve worked with small business, medium enterprises, international brands, start-ups, government and not for profits in Australia, Germany, the UK, US, and even Romania.

In 2014, our focus will be on the emerging economies of South America – primarily Brazil and Colombia. It’s a region we’re passionate about and two countries where we want to do more.

We’re excited about the future, keen to get to know you better, and looking forward to sharing news, commentary and thoughts here on this blog.

Talk to us today.

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