Have you ever finished reading a blog post and thought you could have summed up everything inside in just a few sentences?
Why bother writing it in the first place? Put it in a tweet and be done!
This is a common problem in the content marketing world, especially as more companies start embracing content as a marketing tool. They know writing longer form makes search engines happy. They want to appear knowledgeable about a subject and feel they’re delivering high value in longer posts.
But let’s be real: there’s too much fluff in the content world and it’s not doing anyone any favors.
Fluff Is Fatal to Your Content
What happens when you finish reading an article and feel like you’ve wasted your time? Are you likely to think of that source as reliable or professional?
Are you more inclined to read more of their content?
Or, do you feel like their goal from the start wasn’t to provide you with value, but rather to gain website traffic or some other self-fulfilling purpose?
As writers, we value our time so much that we often forget that readers also value their time. They don’t want to waste several minutes reading something that could be summarized in a few short sentences. Rather, they come to you for the value they think you can deliver and if they don’t find it quickly, they move on.
Some fluff can be spotted a mile away. But other times, it’s not so obvious.
The best way to find out if you’re fluffing your content is through elimination: if you can remove a word, sentence, or entire paragraph and your content delivers just as much impact, do it!
How to Avoid Fluff in Your Writing
Fluff isn’t an easy thing to steer clear of, mainly because it’s so prevalent in content writing that it’s set something of a poor standard. Here’s how I write for value vs. word count:
First, I write. I get my thoughts on screen to ensure I’m hitting the goal of the piece. From there, I restructure and organize to give my thoughts a better flow. I don’t worry too much about this detail as I’m writing because my initial goal is to fill out the idea and sometimes those ideas don’t fully develop all at once.
Before I hit Publish, I read through my work to see what I can delete.
That’s right—I just spent all that time typing and thinking and working and now I’m going to undo much of that effort.
Because fluff tends to creep into writing, even when you least expect it. If I can simplify phrases, explain the same idea in fewer words, or find any form of irrelevancy in my writing, I’m taking it out.
For starters, it makes my ideas stronger because you don’t have to sift through filler content to figure out what I’m saying.
But most importantly, I value the reader’s time more than my own. I’ve earned their attention with a great headline and I’m going to fulfill my promises as quickly as possible. And I know that if I prove my worth to them, they’ll remember me for that.
Value Will Always Be Greater than Filler
Hands down, value will win every time. You might like the idea of stretching your ideas into 1000 words (because search engines like longer posts, right?) but if you can say it in 500, you should stick with 500! The value it brings will more than make up for its lack of word count and your readers will appreciate your not wasting their time!
If you’re not writing your own content, it’s your job to review your content prior to publishing to make sure your reader gets the value you promise.
Ready to start focusing on quality content without the fluff? Contact me today and let’s talk about your goals!