Good writing is critical to a successful business. Whether you are writing a letter to a prospective client, updating your website or blog, or posting to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, your writing presents your business image to the world.
Have you thought about what your writing says about you lately? Does it tell new visitors to your website, blog or Facebook page that you care about your business, that you take pride in your work and that you can provide them with a high-quality experience? Or does it tell them that you’re just too busy to be bothered?
As part of a very large project I’m working on, I’ve had the opportunity to read more than 1000 blog posts in the past week from a variety of different writers. While nearly all the blog posts had great, interesting information in them, the difference in quality was astounding. Some were well written and laid out, with proper punctuation, capitalization and paragraph separations. Others reminded me of my children’s grade-school writing exercises. You know, the ones where the kids are told to write continuously about anything, without stopping and without regard to grammar, spelling or punctuation for 15 minutes. Personally, I think that’s a bad idea–unless they’re allowed to go back afterward and correct those things–but that’s another topic for another day.
A blog post is not a giant text message. A blog post doesn’t need to be Pulitzer material, nor does it need to be written to the standards of your 12th-grade term paper. It’s okay to write conversationally in your blog; it’s okay to take a few liberties with convention. If you’re a business blogger, your standard of care does need to be somewhat higher than a personal blogger. In either case, though, there are a few basic rules of grammar and punctuation that really do need to be followed if you want people to read your blog more than once.
- Sentences should begin with a capital letter and end with a period, question mark or exclamation point.
- “I” should always be capitalized–unless you’re e.e. cummings.
- Paragraphs are good things. They break up big blocks of text into visually and mentally manageable sections and keep your blog post from looking like a dissertation.
- Contractions require the use of appropriately placed apostrophes.
- Spell check is a good thing. Use it. It is not, however, a substitute for proof reading. Do that, too. If you’re really bad at it, find a friend, an employee or even a virtual assistant to proofread your blog posts, web updates or advertising pieces before you publish them. If you’re mentioning a person or company by name, spell it right. Take the time to double check the spelling of names, places and companies. It increases your credibility immensely.
- Figure out what it is you want to say before you publish your post. It is perfectly fine to make an outline for blog posts and longer articles to make sure you cover all the critical points. Rambling blog posts that roam from subject to subject lose the reader’s attention and result in a hasty exit from your site.
- And, finally, my favorite piece of journalism school advice: never use a two-dollar word when a 50-cent word will do. Using big words and lots of jargon doesn’t make you look smarter. Writing posts that your readers can understand will. Avoid technical jargon and terms generally used only by insiders in your industry.
And if you found this helpful, please use the buttons below to tweet or share it with your network.
Marie Leslie is the chief Creative Genius at Marie Leslie Media. With 30 years experience as a professional writer, editor and photographer she has had work published in many regional and national magazines. Marie currently writes and teaches about business and social media, helping people to understand and make use of the ever-changing internet. She offers social media training and set up, including blog set-up and optimization as well as blog writing & social media management services.
Kin you, I am still grinning. I love your analogy that a blog post is not a text message! I will take heed to this and I want to thank you. I am learning so much from you!
You are so welcome, Anita. And thank you for the kind words.
I have been worried about this for myself. Years of bad influence from twitter and Facebook!!
This was a great post, Marie. I think 50 cent words work fine. But my favorite tip was “I” should always be capitalized–unless you’re e.e. cummings. I needed a giggle tonight. Thanks so much for these solid tips.
You are most welcome, Lisa. Glad I could give you a smile.
Great points Marie! Spell check is definitely my friend, especially when the fingers can’t keep up with the brain. I usually end up writing by hand first because I think better that way, then edit and clean up as I retype.
I am the same way, Helena. I often do rough drafts by hand. Just give me a yellow legal pad and my favorite pens and I am ready to go to town. I, too, have that brain-moves-much-faster-than-my-fingers typing problem. Spell check has saved me from many embarrassing typos.
Love this article! I’m going to direct all my business writing students to it when the next semester starts!
Thanks, Ruth. So glad you’ve enjoyed it.
Great tips, Marie. Some of this seems so common sense, yet I see it over and over again! I agree, there is a fine balance between being too formal and too conversational. I love the idea that a blog post is not a long text message, too funny!
Oops – I meant 1000, not 100 blog posts (INCREDIBLE!)
I can’t believe you read over a 100 blog posts n 1 week! Where on earth did you find the time?!
I think a big part of the reason there are many poorly written post out there is because people are in such a rush to get their content out there that they are not putting in the time to think about the points they want to make and outline what they will say – they just do a brain dump.
Another reason is I think many people never really did learn proper grammar and spelling.
Also, writing for the web is different than writing a book or report. The book “Web Copy That Sells” by Maria Veloso gives excellent instruction o how to make your writing more readable for the web.
Great advice! Our words trully represent us.
I appreciate this post! I’m not perfect, but I, too, cringe when I read posts that don’t follow basic rules of grammar!
That said, my comment is made from within the walls of a pretty nice glass house. I just re-read my last blog post and found a bunch of places it needs to be edited. Yikes! Maybe my additional rule is not to post when sleepy. 🙂
I have that problem, too, Pauline. I need to remember to write my posts far enough ahead that I have time to go back over and proofread before posting to take care of all my either think-faster-than-I-write errors or my sleepy, writing-in-the-middle-of-the-night errors.
It’s so sad how writing has been degraded due thanks to the internet and text messaging. Thanks for the points. Lorii at http://www.manifestingmydestiny.com
Thanks for the great tips Marie!
It really helps the experience of reading someone’s blog when they pay attention to these simple (but necessary) tidbits.
“I” should always be capitalized–unless you’re e.e. cummings.
Thanks for the smile 🙂
Good writing is especially important if you sell products or services on your site. I have a hard time trusting that a company is that successful if it appears they can’t even afford a proofreader.
Thanks for sharing the tips!
Excellent points!! I only wish more people would follow them. Thanks so much for sharing them…love it!!:)
All very good tips. Paragraphing is huge component to making whatever your writing look a lot less tedious.
Hi Marie, thanks for your brilliant advice! Love the way you make it clear and to the point. I agree! 🙂
Thanks for sharing your expert advice. Having someone help proofread is so important for me because it allows you to see whats missing so clearly.
Thanks for such great tips! I look forward to seeing more!
Thank you! Love these tips and glad to see them written out because online we tend to short cut basic grammar rules for some reason. It drives me insane to get an email that is all lowercase or all uppercase for that matter.
Excellent points. Your blog is a reflection of you and so your writing should be as well.
Comments are closed.