One of the best things about the internet is that it gives pretty much everyone a platform. Everybody gets to have a voice – but that brings along its own irritant – sloppy writing.
Yesterday, I started a discussion in three of my favourite Facebook groups (The Freelance Lifestylers, Brilliance Ignition and Simply Smart Social), because I KNOW I’m not the only one with thoughts on the subject. Between us, we divided “sloppy writing” into a series of categories:
- Lazy mistakes
- Stupid choices
- Clueless content
(Disclaimer – we all make mistakes, I know I do. This post isn’t written to shame anybody, it’s just a way to prevent some of the more annoying errors we see day to day.)
Typographical errors, or “typos”, are forgivable in small doses (or so we’ve decided). If you have a slight slip at the keyboard and add an extra character or two, it’s not a blacklisting offence. It’s bound to happen if you’re responsible for every step of your content creation and not a pro writer.
However, if your post is littered with multiple typos, and then I click through to another and find the same thing, I’m not likely to come back.
If you don’t put effort into checking your typing, are we supposed to believe you put effort into checking your facts?
And when you have access to free tools that review your writing for you? Do better.
TIP – Install Grammarly on your Chrome browser to pick up any basic errors.
A lack of care can lead to some really silly mistakes. Confusing their/there/they’re or saying “should of” instead “should have”… that kinda thing just makes you look uneducated.
But sometimes it’s not that you don’t care. Sometimes you just don’t know. If that’s the case, make it your mission to surround yourself with great writing. Read books and books and books. You’ll be surprised how many lessons you absorb without realising it.
One of my biggest pet peeves is the misuse of punctuation. Particularly getting commas and semicolons mixed up, and an arse-about-face approach to apostrophes.
In a nutshell:
- Semicolons are used to separate two fragments of a sentence, that could exist alone. Commas are used to break up sentences into fragments that would make no sense by themselves.
- Apostrophes are used to indicate possession, or a missing letter, not plurals. For example: “Tom’s balls”, not “Toms ball’s”. “It’s mine isn’t it?”, not “its mine isnt it?”.
TIP – Follow Daily Writing Tips for easy-to-grasp lessons on this kind of thing. And again, install Grammarly.
Poor formatting is also a turnoff for many blog readers. So that means long clunky paragraphs, no sub-headings, and a lack of white space.
TIP – Read the following articles for more tips to help you out:
My lovely friend Tara HATES it when links open in the same window as your post. And I get it. Nobody wants to have to keep clicking “back” to find that awesome article they were just reading. We’re lazy beings at heart.
Remember, it’s in your interest to keep people on your site as long as possible – having your anchor links open up in a new tab just makes good sense.
TIP – When hyperlinking a phrase in your WordPress editor, simply check the “open link in new tab” box. (It’s that easy!)
Being an idiot is just as bad as being lazy, in fact, it may be worse.
Actively making the decision to do something annoying, is the WORST. It’s not just sloppy writing, it’s plain old bad judgement. But hey, maybe you don’t know that’s what you’re doing. After polling the aforementioned Facebook communities, we decided that the four biggest crimes are:
- Writing all of your titles and sub-headings in lower case
- Separating your bullet points with commas or semicolons
- Using Too Many Capitals Like This
- Incorporating jargon (businessy or invented), abbreviations and complicated vocab, just to make yourself sound smarter (it doesn’t!)
All of these have been fads at some time, or in some sector, but guess what? Fads go out of style.
This could be a post in itself. In fact, it could probably be a whole book. But for now, let me keep it brief.
Filling your posts with thinly veiled sales pitches is a no-no. Save it for your, y’know… sales pitches. Your landing pages, your launch emails, your promo threads… THOSE are the spaces to be salesy, not your blog posts.
Imagery is important. Having no pics in your posts, stealing graphics, or using bad stock photos is SINFUL.
TIP – If you don’t want to create your own imagery (although it’s SO EASY with tools like Canva), peruse Pickle Jar, Unsplash or Stokpic for high-quality choices.
Sometimes we use our creative license to suit our needs. We might embellish or exaggerate for effect, but you should never rely on facts that are just plain wrong. Blogging gives you the opportunity to establish yourself as an expert in your niche – don’t mess that up with pure invention. Do the research.
Your homework for today is to go back through your last 5 blog posts and check them for sloppy writing. All of the issues I’ve listed out have really quick fixes, and are SO worth doing!
I’d love to hear from you – what’s the one thing your sloppy writing pet hate?
P.S. A big thank you to Megan Kerr, Emma Ward, Gary Molnar, Maddy Dilley, Kerri Walker, Rebecca Alice Morgan, Vanessa Charles, Tara O’Reilly, Mags Westra, Penny Golightly and Gemma Went for sharing your views on all of this stuff – we’re a picky bunch!