Content marketing: when are you really ready to publish?

AKA: How to get past the doubts and get your content marketing program firing.

It would be awesome if your computer had a little pop-up timer (like a Thanksgiving turkey) that popped up to let you know your latest blog or social media post was “ready”, wouldn’t it? Then you wouldn’t be constantly second-guessing what you’ve written, agonizing over every last comma and semicolon, wanting to make sure it’s absolutely PERFECT before publishing to the world wide web…

But the reality is that no such device exists, right?

The good news is that we really don’t need any fancy gimmicks to know when our marketing content is “ready” for prime time.  The fact is, it’s probably ready much earlier than we think. 

Frankly, we’re our own worst critics… and we’re really much more critical than we need to be. A few of the common pitfalls we face are:

  1. Knowing Too Much. As the owners of our own businesses, we are sometimes just too close to things to be good judges of what constitutes useful information for our audience (aka customers). We fall prey to the assumption that everyone knows as much about our business as we do, and therefore torture ourselves trying to come up with something never-before-written or talked about in our industry.  But the reality is that no one knows as much about our own business as we do, and so we can’t assume they have the same knowledge level; in fact, they undoubtedly don’t. So don’t be afraid to talk about the basics from time to time. It’s a good refresher even to people who have some familiarity with your industry.
  2. Telling Too Much. Because we know our own industry inside and out, we sometimes feel like we have to include everything we know… in every article.  The fact of the matter is that good short-form content (like blogs or social posts) generally stays pretty close to conveying a single idea or topic. More than that and we risk losing our audience. Tell it well, and then get out. Just for reference, blogs are usually in the 500-1000 word range. If you find you need more than that, you may be trying to convey too much information and might want to consider whether you’d be better suited with longer-form content, like a whitepaper or ebook.
  3. Criticizing Too Much. We are our own worst critics. Heck, it’s part of what makes us successful business people!  But it’s worth remembering that we’re probably not award-winning authors (unless you are, in fact, a writer by trade), and no one really expects us to write flawlessly. Nobody is looking at your subject with the same magnifying lens that you do, or picking apart every last thing write about (like you do). Conveying a good idea effectively is all we really need to do. So as long as there are no blatant typos or spelling mistakes, and your content makes sense and actually conveys useful information, then it’s probably ready for publication.  Pro tip – sometimes reading what you’ve written out loud will help. If something sounds strange when you say it, you may want to re-word it.
  4. Re-Writing Too Much. If you’re baking biscuits and you knead the dough too much, the final product isn’t flaky and delicious — it ends up tough and dry.  Your content is much the same! While it’s important to edit and make sure what you’ve written is accurate and reads well, don’t rewrite and redo your content endlessly, or you’ll suck all the life out of it.

One last pro tip: if in doubt, get a second opinion. Since we’re often our own worst enemy when it comes to content marketing, it also sometimes helps to have a friend or family member take a look at what we’ve written before sending it out into the world. We’ve both written many things that we thought were bad or not worth publishing, but other people gave us a different perspective!  Again, we often “know too much” about our business and aren’t always capable of seeing the forest for all the trees around us.

Finally, what’s the most important way to know when your content is ready to publish? When you finish writing it! The worst thing you can do is NOT publish because you’re waiting to make your blog, post, etc. perfect, or you’re wondering if your topic is OK, after all, or you are questioning if people will care. 

It’s much more important to continue to get marketing content out on a regular basis — in order to build awareness for your business — than it is to agonize over every last adjective.

If it’s accurate from your point of view, and not actually offensive to people, put it out there and see how your audience reacts.  If they hate it, you can always edit and republish or delete it altogether. 

But they won’t. Because as the owner of your business and expert on your subject, you’ll be providing them with valuable information… even when you don’t think you are!

Happy Small Business Marketing,

Katie & Theron

At Urban Sherpa Marketing Co. we offer marketing advisory, strategic planning, and services for small businesses and startups, including content marketing. Our goal is to make high-quality marketing possible for every business, no matter the size. Think of us as your outsourced marketing department, strategic marketing adviser, or even your phone-a-friend marketing lifeline.

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