Content Writing - 3 Common Mistakes You Need to Avoid

Writing content that converts is a fine art, but most of us screw it up. Here are 3 common mistakes you need to avoid.


1) No clear CTA (Call to Action)

You've spent all this time writing your blog, ebook or whitepaper – why wouldn't you want people to read it?

The problem is that studies show that at least 60% of content gets ignored because there's no call-to-action (CTA), leaving your audience with little incentive to read it in the first place.

CTAs are necessary because they tell people what you want and when you want them to do it. This is why 'Click Here' is such a terrible CTA... It's not specific enough. It's too general - there's no other clickable text and no incentive to click at all.

Instead of 'Click Here', try something like 'Download the eBook' or 'Download your free whitepaper.' This way, people know what they're getting when they click, giving them an incentive to do so.


2) Not verifying your information

You may have the best piece of conversion-optimized content in the history of writing, but if your facts are wrong, it's all worthless.

Yes, we know - fact-checking is a pain and it takes time, but you're potentially hurting your business by not taking the extra step to make sure everything you say is correct (and by extension, not helping your credibility with your audience).

You can avoid this by having someone, who knows what they're talking about, read through everything before you publish it.

Some content types are more fact-sensitive than others - like infographics. These pieces of content rely on nice graphics to display important data (like statistics), and if you get that wrong, it could be a disaster.

Besides the facts in the infographic itself, you need to make sure they're all appropriately sourced so people can check for themselves - this helps increase trust and credibility in your brand.


3) Plagiarism

Here's what happens when you plagiarize:

You can't expect people to stick around for more if they already read it, and thought it was dumb. Even worse, your new readers will know that someone else wrote it - and that's not very trust-inspiring at all.

The Guardian newspaper has an article about plagiarism and copyright. The article looks at what happens when journalists plagiarize online articles, in particular from successful blogs.

So when BBC News lifted a blog post by David McCandless verbatim, he reacted. BBC News didn't credit him, nor did they even link back to his site where the article originally appeared. Such articles might have worked in old media days, but not now.
This is what happened next:

David McCandless: "BBC News have just copied my blog post about data from here, word for word. They've stripped all the links out and put it on their website as if it's theirs."

He sent a tweet to the BBC News Twitter account pointing this out. Instead of an apology, he got a bizarre reply from a different BBC News Twitter account: "It was a mistake. We're going to delete it now."

David McCandless: "What does that mean, 'We're going to delete it now'? What's the point in that? They should have just deleted it straight away and not said anything."

BBC News could have simply credited the author and linked back to his blog, as is common courtesy. When you plagiarize work from a website, those articles are being provided for free by the author.
BBC News stripped all links out of David McCandless's article, even though it wasn't an advertisement or sponsored story for any company. In fact, it was just some interesting data that David wanted to share with his readers.

David McCandless: "When I first found out, I was pretty angry. But now it's kind of funny. If they had just done the right thing in the beginning and linked back here, it wouldn't have been a problem."

BBC News should treat all content equally, whether a short article or a one-off blog post. They didn't do the right thing in this case, and they could have saved everyone a lot of trouble by doing it sooner.

David McCandless: "It's not about the money because I don't make any from my articles anyway. It seems like bad netiquette. It's not like they linked to their homepage. They took this one little article."

The moral of the story?
Don't be like BBC and give the credits to the right owner of the content you use. If you don't want to give other people credit rights, write your own shit or pay someone else to do it for you.

This is not a true story :) but it may happen to you, you little plagiarism addict.
For all the rest of you, ethical writers, hope you had a fun reading.

NOTE: BBC, The Guardian and David McCandless have never been involved in such a scandal. I made use of fiction in order to make a point and entertain at the same time. 


In conclusion (in all seriousness):

By avoiding plagiarism, providing a clear CTA, and verifying your facts - you can eliminate these three common mistakes that drive away your audience.

Article summary:

- People don't read online and use skimming instead

- You need to make sure your CTA is specific and has an incentive

- Fact-checking is necessary for writing accurate information

Traian Burgui