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content marketing skills

5 Content Marketing Skills For Business Owners To Master In 2022

As a business owner, I know you already juggle numerous responsibilities – including content marketing. You might be your business’s marketing director, copywriter, and social media manager on top of everything else you do. But, no matter how talented a writer you might be, every content marketer needs a variety of skills to convert prospects into customers.

As a content marketer, you need to create content to improve sales. No matter how creative or witty your writing is, it’s not worth your very valuable time if it doesn’t profit your company. Improving the following skills will allow great writers everywhere to become great content marketers. 

5 Skills Every Content Marketer Needs To Convert Customers

Whether you’re writing for one small business or a large franchise, every content marketer can benefit from developing the following skills. So, even if you’re the busiest of business owners, make time to improve your content marketing skills and save yourself time, money, and headaches in the long run.

Looking for a team of writers who can consistently communicate in your brand’s voice? Sign up for a virtual cup of coffee with FocusCopy so we can talk about your marketing goals. 

Editing Skills

Even very talented writers still have to work on their editing skills. Make no mistake – editing is not just looking for spelling or grammar mistakes. Anybody can use Grammarly to help with that! While those errors can make a page look unprofessional, editing serves a larger purpose.

When editing a piece of business writing, you want to read and re-read the document. Is your document as clear as it can possibly be? Without clarity, you risk confusing your customers and ultimately discouraging them from working with you. 

Think about how you can use as few words as possible to get your point across. Shakespeare once wrote, “Brevity is the soul of wit.” If you want to truly impress your customers, don’t weigh down your web pages or newsletters with clunky vocabulary words or long sentences. Your readers are busy, and you’re fighting for their attention. So, get to the point! 

There’s an endless amount of content to create to promote your business, so you’ll want to train yourself to write quickly. After all, you have a business to run! So, learning to edit quickly is equally as vital as learning to write quickly.

Search Engine Optimization Skills

Most people have never even heard of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Regardless, SEO dramatically impacts who learns about your business. When your websites and blogs are optimized for search engines like Google, your website will appear higher on search engine rankings.

If you want your website to ever reach your target audience, you’ll need to brush up on your SEO skills. Even a basic understanding of SEO can dramatically influence the traffic to your website. 

Once you understand SEO, you can make small changes to your website that will dramatically affect your Google ranking. You can research keywords to create strong titles, adjust your sentences for readability, and even include helpful transition words. 

Does brushing up on your SEO skills sound like learning a foreign language? At FocusCopy, SEO is second nature to our copywriters. Schedule a meeting with FocusCopy today. 

Research & Interviewing Skills

As your business’s copywriter, you’ll have to cover a variety of topics. While you certainly know a lot about your business, you might have to write about totally foreign topics. This is completely common for the average content marketer who might write for multi-million dollar businesses one day and for a local mom-and-pop shop the next. 

You’ll want to brush up on your research skills so you can answer any questions you might have while writing. One way to find reliable answers to your questions is to interview an expert. Improving your interviewing skills will allow you to effectively collect data for your copy. 

Time Management & Organization Skills

As a content marketer, you know how difficult it is to stick to a schedule. Writing is often draining, and anyone who has stayed up the night before an essay is due knows what I mean. 

A growing business needs a lot of copy – newsletters, emails, blogs, website pages, and more. And it’s important to keep a consistent schedule. You don’t want your customers to forget about you until you manage to send out a newsletter six months after the last one. 

Creating a content calendar and sticking to it will help keep your business at the forefront of your audience’s attention. Work backward! First, plan how often you want to post a new blog or touch base through an email. After that, break down your goals into daily tasks. If you want to post a blog once a week, start drafting that blog five days (or more) before your publication date. 

Set realistic timelines and schedule enough time to consistently meet your goals. It’s okay if you have to reevaluate and change your calendar! The point is to find a schedule that works for you and your business. 

At FocusCopy, we use a project management software called ClickUp that helps us juggle all the tasks we have to do in a day. You can even use ClickUp to improve your time management and organization skills for all the parts of your life, professional and personal.

Data & Analytics Skills

After you have published your work, it’s important not to stop there. You need to evaluate what works for your business and what doesn’t.

Really, analyzing your data should be the easiest part of content marketing! But, most people don’t want to commit to the extra effort. Regardless, even if you worked really hard on a blog, it might need further tweaking. You might not be hitting the right notes with your audience, or you need to choose more popular keywords. 

Analyzing the performance of your content also helps you to make strategic decisions for future content. You can stop making the same mistakes and prevent yourself from wasting even more time in the future. 

