Usually the first exposure your prospective clients have to you and your services is online. Whether through a website, social media profile, or a published article, the content, style, and clarity of your writing is critical to communicating authentically who you are and what you offer.
So why is it so important that your online presence be error-free? According to Agility PR Solutions, the bounce rate on landing pages with sloppy spelling and grammar is 85 percent more than those that were correctly written and spell-checked. Readers are immediately turned off by errors, and only rarely stay on your site once they've seen the errors. Imagine what they think of you and your services!
In addition, Google search results are skewed further because typos make your site or your profile less visible and therefore in a far lower position in search results.
If you are not good at grammar, punctuation, and/or spelling, solutions are available. You can still connect authentically and accurately with those you're trying to communicate with. I recommend using ALL of these for optimal results.
Whatever solution you choose, make it part of your system or routine to have other eyes review your writing so you can attract those clients who need what you offer!
I am guilty. Yes, I, the Word Doctor, the professed Grammar Guru, have been guilty of using the incorrect word in a context. **gasp** Shocking, I know. But I never claimed to be perfect!
I caught myself speaking with someone about having less tasks to do than usual. Something felt odd, but it wasn't until later that I realized what. The use of the word "less." I should have said "fewer"!
You see, our language is wonky (as if you didn't know). More is more, no matter what the context. More time, more money, more to do, more pencils, more cats...it all works.
But in the "less than" category, there's a difference. Less refers to a smaller amount of one thing, or one insubstantial. You can have less time, less money, less to do, less hair, etc.
Fewer refers to a smaller quantity of several items. Fewer people, fewer pencils, fewer cats, fewer hairs on the head, fewer marbles.
Get the idea?
As with so much in modern English grammar, this is a relatively minor transgression, but can be an important consideration when writing something meant for general publication - a book or an article, perhaps. In these more professional settings, understanding the difference will lead to fewer refusals and less stress!
"I just had a baby looking for a job to work at home anybody let me I have great Information technology and networking skills."
This request came from a social media post I ran across. Granted it's "just" social media, this young woman was requesting job leads, and yet her post was so poorly written I can't imagine she got many leads from it.
You never know where your words will go, or who might see and react to them. Writing must be clear, precise, and error-free to present a professional appearance to any prospective employer, client, or customer. Your writing style gives the first impression of your intelligence, work ethic, and motivation.
You may be tempted to dismiss this thought as trivial, but think about it objectively. Let's say that someone who read this request copied it verbatim and sent it to someone who needed those services. That person will be reviewing many similar requests and resumes. and will evaluate next steps based on first impressions. The first impression of this writer is not professional.
The same applies to prospecting for new clients in your business. You want to help more people by having them hire you. What then is your first impression on others? Do your social media and blog posts appear professional? Do they clearly share the teaching and message you want to convey? Are they error-free?
I've had a few rebuttals when I share these ideas from people stating that skills and intent should be what matter. Perhaps, yes...however if your first impression creates a block in that path, then it's time to change!
(I know a great proofreader!)
Even speaking as an editor/proofreader and as The Word Doctor, I have to say in all honesty that grammatical perfection is overrated. "Always" is, in my estimation, an impossible goal, and usually is inappropriate.
Let me explain.
If you follow me on social media, you know that I constantly urge followers to carefully spell check and proofread their business writing, regardless of the medium. Whether a social media post, blog post, article, or email, you will be judged (right or wrong, like it or not) on how you come across to prospects. You may appear careless or ignorant when neither is true.
And yet your authentic style of communicating may be casual, friendly, and all your own. Using ellipses (...) rather than dashes or commas may be your "thing" and there is nothing wrong with that. Using words and phrases in a way that is authentic to you but not necessarily perfect AP style is just fine. You will reach those people who are drawn to not only what you say, but how you say it. Bottom line: be authentic!
There are basic rules of conduct, however: using their/they're/there correctly, lay vs. lie, proper punctuation and sentence structure, etc. Ignoring these customs is what gets writers in trouble. There's a big difference between stylistic and simply incorrect. "Incorrect" leads to not only judgment, but mis-interpretation of your message.
When you're writing casually for friends and family, as long as your message is clear I can't see why it must be perfect...unless you're even more of a grammar nerd than I am! But as I've stated so often, in business writing, perfection balanced with authenticity is the way to go.
Wisdom...or a great proofreader...understands the balance!
Quick grammar lesson from The Word Doctor. Wait - don't go away, it'll be fun!
There's a common subject/object error I hear every single day. It seems to be more of a verbal thing than written, and something that can lead to judgment about the quality of the speaker's education or intelligence. (Yes, I know judgment is usually a bad thing, however in professional circumstances you still need to be professionally correct.)
"Steve and me had a meeting." Wrong! Here's why. Go back to your elementary school English class for a minute. Steve is the subject of the sentence. The word "me" holds the place of a subject, but the word "me" is never, ever a subject word - only an object.
Here's how to test it. Take away the "me" and see what you're left with. "Steve had a meeting." Cool! Replace "Steve" with "me" - "Me had a meeting." Not so much! So, that test teaches you that the sentence should be "Steve and I had a meeting." When you take either subject away, it still makes sense.
The opposite error is made just as often...subjects in the place of objects. "My parents came to visit John and I." Use that test again. "My parents came to visit John." Great! "My parents came to visit I." Again, not so much!
Now, if you're chatting with a friend and make one of these common errors, it's not all that important (except I'll cringe if I hear it). But if you're writing a report, or speaking with a colleague, or asking for a job, you will likely sound uneducated. Sounds harsh, but it's true.
Practice noticing your speech and train yourself to avoid these common errors, and you won't need to be concerned about it in a professional setting!