Last Updated: August 20th, 2021 (this is a continuously updated post that I add more to as I learn more)
Ever feel like you might be doing something wrong with your content but not sure exactly what? I don't know about you but being self-taught, I face this all👏the👏time👏
I dropped out of my BFA in Graphic Design to focus on my marketing internship which became a full-time role.
Since then, I've:
- Created a successful luxury dog sitting business that – while I was still running it – went from $200 to $8,000 monthly revenue in less than a year.
- Handled email, copywriting, and direct mail marketing for one of Hawaii's top brokers who sold properties to UHNWI (ultra-high net worth individuals) who led companies like Starbucks, Oracle, and Google
- And I am now leading content at VEED – an online video editor. I was originally their customer, they became my client, and then I became their first marketing hire. Since I started, the company and our amazing team has taken us from $150K ARR (January 2020) to $5M ARR (as of July 2021).
I’ve made loads of mistakes in order to learn how to succeed in the diverse world of content. And today I’ve gathered 9 of the most common content problems (and how to fix them).
And because I am ALWAYS a student, this is a post I will always update as I learn so do come back here in a few months!
1. You can make great content but can’t seem to find the perfect client or employer who “gets it”
It’s not about luck. It’s about vetting job opportunities before you sign up and taking time to educate others so they can get it. Work with coachable people.
True story, I was once hired to be a social media manager when in reality my employer wanted a web developer and wardrobe assistant for a movie set. If I had more experience (and confidence) back then, I would have known to interview my interviewer better.
Sometimes people who hire try to self-diagnose what they need. And often they’re right. They do need who they think they need to hire.
But other times they get it totally wrong.
And it doesn't mean always that they're bad. Sometimes they're just new to hiring. And hiring for things you don't know much about yourself can be a challenge.
That's where you as the expert come in and diagnose what kind of help they need. And even more importantly, you can decide if they are coachable.
Ask questions to find out:
- how educated they are on what you do and the value you can bring
- how they deal with hearing and trying ideas that challenge theirs
- ask them about their biggest challenges in the business as a whole (good to reveal any red flags or areas for growth you can play a role in)
2. You think you’re making content that’s just as good as other exemplary content out there. But nothing is happening...
Research your topics and dissect why the top-performing content is there. What makes it good? How can you make your own improved version?
There was a time where just posting was enough. Even now you can post mediocre content on Reels and it’ll get a lot of views in comparison to other formats that have been around longer on Instagram.
But these things never last. It’s a temporary rush while social platforms push new features in hopes of increasing adoption and retention.
If you chase these things it’s like a drug addict chasing their next high.
To create consistently strong content you need to obsess over dissecting what quality or value means for every topic you cover.
- What are the topics people want and need?
- Who’s already dominating coverage about these topics?
- Why do their individual posts work? How are they structured?
- What are they missing that you can do better?
- What are your strengths in terms of the formats you create in? Are you better with written word, video, graphics, etc?
- Are you able to rank for the content you're pursuing (or the tags you're using to help rank your content if on Instagram)
You can then take your findings to build a post that’s better than what’s out there. Post stuff that’s at least 1% better than what’s out there so you don’t add to the meaningless noise online.
3. Your content is incredible but your engagement rate is terrible.
Good content is equal parts research/creation + interaction. You have to show love, not just wait to receive love on your posts. Don’t wait. Build relationships and create opportunities to engage.
But also, sometimes an ultra-high engagement rate on social media isn't your most important success metric. For example, let's look at Tom Ross – a community-building expert and CEO of Design Cuts.
Tom wants high engagement within his core group of his paid community members. When it comes to the group his community pays to access, having actively engaged community members matters.
But when it comes to his social media, he could care less if he has 1,000,000 followers and a ridiculously above-average engagement rate. Tom is trying to capture the select few who will contribute quality engagement rather than pursue the masses for just another dead, spammy, and boring group.
4. You have good information in your content but nobody is engaging.
It's hard to pin this down to one thing. Think of content as an ecosystem. If one element is off, the rest will be affected. So here are some elements to try and self-diagnose.
Bad writing makes a good story a boring one. Each sentence needs to invite people into wanting to read the next. Look at your captions, first slides of a carousel, your first 15 seconds of a video and ask yourself - how could you lead with something better?
This is common with people who only attract other experts and don’t want to. You need to talk to your audience OUTSIDE of the DMs and on a call. You can know their pain points. But that doesn’t mean you’ll know how to paint a picture with content in a way they’ll understand.
Poor Content Designs
Your content doesn’t need to be super fancy to be well designed. You can learn some basic principles on the use of color, type, and visual hierarchy to make content that stops the scroll.
But if your content looks like a mess of 37 different hard-to-read whimsical fonts…there’s an issue. Consider either taking a course on the basics so you can build your own templates or hire help if you have the budget for it.
Great design and great marketing need to be treated as inseparable best friends.
