You Can’t Make a Living from Disjointed Thoughts and Sloppy Grammar

To earn new business, good storytelling and writing skills matter

It’s my job to beautify your web copy so you can look sharp and on top of your game. As a copy editor, my take on this topic may differ from yours.

Here’s my [totally biased] perspective:

If I had a nickel for every time a blogger asked me THIS, I could be living in a castle by the sea (with a maid, butler, chef, hairdresser, chauffeur, and personal stylist):

“Is proper grammar all that important in blogging for business?”

Inevitably, these questions follow closely behind:

“The messages in my posts are a lot more important than any writing mistakes I make, right? If everything isn’t grammatically correct on the page, my target audience won’t really mind, right?”

WRONG. (Spoiler alert)

I’m a fun-loving soul so I turn the next part of the conversation into a little game.

I ask the blogger to imagine she’s approaching the entrance to a new local bakery when she notices the word, bakery, is misspelled on a sign in the front window. Apparently someone is dyslexic. (Happens to the best of us)

Then I ask her to give me her immediate gut-level response to the glaring boo-boo.

I usually get responses like these: “Eww, not cool” or “Pretty stupid mistake, isn’t it?” or “Why didn’t they pay closer attention or give closer inspection before hanging that sign?” or “It’s such an easy word to spell, I’m embarrassed for the owners.”

Please lean in and listen carefully, business bloggers …

The same holds true for YOU and your writing.

Pure and simple, it’s a matter of credibility and reputation.

That imaginary bakery will probably still sell some pastries today, even with a blatant spelling error in the storefront window. After all, they make the tastiest and richest double chocolate, chocolate chip muffins in town. (In my imagination, that is)

But they’ve opened themselves to criticism, bad press, and photos of their screwed up sign posted on social media … with silly, sassy, and snarky captions.

Ouch.

NOT the reputation they were hoping to establish as a brand new business — plus points and precious ground lost in building credibility.

Take this advice to heart, business bloggers:

Why not get your writing right and avoid having prospective clients or customers leave your blog thinking, “Eww, not cool”, and possibly never return to read another word.

A few typos now and then are no big deal. However, disjointed thoughts and sloppy grammar won’t help you seal any deals!

Your blog posts need to put you in a professional light and elicit trust and confidence in working with you. If your story doesn’t flow, your thoughts are not cohesive, and your writing contains spelling and punctuation errors, you’re running the risk of losing business.

To earn new business, good storytelling and writing skills matter.

Do you agree or disagree? Biz bloggers, let’s hear your take on this topic.

Makeness Media Bravery Blogging Project

I Offer Two Prices: Retail and Free

Pricing your products and services

My brain is dizzy from reading a gazillion articles on best practices for pricing your products or services and whether or not it’s a good idea to post what you charge on your website.

Is your head spinning, too?

I don’t sell any products so I usually rifle through those article segments — although bits and pieces can also be applied to pricing services.

One of the reasons I procrastinated forever and a day (and then some!) before publishing an offering on my site is because I agonized over what to charge for my copy editing services.

I was afraid to charge too little and afraid to charge too much.

And in case you’re wondering …

No, I didn’t choose to research my competitors to help me through the decision making process though that was what many of my colleagues suggested. I’m guessing some copy editors charge half my rate and some charge twice as much.

Since I work my own kind of magic, I chose not to be concerned with the value someone else places on their talents and skills.

Thing is, I look at myself as having zero competitors.

I don’t mean to come off as smug but there’s only one of me on this planet and I don’t share my brain with another human being. No one else can bring what I bring to the proverbial table — a lifetime of experience, quirky creativity, a unique tone, speed in delivery, workaholic ethics, and final drafts that make my clients smile and earn me referrals.

Some have even called me a “magical unicorn badass”. If you hire me, I’ll let you be the judge.

So I decided to price my services accordingly — I offer retail and free.

For curious minds, here’s the breakdown:

  • My blog content: Free
  • Suggested tools and resources: Free
  • Writing and grammar tips: Free
  • Connecting and networking on social media: Free
  • Email, phone, and Skype communications (a.k.a. listening ear): Free
  • Interviews, guest posts (and occasional poetry): Free
  • Proofreading and editing: Retail (Flat hourly rate – no tricks up my sleeve)

A slice of client attraction advice:

Don’t hesitate to let the [price tag] cat out of the bag.

