Beware of the blog

You may find it a little cheeky, what with this being only my second ever blog, however I’m going to offer some advice to the blogging community.

Now, I appreciate that blogs are a brilliant and quick way to get your opinions out to a massive audience, however with this power comes the burden of responsibility. Why? Well, because it’s such a free and easy way to communicate that you’re leaving yourself wide open to criticism – not over what you’re saying, but how you’re saying it.

In the not too recent past, it was really difficult to get anything published and out there in the public domain. Now, at the very least, all you need is a Twitter account and the ability to squeeze information into a paltry 140 characters. At the other end of the scale there’s a whole raft of websites that will just allow you to post articles as an ‘expert’.

This is all fine, however as there are no pre-publishing hoops to jump through anymore, where’s the quality control? If you’re blogging or tweeting either as a self-professed aficionado or on behalf of the company you work for, are you presenting yourself in the right image?

Spelling mistake on sign

When proofreading gets serious

I may live to regret this, but let’s take myself as an extreme example. If I, a professional proofreader, was to write a blog littered with spelling mistakes, what does that say about my supposed expertise? Not a lot…

And the same can apply across the board. If self-employed, the only reputation you can damage is your own – but if representing your employee then that’s where you’d be very right to get nervy.

Sure, a punctuation error here, a grammatical faux pas there will not send the business into administration, however over time if there is a distinct lack of attention to detail potential customers may have some reservations about engaging with you. “What does it say of their organisation and administration if they don’t know the difference between ‘they’re’, ‘their’ and ‘there’?” they may say…

You see it’s about being professional in everything that you do and conveying the right image. This is why myself, and I’m sure many other proofreaders, are being asked to check more and more blogs – I’m like the safety net before the ‘publish’ button is pressed, if you will.

Bad writing is bad for business

Without naming names, I receive a free community magazine through the door every month – you know the sort, a mixture of local information, the odd topical article and adverts promoting businesses in the area.

To be blunt, the written content of the publication is embarrassing. In the opening ‘Welcome’ page the types of mistakes that are being made are so bad that I get angry reading it – how can you mix up ‘no/know’, ‘by/bye’ and write as if apostrophes have never existed, and then spend money having it professionally printed?

At one stage I considered placing a Chris Gorman Proofreading Service advert in there but then how ironic would that be? It would be interesting to know how many other businesses refuse to advertise in there through not wanting to be associated with such a sloppy operation.

And ultimately, though I wouldn’t wish this on anyone, this disregard for the written word could have an adverse effect on the editor/writer as it may prove increasingly difficult to attract advertising revenue.

Twits on Twitter

Back to blogging, and more specifically, promotion through social media. Businesses now recognise that updates on sites such as Facebook and Twitter are an easy and cost-effective way to communicate to an active and interested audience. Now I’m not saying all companies should have their ‘tweets’ proofread – at just 140 characters, roughly 25 words – it’s hardly worth it, however it is worth remembering that mistakes aren’t acceptable on any platform.

Particularly with Twitter, there may be a propensity to adopt a style in-keeping with how everyone else appears to do it, so using text-speak such as ‘gr8’, ‘neva’ and ‘wot’, in order to keep within the character limit. In my opinion though, if a professional organisation started tweeting like this it would be a massive turn-off – kind of like someone’s dad trying to rap, it just won’t work.

I’d say keep it simple and watch your spelling and grammar just as you would when typing a letter. There are plenty of clever ways to stay within 140 characters without dumbing down your message. But then that’s for another time…

Chris G

PS Talking of Twitter:

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One Response to “Beware of the blog”

  1. Leisel from proofreading March 22, 2011 at 8:55 am # Reply

    Thanks for beautiful and targeted advise, its really good and work, I am going through in learning process. Actually, you need to proofread several times for different types of errors. Reading backward will usually catch misspellings, but not poor grammar or homonym problems.

    You have to reread very carefully, from front to back, to check for grammar and syntax errors as well as just plain bad writing.
    The best way to proofread, however, is to ask someone else with good writing,spelling,grammar skills to check your writing for you.

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