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Kevin Oubridge

Blue Chip Coaching Limited


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12 Mistakes to Avoid When Writing a Ten Mistakes Article


There are times I start reading something and just stop!

I get bored of it after the first few sentences.

Nothing to do with the quality of the writing or subject matter, it’s just that sometimes I simply can’t be bothered to read.

Not in the mood.

Usually after a long day.

Perhaps I’m sitting on the train on the way home. I listlessly leaf through the free newspaper I’ve picked up, unable to settle to any article, whatever it’s about.

Until, that is, I come to 15 Mistakes You Will Make When Buying Your Next TV or Ten Surprising Things Superwoman Does On Holiday or 57 Reasons to Buy a Robot Vacuum Cleaner This Summer.

For some reason, these articles catch my eye.

Without fully engaging, I scan the first few mistakes, things or reasons. Perhaps it’s the promise of a list of useful nuggets of information. Or knowing that each nugget will be short and pithy, meaning it won’t take much effort to read. Or maybe it’s just the numbers.

Whatever it is, I nearly always check out these articles. And those that make interesting points, I read properly from start to finish.


Given that just 10 seconds earlier I couldn’t stick to reading anything.

The fact is though, there is something compelling about this type of article. They’re just a more attractive prospect than reading something long, serious and complicated.

Which is why a good 10 mistakes article is a great marketing tool.

They get read where other articles don’t.

They’re also a useful way to get a potential clients contact details:

I've written an article, '10 Mistakes Leaders Make in Developing Their People'. Can I send you a copy? Great, and can I then call you to get your reaction to it?

Simple and effective!

And your potential client then gets an article that is useful and interesting, and also tells them a bit about your coaching service and what it can do for them and their business.

The problem is, a good 10 mistakes article can be difficult to write.

It turns out too long, too boring, doesn’t tell the reader anything of value. And the biggest crime of all for your marketing purposes, it doesn’t actually connect them with the difference you make for your clients. Which, after all, is the purpose of marketing.

Here are 10 common mistakes to avoid:

1.  You’re not clear who you’re writing for

Your article needs to connect with who you work with. You therefore need to write it with these people in mind. Write something that will help them in their role, use their language and understand their concerns.

You can only do this if you are clear who they are.

Have one specific person in mind who fits your ideal client profile and write as if your article is for them only.

2.  You’re not clear what you’re writing about

When drafting your article, there are so many things you could write about it’s tempting to try and fit them all in. At worst you can end up with a mish-mash of pointless drivel. At best you get something that is unfocused and confusing, meaning readers probably won’t finish it.

Be clear that you are writing about common mistakes your ideal clients make in doing their jobs or completing a particular kind of project. That’s why they’ll read it and get something out of doing so.

3.  You don’t start with nailing down a good headline

I’ve done this myself loads of times.

I start with a rough idea of what I want to write and briefly draft a suitable headline. I then move on to writing the article, thinking I can tighten up the headline later.

The trouble with this is that, because your headline isn’t nailed down, it’s difficult to be clear on the content, meaning you’re back to #2, You’re not clear what you’re writing about.

On top of this, the headline is the most important part of your article. If it’s not interesting, nobody will be inspired to read on.

Get your headline straight before you start writing.

I use Jon Morrow’s Headline Hacks to help with writing headlines.

4. You don’t describe who you work with

Remember mistake #1, You’re not clear who you’re writing for? Well, having got clear that you’re writing for your ideal client, don’t forget to tell your readers who that is. For example:

I work with high performing leaders in global ICT companies ...

That way, people from your target market will know your article is aimed at them and, hopefully, keep reading.

People who aren’t from your target market will know that your article isn’t aimed at them and may stop reading. But this doesn’t matter because they’re not your potential clients.

5.  You don’t know the problems you help your clients solve

Remember, you don’t sell a product and you don’t sell a service!

You sell a solution to your clients’ problems. The things that keep them awake at night!

If you’re not clear on the problems you typically help your clients solve, how can you write about them?

What problems do you help your clients solve?

6.  You don’t understand the value you bring

Ever struggled to explain the value of your coaching?

Einstein said:

If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough.

The point of a 10 mistakes article is that you list 10 common mistakes your ideal clients make in tackling the problems they typically face. Not just any old mistakes though, mistakes that your coaching can help them avoid or overcome.

You can’t write a decent 10 mistakes article that will switch potential clients on to the value you bring, if you don’t know what that value is.

What value do you bring to your clients?

