Him/Her Blogging for Business

You Can Get Your Ex Back


“If you want your ex back, but you lash out against them in hurt and anger, they will probably have trouble getting over that,” Gene Morris assures readers in the little book You Can Get Your Ex Back.”

Getting an ex back is not something I need help with just now. But as a business blog content writing trainer, I couldn’t help noticing something very interesting about this little paperback book: In just 56 short pages, the author managed to use the pronouns “they”, “them”, and “their” no fewer than 192 times when referring to ONE ex-spouse!  In addition to the opening line which I quoted above, examples include:

  • “Now, if the relationship ended because the other person cheated and left, you might be tempted to think that they left and you did not do anything wrong.”
  • “Do not slander, insult, or otherwise speak ill of your ex to anybody, because it will get back to them eventually, and that will kill your chances of getting back together with them.”
  • “”Let your ex have their new relationship, because you will still have a chance.”
  • “When it is time to contact your ex, they will notice the improvements.”
  • “Show them that you are serious by getting out of the depressed state and putting a smile back on your face.”
  • “You have been eagerly awaiting your moment where you can contact them and profess your love and your regret to them.”

The grammar question, of course is this: Is there a pronoun to use when referring back to a singular noun? Actually, as explains, “singular “they” enjoys a long history of usage in English. For example, it’s OK to say “Each student should save their questions until the end.”  It’s standard to use the masculine: “Each student should save his questions until the end”; feminists might prefer “Each student should save her questions until the end”. One solution might be to use pronouns of both genders together, like “he or she” or “him/her”, but that quickly becomes awkward. You might, the website authors suggest, reword sentences to always use a plural:  “Students should save their questions until the end.”

In doing online marketing through blogs, the last thing we content writers want is awkwardness – the whole idea is to engage readers, not frustrate them! To me, using “they”, “them”, and “their”, referring to just one ex-spouse in every other line of that little paperback was awkward enough to derail the message that book was obviously designed to convey.

I think the answer in blog content writing is to be direct.  “Your ex will notice the improvements you’ve made.” “Show your ex that you’re serious”. “You’ve been eagerly awaiting the moment when you can convey your love and regret to your ex.”

Above all, in blog content writing, avoid the awkward!


Spend Time Adding Blog Value, Not Subtracting Typos

book Get Noticed in a Noisy World


“Don’t hire a proofreader for your blog,” is Michael Hyatt’s advice in the book Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World. Why not?

1. It will delay “shipping” – Perfection is the mother of procrastination.
2. Blogs are not books – you can make corrections later and then immediately republish.
3. Even proofreaders don’t catch every typo.

Wait a minute! Not two weeks ago in the very Say It For You blog, didn’t I repeat my rant about “spinach-in-the-teeth” bloopers in blog content, warning content writers how important it is for us to pay attention to grammar and spelling in our blog posts?

As part of that very post, I bolstered my argument in favor of being finicky about grammar and spelling by quoting Christina Wang of, who writes “No matter where you work or what you do, everyone needs to know how to write effectively for business these days.”

Like Tevya (of Fiddler on the Roof), who was fond of saying, “On the other hand,” I concede  there are valid points on both sides of most arguments, including the grammar-Nazi/ frequency of posting content dilemma.

On the one hand, “Stay focused on your writing and your output,” Hyatt advises. “Churn out the posts. The more your write, the better you will get.” Does correct spelling and proper grammar really matter?  After all, your blog is supposed to reveal the real you!

On the other hand, as Copyblogger’s Brian Clark explains, there are certain mistakes that detract from your credibility. And truth be told, the “real me” has a very real opinion in favor of fastidiousness about proper writing.

I do approve of Michael Hyatt’s three-step precautionary advice to blog content writers:

  • Read through each post twice.
  • Read it out loud.
  • Publish it as a draft and read it fully formatted on the blog site itself.

I even, at least generally speaking, approve of Hyatt’s summation: “Spend time writing content that adds value rather than obsessing over every typo, misspelling, and grammatical error.”

True, but….We blog content writers do want to get noticed in this “noisy” online world, but not for all the wrong reasons!



In a Blog, is Someone One or Two?

One Plus One

“Beware of common grammatical mistakes, like subject-verb agreement,” cautions Helen Coster in Forbes. Rule to remember:  The number of the subject determines the number of the verb.

Use a singular verb form after:

  • Nobody
  • Someone
  • Everybody
  • Neither
  • Everyone
  • Each
  • Either

“We can agree that a verb agrees with its subject in person and number,” The Lousy Writer reminds us.  Examples include:

  • “No one except the ticket holders is admitted.”
  • “Every one of us is anxious to build a business.”
  • “The famous museum with its thousands of artifacts was destroyed.” (There is only one museum.)

