Have you ever taken hours trying to write content for your business, only to see it fall flat on its face?
No fanfare, no shares, nothing going viral.
Just silence and that horrible feeling in your stomach that tells you you’ve wasted your time.
You can practically hear those crickets chirping away in the background as you check your statistics ‘just one more time’ to see if anyone gives a hoot about the content that you’ve created.
Worse still, your closest competitor might get in touch to give you the heads up about that horrible glaring mistake in the content you’ve created…
Nothing spells disaster for your brand image and your business overall more than poor quality content like this.
Content riddled with typos, grammatical mistakes and misspelt words. Content without shares, likes or comments.
Content that’s so hard to read and understand that your ideal client simply clicks away and goes to find another expert in your niche. (Because you certainly don’t appear to be one.)
If you’re like most entrepreneurs, at this point you start asking yourself stuff like;
“Why am I even bothering to create this stuff if no one notices?”
“What do they all know that I don’t?”
And… “Is my business doomed to failure before it’s even taken its first step??”
So, let me reassure you that your business almost certainly isn’t about to crumble before your eyes. And you definitely are on the right track when you create that content.
But perhaps you need to give your strategy a tweak or two.
That’s why I’ve created this fab guide: to help simplify the content creation process and help you hit that publish button with confidence.
Follow my tips, and you won’t just create better content for your business.
You’ll also iron out those irritating mistakes, provide extra value to your clients, help those search engines to notice you more easily, and to start growing your business beyond your wildest dreams. I’ve tried to get into detail with each point, without getting you completely overwhelmed with details.
Then finished up with a checklist that you can work through each time you create your content to transform it from embarrassing to WOW!
Download the free printable worksheet here.
So now we’ve got the basics done, let’s get on with the show!
1. Check for typos, misspellings and other small mistakes
There’s nothing worse for your brand image than publishing work that contains tons of spelling mistakes, typos and other words that just shouldn’t be there.
Yes, we all make these tiny mistakes from time to time (yep, even me!), but they absolutely can’t let them slip through.
When your audience reads them they can’t help thinking that:
1. You just rushed through creating this content and don’t really care about solving their problems
2. You aren’t well educated and so probably aren’t someone that they can trust to solve their problem
3. That you don’t really know your stuff when it comes to your unique niche.
The fact that you DO care about solving their problems, that you might hold a degree from a prestigious university and you really ARE an expert in your field doesn’t really matter if you get this wrong.
Here’s what you should do:
- Slowly and carefully read through your text to check for mistakes.
- Watch for similar words. Pay close attention to words like ‘their’, ‘they’re’ and ‘there’; ‘to’, ‘too’ and ‘two’; ‘cite’, ‘sight’ and ‘site’. They might sound the same but they have a very different meaning. (They’re called homophones, in case you’re interested!) If you’re not sure which is the right version, check in the dictionary or hire yourself a proofreader/editor.
- Use a spellchecker. Ok, so those spellcheck tools and sites definitely aren’t foolproof- far from it. But they can be a useful handy tool that will help you spot and iron out the most glaring of your mistakes so your content is closer to flawless. Start with the free Microsoft Word spell checker function, then consider using Grammarly to help point out anything you missed. Again, don’t rely too much on these as they aren’t always right.
- Double check your apostrophes. Apostrophes are those little punctuation marks that look like this: [‘] You use them in sentences like ‘Charlotte’s writing is awesome’ (;)) or ‘It’s a lovely day for a trail run’. They either show possession (ie. That the thing you’re talking about belongs to someone) or indicate that you’ve missed out a few letters. Handy, right? But get them wrong and you’ll completely change the meaning of your sentence and potentially harm your brand image too. Again, software like Grammarly should point most of these out for you, but also keep your eyes peeled for the following:
- Its vs It’s
- Wrong use of the possessive apostrophe: such as ‘Do you have any CD’s that I can listen to?’ ‘I love being a child of the 1990’s.‘ or ‘My healthy homemade pizza’s are the best in the world!’
2. Check Your Grammar
Again, you need to make sure that you’ve created your content in a way that actually makes sense in English.
Without a doubt, the best way to do this is to take time to read your text out loud, even if you’re in a busy cafe or coworking space (just whisper under your breath if you have to!)
This will force you to slooooow right down and pay really close attention to the words that are right in front of you. As you read through, you’ll start spotting those minor mistakes or things that just ‘don’t sound right’ in your head and be able to replace them with something that sounds much more natural and free from errors.
If you really don’t like the sound of that, you can also use the fab free ‘read aloud’ function you’ll find on most word processing software like Microsoft Word and Google Docs.
3. Does your content make sense to your audience?
Yes, it sounds like a complete no-brainer. Ridiculously obvious.
