5 Common Online Writing Mistakes to AVOID at All Costs: For Content Writers & Copywriters (Video)

Is your online writing as strong as it could be?

Let’s be honest.

If you’re still making elementary, common online writing mistakes…

You’re holding yourself (and your potentially successful content business) back.

Even small errors will slowly but surely chip away at your good reputation, whether they show up in your website content, posts for your blog, or writing content for clients.

One or two here and there? No big deal.

At least one or two in every single content piece you publish? Yikes.

These add up. Fast.

Worst of all, you might be making mistakes without even realizing it. 😟

If that’s you, you’re not alone. So many of us struggle with the writing process — even established writers who are already making money!

One study found that 38% of professional writers struggle with understanding what their audience wants to read. Another 32% have trouble writing consistently. 30% have a hard time with deadlines, and 27% wrestle with maintaining writing quality over time.

But — never fear! You can learn what you’re doing wrong and how to avoid it. And once you know, you’ll never make the same mistake twice.

That means you’ll grow into an even better writer, which will free you up to do great things with your freelance biz.

That said, here are the most common online writing mistakes I personally see from ten years of interviewing tens of thousands of writers. Avoid these completely 🙅‍♀️ and your bottom-line success will soar.

The first one will surprise you – guaranteed!

common online writing mistakes

Common Online Writing Mistakes to AVOID: Video

I built my first business on solid online writing. I’ve written five books, I’ve created courses solely around online writing, and I’ve used my content writing prowess as almost the sole means of bringing in traffic, leads, and sales to my brands.

In my decade-long experience with thousands of pieces of content, I know what mistakes will kill your writing (and your reputation). Check out the video below to see five of the top common online writing mistakes:

7 Common Online Writing Mistakes You Might Still Be Making

Writing mistakes are a big deal.

They can hurt your brand.

Bad or error-riddled writing will make readers question your position as an expert. They’ll side-eye you, and if you keep making errors, they’ll look to another source for the information they crave.

The most common mistakes writers make may surprise you, and may even force you to take a good, long look at not just the words you put on a page, but your writing process.

Common Online Writing Mistake #1: Your Mindset Isn’t Big Enough

Mindset? 🤔

What does mindset have to do with online writing?

A lot. Let me explain.

Whether we’re talking about you or the writer you just hired, a mindset of “I feel like an imposter” or “I’m not good enough” or “I’m not making enough money” will bleed into everything you do…

…including your writing!

A total lack of confidence in your skill or your expertise will show itself in what you produce, even if you never intended it. The result?

Copy that fails to convince prospects to buy. Writing that fails to speak to your audience.

To produce the opposite — great copy and content that pull their weight — the writer behind them must have confidence in themselves and their expertise. They need to believe in themselves AND what they’re writing.

Mindset. Is. Everything.

How to Avoid It:

Start telling yourself you’re a leader, you’re capable, you’re an expert. Push through those “imposter” feelings and keep your thoughts positive. Eventually, you’ll start believing in yourself, and that will show in your writing.

Unsure or hesitant about the topic you’re writing about? Research! Read all you can about it and build up that foundation of knowledge. Then go back to the drawing board.

Common Online Writing Mistake #2: Your Headlines Are Boring

A boring headline might as well be the epitaph on your content’s tombstone. ⚰

That’s because a headline that utterly fails to attract interest also kills the rest of your writing.

Why?

Because nobody will bother to read it. They’ll see your yawn-inducing headline and move right along to the next blog or article.

How to Avoid It:

Improve your headlines by thinking about how your content hits a unique pain point. Why is it better than the millions of other articles out there on the same topic? Mention that in your headline!

For example, check out these headlines in Google on “how to write a blog”:

headlines - how to write a blog

Note that ALL of them find ways to make their angle — the reason you’ll read their post and not someone else’s — unique.

  • WordStream’s post promises a quick, five-step process.
  • SmartBlogger’s post is an ultimate guide.
  • Grammarly’s post is a “pro” guide with eight steps.

Depending on what you’re looking for, one of these posts may appeal to you more than the others. That’s how a brand grabs your click!

Last tip: Ensure you avoid clickbait-y techniques when writing your headlines. Ask yourself, “Does the promise in the headline get fulfilled in the content?” Always double-check that the answer is “Yes!” ✔

Pssst… Get the full list of 15 common writing mistakes that trip up your success in my free guide right here.

writing mistakes

Common Online Writing Mistake #3: You’re Still Writing Essays

This is perhaps the most common online writing mistake I see:

Essay writing instead of writing for the unique needs and wants of online audiences.

Let’s explore the differences.

  • Essay writing:
    • Formal, stuffy writing style you learned in school
    • Walls of paragraphs, rigidly structured
    • Wordy sentences
    • Hard to read
    • Long-winded
    • BORING
  • Online writing:
    • Structured for readability, taking into account readers’ tendency to skim and scan web pages
    • Crafted to grab the reader’s attention and keep them engaged and interested
    • Directly addresses the reader using second-person perspective (the reader is “you” versus “they”)
    • Makes the reader want to take action after reading or builds trust with them
    • Clear, accurate, correct facts provided with links to sources

The bottom line is, what people are willing to read on the internet, on electronic screens, is vastly different from what they’re willing to read in books or on paper.

Audiences do not want to be faced with walls of text while they’re browsing online. They don’t have the patience to wade through dry, stuffy lists of facts and pontification.

They want to be engaged, and often, they want the quickest answer to their question or problem.

