All too often you see blogs, newsletters, reports, and e-books with poor writing, design, and execution. Often, that means they get dismissed before they even get a chance. That's too bad, because the most brilliant idea will go unappreciated if it's never read.
Although many readers are willing to forgive a bit of sloppiness if they get some good information, all too often they just quit reading before they can absorb the ideas. And even if they finish reading, they won't share, because sharing something implies a level of approval, and no one wants to look bad by sharing inferior content.
Are spelling and grammar important?
Spelling isn't a deal breaker, although some readers find misspelled words annoying.
Perfect grammar isn't absolutely necessary. If you're going to write on a regular basis, you should know basic rules of grammar, but if you're going for a more casual tone, you're allowed to break the rules every once in a while. Just my opinion. (You'll notice if you look closely at this post that I practice what I preach).
The point is that grammar exists to help us communicate. So while you might want to make sure you're using “there,” “their” and “they're” correctly, and put apostrophes only where they belong, many errors in grammar will go unnoticed and unpunished. Sorry, grammar police and my ninth grade English teacher.
So if it's not just grammar and spelling, what makes a good idea into bad content?
Any number of things.
- Maybe your headlines aren't telling readers what your content is about, or your blog posts consist of long, unbroken blocks of text.
- It's possible your writing lacks coherent structure, or doesn't tell a story.
- Or maybe your writing skills were honed writing formal business reports, proposals, and contracts, and you haven't quite been able to retrain your brain to make the switch to the more conversational tone needed for engaging content.
- There could be bad design choices, like a cool font that's really hard to read, tiny light text on a dark background, or a page that's so busy a reader's eye doesn't know where to look first.
What to do
Try to diagnose the problem. Take a good look at what you've been publishing. What results did you expect? Did you want to inspire a conversation about an issue, get shared, generate some leads, lead readers to additional information, or some other goal?
If you didn't get those results, why? Was it the content itself, or was there another reason, like not enough traffic?
If you think it was the content, then dig a little deeper into specifics. What needs improvement? Get opinions from colleagues and friends, or ask for help from a professional. Here at Fresh Mix, I offer prospective clients a free review of one piece of content. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Once you identify the weak areas, it's time to decide if you should tackle the problems yourself, or get help. There's always a tradeoff, and it usually involves weighing time vs. money.
Do you want to try to improve your skills, or are you better served by concentrating on your strengths and outsourcing the rest?
If you found this article useful, here's another one you might like: Smart strategy saves money.