What's the difference between professionally written web copy and that produced by an amateur?
Well, without meaning to sound too sardonic, professional web content appears professional, amateur content doesn't. The differences often lie here:
- Overwriting – non-professionals often make the mistake of thinking that elaborate writing equals professional writing. It doesn't. And the web environment calls for a more concise sort of text because of the way people access it.
- Errors with grammar. It's surprising how many grammatical errors can slip into your text unnoticed. Unnoticed by you that is. And your site visitors don't need to be literary professors to spot this. Your discerning customers will notice and even those who are less inclined to literacy will feel that things aren't right.
- Professional writing is easy to understand.
- Punctuation!!! Those three exclamation marks are there for a reason. To highlight exactly how NOT to use exclamation marks. Amateur writers often make the mistake of over using these punctuation marks in an attempt to add further emphasis to a point. Only one exclamation mark should be used. There are no exceptions to this rule. Any more than one and the copy looks unprofessional.
- Dot dot dot, dash dash dash. See the second paragraph of this article. When a conversational style pause is needed only three dots should be used… like that. A great stream of them looks messy on the page and adds nothing to the text whatsoever. You're not using Morse code so enough with the dots and dashes. Think of these particular punctuation marks as chili peppers, and use them sparingly.
- The Apostrophe Apocalypse. The apostrophe is probably the punctuation mark that is most abused and misused by amateur writers. I tend to get thrown in in all the wrong places. Ok it might not seem like the end of the world, but at worse it can mean the end of your professional reputation.
Remember that communicating via the written word is very different from doing so with speech. Your misspellings don't show up when you talk, but they when you write them down. When errors appear on a supposedly professional website it demeans it and denigrates it to a DIY level. That implies that other aspects of your business may be run on an equally shoddy basis.
When it comes to SEO content many amateurs slip up. If you've liberally peppered your content with keywords it's likely that the text has suffered and lost its natural sound. There is great skill required to create the right balance with keywords and readability and usually only the most experienced writers should attempt this.
Your website is an integral part of your company's image. But the impact of your professional logo and even a site's usability can be lessened when accompanied by poor quality writing.
If your website is littered with errors you'll quickly lose the custom of the more discerning visitor and you'll lose the patronage of pretty well everyone who stops by the site if it is incomprehensible.
The lowdown is this, hiring a professional writer isn't the freebie option, but writers' fees aren't likely to break the bank either. The investment is well worth it if you want to maintain a professional image online and represent your company in the best light possible.