There may be 50 ways to leave your lover, 10 ways to a flat belly fast, or 99 bottles of beer on the wall…but I guarantee you there are more than 3 ways to piss off your readers.

If you’re producing content for your clients, customers or readers, there are three things you should never do.

  1. The Bait and Switch: The bait and switch is leading into a piece with a headline promising one deliverable, then delivering something quite different. Sort of like if I led into this article with my 3 favorite things to do to annoy your readership, and then I started talking about writing well or SEO or something like that.  You’ve decided to trust me with a minute of your time to read on because you want to know where I’m going with this topic. The fair thing to do would be to pay off that trust by providing you with a piece that answers the question. Avoid an article or blog headline that doesn’t match the content. Check your content after you write the piece and tweak or adjust the headline as needed.
  2. The “Many People Think” Syndrome:  Nothing says ‘amateur’ like vague, general content that includes phrases such as “many people think…” without giving one specific example. Vague, weak content uses a lot of generalities and few specifics.  Or worse yet, give specifics but don’t link to the source material. There’s nothing worse than finding an article online that promises to help you clean granite kitchen counters, make chicken cordon bleu, or groom your dog, only to find silly instructions like “Wash kitchen counters with soap and water.” Okay, what kind of soap? Is it the same for tile, granite, linoleum, butcher’s block? And what about chicken cordon bleu? A recipe without specifics is a recipe for disaster.  Be specific with facts, figures, quantities, dates.  And if you are citing another website, please link back to the source material so that your readers can check the citations.
  3. The “Skip To My Lou.” Remember the children’s song “Skip to My Lou?” Skip, skip, skip…are you skipping around from topic to topic without a roadmap? This blog is about marketing.  That includes content marketing (hence this post.) It does not include gardening. If you want to read my gardening blog, visit Seven Oaks. If you want to read a dieting blog, you’re in the wrong place. Would my writing about my latest dieting failures or gardening successes be of interest to you? Possibly, but that’s not why people are following me.  Those who find me through Seven Oaks want marketing and writing tips. Period. Don’t skip around from subject to subject. Having a good editorial plan and content focus can help you stay on target and on track.

We’re all guilty of these three ways to annoy readers at least once in a lifetime. I know that when I am tired, when my fingers ache from too much typing, I tend to write sentences that start with “Many people today know that….”

But here’s where a professional differs from an amateur.

A professional content marketing and writer stops, reads the sentence again, and strikes it out.  She rewrites it to be specific.

An amateur churns out page after page of this stuff.

Three ways to piss off your readers. What do you want to add to the list? Leave a comment, below.