Minimize Mistakes to Maximize Your Message: Part 1

We’ve all seen them. If not in person, then certainly online.

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Typos can communicate the exact opposite of what we’re trying to say.

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Or scare away those we’re trying to reach.

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I’m guessing you don’t want your audience to value—and share—your content primarily for comic relief, so today I’m starting a series called Minimize Mistakes to Maximize Your Message. In these next few posts, I’ll give you some tips for publishing content that boosts rather than undermines your credibility.

The Grammar Police?

Before we continue, I’d like to get something out of the way. Although I work as a freelance editor, I do not consider myself a member of the grammar police. I care about accuracy and excellence, but I don’t hunt other people’s errors for sport. I don’t comment on social media posts with unsolicited corrections. I understand that autocorrect is treacherous. Typos happen to the best of us. I see them even among people who have been editorial professionals for decades!

I don’t want you to live in fear of self-appointed members of the grammar police, but I do want you to know that people will notice if there are frequent errors in your content. Most people are simply—and rightly, in my opinion—too polite to point them out.

Now that we’re on the same page, let’s get into some specifics.

Why are editing and proofreading important?

1.      Typos and grammatical mistakes can distract from your message.

Have you ever read a publication with lots of mistakes in it? Maybe it was a poorly edited e-book or a brochure that contained multiple errors. By the time you finished reading, were you primarily thinking about the content, or were you thinking about how annoying it was to dodge all those mistakes? If you’re like most people, I’m guessing it was the latter.

If this happens frequently with the content you produce, your readers are likely to associate you and your company or website with sloppy writing. This leads us to the next point.

2.      Frequent mistakes undermine your credibility.

You’ve likely heard Bob Burg’s Golden Rule of Business: “All things being equal people will do business with, and refer business to, those people they know, like, and trust.”

Sharing content frequently and authentically—to the extent that’s appropriate for your brand—can help people know and like you.

Sharing well-written, accurate content helps your audience trust you. This is especially crucial for those of us in communications-related businesses. But no matter your industry, publishing error-free content helps communicate to your audience that you’re an expert who deserves their trust.

3.     Grammatical errors can make it harder for your audience to find you.

Whether you’re a local business or a writer working to grow your audience, you want people to find you online. But obviously, if you mistype your phone number or misspell your keywords, you have a problem!

However, did you know that frequent mistakes and incorrect grammar can also negatively impact your website’s search rankings? A pattern of sloppy writing can cut the legs out from under your SEO efforts.

If you want to be found, heard, and trusted, you must edit and proofread.

But there’s some bad news.

Editing and especially proofreading our own writing is HARD.

Our brains work against us in this effort. We already know what we mean to say, so it’s often difficult to see accurately what’s on the page or screen. Our brains go into auto-complete mode, and without realizing it, we’re skimming rather than carefully reading.

However, there’s also some good news.

There are strategies and tools that can help us!

I’ll be sharing some of those in part 2 of this series, so keep an eye out next week! Better yet, subscribe here to receive an email when I publish the post.

Do you have a funny story about a typo that got past you? Share in the comments!