Business writing? Don’t go it alone

This isn't a post about the benefits of hiring a professional writer. It's about getting that all-important second opinion from someone you trust – who knows you, and likes you.

So, I have a confession. Now that I run my own business, I don’t run everything I write past an editor. But when I worked in journalism and PR, it was a very different story. Sometimes several people would read what I wrote. It would be tweaked, fact-checked, sanity checked and polished to perfection.

Only then would my editor press print (or upload). These days my writing process is a lot different. I think, I write, I self-edit, then I blog. And that works out fine. But when it comes to important copy – copy related to marketing new services, or the material for a new course, I get people I know, trust and like to read it, and comment on it. Why? Because I need that outside perspective. I need people to ask me about the things I’ve overlooked. To point out any obvious gaps. To question my logic or structure. And to catch any pesky typos I’ve inadvertently put in.

It doesn’t matter how good you are at writing. For important business copy, you too need a second pair of eyes.

Writing is a lot like throwing thoughts, ideas and questions in the air, then catching them and grounding them. Because you’ve grappled with the ideas, they make sense to you. But they may completely baffle your reader. Or your reader may misinterpret you. For example:

  • You may use etc. as it’s so obvious to you what the etc. means. But your reader may have no clue, and think you can’t be bothered to spell out what you mean.
  • You might write the same way you did at university, forgetting that a scientific, academic style is off-putting to most business people.
  • You may completely forget to even include your reader by only writing in the third person. This can make them think that the email, report or web copy isn’t relevant for them.

Finally, remember this:  They say love is blind. Well, so are words – yours. The ones you’ve lovingly written. After working on something for a while, you’re likely to develop word blindness, where you literally become blind to your mistakes. So you simply won’t see missing words, typos and bad grammar.

At the very least, make sure you proofread before you publish. At best, find the person who can support you and become your second pair of eyes.

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