(815) 503-0286 matt@matthewlbrennan.com

We all remember that dreaded feeling from our school days. The one where we were sitting in those uncomfortable desks, squirming in anticipation. Finally the teacher hands your paper back, and you turn it over, only to notice it covered in red pen.

As much as we disliked it, the wake up calls served a purpose and made us better writers. It’s time to think back to those days, and realize that writing criticism is not something to take personally, but instead it’s a conversation on the way to improving a product.

Writing is not like calculus. It’s something that you’ll use in real life, even if you’re not an engineer. In order to communicate ideas, you must know how to put words on a page. Sure it can be nuanced at times, but for a business owner, it’s a must.

Simply put, bad grammar will cost you money. Your readers see the wrong usage of a word, typos, or verbs that don’t agree, and they click away. They assume that you don’t know what you are talking about.

“Why should I believe him, if he can’t use the right it’s?” 

Good Grammar Establishes Trust

Your readers recognize the bad kind. They’re adept, and a page riddled with mistakes will have a financial impact until the problems are fixed. If you want comments on your blog posts, misspell something. You’ll get what you wished for, and not in a good way. But at least you’ll have the ability to fix.

Those papers were riddled with red ink, because in the real world, bad grammar matters. It’s more than one person’s pet peeve, when you are marketing your small business. Bad grammar shifts the focus away from good ideas.

Know When To Ask For Help

The English language is complex. For every rule, there can be an exception. Like AA, the trick is to recognize, and admit the problem.

When you don’t know which form of the word there that you need, look it up. When you don’t know if it is it’s or its that you’re after, look it up.

Google is the most accessible tool when it comes to a grammar question. Many times just searching the problem will lead you to the solution.

The Associated Press Stylebook can help solve most quandaries. It’s the reference guide that journalists use to maintain consistent grammar and style.

Write First, Edit Later

When you operate in reverse, you can stifle creativity, and develop a nasty case of writer’s block. Writing everything down in an uninhibited manner comes from the “there’s no such thing as a bad idea” school of thought, but it is true. If the idea is internalized, you’ll never have a chance to tweak it, and the world will never know.

There’s another benefit to this approach, too. If you put your idea on paper, and walk away for a few minutes, you can come back with a fresh mind. Go, take the garbage out. Get that walk in. Do whatever you need to do for a few minutes, and come back ready to improve your work. You’ll see better results when you operate in this order.

Read Your Work Out loud

It will sound silly. You’ll wonder why you’re doing it, and possibly reinforce a deep uneasiness about hearing your own voice. You’ll also catch things that would have otherwise slipped past, and find the things that should be looked up.

Hearing your work provides an added layer of insight that’s otherwise unattainable. It’s a great way to edit.

Make That Teacher Proud

She may not have been your favorite, but she also had a point. Just a little extra effort and care can greatly improve your work. If you follow these three suggestions, you’ll be able to more clearly articulate your ideas. This leads to more people reading your work from start to finish, and a wider customer base. Keep that in mind as you write.


Matt Brennan is a Chicago-area marketing writer and copy editor. He is also the author of Write Right-Sell Now.