Using Content to Drive Engagement

[Beginner – 104] Writing Mistakes to Avoid on Your Website

The age of internet marketing has created a limitless need for content. In this digital age, marketing now takes the form of newsletters, blogs, news items, videos, and other articles.

For those marketers who have some writing skill but lack confidence, there are a few tips that can help you to avoid common writing mistakes and make the difference between an article that inspires trust and one that turns customers off.

Matching the style to the subject and readers

Consider your audience by choosing the right language for the content. Many blogs use an informal, humorous style to great effect, but make sure you know when this is and isn’t appropriate. Once a style is chosen, be consistent throughout the article.

In addition: today’s readers want to skim. Breaking text into many short paragraphs helps make the material easier and less tiring on the eyes. Sub-titles help to alert the reader to the subject matter to follow.

Language misuse

Be precise with punctuation: a semi-colon can make the difference between a sale and a lost customer. And watch your spelling! One of the most frequent grammatical errors today is due to the confusion between “there is” and “there are.” Such confusion follows from the normal usage of contractions, but as long as you remember to match the verb with the plurality or singularity of the object, you will avoid this far-too-common writing mistake. Other very common contraction pairs that cause confusion are its- it’s; your-you’re; and whose-who’s.

The adverbs “much” and “many” trip up many inexperienced writers. This is one example: “Just because you’re not investing as many resources into your old marketing efforts, it doesn’t mean that your efforts should go to waste.” “Many” is used with plural nouns, while “much” is used with singular nouns.

How to avoid common writing mistakes that affect meaning

Know when details are necessary and when they are excessive. As mentioned above, readers are likely skimming for the main ideas. Leave out the waste and cut to the chase by choosing words carefully.

Then there are those nasty double negatives. This was found online just this week: “While the sun is expected to explode at some point in the history of the universe, scientists eased fears here on Earth that a cataclysmic eruption is not likely to happen anytime soon.” What does this mean? Are scientists afraid a serious eruption will- or will not – happen soon? If a seasoned online news source commits this sort of writing mistake, it shows how careful editors need to be to catch such slips.

Let’s talk about run-on sentences. Because they’re so easy to avoid, it’s surprising to see this mistake being made so often. Reading a piece aloud before publishing will help to identify them. When too many thoughts are following each other without a break, it’s time to divide the sentence into two or three.

Another common gaffe made by writers today is the use of cloudy pronouns. This happens when writers fall into the temptation to make writing more like speech. For example, in the sentence, “Readers of such stories become confused when seemingly random words and ideas fill up pages, so they need to be eliminated.” Who does the pronoun “they” refer to – the readers, the stories, words, sentences or pages? Cloudy pronouns cloud the meaning.

Writing content can be turned from a chore to a delight by following these and other basic conventions. Once such rules become second nature, mistakes will stand out and writing will take on more clarity.

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