I had the pleasure of meeting Lindsey McCaffrey last year. Naturally some of the things I love to chat with her about are branding…and she certainly knows a great deal about how written content is part of anyone’s brand.
Today I thought I’d share some of Lindsey’s wisdom when it comes to writing your own content. She has seen it all, and today she shares the top 5 mistakes to avoid when writing your own content. Do you see yourself making any of these?
- getting wrapped up in your own head and making assumptions
- proofreading your own content
- lacking clarity, or being ambiguous
- going on and on and on before finally getting to the point
- lack of formatting
1) Getting wrapped up in your own head and making assumptions
You’re the expert in your field. You know the jargon, the buzzwords, the keywords, the trends. But your audience may not. Don’t try to sound impressive by using all the acronyms, the short forms. You may end up simply alienating or confusing your reader. In fact, it might be a good idea to define some terms you use often.
Keep in mind that you see things from your own perspective. And you know your industry. But someone reading your blog for the first time may not…and it might scare them off.
2) Proofreading your own content
Good grammar and spelling still do count (despite the horrible mistakes we see on the internet). Whoever reads your content will form an impression if your website is riddled with spelling mistakes or bad grammar. It’s best simply to have someone else proof your words, because after a while you simply gloss over whatever you’ve written. You stop seeing the mistakes you’re trying to spot.
Think of it this way: seeing all that poorly written content shows that you’re not paying attention, and people may think you’re just careless. Show your audience you respect them by taking some care with what you write–and let someone else do the proofing.
3) Lacking clarity, or being ambiguous
Sometimes the things we write make sense to us. But the words we use and their positioning in a sentence or paragraph may get totally jumbled. We think we say one thing; the reader may be left wondering if you wrote that during happy hour.
Here’s a great example from Lindsey. This is what the writer means: students celebrated their grandparents by cooking a meal for them, and then serving it. However, the way it’s written, you can interpret it like this: “the students cooked the grandparents. Then they made a meal out of said grandparents and served them for dinner to others.”
Ridiculous, isn’t it? It’s good for a laugh, but it points to how unclear that opening sentence really is.
4) Going on and on and on before finally getting to the point
Remember how you were taught to write essays in high school-leave the conclusion for the end? Don’t do that anymore. These days people consume information differently, and they don’t have the patience to read columns upon columns of text.
So if you want someone to stay on your website, read your brochure, or share your blog post, get to the point….fast! Start with your most important idea first to catch people’s attention.
5) Lack of formatting
See how this post has 5 clearly numbered points? I promsed you 5 tips, and I want to make you see that and get it clearly. As with #4 above, people’s attention spans have decreased. Make it easy for people to “scan” your content by providing clear headings, subheads, bullets and lists. It’s easier on the eyes, and people will be more likely to finish reading your piece.
If you haven’t updated your website in years and your homepage is column upon column of endless text, it’s time for an update. No one wants to feel like reading your content is a chore. It should be a pleasure!
And there’s your 5 tips. Make sure to visit Lindsey’s website for more great tips for your writing-or better yet, contact her to see how she can help you.
You can download her free ebook here: https://www.lindseymccaffrey.com/word-crimes-free-ebook-download