“At WordHound, Content is King. And that’s why our expert team are on hand to provide you with results-driven content that really goes the extra mile. We deliver impactful blog posts and articles that actually achieve their goals. And as such, each and every piece of content that we create has the power to convert. At the end of the day, we offer something for everyone; we’re your one-stop shop for all of your content needs.”
If we ever get to a point where we’re really publishing content like that, then we know it’s time to hang up our biros. It’s not that bad, is it? Well, yes, we think it is. These are all phrases that we have cut from our writing at some point during our quest for total fantabulousness. Nope, not cutting that one.
Have another read through. What exactly would you learn about WordHound from that paragraph? It tells you that we value content. OK. It tells you that we think we have a great team. Well, good for us. It tells you that we create content, and that we’re pretty sure our content performs well. But it doesn’t tell you anything about WordHound… we could be writing about any content agency.
And that’s exactly why paragraphs like this are so detrimental to brand voice. When we write for ourselves, we want it to be top-to-toe WordHound. When we write for our clients, we want it to be all theirs. If we could swap out the brand name and have it apply to a competitor, then we haven’t done our job properly. So, there’s a big list of words and phrases that we avoid because they don’t add value to the content. For example:
- Content is King
If you’re old enough to remember all the way back to January 1996 when Bill Gates wrote that essay called ‘Content is King’, you’ll remember that it was a pretty big deal. Content was barely even a mewling, nappy-wearing prince at that point, and the bold idea that, one day, content could be king was an attention-grabbing one. Today, the term induces nothing but eye-rolling. We know content is important, but this 25 year old phrase isn’t getting any fresher.
- Expert Team
Can you imagine a business claiming that their team were anything but experts? ‘Come to us! We’re not really sure what we’re doing!’. That’s unlikely to be used as a selling point. A business saying that their team is great doesn’t really mean much. We’ve been tempted to use ‘expert team’, but we’re making a conscious effort to swap it for better adjectives. When we write for clients, we want to explain to their audience exactly what sets them apart, and let the clichés get gobbled up by the backspace button.
- Results-Driven / Goes the Extra Mile
If we’re not writing content that aims to achieve results, then what are we doing? And surely if we think everything we do is ‘going the extra mile’ then what was our original benchmark? The bare minimum? Quality is something that customers simply expect from the organisations they choose to do business with. We have this in mind when we write. There’s no need to spell it out.
This is a tricky one, because yes, we want content to have an impact. But the word ‘impactful’ on its own doesn’t really mean anything. What impact are we talking about? If we were writing content for our own website, we wouldn’t use ‘impactful’; instead, we’d focus more on what impact we wanted to have. The impact we want our content to have is to engage audiences, to entertain audiences, and to teach them. Also, “impactful” is a bit of a shit word.
What’s actually wrong with actually? Well, back in 2012, ‘actually’ held the award for being ‘the worst word on the planet’, according to The Atlantic. And now, 8 years later, it’s not much better. ‘Actually’, the article demonstrates, is perhaps the most passive aggressive word out there. Anyway, if it beat horrible words like ‘phlegm’ and ‘moist’ and ‘curd’ then it must be really, really bad.
- As Such / Each and Every / At the End of the Day
Filler words, the lot of ’em. If we take these phrases out of our opening paragraph, nothing is lost. The paragraph still reads the same, and delivers the same message. So what’s the point of putting them in? We’re usually asked for short and snappy blog posts, so we’re not going to waste our word count by using pointless stuffing words.
- Something for Everyone / One Stop Shop
Not only are these clichés, but they’re also inaccurate. We’re not a one-stop-shop for all your content needs. If you need jokes written in Njerep (a language spoken by an estimated 4 people in a village on the Cameroon-Nigeria border), then no, chances are we can’t give you what you want. No single business has the power to provide solutions for every single person on the planet. Why pretend you can?
These are a few of the things that we’ve decided not to use in our writing. Has this inspired you to come up with your own list? Perhaps it’ll drive you mad when you start noticing useless words wherever you look. Sorry about that. When you’re checking your own writing, try looking for phrases that come up a lot. What do they mean? What do they add? If you took them out, what would you lose?
Check in next time, when we’ll give you seven reasons why our expert team’s impactful content will actually blow your mind. Not really!