Photo by Barry Schwartz
Writing for business is subject to an important rule: don’t embarrass yourself. Business writing should be somewhat conversational, but not like chatting to strangers after a drink or two, then dropping your card on the floor.
There is help for those not comfortable writing. Like spell-check. Spell-check is so easy there is no excuse for not using it. It is ubiquitous.
Keep it simple. Anyone can overwrite – including bloggers. There’s an easy way to protect yourself from yourself: never use your first draft. Good writing is re-writing.
Grammar is as important as it was in grammar school, but it’s not necessary any longer to be able to explain what a dependent clause is. It should read well. Don’t be sloppy. Clients don’t like sloppy. Even the sloppy ones.
Understand a little bit about commas and periods. This can be tricky, because sometimes using a comma can protect a thought from sounding all chopped up in separate sentences, while too many periods can produce too many ideas that don’t seem to connect. However. Periods produce emphasis and clarity. When in doubt, use a period.
Learn from example. Look at contracts and business letters in books; they’ve been copy-edited to protect the writers from themselves.
The main reason to learn to write is that it’s about making money.
For instance, a client – or potential client – might not understand your bio on your website. Your contract. Your cover letter. They might never get a clear idea your level of professional behavior and never get the chance understand you and how you think because they might not hire you in the first place.
All else fails, simply read something out loud. Good writing should be clear enough that you could speak it and make sense. Make sense?