People who know me know that I can be a bit of a grammar and punctuation geek. While I won’t go so far as to publicly correct people (I just berate them privately), I have been known to edit signs that contain misspelled words, misplaced apostrophes, and generally egregious errors.
So, needless to say, I always try to make sure my writing is up to grammatical snuff.
“Even on blogs?”
Yes, even on blogs.
“But blogs are supposed to be informal and conversational.”
Not as much as you might think. There are more businesses embracing blogging, and they’re trying to project an image of trust and reliability. And believe it or not, customers will judge an entire corporation’s ability to do even its most basic core mission on the grammar and spelling of one low-level PR flunky.
“Oh my God, you dangled a participle! We will no longer buy your products again!”
Don’t believe me? Pay close attention to the comments on any political blog during the presidential elections.
While you don’t need to placate those kinds of people (they need to be sedated instead), you do need to project an image of competence and professionalism. And that means you need to spell words correctly, and use proper grammar and punctuation.
I will occasionally send Doug a DM about some misplaced apostrophe or a misspelled word in one of his Marketing Technology posts (which in hindsight is probably why
I’m being punished I was asked to write this article).
There are a lot of grammatical errors that, if you make them, frankly make you look dumb (Copyblogger’s words, not mine). Things like its vs. it’s and you’re vs. your are errors that you should know better than to make.
A lot of people will say that grammar and spelling on blogs just aren’t important. That we’re supposed to be informal and laid back, and that it just doesn’t matter anymore.
That’s fine if you’re writing a personal blog about your own life, and that you’re only expecting a few friends to read. You can be as informal as you want, make errors to your heart’s desire, and even fill your posts with gratuitous-yet-hilarious swearing. (Looking at you, The Bloggess.)
But if you’re talking about your business, your corporation, or your industry, you need to keep everything as clean and error-free as possible.
It’s not a sin if you make a mistake. Many’s the time I’ve made errors on my blog posts, especially ones where I talk about the importance of good grammar and punctuation. But I can always go back and clean it up. That’s the great thing about blogging: nothing is permanent, like a magazine or brochure. It’s a static, living document. Event the posts that are three years old.
So if you make an error or two, don’t despair. Have someone you trust look them over and give you honest feedback. Then go back and fix whatever you missed during your first couple rounds of editing.
Because rightly or wrongly, the nitpickers are out there. And they’re coming for you.