Look, we all have off days. We all have days when our blogging plan goes out the window, or the time we wanted to spend on a post has just disappeared. And you just need to get it out there.
So you push “publish” and get on with your day.
Along with your typos. Or stray apostrophes. Or incomplete sentences. Or all of the above.
Of course, the really best case is that there weren’t any errors in the first place. The level down from that is that you have a glance through it later in the day and spot them. You’ll be a bit mortified, and get them corrected.
You don’t notice them, but someone else does. What happens next is a bit the luck of the draw. All of which is damaging to your business.
Now, the big mistakes, the really big public mistakes, are easy to see why they damage brands. But the small mistakes are the tiny drains on your reputation, drop by drop. Good writing is a measure of quality. Even Google says that these days.
Of course, you can have the best-written website, but if your product or service is rubbish, then good grammar is not going to save you. But there is no point in putting lots of effort into great products and then just letting all that work down through something simple such as spelling.
Once doesn’t matter. Maybe even twice.
One page with one error might not matter. Two or three is beginning to look like a pattern. Just a lack of attention to detail.
What should you do?
The answer is proofread everything. But there is a reason why it’s a skill, and why a quick glance over something you’ve just written is not necessarily going to pick up everything. Here’s 5 simple things you can do to try and keep your writing working as hard as your products.
Use the spell check
Whatever programme you’re working in should have some sort of spell check capability. Make sure you’re working in the right language, or have chosen to use “American” English if you’re based in the UK as it’s often the default. Use the spell check, and pick out the quick and easy errors.
Have a break and re-read it
Reading something 24 hours later can be very revealing. Whatever time you can build in for reviewing at a later stage is worth trying. To be effective, I think it really has to be at least a couple of hours later. You want the words not to be fresh in your head. Your brain is smart and continues to see what it wants to see, i.e. what it knows you just wrote.
Invest in Grammarly (but don’t trust it implicitly)
As a freelance writer, I use Grammarly every day. It’s great for picking up extra spaces, stray apostrophes, spelling mistakes and bad grammar. It’s also not infallible, and I have arguments with it on a daily basis. For example, I had a piece highlighting a chef’s latest work, a book on game. Grammarly wanted to change that to a book on the game. Obviously a whole different set of connotations there.
At the very least, Grammarly makes you stop and think, and consider what you’ve written. That is half the battle with great proofreading.
Mix it up
Whether you read from the bottom up, or from the end of a line to the beginning, this is all about tricking the brain out of making assumptions about what comes next. Call it conscious reading. It really helps.
Get someone else to read it (before you hit publish)
A bit like your customers reading your posts or pages, someone else will spot what you didn’t. At the very least you can have a debate about what they picked out. It will also help with how easy your piece is to understand. You may slip into jargon or stuff you understand. They might not.
These are all simple and, except for Grammarly, free of charge. Though you might have to make a coffee for the person reading for you. There is a free version of Grammarly if you want to see what it might offer you. As a writer, the cost for the full version is worth it to me. I still walk away from posts for a period of time and re-read right to left.
No one wants to see their mistakes in public. As L’Oreal would you say, you’re worth it. If only they had proofread things properly, then they might be too.