But it’s easy to forget that your audience needs to understand what on earth you’re talking about.
Your audience might not understand those more complicated words, let alone the jargon specific to your niche.
They might not know (or care) what blood sugar levels are.
Hearing the words ‘hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis’ might sound like double-dutch to them. All that complex, technical, medical or ‘woo-woo’ stuff might go right over their head and send them to sleep.
As they say, if you confuse them, you lose them.
You need to break it down.
Keep it simple.
Help your reader understand your message as best you can.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to skip over those important facts. Your prospective clients probably need to know that info you’re sharing. Just make sure you’re explaining it to them as you would to a child aged between 8-12 years old to ensure they understand perfectly.[If you want to check what age level you’re writing for, have a look at this free tool.]
4. Have you included a CTA?
Every piece of content needs to contain a strong CTA, or ‘call to action’ that will tell your reader exactly what you want them to do when they finish reading.
Every. Single. Piece.
If you’ve created a post for Facebook talking about how eating healthy and nutritious foods can help them rebalance their hormones, you need to tell your audience what step they need to take next.
You see, humans tend to be lazy.
There’s just so much digital noise out there and we’ve got about a million other things to be thinking about and doing, that your video or post tends to slip far down our list of priorities.
Sure- what you’re saying or writing about might sound appealing to your audience at the time. But after your they’ve read or watched your offerings, they’ll likely forget that you ever existed. Sad, but true.
So make yourself memorable and add extra value by spelling out EXACTLY what you want them to do.
Do you want them to comment below?
• Share the post with their friends?
• Take a photo of themselves eating avocado with the hashtag #avocadoshealhormones?
• Download your awesome free audio recording which will coach them towards making healthier food choices?
• Or sign up for your incredible online retreat happening soon?
Make it simple. Make it obvious. Add that value.
Remember, you’ve created your content for a reason. Make it work hard!
5. Is your writing easy to read?
Did you know that you have just a fraction of a second to grab someone’s attention and encourage them to stick around for more?
If your blog posts, website copy, video or social media post looks too boring, confusing or simply hard work to digest your ideal audience will just walk away.
You need to make the experience awesome so they want to stick around.
Think of it like this.
You’ve received an invitation to a party that sounds pretty good. Looks like you’ll meet a ton of fascinating people, enjoy plenty of laughter and indulge in some delicious food and drinks whilst you’re there.
So you mark the date on your calendar and look forward to attending.
But when you get there, you’re met by a grumpy, tired-looking old man who doesn’t have much to say. He just opens the door and lets you in.
It’s not looking much better inside. Not much like a party at all.
You’re in a large lecture hall with some professor on stage talking about something complicated that you don’t understand, and a room full of people falling asleep as this man drones on….and on….and on….
You just make your excuses and run away home, disappointed and annoyed. Because you didn’t expect this.
You wanted fun.
You wanted to be part of something. You wanted to be entertained. You wanted to learn something interesting that might benefit you.
You didn’t want to be bored to tears!
So when your ideal client turns up on your website or social media profile, it’s your job to get them to get maximum value from what you’ve created and feel happy, satisfied and entertained by what you’ve shared.
There are many ways you can do this:
1. Make sure your font is easy to read. Sure, it might look fun to have something arty like Pacifico but you’re just making your content harder to digest. Stick with a classic font like Arial or Courier or Verdana.
2. Keep it large! Avoid using fonts in blog posts, website copy and newsletters in teeny tiny sizes because your readers will struggle to see what you’ve written. I recommend between 14-18 pixels.
3. Break up your paragraphs. Big blocks of text and large paragraphs are harder to read and more likely to deter your ideal client from reading through your content. So forget what you learned in high school and break them up. Don’t be afraid to use single sentences alone on a line, or even a few words.
4. Use bold and italics. Get your audience to focus on the most important information by using whatever tricks you can to highlight it. I prefer to stick to bolds and italics, but you can also use colours, different fonts and different font sizes to make it stand out.
5. Use bullet points. Make lists and other information easier to read by organising them into bullet points and numbered lists. For maximum effect, start each bullet point with a verb and make sure they follow a logical ‘flow’.
6. Do you have an awesome title?
Ever seen a blog post or article shared on Facebook and felt compelled to click, even if it wasn’t the type of content you’d normally read?
Yep me too. This is the power of an effective title in action.
It sells your content to the prospective reader. It captures their attention. And it encourages them to click and keep reading. It represents you on Google, on social media and in emails.
It matters much more than you might realise.
However, there certainly is an art to creating an awesome headline which can take a bit of practice to perfect.
