All writers; even the best ones, make mistakes. And that is perfectly fine. Writers are human beings; they get tired, exhausted and sometimes the well of ideas just runs dry.
When you are writing online content, you have the advantage of having access to digital tools that can help you write better and more precise articles.
Still, you will make mistakes.
The best thing that you can do is to recognize the factors that increase the likelihood of mistakes happening. You will see that most, if not all of these factors can be controlled or managed effectively.
Here are the 9 most common online content writing mistakes:
- Writing With Writer’s Block
Writing 4 to 5 blogs that run 2,400 words has become routine for you. You take a few sips of freshly brewed coffee, open your PC, sit back on your ergonomic chair and wait for the ideas to flow.
But it doesn’t. You end up staring at a blank page on your computer screen for the next 20 minutes. Stress levels start to build up; anxieties begin to rise and your worst fear has become a reality.
You have Writer’s Block.
Writer’s block happens to everyone. The mind gets to a point where it can no longer generate ideas.
Challenging the screen to a staring contest will not work. In fact, the more you try to force the issue, the more you lose valuable energy.
Writer’s block is frustrating because it saps creativity, enthusiasm, and spirit. If you try to write through writer’s block, it will show in the final product and your readers will know it.
- Overlooking the Value of Editing Your Content
Getting the article right on the first draft is like sinking a half-court shot in basketball on your first attempt. It’s highly unlikely.
The best content writers in the industry go through multiple drafts before finalizing their article. It’s not about perfection. It’s about publishing the version that would best entertain your readers.
Many good writers overlook the value of editing because they want to get the writing done right away. So they do a quick read-through and pronounce the article “completed”.
Now before publishing it, do yourself a favour. Save the file, stand up from the chair and get some rest.
Read the article again when your mind is well-rested and fresh. You will realize that there are several ways you can still make it better.
Remember, once you post the article, you cannot get it back. Edit your content as often as possible until you are convinced it reads and “feels” right.
- Undermining the Importance of Proofreading
Grammatical and spelling errors in content are both unforgivable and unforgettable. For your audience, the experience will be like eating ice cream with a cracked tooth. It will sting.
Proofreading takes time but it is time well spent. You should never take chances with the content you publish online.
Once you post your blog or article, it will be available for everyone to read.
If content writing is your livelihood, readers coming across grammatical and spelling errors will be bad for your reputation.
Proofread your content three ways:
- Through your own eyes – Don’t set limits. You may not get all of the mistakes the first time.
- Through another set of eyes – Ask a friend who has writing experience to proofread your work.
- Use computer software – MS Word has a built-in spelling and grammar checker. You can also Grammarly or ProWritingAid.
Foregoing the Research Process
Research is the backbone of great content. It is hard work; but without research, your content won’t have the foundation to stand on its own. Lack of proper research will lead to sloppy content.
Some writers don’t bother with research because they view themselves as “experts” on the subject.
Here’s a fact: Even the experts don’t know everything.
For example, if you blog for a real estate website, you should be constantly updated on pricing movements, shifts in demand, changes in lending rates and foreign investments.
If not, you will be giving your readers advice and recommendations based on data that is already obsolete.
You must do research before creating content. The consequences of publishing content with unsubstantiated or out-dated information can be damaging to your career as a writer.
- Not Validating and Verifying Facts and Figures
Now, for content writers who conduct research, it will be just as bad if you don’t validate and verify the facts and figures you used in your article.
Data in the form of statistics, percentages, and dates makes your content look authentic and precise. However, don’t publish your content without including a credible resource as a reference. Otherwise, it will seem that you just plucked the numbers out of thin air.
It all goes back to your research methodology. A search query will yield several websites on the first page of the results page. However, not all of them will be reliable sources.
You should know which sites are recognized authorities on the subject matter. Authority sites are more likely to feature updated content including statistics and key figures.
When providing facts and figures, always make sure these are linked back to the authority site.
- Writing Without An Outline
Creating an outline organizes all the information you’ve gathered from research. It gives structure to your content. Structure makes the writing process easier.
In school, you were taught that an outline has an introduction, the body of the article and a conclusion. Then, you can organize the discussion into bullet points for greater clarity and detail. From there, you can just plug-in the data gathered from research into relevant and usable content.
Another way you can approach creating an outline is by starting with the body of the article first. This way, you will have a better idea on how to compose the introduction and conclude the article.
Either way you choose, the key takeaway is to prepare an outline before writing.
- Prioritizing Quantity Over Quality
If you’re a professional content writer or blogger, your level of income would depend on the volume of writing you do every month. If you’re blogging for your personal website, you could be targeting 3 to 4 posts every week to increase visibility.
Experienced writers can produce 5 to 6 long-form articles every day. But over time, there will come a point of diminishing returns. You simply can’t keep your foot on the pedal and not expect the engine to blow out.
The harder you push, the faster you deplete your resources. Exhaustion will affect the quality of work or lead to writer’s block.
It’s okay to set quotas. However, these targets have to be realistic and should never come at the expense of quality.
For example, if you follow an 8-hour work schedule, it may not be possible to submit five 2,400 word articles every day without compromising quality. The research process alone will take one to two hours. Three articles per day would be more realistic.
If you’re constantly submitting poorly-written and mistake-riddled work to your clients, you may end up losing them.
- Being Clueless About Your Audience
When you are writing online content, you are writing for an audience. You are not writing for yourself. For your content to be patronized, you must know whom to write for:
- What are their needs?
- What are their interests?
- Where are they from?
- What issues are they concerned about?
- What type of tone do they prefer when reading content?
You can be the best writer in the industry, but if your content does not resonate with your audience, it will not be read.
Before coming up with topics, create a Buyer’s Persona. This is a profile of the typical person who would read your content. Find out their interests; likes, dislikes, writing preferences and demographics.
Writing with your audience in mind will help you create content that is relevant, usable, informative, unique and engaging.
- Turning Pronouns Into A Guessing Game
Pronouns will always be part of writing. Sometimes writers tend to misuse them; especially demonstrative pronouns:
If left undefined, you could leave the reader hanging. Here are a few examples:
- This could be an issue – What could be an issue?
- These should be replaced – What should be replaced?
- That was uncalled for – What was uncalled for?
- Those are questionable – What are questionable?
Pronouns can make your writing more dynamic but always define them within the context of your article.
Your favourite blogger or journalist may get writer’s block. He/she might be tired, stressed out or simply running out of ideas.
Some days, writers might get sloppy and forego research, proofreading or editing. If the deadline is tight, they might forget to cite their sources or references.
Every content writer goes through creative struggles throughout his/her career. Trying to force your way through the struggle might make your situation worse.
If you want to become a better and more successful content writer, you have to understand that it’s not always about pushing harder or moving at a faster pace.
Sometimes you have to slow down in order to speed up. This means to take your time when writing.
If you’re dealing with writer’s block, get out of the computer screen, relax and look for inspiration. Organize your writing by doing research and creating an outline.
Approach your craft like a professional by prioritizing quality of work and finding out the needs of your audience.
Writing itself is a process and processes take time. Instead of looking at content writing simply as a means of earning, think of it as a way of learning.