Even experienced writers can be guilty of making the same mistakes as novices. Identifying your most common slip-ups can majorly improve your writing, whether you’re creating social media captions or writing blog posts.
Are you making any of these content writing mistakes?
1. Writing in the passive voice
Do you know the difference between active and passive voice? If not, you’re probably switching between the two in your writing.
This is an example of active voice:
The copywriter researched the topic.
And this is the same sentence written in the passive voice:
The topic was researched by the copywriter.
See the difference? You can read a more thorough explanation of active and passive voice here.
You don’t have to write in active voice 100% of the time. In fact, sometimes a sentence sounds better when written in the passive voice. But it’s best to avoid it as much as possible.
2. Improper use of apostrophes
Using apostrophes incorrectly is one of the most common grammatical mistakes. It’s also the one thing that can make your writing go from acceptable to unforgivable.
3. Hasty proofreading
It’s crucial that you give your brain a break between finishing writing and proofreading. Try to put at least 30 minutes — ideally an hour — between typing the last sentence and checking for errors.
When you do come back to it with fresh eyes, you’ll be able to pick up mistakes much better— whether that’s typos or just badly-worded sentences.
4. Information overload
Clarity and brevity are essential to producing great copy. Or at least, avoiding terrible copy.
You need to make sure that nothing you’ve written is unclear, irrelevant, or too long.
If you have a tendency to ramble, be ruthless with your editing. Always ask yourself: How can I convey the same message in fewer words?
5. Assuming reader knowledge
No matter how passionate you are about your chosen topic, you need to remember who you’re writing for. The reader won’t necessarily share the same knowledge of a particular subject.
Let’s say you’re writing a blog post about the best WordPress plugins. It might be a good idea to include a brief explanation of plugins and what they do. Don’t assume everyone reading your blog post is a web designer.
6. Failing to format
Writing online content? No one likes a wall of text. It’s a surefire way to get the reader to zone out, no matter how amazing your copy may be.
If you really can’t cut down your copy, utilise things like bullet points and subheaders. Not only will this improve the reader flow, but it will improve your website’s user experience and even SEO.
“Some things are best left to the professionals, and content is no exception.”
7. Writing in the first person
Unless you are the brand — for example, an influencer — you should never place yourself in your branded blog posts or social media captions. Don’t use language like “I”, and definitely don’t share personal anecdotes (no matter how relevant you think they might be). Save that for your personal blog.
The exception to this is writing on behalf of your brand using the collective “we”. For example, “We’re so excited to announce our latest product”, or, “We work with many with local charities.”
8. Taking a one-size-fits-all approach
You probably wouldn’t write an email the same way you write a text message. The same applies to blog posts, social media captions, brochures— you get the idea. Always tailor your voice and content to the medium.
9. Following the wrong method
There’s more than one way to write something. Maybe you like to outline the piece first and write random sections here and there. Maybe you don’t move on to the next section until you’ve completely finished the one you’re on. You might even like to scribble your thoughts down on scraps of paper then piece it all together at the end.
However you work, don’t stress about the “right” way to write. The best method is the one that you find easiest and most efficient. What really matters is the end result.
10. Undervaluing content writers
Some things are best left to the professionals, and content is no exception.
When it comes to content writers, you get what you pay for. And considering how powerful content is, you definitely don’t want to be frugal.
Not to mention that paying your writers what they’re worth will make them feel appreciated and valued, which in turn encourages them to create amazing work for you.