When it comes to business writing, there are two main groups of people. There are those who are certain that they can write and there are those who think that they absolutely can not. Quite often, both groups are wrong. Anyone can write .. ANYONE. Writing consists of three parts. The habit of writing, the knowledge involved and lastly, caring about it.
Writing = Habit + Knowledge + Care
You’re probably thinking, “Nobody cares about writing anymore, what with everything on the internet turning communication into a lesson on code deciphering, nobody takes the time to focus on actual writing.” It is quite rare in this day and age to see someone say “Wow, that was actually really funny and entertaining. It gave me a good laugh.” What you really get is: lol .. or if it was really funny, LOL.
So .. why would anyone take time and focus on proper writing?
The answer is simple, writing is actually more important now than it was in the past. Businesses rely on their websites and other online content to show who they truly are to their customers, potential customers and colleagues. The words on a webpage are what make the real impression.
Are your words clearly communicating your story from your own perspective in your own voice? They need to be. Here you will find 8 writing rules to help you fine tune your writing for your blog, website, or social media page.
1. Say what you mean.
There are plenty of words used in the business world to draw people in. Words like cutting-edge, revolutionary, value added and impactful shouldn’t be all over your page. Sure, a few of them used sparingly won’t matter much, but overusing them is killing the content you’re trying to produce. Using real words is the best way to clearly communicate to your customers in a way that is appealing to them and easier for you.
2. Don’t use web-lingo or Frankenwords.
Frankenwords are words put together in strange ways to make a new weird version of itself. They usually end with –ism, -ize or –istic. You’d recognize them if you saw them but an example would be incentivize. Obviously it isn’t a real word, it’s just a strange play on incentive to get attention .. and not the right attention.
The obvious is to avoid using web-lingo. Nobody should find “lol” or “k thx” on your website, blog or social media page. You’re a professional going for a professional appearance; writing like a teenage girl using a cell phone isn’t going to cut it. In actuality, every time I see this chat slang on a virtual assistant’s website, they get knocked down a peg or two in my mind .. it makes me cringe.
Don’t use nouns as verbs or verbs as nouns. Some examples of these would be journaling or learnings. This does tie in to rule 1 about using real words, say what you mean and be clear about it.
3. Write using an active tone.
Passive isn’t really wrong necessarily, but it tends to sound awkward. Using active verbs will greatly improve your writing as they sound more alive and not as stiff. It isn’t hard to make the change. Take this for example, instead of saying, “The meal was prepared by a woman named Alice,” use “A woman named Alice prepared the meal.” That simple change made all the difference in the tone of the sentence.
4. Kick weak verbs to the curb and use more descriptive ones instead.
Using vivid action words will bring your writing to life. Don’t use the same old generic sentences, use words that really paint a picture in the readers mind and hammers your point through. So instead of saying, “It might seem like a good idea, but it’s probably not in good taste to invite your vegan friend to Thanksgiving dinner,” try “Sure, it might seem like a good idea, but it probably isn’t in good taste to invite your animal loving, vegan friend to your meat filled feast on Thanksgiving.”
5. Ditch the adverbs, unless they bring forth more meaning.
Many writers use adverbs to fill space when they feel like they can’t add anything else. You could say “Writers use adverbs gratuitously,” because the sentence requires the use of the word gratuitously. Without it the sentence would only say that writers use adverbs. Of course they do! That really is a pointless phrase without the use of an adverb. Keep in mind this quote from Stephen King, “The road to hell is paved with adverbs.”
6. Clichés, use sparingly.
Clichés aren’t for good writers, they’re for lazy writers. Everyone has heard them all, from open-door policy to at the end of the day (which I, for one use far too much).
The occasional use of a cliché is okay for shorthand or for a quick reference (do this on the same page), but if you use too many, you’re just going to sound like everyone else out there and that’s going to give you the opposite of your desired results.
7. Get to the point.
Say things in a simple way that’s easy for your readers. Using a lot of words doesn’t make you sound extra smart. In fact, it kind of makes you seem dull and like someone who is trying to sound smarter than they are. So, trim the fat.
8. Break some basic grammar rules.
This may come to a total shocker to some but it’s okay to break the rules once in awhile. You can start a sentence with the words but, and or because. You can have one word sentences and if you wanted to, even a one sentence paragraph. When it comes to writing, the important thing isn’t that you followed all the rules. It’s that you made your work easy to read and understand.
Grammar matters, but it isn’t the only thing. Spelling is. Make sure you’re spelling is flawless. While breaking grammar once in a while to show your passion, or your rebellious nature is fine. Combine it with bad spelling and you’ll change perception from a rebel to an ill-educated fool rather quickly.
About Out of the Office Virtual Assistance:
Since 2006, Out of the Office has offered ideas and ways to increase your productivity, decrease your workload, and work more efficiently. We nurture a successful business relationship, while continuing to grow as your business partner. We are focused on streamlining your administration, social media planning and execution, content writing and offering creative solutions for your business success.