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5 Writing Mistakes that Make You Look Like an Amateur

by Vervante •

No matter what kind of product you create, the quality of your content matters! The writing you do, whether for books, planners, information products, calendars, or anything else, can make you look like a professional or an amateur, and that make a big difference if you’re trying to create satisfied and loyal customers.

Even the most experienced writers make mistakes, but there are some common issues that are easy to avoid, as long as you know what you’re looking for.  

Mistake #1: Not using a copy editor
Nothing can be more damaging to your products and your reputation than publishing a book or other written product that is filled with typos, errors, and incorrect information. If your budget is small, that’s ok, there are free options like Pro Writing Aid or Grammarly that can help. For more ideas and information about copy editing, click here to read “The importance of copy editing for books and products.”

Mistake #2: Using passive voice
Passive voice is a common mistake that can make your writing less effective and turn the reader off. To put it simply, passive voice makes your writing weak. Active voice is simpler and stronger.

It can be tough to recognize passive voice because it’s grammatically correct, and it reads like your average textbook. But that’s the problem. Passive voice reads like a boring textbook – and people don’t want to be bored.

The more you work on this, the easier it will become to find instances of passive voice and change them to active. Here are some more examples:

  • Passive: Elizabeth is loved by Mr. Darcy.
  • Active: Mr. Darcy loves Elizabeth.
  • Passive: The coffee spill was cleaned by the barista.
  • Active: The barista cleaned the coffee spill.
  • Passive: The flowers were wilted by the sun.
  • Active: The sun wilted the flowers.

Mistake #3: Unnecessary words and “fillers”
An easy trap to fall into is using excess words or fillers to stretch out your content. All that extra stuff doesn’t always work, and it can actually end up muddying up your writing and make it seem awkward and confusing.

Start by deleting words like “actually, basically, very, quite, just, or somehow.” They take up space without adding anything to your writing. Next look for phrases that can be said in one word. A good example is instead of saying “small in size,” you can just say “small.” Or replace “prior history” with “history.”

Mistake #4: Taking too long to get to the point
This is especially true when it comes to products that contain shorter passages of content that need to be strong and to the point, such as for daily planners, inspirational or motivational calendars, etc. Don’t beat around the bush. State clearly what is happening, the value of what they are about to read, the point they need to understand. Leave flowery poetry – for poetry.

Mistake #5: Apostrophe catastrophes
It’s a small simple little thing, but use it wrong and it can make you look like an amateur. Apostrophes are one of the most common mistakes editors watch for and even the professionals let them slip through once in a while. Using the wrong version of its/it’s or here’s vs. here are just a couple of examples.

Here’s a tip to avoid this issue: Any time you use an apostrophe in a contraction, where you're combining the verb with the noun (such as "it's" for "it is" or "here's" for "here is"), expand the contraction in your mind so you get the subject-verb agreement right.

For example: Writing “Here’s the menus you asked for,” may seem ok at first glance. But, if you expand the contraction, you can can see that saying “Here is the menus you asked for,” is incorrect and you should rather use “Here are the menus you asked for.”

Click here to see a fun graphic about apostrophe catastrophes: How to Use an Apostrophe

There you have it! Five common writing mistakes, easy to avoid, that will go a long way toward helping you make your writing stronger – and avoid looking like an amateur.