There’s no way around it: for any successful small business, writing is critical.
It’s not easy. Check out these verbal hoops you need to jump through:
- You need to be able to engage prospects in as few as 140 characters,
- You need to be able to hold prospects’ attention through long-form blog posts, and
- You need to be able to keep these prospects coming back for more.
In other words, when it comes to small business writing, you need to be all things to all people.
Here are some tactics and tools you can use to help you accomplish these extreme goals.
Hire writers. If writing is not your thing at all, hire people to do your small business writing for you. You can hand off your social media accounts to others and you can find freelancers to create blogs. I’m not going to spend too much time on this, because working with freelancers is territory that has been covered here and elsewhere extensively. There are a couple of good articles over on Hubspot that get into some of the nitty gritty:
- How to Hire the Freelance Writer of Your Dreams, by Paul Furiga, and
- 9 Questions you MUST Ask Before Hiring a Freelance Blogger, by Corey Wainwright.
Hire an editor. If you feel your writing skills are okay in terms of being informative and engaging, but you’re not quite as confident in your command of grammar, spelling, and usage, strike up a business relationship with an editor. You may have a grammar maven in your circle who would be worth a try. I know a professional writer who often has his wife look over his work because she spent years as a high school yearbook teacher and her proofreading skills are through the roof.
Check out the various freelance sites to find an editor if you don’t know one locally. If your writing just needs a little polishing here and there, the cost should be very reasonable. However, if your work requires rewriting and reorganizing, the price will go up.
Grammarly. There are many apps that will check your small business writing grammar, from Microsoft Word itself, to various WordPress plugins. Warning: none are perfect, so you need to be able to recognize when they are wrong or when you’re breaking a rule on purpose for effect.
Grammarly comes in free and paid editions. I’ve only used the free version. I like it because it spans all the places where you’re likely to write something your prospects will see. It even warns you about problems in your Facebook updates – virtually every nook and cranny where your small business writing is likely to appear is covered.
Hemingway app. In honor of the KISS maxim – Keep it simple stupid! – and with a bow to Ernest Hemingway’s clean, terse use of the English language, this app is like a hair straightener, it will help you take out all the kinks and get you straight to the point.
It’s just a fact of life that most small business writing today should be geared to a sixth-grade reading level and the Hemingway app does a good job assigning your work a readability score. You’ll know if you need to simplify sentence structure and word choice. I’ve subjected one of the earlier paragraphs of this article to the Hemingway app’s relentless critiquing:
The app objects to adverbs on principle and it would prefer that I use “but” instead of “however” and I don’t think it likes the word “very” very much at all!
Yoast SEO. This WordPress plugin won’t give you specific recommendations to improve the readability of your small business writing, but Yoast SEO will help you stay on target with your keywords and search engine optimization. (In fact, in some ways it might make your writing worse! But that’s a subject for another time.)
If you don’t want to bother with the Hemingway app, Yoast SEO will give your writing a readability score. But unlike the Hemmingway app, Yoast SEO won’t highlight the word, sentences, and phrases you need to change to improve your score.
Please keep in mind that all my comments on apps are on their free versions. You might want to try some paid versions and see if they fit your writing needs and your monthly budget.
Here’s a final piece of advice that is not addressed by any of the apps or paid services I’ve mentioned: You need to maintain a fairly consistent voice throughout your small business writing. You can’t rant one day and then be the nicest person on the planet the next. You want your followers to be able to identify with you on some level. If your writing voice is all over the place, consistently engaging with individuals will be impossible.