FocusCopy Has The Content Marketing Skills To Grow Your Business

Even if you excel as a content marketer, creating every word of copy for your business is time-consuming and tiring. If you feel burnt out writing your business’s copy, FocusCopy is here to help.

Don’t spend hours of your life writing copy when you know you have a million other responsibilities. We want to grow your business with copy that accurately represents your brand and converts customers. Contact FocusCopy today to get back to running your business.

Focus Your Copy On Conversation & Conversion

Let’s Grab A Virtual Coffee With Us To Discover How To Boost Your Words

Ease Anxiety During Content Production

7 Strategies to Ease Anxiety During Content Production

Putting your name out there can be scary. 

Whenever you publish content, you’re putting your name on the line. And there’s no guarantee that your audience will love it. 

For your business to thrive, you must improve your visibility and audience engagement through content creation and publication. Digital marketing is more effective now than ever, and there are many, many types of content you can create and use.

But how can you ease your anxiety during content production so you’ll be excited to create more? 

Let’s start by facing the fears head-on. 

Why Content Production Can Increase Anxiety

Has this ever happened to you? You’re talking with a business associate or friend, on your morning jog, or in the shower, when suddenly inspiration strikes. You arrive at the perfect idea for a new piece of content. You’re excited! You keep the idea swirling in your thoughts, but soon… weeks pass, and you still haven’t published yet. 

If this sounds familiar, you might be grappling with content production anxiety. 

Producing content is really exciting. But on the other hand, it can also be anxiety-inducing (maybe even a little frightening) – making it difficult to hit “publish”.

When producing content, anxiety can increase for any of the following reasons:

  • Getting started. For some, there is nothing more intimidating than staring at a blank page. When our content ideas are big, just getting started can be daunting. 
  • Finding the time. If you’re like most business leaders and entrepreneurs, your schedule is packed to the brim with meetings and urgent tasks. It can feel overwhelming to have another huge item added onto your list.
  • Making mistakes. What if you say something in your content by mistake? It can be scary to make a mistake that will be online for everyone to see.
  • Judgement or criticism. After you put all the work into finally putting your content out there, what if nobody likes it? 

If you’ve had any of these anxious feelings around content production, you’re not alone. So many content creators struggle with these things all the time. 

7 Ways to Ease Anxiety During Content Production

The good news is, there are ways you can ease anxiety during content production. Here are 7 different strategies to try out:

  1. Exercise your content production muscle
  2. Voice record your stream of thoughts
  3. Break up your content production in smaller subtasks
  4. Hire an editor
  5. Schedule the content to auto-publish
  6. Focus on the end goal
  7. Celebrate your wins

1. Exercise Your Content Production Muscle

Getting started on something new can feel daunting. When you start a hard workout or a new sport, your body needs to get used to that exercise. Writing is the same. You need to train your brain to produce content every single day. 

Here are some training exercises that you can implement in your daily routine:

  • Write for 30 minutes a day – everyday
  • Read blogs (or whatever type of content you are producing) for 20 minutes a day
  • Carry a notebook with you to jot down any ideas, sentences, or phrases that come to you spontaneously

If you feel like you’re running into writer’s block, try one of these 11 tips to break through

2. If You Can’t Type It, Talk It

Most people can talk faster than they can type. If you want to make even more use of your 30 minutes of content creation a day, speak your ideas instead of typing them. You can record your thoughts on a voice memo or brainstorm about them with someone on your team. 

In an hour, I can crank out content for about five full blogs when I’m talking about my ideas instead of typing them. And then, it’s time to finally put thoughts on paper, you’ll be able to listen back on every detail. 

3. Break Up Your Content Into Subtasks

If you’re anxious about finding time to create content, you don’t have to stress any further. It can be easy for an entrepreneur, business owner, or marketer to keep up with a weekly content creation schedule! 

Break up the content production into subtasks. For example, here are subtasks we use to create our blogs: 

  1. Outline blog
  2. Draft blog
  3. Edit blog
  4. Check SEO 
  5. Finalize blog
  6. Schedule blog

These 6 simple subtasks can even be done on different days. This allows the content production process to happen in bite-sized pieces, not overwhelming the writer at any point in time. 

(We’ve created this process to catch all the potential risks, ranging from not sounding professional to releasing something that isn’t valuable. When approaching your subtasks, make sure you avoid these 8 major oversights too.)    

4. Hire an Editor

The next way to ease your anxiety during content production is to hire an editor – whether that’s someone on your team or someone like us that you outsource. 

An editor can take on 3 of the 6 subtasks listed in the previous strategy. That way you can create your content quicker with less stress. 

If you can, have not just one, but two other people review your content before publishing. They can check for the overall quality and value of your content. You’ll be able to avoid anxiety around errors or audience scrutiny when your content has already faced constructive feedback from an editorial team.

