Content marketing has grown more popular in the last few years, so there’s been a flood of newcomers to the industry. New entrepreneurs, seeing the potential value of the strategy, are eager to build momentum, while up-and-coming writers are trying to forge a career in a hot new online field. On some level, this is a good thing, because it’s driving innovation and centralizing talent so we can all improve at the same time. However, it also means there’s a lot of new people out there Most Common Mistakes Made by Newcomers These are some of the most egregious and common mistakes made by newcomers to the content marketing game. Regardless of how experienced you are, it’s possible for you to make them—so get to know them, and avoid them at all costs: #1. Neglecting a target audience. One of the most important keys to success in any form of marketing is researching and understanding your target audience — and content marketing is no exception to that rule. Too many newcomers make the mistake of speaking to an overly generic audience; they believe this will earn them the largest pool of potential readers, when in reality, it just makes your content sound like irrelevant white noise. Instead, it’s better to get to know your audience exceedingly well, and write posts specifically meant for them to read. You can do this by conducting market research before you ever start writing, and selecting a specific target niche within your industry — something your competitors aren’t currently covering is ideal, but not necessary. After that, you’ll need to sculpt a brand voice that appeals to those readers specifically. #2. Focusing on quantity over quality. Every blog post you produce is a new page for search engines to index, a new opportunity to earn links, and more material for your visitors to read. However, this doesn’t mean that your main priority should be producing as much content as you can. You need to meet a minimum threshold of quality if you want to stand out, and without that, your quantity won’t matter; in general, it’s better to write one really good article than three mediocre ones. Bigger, longer articles attract more links and will get more attention, which is especially important because 75 percent of content earns no external links whatsoever. #3. Treading familiar ground. Content marketing isn’t exactly a new innovation; it’s been around for many years, and millions of people have been contributing new content throughout that time. Most subjects have already been covered, on some level, so if you want to stand out, you’ll have to say something new. Too many content marketing hopefuls end up recycling old topics, without a fresh perspective to gain any traction. This doesn’t mean certain topics are off the table; it just means you have to get creative about how you present and talk about those topics. For example, what hasn’t yet been said? Do you object to something that other writers have accepted as truth? #4. Focusing on one medium. With so many mediums out there, especially interactive visual mediums, it’s downright foolish to create all your content using the same medium. Written content is still powerful, but in addition to written content, you should be producing graphics, illustrations, and videos. The more diverse your selection is, the more people you can gain as audience members. #5. Ignoring personal branding value. People trust people more than they trust brands, which makes personal brands incredible assets. If you’re posting all your content as authored by your company, you’re making a mistake—instead, you should be authoring under an individual’s name (perhaps yours), so you can build that individual’s authority and build a peripheral audience. Once developed, you’ll be able to syndicate new articles under both the core corporate brand and the personal brand—and get twice as many views and shares. You’ll get more personal interactions and comments this way too. #6. Never syndicating work. You may have some of the best-written content on the internet, but that isn’t going to matter if the right people aren’t able to see it. After writing your onsite content, you need to take measures to syndicate it, promoting it through your social media channels and potentially drawing more traffic with paid advertising. The more often you do this, the bigger your audience will become, and the more effective each syndication will be, so this isn’t something you can afford to neglect. #7. Having no growth strategy. Few marketers would be satisfied with a few dozen readers of their blog. If you want to succeed, you need to have some kind of growth strategy in place to attract hundreds, then thousands, then tens of thousands of readers. How are you going to get there? What improvements will you need to make? What channels will you need to add? What are the strategic changes you’ll need to make, and when are you going to make them? This growth chart will look different for every brand, based on budgetary and strategic differences, but it needs to be in place, regardless. Otherwise, you’ll be flying blind with no clear goals and no measure for success. The Path to Improvement Nobody in content marketing has a perfect strategy because there’s always room for improvement. Every brand will need something different to be successful, and because technologies and audience demands are always changing, content strategies need to remain adaptable. If you want to get better as a content marketer, mastering the fundamentals is essential, but don’t ever let yourself believe you’ve mastered content marketing overall. There are always mistakes to learn from, and new best practices to adopt.