Writing for blogs or websites can be tricky. With just a couple steps in the wrong direction, your copy can lose tremendous value. When writing, it’s incredibly important to know what mistakes might ruin your work. To help you out, we’ve assembled a list of 20 costly errors to avoid when writing online content.
- No Target Audience: While it might seem like a good idea to tailor your writing to as many people as possible, not having a well-defined target audience will ensure that your writing is read by very few. Besides attracting people to an article dedicated to their interests, writing for a target audience makes it easier to form your writing and to judge its quality based on the audience’s reaction.
- No Objective: Writing for fun is great, but when you’re seeking payment, you have to have an objective in mind when you begin writing something. If you wrote an essay in high school or college, you surely remember thesis statements, which guide all the information that you put in the essay. When writing for a company blog, it helps to imagine your objective like a thesis statement: having a defined central argument/message will make your writing flow much better.
- Poorly Thought Out Organization: Important information needs to be positioned prominently in your writing. The last thing you want to do is bury the crown jewel of your article in the middle of a dense paragraph where it can easily get lost. A trick that can help with this is to break the idea up into smaller points and place each point into a bullet list to make it more eye catching.
- Stream-Of-Consciousness Writing: Stream-of-consciousness writing is great if you’re trying to emulate James Joyce, but not if you’re going for reader-friendly online copy. Be sure to break up your content into small, easy-to-read chunks to appeal to readers.
- Writing Filled With Jargon: Unless you’re writing for a physics or medical journal, your word choice should follow the KISS rule (Keep it simple, stupid). It can be very discouraging for potential readers when they’re confronted with a bunch of words they don’t know in the first paragraph.
- No Sources: As a writer, it’s important for readers to trust that what you say is credible. To help them come to that conclusion, you should always share reliable sources in the article and fact check every point that you make; the extra work will definitely pay off in the long run.
- Too Many Links: Links are useful tools to guide the reader to more information about your article’s topic. However, you should confine their use to only the most important areas in your writing. Too many links spoil the article by distracting the reader from the words themselves.
- Overuse of Sharing Buttons: Like with links, social sharing buttons can be extremely useful tools. However, limit the number of buttons you attach to each article. Too many sharing buttons mean a slow-loading site, which will deter visitors and lead to even less shares.
- Being Super Casual: A lot of copywriters make this mistake and write an article like it’s a Facebook message to a friend. While you do want to have an approachable style, be careful that it doesn’t slip into unprofessionalism.
- Not Saying Why: People don’t like being told what to do without being given a good reason, which is why it’s important to tell your readers why they should take your advice—whether it’s telling them to buy something or sharing strategies for success in a certain arena. If you can elaborate your reasoning when writing, you’ll be more likely to engage readers.
- Being Too Negative: Almost anything has a negative side to it, which you certainly can (and should!) mention when writing. However, don’t be too negative in your writing; you don’t want your reader to get discouraged just from reading your article!
- Overloading Keywords: It used to be that keywords were all it took to get to the top of a Google search, but no longer. Google algorithms are much more complex these days, and one thing that they privilege is quality content. So, instead of trying to shove in as many keywords as possible, just write naturally. You don’t want your readers to be turned off by repetition of the same word or phrase in every sentence.
- Not Selling Subtly: Today’s savvy consumers don’t like to be blatantly instructed to “BUY THIS PRODUCT!”, especially when reading an article. If your goal in writing is to sell something, be entertaining and creative, while still talking about the item you want to sell. That way, it’ll stay in their head much longer. However, try to avoid self-promotion in blog posts whenever possible, as research demonstrates that it’s a big turn-off for consumers.
- Tedious Writing: With all sorts of content readily available online, someone reading your copy will want you to quickly demonstrate why they should be reading your article instead of a different one. You want to show them the value in your content as soon as possible, so get to the point. Don’t add pointless filler just to hit a minimum word count; it’ll just end up hurting you in the end.
- An Unappealing Headline: Headlines are read by 80% of people, while only 20% of visitors read the rest of the article. Keep that in mind when writing your headline—the snappier it is, the more attention your article will get.
- Poor Writing: Sloppy writing is probably the most common offense committed by copywriters. It’s important to thoroughly check your work, or better yet, use a professional editing service to review your writing and ensure that it is as polished as possible.
- Complex Ideas: Don’t overcomplicate your explanation of concepts, even if they are somewhat technical or complex. Find a simpler way to explain things that will make your writing accessible to the general public. Simple communication for simple concepts is a great rule to follow.
- Avoiding The Numbers: There’s a reason this article is the “Top 20 ways …”; listicles work! The reason they work, and work so well, is because people are much more likely to remember a title with a number in it than one that’s just words. Plus, including statistics in the body of your post to support your argument will lend further credibility to your writing.
- Not Using Social Media: You’ve got a network of peers at your fingertips, so make good use of it! Of course, you shouldn’t spam your friends incessantly with your content, but sharing your articles on your feed is a great way to catch people’s attention.
- Not Having a Schedule: It’s all about consistency: Strictly following a regular content schedule is key to building a loyal audience. If you can provide quality content at a steady rate, both readers and clients will want more of what you have to offer.
The bottom line: well-researched, quality content is crucial to maintaining an effective blog and increasing your reach!
Founder & Chief Editor