Writing content that fits your brand persona and niche can be tough to begin with. As a content creator, you may be focusing on things like getting your blog posts ranking, determining what keywords you want to pursue, and other important content concerns–but have you thought about grammar lately?
If not, you could be losing out on opportunities for important freelance or agency work, a job promotion, or your blog post ranking #1.
Clear communicators get hired and promoted in the world of content marketing. Seamless, error-free writing is compelling and helpful to readers everywhere.
So, if you’re not scrutinizing your work for both content and grammatical errors of all kinds, then I doubt your message is very clear. Unfortunately, that lack of clarity and attention to detail is going to hamper whatever upward mobility it is that you’re seeking.
Readers will bounce from your blog post if the writing is unclear due to numerous mistakes. Recruiters will skip your résumé and portfolio if you’ve sloppily misused or misspelled a word because they only want to work with those who will create flawless, detail-oriented content.
It’s time to level up your grammar game with a few easy tips to improve your SEO content writing skills.
Use Free Online Tools to avoid grammatical mistakes
If you’re only using the built-in spelling and grammar checkers found in your word processing software, I have some bad news: those aren’t usually very accurate or robust.
The built-in checkers in MS Word and Google Docs, for example, really only catch glaring errors, while missing a myriad of other mistakes, such as word misuse and less common punctuation or grammatical oversights.
Perhaps if it were still 2015, readers could forgive an unclear sentence with a glaring lack of punctuation, but not today. There are now many free grammar checkers and writing aids out there that can catch every error in punctuation, spelling, or grammar.
If you’re not using them, and your work is full of flaws, then you will likely be seen as sloppy and unprofessional. The top contributors in the content creation world know this, so if you’re not already running your copy through one of these free programs, start now.
This goes double for freelancers and agencies because these kinds of errors make for weak, unclear writing–and who wants to hire out for that?
Prioritize Your Workflow
Doing work twice is a dreadful waste of time, but sometimes while editing, it seems unavoidable. If you don’t already have a solid workflow, take an hour to figure one out so you can avoid the frustration of expending more energy than is needed on any specific writing task.
Think about things like:
- Should you make an outline? Does it help you structure your work or write faster? Outlines can be powerful tools for enhancing your writing quality and reducing the amount of time you spend drafting.
- When and how are you finding/implementing sources? Some like to do this before the outline, during the outline stage, or even as you go. What works best for you?
- Are you taking advantage of the available free online tools to help with citation generation, summarizing, grammar checking, paraphrasing, etc.? You might not want another extension or to learn how to use these, but you should take the time to try them out because they are all extremely helpful to avoid grammatical mistakes. They will also increase your productivity.
- What is your process for editing? Are you constantly changing things and then checking it again for every error after every change? That is not efficient. Often it will result in more errors because you have become too familiar with the text. Edit for only one thing at a time: e.g., content and then grammar. You can read a bit more about this in the next section for those with an established workflow.
If you have a solid workflow but find you are constantly editing for both content and grammar with every revision, consider breaking your editing up into 2 separate chunks: content and grammar.
Edit first for content, because if you add or amend your work, you will need to re-check it for any grammar errors anyways. So wait. Then, when your content is no longer changing, edit once for grammar, punctuation, and spelling.
Don’t be afraid to iterate on your workflow. As your skills advance and more tools become available to help you meet your writing or content creation goals, your workflow will evolve for the better–as long as you keep up!
Read It Aloud
Punctuation, word use, sentence structure, and grammar dictate the style and voice of your writing. Reading your work aloud is an easy way to check for these kinds of errors because you will hear if your writing is repetitive, if the voice is not strong, if a comma is missing, etc. Many use this as the last step in their writing and editing process.
As mentioned before, when you have been working hard on a piece of content–even one you are really proud of–you may get sick of it. You may dread editing it.
If this is the case and to avoid grammatical mistakes, take a break. Put it down for a day or two. Then, when you come back to it, you can read it aloud with fresh eyes and find any of those last pesky mistakes to fix.
Do you currently use any of these tips in your content writing? Which will you try out to increase your productivity, effectiveness, and improve your quality of writing? We want to hear from you in the comments.
By: Dr. Emily Perry of QuillBot