What’s more, The Lousy Writer explains, the meaning rather than the form of the subject controls the number of the verb.

  • “The movie ’The Godfather’ was directed by Francis Ford Coppola.” (There is only one movie.)
  • “Fifty dollars is too much for those sneakers.”  (There is one sum of fifty dollars.)
  • “The committee is ready to boycott.” (The committee consists of several persons, but we refer to it here as one group.)

Using plurals and singulars can get quite tricky, Learner’s Dictionary authors admit, especially when a sentence has more than one subject per verb. Here are three examples:

  • (two singular) The dog and the cat bother me. (bother is a plural verb)
  • (two plural): The dogs and the cats bother me.
  • (one singular, one plural) The dog and cats bother me.

In blog content writing, of course, the idea is to avoid confusing the reader and get the point across. Avoiding common grammatical mistakes and making subjects agree with verbs is one healthy habit we content writers can cultivate.

Remember: the number of the subject determines the number of the verb!





Tips on Business Writing for Bloggers – Part A

Writing Tips and tricks B

As a business blog content writer, I found Susan Adams’ “Ten Tips on Business Writing”, offered in Forbes Magazine, almost made to order for bloggers.  Five of the tips have to do with word choice and ideas (I’ve added my own thoughts in italics):

Start by writing short, declarative sentences.
Short sentences have what I call “pow!” and are easily shared on social media sites. Focused content, I teach in corporate blogging training sessions, keeps readers’ attention on the message. That doesn’t mean every sentence needs to be short, because variety is important, too.

Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or any kind of jargon if you can think of an English equivalent.
Jargon, in general, is a handle-with-care writing technique, all the more so in corporate blogging, where readers are impatient to find the information they need without any navigational or terminology hassle.

Make your point and move on. If your big idea isn’t in the first paragraph, put it there. If you can’t find it, rewrite.
A blog post might consist of a few dozen sentences, but no line is as important as that opener. Beginning with a startling statistic is certainly one tactic blog writers can use to demonstrate to online readers that business owners and practitioners are familiar with the reader’s problem and know how to deal with it.
Be specific. Instead of mentioning “the current situation,” explain exactly what the situation is.
Be specific in terms of both location and services. Each potential customer needs to find value “where they are”, both geographically and in terms of their unique needs.

Whenever possible, use active instead of passive verbs. Active verbs help to energize your prose.
Using the passive voice hides the identity of the person who performed the action. But, because the very purpose of the blog content is to showcase the accomplishments of the business and products and services it brings to customers, using the active voice makes sense in corporate blog writing.

Would your latest blog post pass the Five-Point Word Choice test?




Reading Along, Does Your Blog Whiz past?

Dev Patel

When Adam Davis of Buzz Feed teaches you grammar, he first shows you a video clip in which some well known TV or movie actor is doing it wrong.

  • She may not have split ends, but when the movie star says “You need to really focus”, that’s an example of a split infinitive.  Sure, when creating a blog post, you do really need to focus on one concept. You also really need to keep the two parts of the infinitive (“to” and “focus”) together!
  • No, Warner Brothers. That actress shouldn’t be saying “There’s towels in the closet.” There ARE towels in the closet.  “Towels” is a plural object, so “are” is the appropriate verb.
  • And, Dev Patel, you’re a favorite of mine, but don’t be putting apostrophes where they don’t belong, as in “Put it in it’s place”. The apostrophe in “it’s” means “it is”, and I know that’s not what you meant.
  • My favorite of the David film star quotes is this one: “Walking along, cars whizzed past”. The cars aren’t what’s walking, for heaven’s sake! The participle “walking along” is left dangling with nothing to attach itself to, Davis points out.

“I won’t hire people who use poor grammar,” says Kyle Wiens in the Harvard Business Review. Isn’t that a bit extreme? No, because Wiens has a “zero tolerance approach” to grammar mistakes that make people look stupid. Language is constantly changing, he admits, but that doesn’t make grammar unimportant.  “Good grammar is credibility, especially on the Internet.”

In today’s competitive business world (as any good freelance blog content writer needs to keep in mind), corporate blogging for business represents an ideal tool for “getting personal” and earning trust.? Business blog writing needs to be real.

Being real, though, doesn’t mean being sloppy, as I’m constantly reminding business owners and professional practitioners during corporate blogging training sessions.

Reading along, does your blog whiz past?