Why won’t business bloggers learn to write?

I’ve always said that good writing in business and other nonfiction isn’t an art; it’s a vehicle in which to deliver your thoughts to your readers.

Why won’t business bloggers learn to write?

Would you deliver your products to customers using a vehicle that looks as shoddy as this?

Now. What sort of (motor) vehicle would impress your customers more, were you to use one to deliver your products: one that’s dirty, rusty, noisy and smelly, or one that’s clean, freshly painted, with a decent exhaust/muffler and proper emissions control? Even if your delivery vehicle is not brand new, it can still be made to look, sound, smell and perform to a high quality for relatively little money, time and effort. And I’m sure you agree, you’ll give your customers a far more favourable impression of your business if you use a clean, tidy vehicle.

OK. Why won’t so many, many business bloggers clean up their grammar, spelling, punctuation and syntax so these writing skills help them deliver a high-quality blog post?

But blogging is not writing…hello?

Over recent months I have been observing people from various sources who believe that blogging is an art form all unto itself and – yes, I’m serious – has little or no connection with quality of writing.

What are these people on? How the hell do they expect to communicate effectively in a text-based blog post if they don’t write it properly? The reality is, citing blogging as a discipline that’s different from writing is just a lame excuse to cover up for shoddy grammar, spelling, punctuation and syntax.

According to these people you don’t need to be bright or educated to blog; you only have to have something to say and be able to shout.

Currently, anyone who can use a keyboard thinks they can write. And in a literal sense, of course, that’s true. However despite technology facilitating most things almost up to DIY brain surgery, writing online hasn’t just metamorphosed into a point-and-click facility; it still requires cerebral writing skills in addition to the mechanical – and not just having something worthwhile to say, but also being able to say it effectively and correctly.

Who cares about a few mistakes?

  • Clients and customers
  • Potential clients
  • Potential employees
  • Your competitors
  • Your contributors, if you have any
  • Google (spelling mistakes can mean you don’t get found)

…that’s who, and these are only a few from a longer list. (Check out this article of mine for yet more reasons why writing mistakes can be embarrassing – and expensive.) And if you think it’s only the older generation of business people who are concerned about the quality of your writing, wrong.

A couple of weeks ago in a meeting I attended a very slick 30-year-old advertising director made a vociferous point about typos: “if you can’t get the small things right, how the hell would you cope with the big ones?”

Like it or not, in a business blogging context – and even in the more social parts of social media – poor quality writing makes you look unprofessional.

The top telltale signs of shoddy writing in blogs

1.Of … when it should be have, e.g. I could of done it that way … You should of seen her face … etc

2.Your … when you mean you’re

3.It’s and its used wrongly

4.Apostrophes either absent or used wrongly

5.Simple past tense of a verb used instead of past participle, e.g. “I want you to check out this eBook I’ve wrote”

6.Affect when you mean effect and vice versa

7.Inconsistent capitalization … some headings just for proper nouns, other headings for every word, etc

8.Loose when you mean lose

9.Me when it should be I, e.g. “My boss and me went to a meeting….”

10.Dissapointing when it should be disappointing

11.Commas where there should be a semi-colon, colon or full stop/period, e.g. “You can look at these problems in one of several ways, there are six main issues to consider here…”

12.Plurals and singulars: verbs not agreeing, e.g. “There’s at least five different ways to approach this challenge … “

…and there are many, many more, 1,500 of which I have captured in this book and that’s only a start.

So what’s the answer?

Unless you were really bad at English in school, you should know roughly what’s right and what’s wrong. Spell checkers and grammar checkers don’t pick up everything but they do help a bit. There are excellent online dictionaries you can use to check spelling, and there are many good books, websites, courses, etc. available to give you free advice and help you improve your writing overall (including this website, of course.)

Don’t be like so many so-called professional business bloggers who just whack away at the keyboard, run a quick glance over the text, slap in a dull, boring image, hit “publish” and then brag about how they can churn out a business blog post in 20 minutes. Like anything that’s carelessly rushed, the end result will be poor.

blogging,writing,blog writing,business,newsletter,HowToWriteBetter.net,How To Write Better,Suzan St MaurEdit and proofread your work carefully. Print out the text and read it on paper – you’d be surprised how different it can look that way and goofs that don’t show up on screen, in hard type can gleam at you like floodlights.

Take a bit of trouble over how you write your business blog posts: after all, they’re an important shop window for you. If they’re worth doing, they’re worth doing well.

Want to write even better blog posts?

“Business Writing Made Easy”…everything you need to know about writing for business in English

“Banana Skin Words and how not to slip on them”…over 1,500 spelling and grammar tips to perfect your written English

“English to English: the A to Z of British-American translations”…more than 2,000 business and social terms from the USA, the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand

photo credit: Vince Alongi via photopin cc

Comments

comments

Thoughts

  1. Thank you for posting this! In the past two days alone, I have seen so many people that I really respect make these sorts of mistakes in their blogs, Facebook updates and elsewhere. It sets my teeth on edge and makes me cringe – for them.

    I would add to your #9 – wrong use of I, when meant to be the object of a sentence or after a preposition, e.g. ‘to Mindy and I’ instead of the correct ‘to Mindy and me’.

    I would also encourage people to look at their use of ‘their’, ‘there’ and ‘they’re, since they’re often using the wrong one!

    Thanks again for all the important work you are doing and maybe one day you will reach everyone!

    🙂

    • Hi Mindy – great to see you here, so welcome!

      What’s so annoying with all this is the fact that to clean up shoddy writing is NOT rocket science; for most people it’s purely a matter of a) taking more care and b) caring about professional writing in the first place.

      Thanks for your comment and your very kind words.

  2. I couldn’t agree more!
    Oh, and thanks for reminding me that I must clean my car 😉

  3. I absolutely agree. If a business can’t be bothered to check its blog for spelling mistakes, what confidence could I possibly have in the quality of any other work it does? My disability means my co-ordination is poor and I make lots of errors and typos, but I do keep checking to ensure I’ve spotted them all before publishing. Some still get through, and I’m absolutely mortified when that happens. There is no excuse, really.

  4. Here! Here! I guess I’m just naturally good at spelling and grammar but whenever I read people’s posts with the errors you listed above I make a subconscious judgement of their work. The only thing I have trouble with is capitalizing words in the subject line of blog posts. What’s your opinion, Suze?

    • The whole capitalization issue is a tough one, Trudy, and as I’ve said elsewhere how you capitalize titles really comes down to personal preference. My favoring minimal capitalization is because I think that makes titles and headlines more readable, but there are those who disagree with that. Tricky one.

Thoughts

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