There’s no lack of advice for bloggers, podcasters, vloggers, and other kinds of online content creators. Every year, we feature hundreds of speakers at BlogWorld Expo who give just that type of advice, and that’s just representative of the huge number of proposals we get every year – not to mention the people out there who don’t send in proposals, yet give great advice on their own sites.
It can be overwhelming and even a little confusing to new content creators and those who are experienced alike. Should I use pop-ups? Do I need a mailing list? Is there one best way to use Twitter? The list goes on and on, and with each question, it seems, a debate is raging.
These questions aren’t easy to answer…so instead, start here. There are the most common content mistakes I see; make sure you don’t make them:
1. Thinking You Must Conform to Find Success
Those giving advice about content creation typically have your best interests in mind. That doesn’t mean you should take their advice. Treat everything you read (yes, even this post!) as theory, not fact. Often, the content creators that break the “rules” are the ones who are most successful. Listen to you gut, even if it’s telling you to do something that others might consider wrong. Yes, you can learn from those who have come before you, but sometimes it pays to take the road less traveled…or create a road of your own.
2. Leaving No Space for Alternative Views
The best content, in my opinion, acknowledges that there are alternative views out there. I took a debate class once in college and one of the best lessons I learned is that you can recognize an opinion even if you don’t agree – and you can do so respectfully. Listen, we all get passionate at times. I’m guilty of that just like everyone else. But when you write something, try to think outside of absolutes. Few things in this world are absolute.
To summarize this point, let’s just say that there’s a reason that I used a picture of a stubborn monkey to illustrate the idea of not leaving space for alternative views in your content.
3. Content Creation without Confidence
You rock. Seriously, you do! I can say that all day, though, and if you don’t believe it, your content will never be awesome. It’s okay to recognize challenges and even failure. In fact, I think it can make your blog stronger if you admit that you aren’t perfect, at least occasionally. But when you’re teaching someone something or voicing your opinion, if you don’t have confidence in what you’re writing/saying, that shines through, and over time, your audience will start to dwindle. Look in the mirror and say it right now: I rock. I create awesome content. Now, believe it.
4. Giving You Audience What They Want
I’m a big fan of tuning into your community, understanding your audience, and being a team player. I’ve never been a huge fan of bloggers who give the middle finger and say, “I don’t care about my readers, because this is my site! Like it or leave it, suckers!” So why do I think that it’s a mistake to give audience members what they want?
Because what they want isn’t always what they need. Your readers might absolutely love it when you post funny pictures of your children, but if you blog about disabilities, the posts they need give advice or voice opinions. Don’t lose sight of that.
It is your blog – you should write what you want to write, but don’t make the mistake of not caring about your audience. If you honestly don’t care about them, don’t put your ideas online. Just keep a diary. At the same time, don’t let your readers run the show. Writing link bait or otherwise just catering to the popular opinion for the sake of some traffic only hurts your goal in the end.
5. Being Satisfied with Your “First Draft”
Remember what I said about some content creators lacking confidence? It can go the other way as well: it is a mistake to be overly confident. Sometimes posts simply flow. Other times, it takes tons of time to contract a simple sentence. I don’t personally podcast (anymore) or do many videos, but I suspect content creation is the same with those types of media – sometimes, it’s easy, while other times it’s like pulling teeth. Even when your content creates itself, though, take the time to perfect your pieces before you hit the publish button. At some point, you need to stop nit-picking and actually present your content to your audience, but don’t fall into self-devise trap where you don’t take care with your content. Have a little pride in what you do.
Allison: I critique blogs for FREE. People are searching for articles that satisfy a need or answer a question. As along as you can give them the information they are looking for they will continue to be a fan. They don’t expect you to be perfect. They just expect you to deliver time after time. As long as you do you have their support.
I’m interested in what you say about #4. How do you know when to post something your audience may not want. I tend to only post content that people can use immediately, so I’d love to know more about that.
To me, polls are a great way to see what your readers want. Also, you can kind of tell over time if certain posts get more comments/traffic than others or are shared more often.
What I meant most by point #4 is this – make sure you’re posting the information that your readers really need (and it sounds like you do), not just link bait that attracts readers due to a funny title or opinionated rant or whatever. Spikes in traffic are great, but readers stick around for the long haul if you’re consistently posting awesome information.