7.  You think you can’t write

Of course, this might be true.

In which case, get someone else to write your article for you.

It probably isn’t true though.

Either way, thinking you can’t write will be a big hindrance when trying to write your article.

Better to think that you just need a few pointers, a bit of self-belief and to get stuck in. And maybe a friend to look it over when it’s done.

8.  You don’t write in your own voice

As a coach, you are fluent in at least one language.

That means you can communicate verbally with ease with others using that language.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t mean the same for written communication, which can, literally, be like using a totally alien language. Where you would say something casually in speech, for some reason you write in a totally different manner. You use words you think will make you sound good or intellectual or something else you deem worthy.

Readers don’t want that.

They want to read articles that are accessible and conversational, that convey something about the author in their tone and that they don’t need a dictionary to understand.

Write in your voice and give your readers what they want.

9.  Your article doesn’t add value for potential clients

First and foremost you need to write something that your ideal client wants to read. It needs to have a headline that grabs their attention and content that tells them something they will find of use. Something they will want to print out and stick it on their wall, as a reminder of pitfalls to avoid.

It doesn’t have to say everything about all the problems you help them solve. It just needs to focus on 10 mistakes they commonly make in one small area.

For example, this article focuses on the mistakes coaches make in writing 10 mistakes articles. If you’ve read this far it’s probably told you something you didn’t know or reminded you of something you did or you’ve found it interesting.

10.  Your article is too long, boring or unfocused

The 10 mistakes format is specifically designed to eliminate problems of writing an article that is too long, boring and unfocused.

However, it’s still possible to produce a protracted, turgid mess.

Focus on writing brief sentences that say what you mean. And write your whole article through from start to finish in one go, without stopping to rethink sentences or edit your structure.

Once you’ve got your first draft, you can go back and refine what you’ve written. Of course, making sure that your writing aligns with your headline and speaks to your ideal client.

11. You don’t include case studies or success stories of what past clients have achieved

The best way of engaging with prospective clients is to tell them what previous clients got from working with you. Think about it:

Wayne was a 16 year old boy who was terrified of snakes. He used to come out in a cold sweat just thinking about them. After his first session with our hypnotherapist Wayne was able to sit next to someone holding a python. After just 6 sessions he had the same python wrapped around his arm and wanted to take it home.

If you’re a young person with a phobia of snakes, Wayne’s story will connect with you.

If you’re a hypnotherapist, working with people with animal phobias, Wayne’s story will help you connect with potential clients.

To connect with potential clients through your article, include some success stories.

12. You don’t include a call to action (CTA) at the end

Successfully marketing your coaching services is all about relationships.

You meet potential clients and give them your elevator pitch, I work with … You ask them about their work situation. You offer them your 10 mistakes article and get their contact details. You send them your article and follow up with a phone call. After the fifth attempt you get to talk to them. You arrange a half hour chat where you can find out more about their situation.

Every step you take is building the relationship with your potential client. Increasing their understanding of what you have to offer, and your understanding of their situation and what they need. Building familiarity and trust and, all the while, improving your chances of selling your coaching.

You must give your readers something to do next to continue the relationship.

Even if it’s just Give us a call, followed by your phone number.

Ten mistakes articles are very useful.

They help you connect with potential clients. In addition, they help you get clear on who your ideal clients are, the problems they face and the value you bring. All essential to know if you want to grow your coaching practice.

So, whether you intend to use your 10 mistakes article or not, it’s worthwhile having a go at writing one.

It’s also kind of fun!

Want to learn how to grow your coaching practice?

Download The Alligator’s Bite - it's FREE! I reveal the step-by-step process you can use to win Blue Chip coaching clients and build long-term relationships, where you win further business year on year. You’ll also receive regular Blue Chip Tips blog posts to your email.

2 Responses

  1. Have you written an article to help with your marketing?

    Let me know what you think about this blog post. Have your written an article to help you with your marketing?

  2. 10 or 12 Mistakes!

    Another mistake, not included in the above post, is to headline your article as '10 Mistakes …' and then include 12 mistakes in the actual text. When I first posted this article I made that very mistake and have subsequently changed the headline.

    This sort of mistake is common and should be avoided, unless you want to make it on purpose and highlight the fact in your last mistake. Which then becomes a sort of bonus mistake, not offered in the headline

    I did consider doing that here but decided to add this comment instead as I didn't want to confuse anybody, which of course is yet another mistake. The list is endless!

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Kevin Oubridge


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