Essay writing is the antithesis to ALL of these things.

How to Avoid It:

Break up your content! Some of the top blogs in the world use one-line paragraphs. (Backlinko, one of the top SEO blogs out there, is a great example of this. See also: Smart Blogger, which is one of the most-read blogs in the world.)

one-line paragraphs in online writing

Source: Smart Blogger

Another tip: Speak directly to your reader. Talk to them one-on-one in your content. (You’d never do that in an academic essay. In fact, whatever you’re used to doing in essay writing… do the opposite in your online writing. 😂)

Common Online Writing Mistake #4: You Aren’t Using Proven Templates

As a writer, when you’re tasked with creating a sales page, an email sequence, or any other content type, you don’t have to start from scratch.

In fact, you shouldn’t.

There are proven formats and templates to use when you’re crafting various types of online writing.

And, here’s a little industry secret: Most if not all good online writers use them.

Unless you’re a genius writer who can craft an amazing sales page from thin air using new techniques, you need a template, my friend!

How to Avoid It:

There are some great copywriting templates and formulas out there for you to learn and use. One of my favorites is PAS — Problem, Agitate, Solution.

Ramit Sethi uses this formula a lot in his copy:

PAS copywriting formula in action

Source: Ramit Sethi

Another great way to get awesome templates is by taking an online writing course or hiring a coach.

One more thing. Once you work with a client long enough, you’ll figure out exactly how they want their content structured and set up. Create templates for yourself for each client and save yourself a ton of work.

Common Online Writing Mistake #5: You’re the One Writing and Doing Everything (If You Run Your Own Business)

Entrepreneurs are all-too-often guilty of this common online writing mistake.

If you want to grow your online writing business, you need to hire help!

Especially if your biz stops working once you stop working.

That’s just not sustainable.

If you want to scale, if you want to grow to six or even seven figures in revenue, you have to delegate.

How to Avoid It:

Start by hiring one person on your team who will take some of the work off your hands. This might be a writer, an editor, a salesperson, a social media manager, or even an accountant.

Before you hire, you should know your service/industry/expertise inside-out. That way, you can properly delegate and direct your new teammate to success. (Don’t jump the gun and start hiring before your own skills are solidly in place.)

But, if your business is growing fast, if you’re so busy you have to turn away clients, it might be time to build your team.

Unsure how to start hiring and delegating? Struggling to get clear on what you need to build a sustainable digital business? I share all the keys to success in my free webinar. Watch it right here.

how to build your self-sustaining online business

Common Online Writing Mistake #6: You’re Not Writing for SEO

A study from Mantis Research and Typeset found that half of all business writers/communicators think SEO (search engine optimization) is difficult.

Only 2 out of 10 said they always do keyword research before publishing content.

That means a whopping 8 out of 10 (80%!!) are skipping a vital SEO step — maybe THE vital step.

Why is it vital? Because SEO helps your content get major traction and results. More traffic, more leads, more reads, more conversions.

The top three results on a Google search page get 75% of all clicks.

And you can’t guess which keywords provide opportunities for sliding into the top. That’s a quick way to swing and miss. The only way to find out for sure is through keyword research.

If you’re not using SEO writing techniques backed by research, you’ll be missing out on free exposure to your ideal audience.

How to Avoid It:

Learn SEO. Build your skills. Learn how to write content that ranks, especially if you’re shaky on techniques or find SEO difficult. It doesn’t have to be that way! Learn, grow, get better, implement.

writing mistakes

Common Online Writing Mistake#7: You’re Writing Too Slowly

When you sit down to write, is it a seamless experience?

Or do you start and stop in fits, unable to move into a rhythm where the words flow out like water?

Are you constantly distracted? 🤪

You’ll never get anywhere with your writing OR your business if you can’t rein in your productivity.

Low productivity and procrastination = slow writing = less gets done in a day = less earning potential.

How to Avoid It:

Pay attention to your mindset (remember mistake #1?), but also tend to your environment.

You need surroundings that support focus, especially if you work from home. A beautiful workspace, even if that just means organizing and decorating your desk for inspiration and focus, can go a long, long way.

Never Fear: The Most Common Online Writing Mistakes Are Fixable

Maybe you’re guilty of making one of these common mistakes.

Heck, maybe you’ve made ALL of them at one point or another. 😅

Whatever your story, just know this…

They’re all fixable.

You can learn. You can grow. And then you’ll know exactly what to do to improve your writing career and/or business. Forever.

That said… Ready to get growing right now? 🌿

Tired of the ups and downs of trying to be successful?

Ready to build a sustainable online business the long-term, strategic way?

Consider applying to my transformative coaching program, The Content Transformation System, where I’ll teach you how to set up your business, systems, and marketing in 90 days or less — and reach the income and impact you crave.

Missing critical skills in your quest to be a runaway success as a creative entrepreneur/business-builder? I teach you everything you need in my Content Transformation System. This powerful coaching program includes 1:1 mentorship, templates, and a step-by-step path to build a sustainable business. Apply today. 

content transformation system

About Julia McCoy

Julia McCoy is an entrepreneur, 6x author, and a leading strategist around creating exceptional content and brand presence that lasts online. At 19 years old, in 2011, she used her last $75 to build a 7-figure agency, Express Writers, which she grew to $5M and sold ten years later. In the 2020s, she's devoted to running The Content Hacker, where she teaches creative entrepreneurs the strategy, skills, and systems they need to build a self-sustaining business, so they are finally freed up to create lasting legacy and generational impact.