How Not To Write Great Online Content


Those articles you see on your Facebook page: “How To Get Rock Hard Abs After the Holidays” from Women’s Health, “How To Budget for the New Business Year” from an Entrepreneur Magazine, and even “The Real Truth Behind Blac Chyna walking out on Rob” (is there an un-real truth from the glorious industry of reality TV?)… Those articles are all purposely written for the related company’s online platform.

There is a new career in town ladies and gentleman… it’s called Content Creation. There are people hired to create content for distribution online. Mainly through social media platforms such as Facebook or Google+. Besides the posts which usually link to a company or personal blog page, there is also the online option of e-books for more detailed and structured online references.

Why is this becoming increasingly popular? Well people are not reading offline anymore. Not only in Africa, it is a global trend. We are not going to libraries in our spare time anymore and sales of hard copy books (unless prescribed for university reading) are decreasing. Our reading material is being sourced increasingly from online links. We google everything. Every.Thing. And we pay attention to the magazine posts online more so than buying the latest copy on the shelf. These are the projected figures of internet use in Africa


If you are currently creating your own content for your online marketing channels- there are tons of blogs, links and courses you can take that will promise to teach you how to write engaging content for your business. In practice, the best way to really find a writing style that generates a following and eventually some monetized business, is to test pieces of writing with your audience.

What I can tell you for sure is what not to do with your online content unless you want to lose friends and alienate people on- and offline.

I was out with a group of high school friends to plan our ten year reunion (starting to feel really old now), and the group told me that on a road trip, where they had lost radio signal and couldn’t decide whose favorite artist to listen to, one person suggested a podcast called My Dad Wrote a Porno. Yes you read that correctly. It’s a story about Jamie (bless him) whose dad is a successful travel writer. Maybe his dad is going through a mid-life crisis, maybe his dad is hoping to be the next great erotica writer… who knows… but his dad under the pseudonym of Rocky decides to write some dirty literature. Jamie reads the book out to his friends who critique Rocky’s writing very honestly and humorously. I was listening to the podcast while writing another article and I literally had to stop because of tearing from laughter. It’s not so much that the book is funny, the book is actually quite dry, but the comments made from Jamie and friends make this podcast a great listen.

From the critique of the podcast, there are real tips you can learn about writing, structuring and planning your content. Below is the short link to the podcast (not for those under age 18)


  1. Do not talk all about your company all the time.

If customer is king, then content is the castle. People online are being bombarded with advertisements and promotions all the time. Initially Facebook opened the door to advertising and soon Instagram and Twitter followed. What’s key about social media advertising is that the platforms place ads as “native ads” meaning that the sponsored post has the same format as if one of your friends are posting on the platform. If you are using your content – your blog, link to a website, your webinar promotion – to find more followers and generate business, the best advice is to structure your content as if you are a friend of the follower and engaging them on a personal level.

2. Do not hard sell with your content posts.

This may sound counter-intuitive to what you would assume content marketing is. But you have to remember that you are marketing on a friendship platform.

Marketing on social media is very similar to how you would engage in a real life social setting. Imagine the following scenario – you walk into your friend’s house party where you are an invited guest. You know one or two people at the party but most of the people at the party you have not met yet, you know about some of them from your friend’s conversations and you know everyone at the party went to university in the same town. If you approached a new person at the party and the first thing you say to them is: “Hey my name is Rocky, I’m a travel writer, you should sign up to my blog, we have great travel specials right now!” well… um… you probably won’t make many friends. Probably even worse if you tell them you are writing a porno.

3. Do not write in a style that does not resonate to your audience.

If you want your content to grow your following, you really need to know your audience. You need to know what language they speak, and not only if it’s English, Zulu or French… more specifically, does your audience use colloquialisms often? Do they use trendy words or are you marketing more towards a professional group? Is your audience lit or nah?

It’s back to the party principle. You have to engage with people online in the same way you would in real life. Start a conversation, respond to questions, listen to their feedback. Try writing in the same way that you would speak in person to an interested party. If you need practice, hang out with your target group. Practice selling your service to them in real life, pay attention to the sort of questions they ask and how easily the conversation flows. Try to make your writing as natural as possible.

4. Do not release articles that have not been proofread by at least one person

Not everyone is a writer and that is okay. Even if you are a writer, like our friend Rocky from the podcast, you could be suited to one specific style of writing and not another. And that is also okay. If you are writing your own article, have it proof read, preferably by someone in the target industry. You can also check online or with services such as to get content writing done for you.

5. Do not assume good grammar means good content

Find one or two people who offer really honest and sincere advice. Your article may have the best grammar, but does it make sense? Does it add value to someone reading it? Ask two people to review the article and let them confirm with you if they would find this article useful if reading it objectively online.

Goodluck with the content writing!


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