5. Schedule The Content to Auto-Publish

Once you have the content written and edited, it’s time to press “publish”. This is where we commonly see authority leaders pause. They begin to question if it’s valuable enough, clear enough, fill in the blank enough. That’s why we schedule our content and our client’s content out. It takes the anxiety out of seeing it go live immediately. If you use WordPress, learn how to schedule a post on WordPress here. 

6. Focus On The End Goal

If you don’t know where you’re going to end up, it’s difficult to know when you’ve got there and how to tie a bow on the content. You need to define an end goal before  you start to write the content. 

For this blog in particular, we know that our clients experience anxiety when producing content. Some of our clients have told us that they spend over 8 hours on a single blog (and are still not pleased with the content). So, it never gets published. 

We help our clients skip through that by ensuring that every piece of content we write for our clients is valuable, and we both know the end goal before we start writing. 

7. Celebrate Your Wins

Finally, you need to celebrate your wins! A mentor told me when I started FocusCopy that I needed to celebrate every win – somehow. The first dollar, the first hundred dollars, and so on. We even celebrated the first blog, the first comment, and the traffic that we’ve gotten from our most popular blogs. You, too, need to celebrate your wins – including publishing content. Instead of it being a fearful task, it becomes an exciting task that you want to complete. 

Ease Your Content Production Anxiety About Outsourcing

Like we previewed in strategy #6, we encounter a lot of stress when we talk with prospective clients. Producing content can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be. FocusCopy partners with entrepreneurial companies, just like yours, to produce your content and save your time. This allows you to stay on top of your content schedule while managing a more-balanced workload. Learn more about our copywriting services here.

If you have any questions, drop them in the comments section. We are here to make content production a more joyful and beneficial process. 

Proofreading Tips From Pro Copywriters

Is there anything worse than when you catch grammar mistakes on websites, social media posts, or worse… printed material?

Personally, when I find a grammar mistake, I become so fixated on that mistake that I go on a treasure hunt to find more mistakes. If the author of that piece of copy only knew… Phew! I sure am not taking the intended action on that page.

In this blog, I’m revealing all my proofreading tips that we use to dramatically improve our client’s existing copy and make it easier for their target audience to want to take the next step in the customer journey.

While there is a stark difference between editing and proofreading, we think it’s important that both of them happen. Editing is working on the messaging and the actual content itself. This is a much larger undertaking than its opponent. Proofreading focuses more on the flow, typos, and grammar mistakes. When we talk about proofing in a general sense, we also include editing into that. 

Every Piece of Copy Needs to Be Proofed & Edited

Plain and simple… Every piece of copy needs to be proofed. When copy or content is not proofed and there are mistakes littered throughout, you risk losing credibility, customers, etc.

Imagine this… Your all-star client sends you an email letting you know about a typo in your latest blog. 

Ouch.

It not only hurts to hear that from that client, but think about these two things…

  1. Other prospects aren’t as kind or forgiving as your all-star client. They’ll click to the next company because they don’t want to waste time with a company who doesn’t care enough to actually proof their copy. Potential revenue… Gone. Your competitors are benefitting from your careless mistakes.
  2. If your company cannot do something as simple as writing without grammar mistakes, then what other areas of quality are you skipping? Product manufacturing, quality control, product delivery, etc.?

Proofreading Tips From Pro Copywriters

As copywriters, we must be in the business of proofing too. In fact, we spend just as much, or even more, time proofreading and editing than it takes to write the entire piece of copy

Here are our 3 proofreading tips that every person writing content or copy should follow. This includes any emails going out to clients from the CEO to customer support and everyone in between.

1. Print It Out – Then Recycle

There is nothing like putting a pen to paper and ripping the content apart. It’s personal and keeps you connected to the art of writing. Some people claim they can do it on screen, but we’ve found it requires less effort and results in fewer errors when marking up the printed copy! Think about it… You read it, mark it up, then you re-read it as you edit your live copy. That’s 2 whole rounds of proofing, not just one (as it would be if you proof on-screen)!

So print out the copy (2-sided), and start marking it up. I’ll share a few of my editing marks later in this blog.

Proofreading Tips

Another alternative to printing it out is to switch on the Editing or Suggesting mode in your document provider (Microsoft Word, Google Docs, etc.).

2. Read It Out Loud

While you have it printed out, read it out loud. 

Every last word. 

Why? Because it should flow easily and sound natural. 

If you find yourself stumbling over a sentence or a phrase, reorganize the sentence while you’re reading through it. Then read it back out loud. Repeat until it sounds natural. If you don’t read it out loud, then you actually start to read what you think you wrote, not what you actually wrote. Verbalizing it eliminates this human trait.

