The other day I got a text from my friend Eric.
Eric: Do you want grammar notes on something you posted? You have a comma splice in that status about Prime Day. That comma should be a period.
He was referring to an email I had sent out that was also on Facebook and Twitter. The conversation continued, and apparently, I was feeling snarky that day:
Garrett: It’s a newsletter not a thesis paper
Eric: No offense, but the only reason I brought it up is because it’s a newsletter that you’re using to try and make money. Grammar is important for that. At least to me. It looks sloppy and that’s a false impression because you’re not sloppy with your work.
I had two email headlines being A/B tested:
- What Amazon Prime Day means for writers and readers
- It’s Amazon Prime Day, how can that benefit you as a writer and reader?
The second one, the one with the comma splice, had 36.4% open rate. The other one had a 9.1% open rate.
Of course, that could have nothing to do with the grammar. Despite the splice, it may just be a really well-written title.
Regardless, Eric is right. People who are looking for writers and editors may not know grammar well enough to catch that, but what if some do? What if I missed an opportunity to be hired by one of my favorite publishers or game studios because they saw that title and decided I wasn’t a good enough writer?
Everything we share should radiate professionalism.
I’ve got a few confessions to make:
- I’m pretty bad at comma splices, I do it all the time.
- I’m not 100% sure I know how to use a semi-colon.
- I’m generally not good at editing my own work (but great at editing others’).
If I want to edit something well, I need to write it ahead of time and come back to it much later. If I try to edit shortly after writing, I miss a lot of things. It’s because I’m too close to the work still. We’re in the honeymoon phase.
It might be the same for you.
That’s why I recommend doing two things:
- Self-edit your work a few days after writing.
- Get an editor to look at your work.
Hiring an editor can get expensive very quickly, especially if you’re creating content on a weekly basis. When you’re just starting out, it’s fine to self-edit your work. Just make sure you give yourself enough time to separate the emotion from the piece. Don’t edit when you’re still on the honeymoon with your art.
I also recommend this (mostly) free tool called Grammarly. It will point out a lot of things that need correcting. It’s more powerful than just a regular spell check. You can do a lot with the free version, but if you’re serious about your writing business, you’ll want to pick up the paid version.
Click here to check out Grammarly for free.
If you’re just getting started building a business with writing, just use what free tools you have access to and self-edit. Once you start making money, it’s a good idea to invest back into yourself and upgrade Grammarly, as well as hire an editor when you reach that point.
Editors do more than just check Grammar. They’ll be able to tell you what flows and what doesn’t. They’ll be able to make suggestions on better ways to word what you’re saying. They’ll also be able to tell you where information is lacking, or maybe you’re giving too much information.
There are many benefits to hiring an editor, so when you can: it’s going to improve your career.
- Don’t self-edit to soon after writing.
- Use Grammarly.
- Hire an editor as soon as you can afford it.