I was speaking to a prospective client today about web copy he wanted refined for a new website. As I reeled off my recommendations, I hoped he hadn't looked at my own website too closely. Why? Because my website is in dire need of a good content scrubbing. It's scheduled in for a quiet day which, so far, hasn't arrived. Now that I'm in a confessional spirit, why not spill it all?
Nothing is ever perfect
I can't think of a single thing I've written, EVER, that I wouldn't change given the opportunity. Even articles I really liked when first published, don't stand up to my own scrutiny over time. I was heartened to read Joe Pulizzi's 13 Commandments of Content Marketing. His fifth commandment goes like this:
Perfection is the enemy of good enough. Leonardo could paint the Mona Lisa only once. If you wait for perfection, you'll never distribute content of any kind. Great content doesn't have to be perfect. Frankly, there is no perfect.
Great content isn't enough.
The hard truth about content is no one gives it a second look if it's not worth a second look. Like the brainy girl in high school the one with a great personality your content will be lonely unless you pretty it up. Enlist the help of a graphic designer if you want what you've written to be popular.
Procrastination trumps enthusiasm
For reasons unknown to me or legions of other writers, I often wait until the last minute to tackle a project. Even when it's something I'm excited about, for a client I love, I can still manage to arrange my schedule so I've got just enough time to make my deadline.
Writer's block is a lot of hooey
Writing is not rocket science. It's not even chemical engineering. Sitting down and staring at a blank screen isn't writer's block; it just means you haven't disciplined yourself to write. It's amazing how many writers find the best thing to cure writer's block is a deadline or an impending pay cheque.
You have to practice
The best writers I know write every day. Why? You have a writing muscle. Trust me on this. Neglect regular exercise of that muscle and it atrophies. Ask anybody. Better yet, take a two week break from writing and then try to knock out a 500 word article in an hour. Good luck on that.
Errors slip through
I'm the kind of reader who comes unhinged when I find a grammatical error in something I'm reading. Spelling errors, incorrect word usage – e.g. there, their, they're – and punctuation mistakes all make me stop dead in my tracks. I'm not kidding. Every week someone points out an error I've made no matter how stringently I try to avoid it happening. It used to bother me but now I view it as a gift. With digital media it's easy to fix a mistake.
Consistently developing and publishing good content is the key to an effective content marketing strategy. When you're spinning a lot of plates, one of them is bound to drop and break. The best content marketers focus on production and don't worry so much about the mechanics and technicalities of every word they put down. Getting your content into the hands of the people that want to read it is the goal. If that means my own website waits for a while longer, then so be it.
What would you confess?
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Image Credit: Stephen Weitzman's 1992 Sculpture "Whispers" In Sligo-Dennis Avenue Park (Silver Spring, MD) by takomabibelot, on Flickr