With content writing becoming a sought after skill on the Web, and the variety of freelance opportunities available to writers from all backgrounds, it makes sense to hone your skills to suit potential employers and present your services in a way that will make them sit up and take notice. From your CV to samples of your work, you need to showcase your literary prowess and ability to grasp technical language and business terminology in order to secure that job in a highly competitive market today.
What Good Writing is and isn’t
Business writing is writing that informs without confusing the reader, meaning it must have clarity and a concise use of language. It can be a call to action, a motivational document and an educational paper on a business topic that provides all the information the reader needs. The point of view must be clear at all times and the points well conveyed. Grammar needs to be accurate, it stands to reason, and punctuation should be in evidence throughout, to give the writing the flow that it needs.
Many writers choose to launch freelance writing careers, but few are really prepared for the pitfalls of business writing. It differs from academic essay writing, unless your major happens to be business studies. The essence of good business writing is simplification and directness of approach. The writing is more dynamic than you might imagine; it has to appeal to its readers and excite as well as inform on relevant topics. It has to be well expressed at all times and it has to say something.
Common writing mistakes in this field include punctuation errors. Many writers use apostrophes in the wrong place, rather than when using them for the possessive case (such as the business’s goal). Writers tend to be overly generous with their apostrophes and this can be off-putting for a potential employer. Another error is overusing the comma because you are in doubt about whether a colon or semicolon belongs there. The comma is the more subtle way of breaking up a sentence but when used too prolifically it has the effect of disrupting the flow to the point of distraction for the reader. The absence of commas has a similar effect, lending the sentence a breathless air and rendering the words meaningless. Punctuation is key to all good writing and for business writing it is essential.
Ireland: a Leader in Technical Writing
Ireland is one of the few countries offering a degree in technical writing, meaning that it is becoming renowned for its skilled writers in the technology sector. Companies such as Technically Write IT claim that Ireland could become a world leader in the field, based on its training, time zones, language and ‘Irish peoples’ skills’.
Technical writing involves exploring a product and being able to convey how useable it is, including the process of how it works as well as why it should be used and what it means. At the heart of technical writing is the ability to communicate clearly to the reader in a way that makes the product itself easy to understand with as few words as possible. Many people avoid reading user manual guides because of the technical language and often confusing instructions, so the emphasis on good technical writing is how to reach the end goal quickly and effectively.
There are always companies looking for good business and technical writers who have the skills necessary to create good quality content. Business writing is highly valued; it can help achieve positive results for companies such as increasing value for stakeholders and helping those stakeholders understand company goals. By knowing who the audience is, writers can tailor their work to achieve maximum impact. Is the required style formal or informal? Is the audience external or internal to the business? Can you gain some insight from reports or profiles of individual readers? You can learn about business methods from entrepreneurship textbooks, which may prove invaluable as you grapple with business and technical writing as a freelancer. By underpinning your work with a sound knowledge of small and large businesses and applying entrepreneurial perspectives and innovation to this process, you will be a step ahead of the competition.
5 Tips for Business Writing
– Never use a long word when as short one will do; short sentences lend your writing clarity and business writing needs to make the point as succinctly as possible.
– Don’t use a scientific or foreign phrase when an English word will suit the sentence better. Keep the language familiar and accessible, or risk losing your reader.
– Make your most important idea stand out: put it in the opening paragraph. If it doesn’t work there, you need to rewrite.
– Before you write, know your audience. This is a vital tip, but is often overlooked by writers.
– Think as a reporter would. Business writing is about WHO, WHAT, WHY WHERE, HOW.
With confidence and a sensible understanding of the basics of good business writing, you should soon find yourself in demand for your business writing skills.
(c) Evelyn Wilson