Here’s how to make yours shine:
1. Is the title accurate? Does it tell your reader what to expect?
2. Does it sell the benefits of your content to the reader?
3. Is it sexy? Does it make the reader intrigued to know more?
4. Have you included keywords? (more on this below)
I dedicate a huge chunk of time during the content creation process to getting this right for my clients.
I start with a working title then create several alternative titles we could use, trying to edit, polish and perfect each time until it is concise, exciting and compelling.
You should be doing the same.
7. Have you included on-brand images?
Yes, content does look a million times better if you include an image or two, but that’s not the only reason why you should include them in your text.
You’ll get more attention on social media.
According to Search Engine Journal:
- Blog articles which contain images are viewed 94% more
- Tweets containing images are retweeted 150% more.
- Facebook posts with images receive three times more engagement.
Your content will be easier to read
Remember what I was saying earlier about breaking up text into easily-digestible chunks? Images also help break up your texts and make your content easier to read.
You could get more visible on Google and other search engines
Really! Do the simple ninja trick of adding relevant keywords to the “alt-text” section and your images can be ‘read’ by the search engines and ranked more highly.
Ideally, include a minimum of 2-3 images in every piece of content that you create. Of course, if you’re just writing 500 words or less, one will be plenty. But generally speaking, the more the merrier!
8. Have you included keywords?
Keywords are those words which people type into Google and other search engines when they’re looking for info.
You need to include these keywords in your content if you want your site to get higher up the Google rankings. Simple.
Don’t get tempted to stuff with keywords [i.e. “I sell pink recycled plastic surfboards. My pink recycled plastic surfboards are gorgeous and streamlined. If you’re thinking about buying a pink recycled plastic surfboard then please contact firstname.lastname@example.org”]
That’s actually the opposite of what you should do as it will just get you into trouble with Google and as I’m sure you’ll agree, looks awful to your reader too.
There are certain places you should include those keywords in your content so you can get maximum bang for your buck.
1. Your headline
Needs no explanation.
2. As close to the beginning of your content as possible
If I’m feeling particularly ninja, I manage to squeeze it into the very first line! But somewhere close to the start is usually enough. You still want it to sound natural as like you’re writing for humans.
Hopefully you’ve also used subheadings to divide up your text and help the reader make sense of your text. Make sure these include keywords too.
4. Frequently throughout the body of the text
Just add your keywords and their variations as often as you can through the text in a natural, normal way.
When you upload your image, make sure you get those keywords into the image title and the alt-text boxes. Search engines read these bits too.
Yes, you can usually change the URL of your content to include keywords too.
Try to keep it simple, avoiding using filler words and try not to use numbers if you can. A great URL for a blog post titled “How to Get a Mortgage That Saves You Money” would be something like http://examplewebsite.com/mortgage-saves-money
7. The meta description
Ever noticed those few sentences you get under the title of the results when you Google something?
These 155 characters are called a meta description and they’re there to help describe what your content is about and hopefully get people to click your link. Give them a hand and get your keywords in there too.
9. Are you using hashtags?
Depending on what platform you’re writing for, you might want to include hashtags with your post too. Obviously, I’m talking here about writing for social media: Instagram, Facebook and Twitter are the main ones.
These basically work in a similar way to keywords, yet they’re much more fluid and change much more rapidly than keywords.
That’s why I’d highly recommend that you do a quick search to find out which hashtags are trending right before you hit that publish button.
Avoid using generic hashtags if you can like #vegan or #runner and instead get specific with things like #veganvibes #whatveganseat #veganfit #veganrunnergirl and so on.
There are various sites that you can use to find out more. I recommend you head to Google and type in [your niche] + trending hashtags + [year/month]
It’s also worth checking out this post for trending fitness hashtags for 2019.
10. Read it through one last time
I know…you’re probably tired of checking your content by now, but there’s one last thing you need to do.
Read it through again.
It’s surprising how many small errors can still slip through the net, even if you’ve gone over it time and time and time again.
This is it now. Read through it carefully, take a deep breath and hit that publish button!
As you can see, creating awesome content and getting it perfect takes time and effort.
It’s not just a case of typing something quickly or scribbling something down and calling it a day.
If you want to create useful content that solves your readers’ problems and works as a lead magnet, you need to put the work in.
You need to work and rework.
- Check, edit and double-check again.
- Tweak your content for the search engines, make it look great, ensure your ideal client understands what you’re talking about.
- Then and only then can you hit that publish button and share your wisdom with the world.
Do you love or loathe writing content for your business? Let me know in the comments below!
AUTHOR: CHARLOTTE WITTS
Charlotte Witts is a writer, editor and entrepreneur who help female wellness entrepreneurs to find their voice, share their message with the world and make a difference. Hire her here or follow her on Facebook.