Recommended Read: 7 Tips to Design Better Content
5. You’re having a hard time showing up on a bunch of different platforms, there’s too many to keep up!
Try to do it all and you’ll likely achieve nothing major. Focus on one or two platforms (at first) and you’ll see results.
Gary Vee said you should make 164 pieces of content and repurpose them in all these different platforms. Anxiety levels be like 📈📈📈
One of the most important lessons I learned in the last year is focus. At work, we post to YouTube and our blog. If I had to also start doing Instagram, TikTok, Clubhouse, Facebook, Pinterest, webinars, courses, etc all around the same time we would lose. It’s too many things to do right at once.
Whether you’re a 1-person team or have a whole team of your own, focus will help you keep your sanity and success. There are too many moving pieces for each content platform that need more attention than humanly possible from a single person or small team.
- Pick 1-2 things
- Learn how to do them well so they (hopefully) work for you
- As you master things, decide if you want and can add more platforms into your content game based on the time, budget, and team size you have at your disposal.
You can’t always afford to adopt the same quantity of platforms as a more established person or brand. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get results with a few platforms now so you can scale later.
6. Your video viewer retention is low but the information is good...
The first 15 seconds are key. Don’t waste time with fluffy/fancy intros. Be direct and clear about what the viewer will get out of this video.
You know those YouTube videos with long fancy animated intros? They look really cool and you kinda want one for your own channel. But how does this actually stack up when it comes to audience retention?
Not good (usually).
The whole video needs to be good enough to keep people engaged. But the most important part is the start. If the start doesn’t grab people’s attention, they will not watch the rest.
Unlike a blog where people will scan the headings for quick context, people just swipe or click away from videos that are weak in their first 15 seconds.
If your video takes too long to pitch what the viewer will get out of the content then people are more likely to lose interest and click away. Put yourself in your audience’s shoes. They are looking for something specific. Your first 15 seconds should address those specific concerns.
Look at our YouTube channel at VEED, standing at currently over 27,000 subscribers.
Here are some impressive results from how our amazing team ensures videos package up value in the smartest way possible.
- 👉 175+ monthly conversions
- 👉 Drives almost 8% of site traffic
- 👉 Generates over 40,000 new users every month
- 👉 27K Subscribers and over 500K views every month
7. Avoid High-Workload CTAs
Avoid vague requests like asking people to comment. That makes them work a lot mentally to think what EXACTLY to say. Give them a simple this or that, yes or no type of question.
Reduce the friction to interact. Make it mindlessly easy to engage.
Imagine you’re on a first date with someone and they’re like “so, tell me about yourself”.
I don’t know about you but I’d be anxious and at a loss for words. My brain would be working hard to try and figure out what exactly I should share. It’s mentally exhausting to make a decision.
But what if instead my date looked me up online or looked back at our texts real quick and saw I recently talked about having once started a dog sitting business? And so instead my date asks me to tell them more about the time I started the dog sitting business.
This then makes me work less because I know exactly what story I need to tell.
Every post is like a first date. You need to make it easy to talk to you. So rather than asking people to drop a comment, be specific. Give them an idea of what to comment.
For example, if I posted about my favorite content creation tools I could ask which of these 5 tools should I do a full tutorial of?
8. Your content is "incomplete" and it should be the end destination when possible
Giving it your best doesn’t mean be perfect.
But what your content does need to do is be the best at answering the questions people have.
What are people asking?
Take those questions from your research and see what kind of content people are creating to answer them.
What questions is the content answering?
Look at the top 3 pieces of content and find differences and similarities regarding the questions their content answers.
What questions did the content fail to answer?
Based on what you learned, is there something they missed? What else do people want to know? How can you make it better?
What is it about the top content that helped it beat everyone else?
Compare and contrast what content is at the top and what content didn’t make the cut. What did the top content do differently than the content that didn’t rise to the top?
There’s no room for lazy. You need to do the work when it comes to defining what quality actually means for each individual piece of content.
Then write and/or record the best possible content. Make it so good that whoever saw it feels they don’t need to keep searching for more answers because you answered everything.
Your content is the end destination, not a pit stop.
9. Create content that has demand from your core audience (and not because C-level execs detached from marketing objectives asked for it)
Have you ever stayed in a relationship longer than you should even though you knew it wasn’t going to work out? We lie to ourselves even when we know the truth.
It’s hard to not get attached to a concept when you spend so much time with your content. You begin think “I think this would be cool” rather than
”this is exactly what my audience actually wants and needs!”
Or maybe you have leadership you have to deal with. Your boss wants you to post something you know brings no value to the audience. But you’re afraid to speak up even though you know your boss will pull you aside for a conversation asking you why the content isn’t working.
I don’t choose what people will consume. I’m just a good listener who gives them what they want. Your audience is constantly telling you what you should give them either through their words, the types of content ranking for a Google keyword or Instagram hashtag, or the performance of your content.