Do you lack business writing confidence?
Worried your business writing is no good? Take heart. You’re not alone.
I recently attended a strategy day for micro-businesses. After introducing my writing company many of my fellow attendees admitted to not being confident at writing. Public speaking, doing their finances, breaking a leg… they’d rather do anything than write and God Forbid – have that writing made public!
But as a business owner, you need to get your message out there, whether it’s on a blog post, a leaflet, an email pitch, a Facebook update or your LinkedIn profile. With no marketing you can’t hope to keep your company afloat. And yes, there’s a point when you must write content for others to read, unless you want to outsource your writing.
Lack of business writing confidence affects professional writers too
I’m a professional writer. I write hundreds of words every day. Yet even I suffer from writing stage-fright occasionally. I write furiously. Then edit. And edit. And edit some more. Just a bit more copy-tickling, then it’ll be perfect.
But you know what? Your writing will never be perfect, so let’s take that expectation out of the equation right now. Aim to write – write something, anything!
Woah there! Before you press publish, there are several steps you need to take. Follow them and be reassured your work is good enough to hit publish.
Here’s a handy business writing checklist to crush that publish-button avoidance. Don’t be held back from getting your content out into the world.
1. Do you know who you’re writing for?
A great place to start in boosting your business writing confidence is to know who you’re writing for. Knowing your ideal reader colours your whole writing process. Knowing this up front makes it so much easier to write and get the right message across. You won’t please everyone, but if your content is targeted in the first place, there’s a greater chance your audience will appreciate your words, which boosts your confidence.
Use this free workbook to get you and your super customer on the same page!
2. One key message
Does your writing stick to one topic or does it meander? Keep your writing focused to create concise content. You’ll also prevent content bloat; that’s where your 500-word ‘How HR managers can better communicate with employees’ unwittingly becomes an epic 3-000 word ‘Ultimate guide to NLP in the workplace’.
3. Have you edited?
Inexperienced writers bash out their words and slap the resulting content onto their site after a simple MS Word spellcheck. Editing is not purely proofreading. Leave your content to brew for a while. Do something else, preferably not related to writing. Come back to your words later and read them with fresh eyes. You may spot a glaring factual error. Or sentences that don’t feel right. You might notice repetition in your points.
This is the time to be ruthless. Slash unnecessary words. Make sentences shorter. Read aloud to check your writing has rhythm and refine as needed. This is a vital step. Before I became a professional blogger, I wrote a blog about my boys to keep my family updated with what we were doing. I’d write posts on the fly; into my phone or on scraps of paper before typing up and publishing with little editing. It was a hobby and not for wider public consumption, so it didn’t matter.
As a business owner you don’t have this luxury. What you write matters. But when you’re pushed for time and need results, it’s tempting to skip this step. Don’t! My writing improved significantly when I turned professional and added editing to my process.
4. A final proofread
Now you need a final check. No matter what quality your words are, you need to make them error-free. If there’s one area you should aim for perfection, its spelling and grammar. Check out these proofreading tips for more on how to get it right first time. If you’re writing a lot for your business, consider hiring a proof-reader or copyeditor to give your work the ultimate check. Many established writers do this too. I would, but I just love the editing stage too much to let someone else have all the fun!
5. Banish that inner critic to boost your business writing confidence
You’ve got words on paper and you’ve followed this checklist. Your writing is good enough. If you wait for perfection, nothing will get done. It’s good to strive for improvement, but don’t be harsh on yourself. If your inner critic is out of control, consider this – would you let your critic speak to a friend or your child in this way? No? Then please be kinder to yourself. There will be better writers than you, there will also be worse writers than you. As long as your words are good enough to get your message across and are spelt correctly that’s OK.
Many professional writing careers are scuppered by writers-block. The fear of not making your words perfect can be paralysing. I know myself. There’s occasions where I have to step away from the laptop. The words just won’t come. Or they sound wrong.
It happens. But you’ve got to keep trying. The more you write, the better you’ll become. You’ll find your voice and your business writing confidence will soar. And that publish button won’t be such a scary prospect after all.