Post your prices on your websiteDespite strong opinions to the contrary, I think it’s wise to fill your website visitors in on what you charge. Otherwise, I’m apt to think you have something to hide. Or maybe you’re a bashful introvert or you lack confidence in the value you add to your clients’ lives.

Whatever the case, please don’t leave prospective clients guessing.

Tell them what you’re worth and why. Show them you’re the person they should hire and persuade them to click the “Book Me” button. If you’re currently uncomfortable with your prices or they bring on an icky feeling, change them. It’s your business and livelihood at stake.

Service providers, what’s your biggest pricing nemesis? Do you have your fees posted on your website? If not, why?

Next stop:

Sprint over to Mission: Storytelling to catch this month’s Word Carnival posts from my fellow carnies. We’re small business owners on a mission to help you tell your story and rock your message and marketing!

Three Business Bloggers Go Into a Bar: The Punch Line on Copy Editing

Good grammar makes good business sense

Let me introduce three biz blogging buddies who meet up at a posh bar for a night on the town:

  • One just hired a professional copy editor.
  • One shoots from the hip – proofreads and edits every bit of her own copy.
  • And one is in the fuzzy zone – not sure which approach is right for her.

All three order a Midori Sour and share a platter of hors d’oeuvres. (I could have said “appetizers” but this bar is upscale, baby! After all, we business bloggers deserve the very finest in décor and cuisine.)

Remarks about people who point out grammatical errors in their posts, e-books, email marketing messages, and sales pages ramp up the evening’s conversation.

Seems there’s no shortage of stories on grammar gone bad.

If you’re waiting for the rest of the joke and a zinger punch line, I’m sorry.

There’s just nothing funny about copy editing. {Tweet Me}

Call it a quirk, call it a curse, or call it an asset. You decide.

But every misspelled word, misused word, slice of sloppy syntax, and sentence minus proper punctuation jumps off the page at me – every single time.

I’d bet my two dogs AND my piano I’m not the only person on the web with discerning eyes (and a seventh grade language arts teacher who cracked the whip).

Other people notice these boo-boos, too – like your email subscribers, fans and followers, prospects, and blog readers. You know, the folks you’re trying to build vibrant relationships with and hoping to secure business with some day.

Always presume a chunk of that population stands proud on the Grammar Police force … and graduated with honors.

From your audience’s perspective:

A lack of editing skills can mean the difference between pulling out their credit cards and pulling the plug on working with you. {Tweet Me}

Ew. Ouch. That second option really bites. And it bites hard.

The kingdom of content marketing is rife with writing errors – mistakes that make you look like you don’t know shit from Shinola.

Example:

This past week I received an email newsletter that contained the word, “annunciate”, which means “to announce something”. What the sender meant to write was “enunciate”, which means “to say or pronounce clearly”.

Using the wrong word totally botched the point she was trying to make. Worse yet, the needle dropped on her credibility meter … instantly. I mean, c’mon. Like she doesn’t have access to a dictionary?

No big deal, you say? Who really gives a hoot about spelling and punctuation and the slippery slope of sentence structure??

Well, if you want someone to book a consultation, subscribe to your list (or stay on your list!), attend your workshops, devour and share your posts, buy a ticket to your biz retreat, join your online community, or refer you to others, hopefully YOU give a hoot.

Caring enough to communicate clearly, concisely, and competently gives you a leg up with your “right people”. It helps your relationship with them blossom, beautifully, by boosting the trust factor and cementing respect.

Kyle Wiens, CEO of iFixit, the largest online repair community, has this to say:

“Good grammar is credibility, especially on the internet. In blog posts, on Facebook statuses, in emails, and on company websites, your words are all you have. They are a projection of you in your physical absence. And for better or worse, people judge you if you can’t tell the difference between their, there, and they’re.”

In his article on Harvard Business Review, Kyle went on to say “Good grammar makes good business sense.”

It’s pretty tough to argue that point.

So let me ask you this:

Are you shooting from the [proofreading and editing] hip? Or are you at least getting a second pair of eyes on your copy before hitting the publish button?

If you’re thinking about hiring a copy editor, what’s your biggest deal breaker?

Next stop:

Jekyll & Hyde scenarios are the main attraction for this month’s Mission: Storytelling, a word carnival for small business owners. Virtual admission and amusement rides are free!