Like learning a second language or picking up a new instrument, writing for business requires dedicated practice to see results. You must put in the hours fine tuning your creativity before it becomes second nature. Here are some best practices to help guide you along the way.
Write For Your Audience
You are writing for your audience, not for yourself. If your customers, shareholders, or business partners take time out of their day to read your content, there should be a strong benefit in it for them. If you make it all about yourself, you will lose interest.
Pro tip: Use the word “you” in your writing. It shifts the conversation towards the needs and wants of your audience (we are first in customer service vs. award winning customer service that fits your business).
Simple is your Best Friend
There’s no need to break out the dictionary and insert fancy jargon into your prose. It might seem like a smart move, but you will confuse and lose people this way. Write conversationally, as though you were talking to a friend.
It doesn’t hurt to keep in mind some of the writing tips you learned in high school:
- Put the most important information first
- Have a clear, informative title
- Make strong topic sentences for each paragraph
While you’re at it, keep your sentences and paragraphs simple too. Long paragraphs are a deterrent to readers looking to grab information quickly and long sentences can feel awkward to read. If it feels repetitive, cut it out.
Write with an active voice. Active voice means that the subject of the sentence performs an action (the subject is acting). Passive voice, on the other hand, means that the subject of the sentence is being acted upon (the subject is passive).
Here’s an example:
Active: I finished the blog post.
The subject (I) performed an action (finished the blog post).
Passive: The blog post was finished by me.
The subject (blog post) is being acted upon (was finished).
Typically, active voice is much more concise than passive voice. Although subtle, it can make a huge impact on the quality of your writing and the way it is received.
Be a Ruthless Editor
There are two types of editing: copy and line. Copy editing looks at the content overall including the style, grammar, spelling, and cohesiveness. Line editing involves running through each sentence with a fine tooth comb, seeking for ways to elevate your prose and maintain consistency from line to line. You want to cut out redundancies, weak verbs, and unnecessary adverbs and adjectives.
While line editing is not always necessary, it IS important to ruthlessly edit your work once you are finished. If you struggle with this, it always helps to ask someone else to go over your work. Fresh eyes can catch things that you might miss.
Practice these and, before you know it, your business writing will soar. For more writing tips, check out our blog post, How to Improve Your Writing Process, for Entrepreneurs.