We all know that quality is important in any job. Whether you’re writing blog posts, waiting tables or running a company, the key to success is dedicating the time and effort to complete every task to the best of your ability, and producing high-quality work.

In the content industry, the concept of “quality” is especially vital. As a content creator, the quality of your work is your most important asset. It’s the difference between getting—and keeping—projects and losing out on opportunities.

In other words, it can make or break your career.

But what exactly does it entail? While the words “quality content” have a nice ring to them, they’re not exactly specific. What does quality truly mean when it comes to writing, translating and marketing? How can you ensure that you’re producing a quality product? And how will all of this affect your professional journey?

I may not have all the answers, but after a few years working in the industry, I have plenty of experience tackling these issues. Here’s my take on the significance and value of quality content, developed over the course of my own career so far.

What is quality content?

When you hear the term “quality content,” what comes to mind? Personally, I imagine a well-written, interesting and organized piece of writing that accomplishes a specific purpose. There are many aspects of quality when it comes to content creation, and the combination of all of them is what sets some work apart from the rest.

First things first: Grammar and punctuation

In my opinion, the most fundamental aspect of quality content is correct grammar and punctuation. No matter how interesting an article is, if there are glaring (or even subtle) orthographic mistakes, my perception of its quality immediately plummets.

This matters in different degrees to different readers, of course. But if you’re trying to impress a potential client, or turning in a piece of work to a current one, you should assume that they’re going to notice every erroneous apostrophe.

A simple example:

Bad: “The importance of you’re content’s quality cannot be overstated.”

Good: “The importance of your content’s quality cannot be overstated.”

Likewise, it’s incredibly important to adapt your writing to the style guide or regional variation that each assignment calls for. If a client asks for AP Style, look out for Oxford commas. And if they want British English, there better not be any words ending in “-ize.”

Place your commas carefully:

Without Oxford comma: “Grammar, punctuation and spelling are paramount.”

With Oxford comma: “Grammar, punctuation, and spelling are paramount.”

Watch out for regional spelling variations:

US: “Soon you’ll realize that quality content will work in your favor.”

UK: “Soon you’ll realise that quality content will work in your favour.

Learn more about the differences between American and British English here.

I’ve reviewed plenty of translation and copywriting tests at VeraContent, in which we ask potential hires to switch back and forth between different style guides for each sample. If they ignore this or don’t seem to know what it means, it’s an immediate red flag.

Even subtle punctuation mistakes matter:

Wrong: When I say “quality content”, I’m talking about several different things; grammar, punctuation and more.

Right: When I say “quality content,” I’m talking about several different things: grammar, punctuation and more.

Diving deeper: Structure and style

Once you’ve covered the basics, you can move on to the next level. A high-quality text should be organized in a logical fashion, and written in a style that suits the target audience and purpose.

Writing for a living is different than writing as a hobby; if you’re making money from a text, it has to serve a specific purpose for someone else. It’s your job to ensure that it fulfills that mission, and that the reader finds it useful and easy to understand.

For example, if you’re writing a blog post targeted at millennials, the format should be well suited to a digital context: small paragraphs, casual language and SEO optimization if appropriate. If you’re writing for a magazine meant for business executives, the format should be more traditional: narrative style, formal language and likely a more in-depth discussion of the material.

The importance of quality content: What it is and why it matters for your career

In other words, even if you’re covering the exact same topic, the final product might look totally different depending on the assignment. Genuine quality content is not only well written, but perfectly adapted to the audience and purpose it’s meant to serve.

Check it twice… then check it again

In the content industry, editing is essential. If you’re working with a professional agency or publication, someone else will probably look over your piece before it’s published. But that doesn’t mean you don’t need to edit your own writing before submitting it. This entails checking your work and then checking it again—and again—to make sure it’s up to the necessary quality standards.

When I have any assignment for a client, I’m almost obsessive about editing. My process for writing a blog post, for example, usually involves doing a thorough read-through at least four times after creating the first draft: first for style and content, then for grammar and punctuation, then for formatting, then one more time for a final readability check.

At some point, of course, you have to stop editing. Time is money, and there’s a limit to how much of it you can spend on each project. But it’s almost always worth it to expend some extra effort to ensure that the overall quality is as high as possible.

This is what will set you apart from other content creators in the eyes of clients, editors and potential employers. Hold yourself to a high standard, and you’ll reap the rewards.

How quality content affects your career

Now let’s talk about the value of quality in more concrete terms. There are many motivations for creating quality content: pride in your work, integrity and professionalism, to name a few. But if you’re trying to build a career in the content industry, you also need to understand that there’s a direct relationship between quality and professional success.

The higher the quality of your work, the more money you’ll make in the long run. Sometimes it may not seem like this is true; how many times have you read a terribly written article online and wondered “who got paid to write this?”

Plenty of people make a living by churning out badly written and unoriginal content. But if you challenge yourself to push the boundaries, and never settle for anything less than excellence, eventually it’ll pay off.

Personal proof that quality content is the key to success

When I first started working in the content industry, I was absolutely desperate for work. My first job was a tedious and unpleasant assignment to write about a topic that I had zero interest in. For this particular project, the client’s standards were relatively low. They needed lots of content to be produced quickly, so they had to accept lower-quality work than usual.

As much as I hated this assignment, I couldn’t bring myself to lower my own standards. So I spent way more time than I should have on it, relentlessly checking my work for grammar, structure and style. In the short term, it wasn’t efficient or profitable for me as a freelancer. But after I submitted a few pieces of writing, the client told me that they were impressed, and started giving me other (and better) assignments. 

Soon they hired me as a part-time linguist, and eventually this led to a full-time position as a senior editor and project manager. In other words, it was the best thing that had ever happened for my career—and the way I managed to break into the content industry. If that isn’t proof that quality content can lead straight to success, I don’t know what is.

It all comes down to quality

Whether you’re looking for freelance writing assignments, applying for a job at a content agency or promoting your personal blog, the importance of quality cannot be overstated. As someone who has been on both sides of the equation—as a novice writer looking for work, and an experienced editor evaluating freelancers and job candidates—I can tell you that quality is truly the key.

As an aspiring content creator, the most important thing is to make sure your work is of the highest possible quality. Focus on that first, and everything else will follow.




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