There are certain fields that require perfection: aerospace engineering, neurosurgery, accounting… but content marketing isn’t one of them.

That might seem counterintuitive. After all, we’re always talking about the value of quality content and the importance of checking your work. But there’s a line between holding yourself to a high standard and an impossible one—and when it comes to content marketing, perfection is an unachievable goal.

There’s no such thing as a perfect piece of content.

As a textbook type-A perfectionist, I did not enjoy typing that last sentence. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned by working in the world of content creation, it’s that although pedantic tendencies can be helpful, they can also hold you back.

Many of our past podcast guests agree. We’ve heard over and over again in our interviews that when it comes to content, done is better than perfect

So how do you walk that line between impeccable quality and an acceptance of imperfection? Here are a few tips from industry experts, including a few of the self-proclaimed perfectionists behind The Content Mix.

Why you should stop trying to create perfect content in an imperfect world

1. Time is of the essence

Writing a novel is one thing; publishing a timely blog post is another. In the former situation, you can spend as much time as you like debating every preposition and plot twist. But if you’re trying to execute a content marketing strategy, there’s no time to waste

This is especially true if you’re writing about a time-sensitive topic: current events or technology, for example.

In an ideal situation, you’d be able to churn out polished blog posts or social media copy while keeping pace with today’s fast-moving world. But if you have to choose between a relevant piece with a few mistakes and a typo-free piece that’s completely outdated, the choice should be clear.

5 reasons why you should stop trying to create perfect content

As Tom Kerkhof, global head of social media at Navico, puts it:

“There’s only one perfect minute where you can post [certain things]. If you don’t do it then because it isn’t perfect enough, you’ll lose half of your reach just because someone else will put it up or the news is already fading. Typically, the only value lies in the fact that it’s here and now.”

Zara Easton, brand marketing manager at LinkedIn in the UK, agrees:

“It comes down to the balance of appreciating that things won’t always be perfect, because you don’t have the time to do that. You can do your best job to make it a great campaign and a great idea, but if you take too long you miss out on the moment.”

2. Perfection is the enemy of personalization

What’s your idea of perfection? No matter what it means to you, I promise that it means something totally different to me, your colleagues, your clients, and pretty much everyone else. The concept of “perfection” is subjective, which makes the relentless pursuit of it a total waste of time and energy.

This doesn’t just apply to content, by the way. Think about all the effort, money and resources that people expend in order to get the “perfect body.” And yet, every single one of us has a different idea of what that body actually looks like.

Likewise, every member of your target audience values and appreciates different things. One person might love visual aids and illustrations, while another might find them distracting. A reader in the UK might be annoyed by your use of American spelling; but if you change it, US readers could have the same complaint. 

Woman editing images on laptop

You’re never going to please everyone, so you might as well stop chasing perfection and start trying to create something that resonates with as many people as possible—even if they see it as flawed.

According to Nigel Hawthorn, EMEA marketing director at McAfee:

“There’s no perfect content, because your audience will consume it in different ways—some people need a lot of detail and some people hate detail. Nothing is perfect, so you should deliver everything you do in as many ways as you can.”

And as Paola Campo, content strategist and global content development manager at DHL Supply Chain, says:

“I think a lot of people confuse quality with something that needs to be flawless. Of course you want to make sure that things look great, but don’t spend so much time trying to create something ‘perfect,’ only to find out that it doesn’t even resonate with your audience.” 

3. It’s all about the big picture

Look, I won’t lie: I hate grammatical errors. If I’m reading an article online and I notice a blatant mistake, I immediately lose a bit of respect for the author or source in question. But here’s what I’ve had to accept: As a professional editor, I’m the exception to the rule.

In most cases, the people who are reading your writing are not professional editors. They might notice a wayward apostrophe, but it probably won’t bother them the way it bothers me. They care more about the big picture—and that’s why you should too.

That said, you can’t overlook the basics. Get a solid grasp on grammar and punctuation rules, and always check your work. Ideally, get someone else to check it too (who’s more of a stickler than you). 

But this should be the final step of your content creation and publishing process, and it should never take up more time and energy than the rest. Ultimately, good content marketing provides value to the reader through its substance, not its form.

Hand holding red pen over blank notebook page
Put down the red pen and focus on the big picture.

Daphne Binioris, co-founder of VeraContent, knows the power of prioritizing the big picture:

“Some of the most successful posts I’ve ever published were the ones I wrote quickly, in the heat of the moment, without overthinking them. Days later I may have found a typo or a sentence that I could have improved. But all the comments, likes and shares made me realize that no one cared about those typos—they cared about the value the post provided.”

According to Daphne, these experiences taught her an important lesson:

“You can always change the wording around and make things better as an editor—but what really matters is that you’re getting a valuable message across.”

4. Trial and error is key

At its core, content marketing is about accomplishing specific goals: driving engagement, gaining followers, attracting clients, increasing revenue, or whatever your business objectives may be. And the only way to know if your content is contributing to those goals is by putting it out there, analyzing results and adjusting accordingly

If you wait until your content is “perfect” to publish, you’ll never be able to see what works and what doesn’t. The key is to balance quality and volume; create content that’s good (but not perfect) and then tweak it as necessary.

As Amal Ahmed, head of EMEA marketing at Signifyd, puts it:

“It’s never going to be perfect. Get it to 90%, put it out there, learn from your mistakes, and keep doing the stuff that works.”

If you’re still striving to create perfect content, consider this perspective from Alwi Mohamed Suleiman, founder and head of content at Content Market King:

“Does a piece of perfect content exist? No—but that’s actually a good thing, because if a perfect piece of content existed, we would stop learning and growing.”

5. Imperfection is natural

In order to grow from our mistakes, first we have to accept that we’re going to make them. We have to embrace the fact that perfection is a myth, and learn to love our crazy, flawed and unpredictable reality.

It's impossible to create perfect content and that's OK. Here's why.

As Alwi Mohamed Suleiman says:

“We live in an imperfect world, and things don’t always go the way we expect them to.”

Embracing imperfection will ultimately help you to improve and develop your content creation skills. And this advice goes much deeper than words on a page; it’s also a valuable philosophy for life. Lean into the chaos and embrace the unexpected.Incorporate imperfection into your content, and you’ll start to find work—and everything else—a little easier.

Amanda Lundin, global video and social media manager at Mynewsdesk, sums it up nicely:

“Dare to be imperfect; go out there and try things.”

Sometimes it’s really as simple as that.

Perfection may be a myth, but you should still strive to optimize your content! Here are some tips on how to do it:

Need some help with your content? Get in touch with us!