Last week I had the honor and privilege of being a community panelist to critique 3 graduating high school seniors’ work at a local charter school. Northpoint uses an expeditionary learning model that challenges students to think critically and to take an active role in the community as well as the classroom. They invite community members to critique seniors’ “Passage Portfolios,” a requirement for graduation.
One of the elements I always emphasize in my critique is grammar. Most of these students are college-bound, so writing well is something they need to pay careful attention to. As content marketers, we also need to pay careful attention to how we say it, as well as what we say. It is forgivable to miss a minor typo when you proofed your blog post, but a poorly written rant, with missing punctuation, run-on sentences, and gross misspellings is not so easily forgiven.
I am one of those who will leave a website that does not communicate well. I expect a company that is willing to take my money to be willing to take time to write well. Good grammar is the most basic of basic blogging practices. Your customers and prospects may feel the same way. As content marketers, whose writing is the life-blood of our message, we simply cannot afford to allow bad grammar and poor communication to undermine our perceived knowledge and authority. If we have something to say, we need to say in such a way that our readers, website visitors, and customers get what they came for.
For many of us, blog writing is more casual than a high school essay. It’s not only permissible, but preferable to write in your own individual style, to find your “voice.” But writing in a casual style doesn’t mean you can skip the proof-reading and copy editing that turns a good post into an excellent communication. Take the time to do it right, and your readers will take the time to read it.
As many who care about grammar do, I have a list of pet peeves. I won’t bore you with the comprehensive list. That would take all of our blog posts for the month, so here are a few highlights:
- Homophones: there, their, and they’re; you, your, and you’re; its and it’s; where and wear (believe it! I’ve seen, “I don’t know wear I put my glasses.”), and too many others to name.
- Objective case pronouns: “Who are you writing for? For you and I .“ (Seriously? Unless you need to make a song rhyme, and even then…)
- Random apostrophes: “Come on in! We got soda’s, sandwich’s and cake’s.”
- Affect and Effect: What you say affects me; it doesn’t effect me. You have that effect on people, you don’t have that affect on them.
- Fewer and Less: You have fewer faults (not less faults) than a bad writer, and it gives me less aggravation.
I could go on but then it would turn into a rant, another of my blogging pet peeves. Do you have some grammatical pet peeves? I’d love to hear them, so leave a comment below. If we get enough, I’ll write another post with your favorites.