Can poor writing skills overshadow good content?
Considering that I am not a native English speaker, I wish that the answer to this question was “no.” Unfortunately the opposite seems to be true; poor writing skills do can affect your otherwise witty and useful content.
Grammatical mistakes, misspelled words, incorrect punctuation and poorly structured sentences can make your content confusing, if not utterly unreadable. If you then consider the fact that we have hundreds of blogs on every niche these days, you can see that the writing quality could be the difference between a loyal and a lost reader.
Now one could say: “well, but I know a blogger that has thousands of readers and makes thousands of dollars monthly, yet he does not have superb writing skills and his content is often crippled with grammatical mistakes.”
Similar cases do exist, but they are the exceptions that prove the rule. Additionally, if you pay attention to these bloggers, you will notice that their blogs do not represent their main business, and that they are seen as experts on their niches. The authority factor over-weights poor writing skills.
Suppose you have an online marketing guru that is able to generate thousands of dollars in revenues from his activities. People would be interested in his ideas and tips, regardless of how they are presented.
If you are a superstar on your niche, therefore, perhaps you could get away with frequent grammatical mistakes and poor writing skills (and even in that situation improving the writing quality would only benefit you). If you are in the middle of the pack like most of us, however, you probably should pay attention to your words and sentences more closely.
Don’t get me wrong here; I am not arguing that one should be able to write Shakespearean novels to be a successful blogger. But at the very minimum you want to respect the basic grammatical rules and avoid misspelled words.
How does one improve his writing skills, though? Below you will find 3 points that can help you with this task.
1. Avoid the common mistakes
The Pareto principle states that for many events 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. This principle holds true to writing as well. I would say that 80% of what people write incorrectly come from 20% of all the possible mistakes. That is, we are talking about a small number of common mistakes that people repeat over and over again.
What are these common mistakes? Its for it’s, alot for a lot, your for you’re, their for they’re, affect for effect and so on. Copyblogger is a wonderful resource for this topic, and the three links below should get you started.
- Five Grammatical Errors That Make You Look Dumb
- Six Common Punctuation Errors that Bedevil Bloggers
- Do You Make These Mistakes When You Write?
I would say that over-emphasizing the importance of proofreading would be a very difficult task. I try to proofread twice all my articles and text pieces, and still once in a while a typo appears.
Sure, proofreading is not what one would call a pleasant activity, but it is necessary. Additionally, if you make it a habit and adopt some clever strategies, you will see that it will consume less time and it will become less of a pain.
On the links below you will find several strategies and tips that you can use to make your proofreading and editing sessions more effective.
- Proofreading for Common Surface Errors: Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar
- How to Copyedit and Proofread Written Work
3. Expand your vocabulary and master the grammar basics
Regardless of your profession, the ability to write and communicate in a clear and concise fashion is essential. In order to do so, however, you need to have a vast vocabulary and a solid understanding of the basic grammar rules.
There are several resources and books that you can use for that purpose. On the links below you will find a newsletter that delivers one word every day to your inbox, the BBC resource website dedicated to people that want to learn the English language and the Wikipedia page for English grammar.
This post was written by Daniel Scocco from the wonderful Daily Blog Tips (a blog on my daily read list that should be on yours too).