Granted – everyone starts somewhere and we’ve all written terrible content at some point or other.
The purpose of content (on-line or otherwise) is to be shared, read, discussed and used. To that end, the measure of your content’s success is based upon how widely it is shared, read, discussed and used.
There are tools available to analyze the performance of your content. Google Analytics helps to measure page bounce-rate and to show how much time people are spending on your articles (less than two minutes per article is a red flag).
You may also observe how many times your articles are shared by others through social media tool bars (try Wibiya.com to measure tweets, Facebook likes, Digg, Stumble Upon etc).
Other than metrics and sharing devices, there are other ways to figure out whether or not your content needs improvement – Here are some signs:
- You don’t read much. Reading and writing are complementary processes. You’ve read articles that are so deficient in proper grammar and sentence construction, that it hurts just to read the next line. That’s bad. What’s worse though is when writers write about subjects they don’t know much about. They lack the technical knowledge needed to write authoritative content. If this is the case, then that content is erroneous at best and misleading at worst. All writers need to be well read on the specific subject that they plan to write about.
- If you’re not writing with consistency, then your content is poor by default. Practice makes perfect and consistent writing improves with time. If your (on-line) content is sparse and infrequent, chances are no-one will find it (because search engines love regularity). In that case there’s no possibility of having a loyal readership (or any readership for that matter). Content that is not read is poor by default.
- There’s no focus in your writing. Sure you may surprise your readers once in a while with a remarkable story about something that you just experienced e.g. you got married, survived cancer or took a trip around the world. Other than that, your content should be focused on a particular subject-matter that you have sufficient knowledge and experience in. As a writer, your subject-matter is what you’re known for. But if you’re all over the place…
- It takes half an hour to create your content – I admit, I’m guilty of this. I’ve had to do it once or twice when my mind drew a complete blank. But in my defense, I did try to make it funny. A good article should take one to three hours to research, write and edit. If you don’t have someone to proof-read it, then apply the 24 hour rule – write the article the day before, sleep on it and then read it over the next day with fresh eyes. You’ll be surprised to see the small errors you might have otherwise missed.
If you’ve committed to being a writer, then give it your best shot and do whatever it takes to produce excellent content. Your content should read better today than it did last year. Find a mentor or coach to give you constructive feedback that will help you shine. And remember, good content isn’t built in a day.
Have you read (or written) terrible content? What were the signs?