The answer to this question should be pretty cut and dry.
But it isn’t really. Because there are a ton of “grammar police” out there trying to serve the internet at large.
On a volunteer basis I might add. 😉
If you know me at all, then you’ll instinctively know that my answer is that prefect grammar will NEVER win against connecting with your readers or being authentic.
Why? Well let me share with you three reasons (plus a bunch of tips) on why I think so.
1. Perfect Is BORING!
If as a writer having perfect grammar, punctuation, etc. is the most important thing to you, I’m pretty sure what you’re writing is going to come off a bit dry and boring.
Especially if you’re writing online.
Why? Because the internet has changed the game when it comes to how we write.
Content marketing (i.e. producing content for marketing purposes) is meant to engage a consumer’s emotions, thoughts, etc. The best way to achieve connecting with your readers is writing in a way that is relateable to them. And in many cases, that’s in a more conversational tone.
And a conversational tone (i.e. writing how you would speak), isn’t error-free when it comes to grammar.
2. Perfect Prevents Publishing
If you’re waiting for a blog post or article to be perfect before you hit publish or submit it to a client, you might never get there.
Perfection takes time. Now perfect grammar isn’t as time-intensive, but perfecting your writing and the message you’re conveying is.
For example, I could work on this very post for months if I wanted to.
But I’ll probably crank it out in an hour or so. (And only because I’ve had LOTS of practice writing now.)
Why? Because I ain’t got time for that!
(That “ain’t” is bothering you now, isn’t it?) 😉
Because not only do I have to write this blog post today, I have to format a workbook from writing I did yesterday and send it off to my designer, host a Q&A call for Become a Pinterest VA TODAY!, go shopping to find a few new shirts for my EBA VIP trip next week and attend Easter services at church tonight.
And also take a shower, take a call with Daryn, exercise, eat lunch and dinner… you get the picture.
Pro Tip: If you’re concerned about your grammar, use a tool like Grammarly <– affiliate link. Or have a friend with an eagle eye look it over for you. Or write, edit and then read it aloud like I do.
3. Connection Comes from Imperfection
It’s totally true.
We’re all human, not robots and humans kind of make mistakes sometimes. I do and many a people have called me out on it before.
And it hurts. Enough that I wrote a post about it and still remember it like it was yesterday.
But I don’t let the grammar police keep me down. And I don’t think you should either!
Side note: Did you know that there are content robots out there? I.e. computers trying to write blog posts, rather than having actual human writers do it. How do you think that’s working out?!?
So back to the whole imperfection equals connecting with your readers thing. Being human and making mistakes humanizes you to your audience. Turns out, they can relate to being imperfect.
You know, cuz no one is. (No, not even YOU grammar police officer!) 😉
It’s kind of like how publishing an unedited (or just slightly edited) video or podcast is more relateable than something that’s perfectly edited. Again, humanization. It’s good for connecting with other imperfect people.
Prime example – I write in a VERY conversational tone. On my blog, in my newsletters and in my online courses.
And it works for my audience.
How do I know? I get emails EVERY DAY telling me how enjoyable working through my courses is. How it feels less like work and more like having a conversation with a close friend.
And I LOVE that! Because it’s what I’ve set out to do. Give people only the information they need to take action and encourage them to do scary stuff to get results.
Not sound like a textbook from 100 years ago. What fun would that be?
And learning can be fun. Heck, it SHOULD be fun. Can I get an AMEN?
If You Spot an Error…
So now that we’ve “formally” come to the conclusion that connecting with your readers is WAY more important than perfect grammar, let’s talk quick about what to do if you spot errors in someone else’s work…
1. Ignore it if it’s not imperative.
If someone has a typo in their weekly newsletter email and it isn’t imperative, just ignore it. Don’t reply pointing it out. Because they can’t do A THING ABOUT IT at that point. It’s already been sent. They can’t unsend it…
2. Politely bring it to their attention if it is.
On the other hand, if it’s the wrong date and it’s important that it’s corrected, politely bring it to their attention. Even if many others have. Again, the key word is POLITE.
Say something like, “Your email stated yesterday as the date for your upcoming webinar… is that what you meant to say?” Not, “Your email said yesterday’s date. How can someone attend an event in the past. You’re an idiot.” And even if you don’t say the whole “idiot” part, they’ll still hear it…
3. And if you want to get hired to do editing…
Never insult the writer!
I’ve been pitched on editing numerous times in the past. And I’ve hired a few editors in my day. But I’ll NEVER hire an editor that starts off their pitch telling me how horrible I am at editing my own work.
Because that’s just rude.
And it starts the exchange off on the wrong foot. So we’ll probably not do business together.
If you’re looking to get hired as an editor and find someone that’s clearly in need of your help, tread extra carefully in that first exchange. Start off your email with a compliment, rather than pointing out what they’re doing wrong. Offer to help by showing how working with you can benefit them, rather than sell yourself on being able to correct their flaws.
Again, here’s a bad example: “Your blog posts are just riddled with grammatical errors. Have you ever thought of hiring an editor? Because you totally should. And I just happen to offer editing services. Hire me?”
A better example: “What a great website you have on dog grooming – I’ve learned so much and really appreciated your post on why certain dogs smell worse than others <hyperlink the post to show you know where it is/really have read it>. It saved my life (well not really, but our dog sure was stinky and I couldn’t figure out why!). In addition to being a dog lover, I’m also a freelance editor – have you ever thought about working with someone like myself to take some work off of your plate, make creating new content less time-intensive and highlight the quality of content you provide even more? If this sounds interesting to you, just hit reply and let’s continue the conversation. Toodles!”
Basically don’t be an a-hole. 😉
Need more email etiquette tips? Click here!
Don’t Be Lazy
Please don’t read this post and think that proper grammar, punctuation, etc. doesn’t matter.
Because it does. Especially if you’re looking to get paid to write online.
It’s just not as important to have perfect grammar as connecting with your readers, publishing content consistently and being interesting to read is. In essence, the choice is yours. I know which choice I’ve made!