10 commandments for creating great content

Content marketing is the phrase on the tip of everyone’s tongue. What is it that makes good content and how can you ensure a good ROI when you do spend on copy? Our ten commandments of copywriting and content marketing are here to help.

1.       Thou shalt not steal

Original content reflects much better in terms of your reputation but your writing will also rank higher in search engines if the language you use is unique and inventive. Be innovative. Create your own opinions. Don’t rephrase the same sentence again and again.

2.       Give value to your readers

What is it that your readers are gaining by reading your content? Is it useful? Amusing? Make sure the benefits or call to action of your content are clear and that readers can apply your advice easily.

3.       Key messages

You should be able to get the purpose of your piece across in the first few sentences. We scan through enormous amounts of data quickly and so if your core ideas aren’t instantly available they’ll go unnoticed.

4.       Quality over quantity

We need say no more.

5.       Distribute and promote

To increase the ROI on your copy, make sure you promote it effectively. Whether it’s via email marketing, social media or other avenues – let people know where they can find your content and why they should read it.

6.       Headlines

Statistics from Copy Blogger show that on average, eight out of ten people will read headline copy, but only two out of ten will read the rest.  Make your headline count and hopefully you’ll encourage more than that 20% to read on.

7.       Make no mistake, bad grammar has an impact

It sounds obvious, but check your copy for mistakes as they are easily made. Copy is one of the first impressions people have of your business so make sure it’s a good one.

8.       Images and video

Some learn by reading. Some learn by watching. Some learn by hearing. Address this in your content. Videos and images also help break up a long piece visually and our research shows that a mixture of content is the most engaging.

9.       Accessible language

An engaging tone of voice goes a long way. Remember that you’re talking to people, so your content should be human, accessible and relevant.

10.   Call to action

Give your readers clear instructions about what to do having read your content. Take a look at our infographic on the price of bad content and learn how not to pay it.


  1. John M. Fox : 19th August 2014 at 11:17 pm

    With respect to the First Commandment: in A.D. 2014, it would be hard to puzzle out and utter an original idea. From Aristotle to Austen … to Zarathustra to the woman at the water cooler, it's all been thunked before. 🙂 Because, therefore, "innovation" in this sense is a practical impossibility, as a copywriter, I have been "stealing" ideas from much smarter people than myself every day for 14 years, giving credit when I can, and where it makes sense. So, if I understand this (branding) commandment in a slightly modified light, the point is to garner market attention and provide value by offering a new or "atypical" take — thought-provoking, funny, topical, industry-specific, or otherwise — on … stuff that's already out there, stuff that's recognizable as part of our micro or macro-cultures. No one would advocate plagiarism, for sure. But very often there is potential profit in reading about someone else's perspective — on still *another's* perspective — concerning the very same idea. To call such a thing "stealing" is to ignore the organic, conversational manner in which ideas evolve. In favor of (what I suggest is) a false originality.

  2. Nina Whittaker : 20th August 2014 at 7:12 am

    Hi John,

    Thanks for your comment – we certainly agree. It's about offering your own opinion/perspective on a topic and exploring new topics where possible. Our first commandment also relates to the use of language and ensuring you are not posting exactly the same content in lots of different places as search engines have come to penalise such techniques.

    Thanks for reading!

  3. Nick Fielden : 18th September 2014 at 3:37 am

    The BBC article that you mention refers to the high degree of poor written English exhibited by job applicants to an online business. If that is so, does it not question the theme of the article, that spelling mistakes cost online sales?

    If those job applicants are typical, then the website readership probably doesn't have much knowledge either of how English should be written.

  4. Nick Driver : 23rd September 2014 at 10:56 am

    Hi Nick, thanks for your comment. Are you referring to this post?

    I think that whatever the audience's standard of English, there isn't an excuse for sloppy copy. Perhaps impeccable brand can set the example, as well as stimulating a sale!


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