Post updated, May 2023.
When I first wrote this article we were in the grip of covid. Life was weird then. I spent most of my time drinking pints of gin and crying in the toilet. Anyway, back to business content writing…
Before you go to town on your blurb, know this: anyone can learn to write content. It’s not brain surgery which also means you’re not going to kill a customer if you fuck it up. You don’t have to be a copywriter or marketing genius to communicate your message well. So without further blatherings, here are my 6 things to crack business content writing…
1. Don’t be intimidated.
Be intimidating. Mawahahahaha!
Ok, I’m not suggesting you break legs if prospects don’t become paying clients. But confidence can be intimidating. Interestingly, people are both attracted to confident individuals and a little scared by them—that’s not your problem, btw, you are fully entitled to express self-assurance when it comes to your professional abilities (or any other abilities, for that matter). As such, you should not allow yourself to be influenced by the negative outpourings of non-entities who have no desire to hire you. In this world, folks will jab at you, they will dismiss you, and they will try to make you believe you’re a bit shit. Thankfully these depressing creatures are in the minority, also their opinions don’t pay the bills. Instead, imagine them in damp basements, wearing grubby underpants with only the dim light of their computer screens for company. There, that’s better.
2. Hire a proofreader.
This will come down to budget or time—or both.
If you’re a writer, I more than hope your client work is being picked apart by a proofreader and/or editor. If you’re writing your own content, at least get your webcopy reviewed by a professional. A homepage overrun with grammatical errors will harm your credibility. Here’s the truth a lot of web designers don’t want you to know: the words you type are more important than their design. Words come first because they trigger decisions, so let’s make them a priority, yeah?
I get it, paying a proofreader to check your social media stuff is hardly living in the moment (and it will get pretty expensive). But there are tools to help. My STUNNING proofreader (Lorraine ‘Lozza’ Williams) sells proofreading guides for when you don’t have the cash or the time to hire someone. And the ‘read aloud’ feature on your desktop/phone is great for picking up rogue words or words you missed. If you’re really desperate, there’s always the uncompromising Grammarly (guaranteed to rid your content of any humanity. That’s AI for you).
Psycho typo guy.
A bloke once took the time to highlight a typo I’d made on social media.
That’s not the reason he’s a passive-aggressive douche. I have no issue with being told about the blunder, especially as he saved my blushes by informing me via DM. However, the message soon turned into a lecture. He wasn’t happy with pointing out my mistake, he simply had to go on (and on, and on, and on…) and explain that as the typo was within a post about business content writing services, he could never bring himself to hire me as his content writer. Also, he was concerned many others wouldn’t hire me either—you see, he was helping me. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the arrogant white knight of grammar.
FYI: there are plenty of people not willing to hire me, a typo is never the reason.
Just imagine being the sort of twat to discount someone’s entire ability to do a job based on a typo in a social media post. I couldn’t be arsed to mention that I employ a proofreader for client work because, to me, that seems fucking obvious. Furthermore, if this guy thinks decent writing is about the rules of writing, it’s unlikely he’d recognise proper prose if it were etched onto his corneas—making him the last person I would wish to work with.
Humans make mistakes.
We’re really bad at spotting our spelling boo-boos. Lozza tells a lovely tale of finding a typo in a presentation she was giving. (Yes, MY proofreader! With a typo, I know, how apt!) Did people stop hiring her? Nope. Proofreaders are human too (and so are writers, well, some of us).
Get comfortable making mistakes. You’re going to make plenty of them in your business content writing. Struggling with words and spelling doesn’t mean you’re not good at connecting with your audience—that’s bullshit so don’t let anyone tell you any different. For example, you can be dyslexic AND a wonderful storyteller. You can puff your chest about your language smarts AND still manage to write the most snooze-worthy garbage.
3. Purposeful content.
Every piece of business content must have a reason to live! Just like you! A landing page uses strategic copy with one focus: to convert visitors—not to god but to a sale. Blog content often provides helpful information that will educate the visitor. Figure out the purpose of each piece of content. Yes, it’s all ultimately about selling your stuff but you’ll need to tailor it to the place it resides.
4. Who’s it all for?
I write content for my ideal client—not grammar pedants but folks with a sense of humour (and self-awareness). If prospects don’t match my perfect client persona, I don’t entertain them. I only have eyes for a very specific type. Think about your ideal client like I do the SKY Vegas advert guy. What is that guy interested in? Are you his sort? Can you find a way to be where he hangs out? Your content needs to be all about the guy/your ideal client. They will engage with it and contact you if they feel you’re talking to them.
5. Be your brilliant business self.
We play different people in life. Sexy, come-to-bed you probably isn’t business you (it might be if sex is your business). And bezzie mates you isn’t (usually) how you talk to prospective clients (again, if it is, that’s perfectly acceptable). What I’m trying to say is find the business tone you’re happy to present. You define what professional looks like.
Side note: I don’t think being ‘authentic’ means you have to reveal your inner self to someone who might be paying you to unblock a toilet/install their WiFi/write them some copy.
6. Be consistent.
You need to commit to regular content writing. Create a content calendar if it helps. And if you can’t commit to that, hire a professional to do it. But also this: quality trumps quantity. If you only write when you have a mind to do it, and that article is superbly executed, fine, do that. But remember: your business content writing should be your standard. It should be recognisable as your business. So loosen up and make things relatable.
If you want to read more content-related guff, take a look at my blog.
I’m a freelance business content writer at The Sarky Type®. My thang is SEO-informed blurb that sets your words on fire (ablaze with LOLs and engagement not to be confused with real fire that destroys everything in sight. Metaphors are better when they don’t require explanation. Note to self).