Another thing that we do – especially when we are in the thick of editing – is to read it out to another person. They will be able to help you to catch all the errors, syntax issues, and content issues. This works especially well for large or complex pieces of copy. Yes, it burns the other person’s time, but it ultimately saves time, and therefore money every time.

3. Mark It Up

Finally, mark it up. Here are some short hand notations you can use while you edit. 

Proofreading Tips

You can read other proofreaders’ marks in the Chicago Manual of Style.

Proofreading Tips

Don’t have access to a printer? Or don’t want to waste paper? Many document providers like Microsoft Word or Google Docs has a suggesting tool where you can market it all up. Then you have the right to refuse or suggest the edits. They are good, but often you can do better with pen and paper.

Things to Look For When Proofreading

Now that you have a system, it’s time to figure out what you’re looking for. One thing that we commonly do is attack the entire copy with one perspective (i.e. spelling then flow) at a time then move onto the next. It helps you keep focused on the task at hand. 

Clarity of Message

First things first… Is the message you are writing about as clear as possible? Now, this isn’t a true and hard science. It’s helpful to put the copy in front of someone who has no clue what your writing about or who you are writing for. This is extremely helpful when explaining something technical or complicated. They will be able to indicate if your message is clear and universally understandable. 

Read more about our CFE Framework where the first step is bringing clarity to the topic. 

Focused Message

After you have deemed the message clear, it’s time to determine if it’s focused. In other words, this is where you cut the fluff, extra embellishments, and filler words or phrases (e.g. “like”, “as such”, “in order to:, etc.) that add to the word count but not to the effectiveness of the copy.

Spelling Mistakes

The most obvious thing to look for when proofing is spelling mistakes. While spell check has made it extremely easy to catch spelling mistakes, there are so many words that are used interchangeably wrongly. 

For example:

  • Except vs. Accept
  • Too vs. To
  • Their vs. They’re vs There
  • Your vs. You’re
  • Loose vs. Lose
  • Insure vs. Ensure

Sometimes, spell check corrects your misspelt word to a word with a completely different meaning. It now says there are no spelling mistakes, but some sentences may have completely different meanings or simply don’t make sense. This is where proofing comes in!

Syntax / Flow

The next thing to look at is the syntax or flow of your content or copy. Syntax is the set of rules, principles, and/or processes that determine sentence structure, usually including word order. Does it sound natural? Not clunky?

A great way to check for the flow is always to read it out loud. I know we’ve said this before, but it’s really important not to skip over.

Brand Voice

Another thing to take a look at is your brand voice. Is the piece of content or copy synonymous with your brand voice? You need it to sound consistent with the rest of the content on your website or your copy.

Readability

Finally, a good test of readable content is to check its readability score. There are two tests that we use frequently with our copy…

  • Flesch-Kincaid Readability Score
  • Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level
  • Gunning Fog Index

There are many readability tests online where you can paste your copy into their test and it will rate it. 

Proofreading Tips

The Flesch-Kincaid Readability Score was originally developed to determine the ease of military processes and procedures. Business writing needs to be around a 65; however, anything between 60 and 80 is considered a good score. 

The Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level is similar to the readability score; however, it determines the grade level the text is catered to. Most business writing targets the grade-level 7.5; it used to be 8th grade but it has since been changed. Writing at this level means the copy is complex enough to engage interest but simple enough not to strain the brain. Writing at 20th grade (which some writers do) is only intelligible to post-graduates with three or more degrees. While my co-founder Stuart Broderick may be able to understand that language with his Ph.D. in physics, the rest of us will pass. 

Both measurements focus on word length (syllables) and sentence length. For example, if there are too many sentences with over 20 words in them, then you risk reducing your readability score. 

Finally, there is the Gunning Fog Index. Its scoring mechanism is based on the grade level of which the text is appropriate for. For example, a 12 would be suitable for seniors in high school or 18-year olds. Most text should be at or below a 12 if you are in a B2B setting. If your intended audience is extremely wide, it is best to aim for 7th or 8th grade. 

There are many other readability scores or grade level scoring indexes, but they all focus on the same thing – how easy it is to read a piece of content.

Avoiding Proofreading All Together

There is one sure way of avoiding proofreading all together. 

Hire professional copywriters or retain a copywriting firm.

This only applies when you hire professional copywriters that are obsessed with quality. At FocusCopy, we have quality controls to ensure that a single piece of copy does not leave our office without being proofed by at least 2 people. Why? Because the value is in the copy and the value can be immediately lost if there are grammar or flow issues. 

Have any other proofreading tips? Let us know about them in the comments below.