Yes, you know your business, lawn care. You also need to think about entertaining your potential customers, and making your copy or other writing easy to read. If your writing lacks organization and compelling, vital sentences that convince your readers to keep reading, they will leave your promotion or web site immediately. There goes your “word-of-mouth” promotion. Write to sell and bring in new lawn care work.

Try my “Check and Correct” for These Top Five Mistakes

1. Stop passive sentence construction

When you write in passive voice, your writing slides along into long sentences that slow your readers down, even bore them.

Before you put your final stamp of approval on your writing, circle all the “is,” ”was” and other passive verbs like: begin, start to, seems, appears, have, and could. Use your grammar check to count your passives. Aim for 2-4% only.

Correct: ”Make sure that your name is included on all your household accounts and investments.” “Make” and “is included” –the culprits. Create more clarity with this revision,” Include your name on all household accounts and investments to keep your own credit alive after your divorce.”

2. Stop all pompous language and phrases

Well-meaning professionals often use the word, “utilize.” You see this criminal in resumes, military directives and medical or lawyer documents. “Utilize”  not only puts people off because we don’t relate to “jargoneze,” but because we want simple language. Think of Hemingway who knew that one or two syllable-words work better than longer ones.

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“The foundations of successful writing are within anyone’s grasp. The only way to do it is to do it.” - Tom Clancy

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When you aim at 10th grade level, you aim for your audience. Attempts to impress your audience with research babble or long words fail because they sound unreal and create a distance from the audience. Your reader wants a savvy friend, not an expert.

3. Show, don’t tell to keep your audience reading.

When you take the lazy shortcut using -ly words like suddenly, or the adverb “very,” your telling makes your reader yawn a “ho hum” and stop reading. Instead show “suddenly.” For example, “When she saw the pistol, she ran and slammed the door behind her,” shows “suddenly.” Instead of “Alice was fat,” say “Alice’s girth prevented her from buying just one airline seat.” 

Circle the -ly and very words and sit down with your Thesaurus and replace them with power words that describe or show emotion.

4. Reduce your passive -ing constructions

Think of a title that inspired you in the past. I like “Jump Start your Book Sales”

by Marilyn and Tom Ross. “Jump Starting” lacks power because it doesn’t ask for action. “-Ing” construction means passive. Next time you think heading, title, or even compelling copy, think
command verbs as sentence starters as well as using other strong verbs and nouns. Keep your sentences active using verbs in either present or past tense.

5. Take the “I” out of your writing to Satisfy your Reader

Whether you write a book introduction, biography, chapter or lawn care sales message (did you know these are part of the essential “hot-selling points?”), keep the “I’s” to a minimum. Your audience doesn’t care about you, only what you can do for them. Think about where your audience is now - their challenges or concerns. Remember to answer their question, “Why should I buy this from you?” Put a big YOU at the top of each page you write. Write three or four paragraphs. Then, circle the “I’s” and vow to replace them with a “you” centered sentence or
question.

So instead of telling your story. (I know that’s important to you) put your story in the third person. Use another name, maybe a client’s or friend’s. If you think your bio is important, instead of placing a long passage on your home page, place it instead, on your “About Us” page. On your brochure’s back cover, put your longer bio and photo inside the back cover page, so you can put more of what sells on your back cover - lawn care testimonials and benefits. Get everything you write checked by a book or writing coach to make sure it sells.

You can not only get more sales from what you write, you can put yourself out there as the savvy friend to your customers who wants a problem solved. In the long run, these satisfied customers will return to you again and again - even buy your lawn care products and services.

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Nobody Likes a Rambler

We all know people who ramble. They include every boring and insignificant detail, speak in five-minute-long sentences and take forever to get to the point. When they finally reach the end of their story, most people have either walked away or lost interest.

If you were reading their words, would you read right to the end? Or would you find something more informative, less boring and shorter to read?

We all have a tendency to ramble. It’s natural. And the more excited we are about a subject, the more likely we are to ramble.

Unfortunately, if we ramble in writing, our readers may not get to the “good stuff.” And if that “good stuff” is your website, your byline or a product you wish to promote, your rambling has just cost you money.

Now, I certainly don’t want to curb your excitement, and I don’t even want to thwart your tendency to ramble.

Instead, I want you to get wildly excited about your topic. I want you to ramble as much as you like. Then I want you to edit.

When you edit, try to cut as many words from your article as possible. The number of words cut depends on the length of your first draft and the desired length of your finished article. That said, you should usually try to cut your word count by at least 20 percent - and the more words cut, the better. If that leaves your article too short, try rambling on for even longer before you get to the editing stage.

I don’t have the room here to list everything that helps cut down the words in your article, but I will share some key points:

1. Identify your points and sub-points. When we ramble we tend to go from one point, to another point, then back to the first point, then to an unrelated sub-point. You get the picture. By identifying points and
sub-points you can structure your article and ensure each point and sub-point is only addressed once.

2. Indicate the importance of each point and sub-point. I like to use a highlighter for this. Pink for very important, yellow for fairly important, and so on. When you run out of colors, ask yourself if the material left is important enough to be included, or whether it can be cut.

3. Get to the point. Ramblers take forever to get to the point. First, they will tell you what they were wearing, what the weather was like and why Cousin Sue happened to be there at the time. If you’re taking a lot time to get to the point, cut the beginning from your article. This goes for paragraphs, too.

4. Say what you want in the shortest possible way. You all know the sentence about the quick brown fox. This sentence not only uses every letter in the alphabet, but it says what it needs to with as few words
as possible. A rambler would write “The fox, who was very quick, and happened to be brown, ran up to and jumped over the very lazy dog.” I’m sure you’ll agree that the original is much better.

These items won’t cover everything you need to look at when reducing your word count, but they do provide a good starting base. If you want to remember them, just think of the biggest rambler you know and the things you would like to say to him: “You already said that.” “Is the weather important?” “Get to the point.” “I have to go soon. Can we hurry this up?”

Readers won’t wish they could say these things to you. They’ll just find something else to read. Keep your word count low and you’ll keep your readers with you right to the end.