The ability to write well and communicate in a clear, precise manner are necessary skills for anyone who wishes to create a compelling blog. After all, email, blog posts, or other forms of written communication are essential to doing business and interacting on the web, so you need to make sure that your words stand out from the rest (in a good way).
The purpose of this series is help bloggers of all kinds make an impact with their words. Quality writing is particularly important when you’re blogging to promote yourself or your business, because your blog is your introduction, your opening statement, and your business card, resume, and other credentials all rolled into one.
I’ll start with spelling grammar, and punctuation, because those are the building blocks of language, and therefore your blog. Some people argue that these things don’t matter at all because the web is an informal medium, but these people are wrong. Proper grammar and spelling are like clothing – yes, you can wear a ratty t-shirt and sweats everywhere, but you won’t get the respect you would in a nicely tailored jacket. It’s a fact that people judge others by their appearances, and on the net, your words form a major part of your appearance. You wouldn’t wear a wrinkled shirt to an important meeting, would you? Edit and spell-check your posts, and if you’re unsure of something, look it up.
Dictionary.com and Thesaurus.com are excellent starting points if you have spelling or usage questions (it’s also a good idea to look up your keywords in a thesaurus in order to find alternate terms and phrases searchers may use in their queries). Of course, if you are using more academic or technical terms, you’ll need to find a more niche-specific resource. Also, don’t overlook the basics: try googling your grammar questions, or search the Grammar Rules: The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation (a very comprehensive site on English grammar, including an excellent blog).
Of course, blogging is more conversational than other forms of business communication, so you don’t necessarily need to obey the rules to the letter. Things like one sentence paragraphs, using “and” as the first word of a sentence or ending one with a preposition are all acceptable in the name of style. However, it’s absolutely essential to know the rules before you can break them properly, and it’s just as necessary to be aware that there are few conventions that you just can’t disregard (correct usage of there, they’re, and their, for instance). The Copyblogger has two excellent posts on grammar and spelling rules that you just can’t break without appearing stupid.
Yes, carefully proofreading your posts may take a little longer, but when you’re using your blog as a promotional tool, it’s worth it to make sure your message is being read clearly and correctly. It’s also important to remember that we all make mistakes (hey, that’s what the “edit” button is for), but there is no excuse for sloppiness and lazy writing. Your readers are your most valuable asset and they deserve the best blog you can possible create.
After all, only your reputation is at stake.