online writing

Grammarly: It’s Like Writing with a Coach

Even the greatest players have coaches –  but for some reason, people believe having a writing coach is against the rules. I simply do not get it – wouldn’t you want someone to tell you when you are messing up? That’s why I was willing to give Grammarly a shot. Yes, they had a free trial, so that definitely was part of it… But I knew that my content and my client’s content, deserved the best possible writing I could produce. Grammarly helps me produce it.

More than a spell-checker

My husband laughed at me when I told him about my new proofing tool. “Why would you bother with that when Word has that built-in?” Well for one reason, Grammarly does so much more that Word could ever do. I mean, I remember back in 1995 when I could depend on the built-in grammar checker- but those days are long gone. Writing and the different forms of writing have become more pronounced; not every type of writing fits into red and green squiggles.

Take these screenshots, for example:

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Grammarly found 8 mistakes, and 2 possible cases of plagiarism, while MS Word  corrected the word Grammarly.

Writing for the Web; Writing a Sales Letter

All writing is not the same – a good copywriter knows that- but do you? It’s okay, you don’t need to because Grammarly has got you covered. When proofreading your work, simply choose the style of writing you’d like to check it against. Grammarly has six different categories to check against- from medical to casual and everything in between- it knows the rules for MLA, AP, APA and blog style and checks your work against them. No more stiff-sounding blogs or over-casual business letters… just your writing with the right style, punctuation, and grammar.

Because Auto-Correct Sucks. …

I call Grammarly a coach – and not a cheat – because you must approve or fix every suggested change yourself. Sometimes even, the tool tells you what you’ve done wrong, but doesn’t tell you how to fix it. This happens especially with style issues because they typically require rewording or a different choice of words. If you have a fairly good command of grammar, Grammarly will serve as a powerful safety net that keeps you from making the mistakes you probably don’t normally make. If your writing skills are basic, it can help you learn from your mistakes, making you a stronger writer with each use. With Grammarly, you must approve or deny every suggested change – and most times you are given the corresponding rule the suggestion is based on. It’s like having a dictionary, thesaurus, middle school English teacher, style book and a Google plagiarism search all in one. They may remind you of the rules, but it’s up to you to do the work.

Who Should Use Grammarly?

Anyone who writes. I can’t begin to express how useful this tool is. It is available as a MS Word plug-in as well as an online tool. It corrects in American English, with the exception of a few Canadian spellings of certain words.

Ready to try it out?

It’s free to give it a shot!

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Test your writing for free and see just how much Grammarly could help you. The free version is limited, but it gives you a good idea about how it works. Don’t worry, if there are too many corrections needed, I’ll be glad to fix it for you.

Prufreed Your Content

The Internet is fast-paced. I get it. But there really isn’t a good reason for not proofreading before you hit submit. With so many automated tools, its amazing how anyone is able to send out bad content without knowing.

Unfortunately, they do.  This parody by Weird Al Yancovich proves they do.

People need help writing!

Thankfully, there are people like me and software like Grammarly that can comb over your writing with expert eye, but they only work if you use them.  When you have an online business, your writing is part of your image. You wouldn’t show up at a meeting with a stain on your shirt, so why would you leave a typo on your blog post?

Yes, I did link to a software program that has automated a process I charge clients for.  I did it because I hardly ever take proofreading only projects. I’d much rather you find an easy way to proofread your content over trying to sell you my services. Besides, there is plenty of poorly written content to go around.

For more information about my proofreading services, read this blog post.

I’m going to be honest; I hate proofreading, so I get why most people would fail to do it. It slows down the creative process and keeps you from saying what it is you have to say. However, when what you have to say could convert into money or spread your cause, you might want to be a little bit more careful about how you say it.

People judge you by your website, and they judge your website by your content. What do you want them to learn about you?

Make the best impression. Proofread.

 

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The day my son went viral

Content Creators dream of going viral, but at what point has it gone too far? #Sunday Reblog

Put the book back on the shelf

UntitledA couple of months ago my son, who is six years old, performed a solo routine at his school talent competition. I couldn’t attend but my wife filmed it on her mobile phone so I could watch it later. She also put it on Facebook for friends and relatives to see. Unfortunately, we hadn’t given any thought to the privacy settings and it was ‘shared’ amongst people we didn’t know. When we became aware of this we quickly changed the permissions and forgot all about it.

However, one morning, a few days later, we received a text from a friend telling us that the video was ‘trending’ on Buzzfeed and, as we hastily conducted some Google searches, it became apparent that we had a problem. There were bizarre stories about it on sites such as Huffington Post and Mail Online and these were being replicated around the world. Additionally, the…

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Informative eBooks: A Useful Collection of Links

My mother gave me an eReader this year, and for the short amount of time that it worked, I decided to indulge in a little online reading. Let me first explain something about myself- I read medical journals for fun. So, it can be frustrating sometimes to read ‘books’ that don’t provide me with any useful information or enjoyment. If I’m not learning something I didn’t already know, it is a waste of my time. For me, most eBooks are akin to reading the magazines in the checkout line at the grocery store- except they don’t have the good pictures.

So, if I seem highly critical of the electronic book- I am.

So, it is always problematic for me when I take an eBook project. I struggle with writing something that is just a bunch of words with strategically placed links for the purpose of content marketing. I value the readers time, and I probably spend more time than the project is worth searching for that nugget of unique information to put in the writing.

Once again, I am probably over-thinking it, and I wonder if I am the only one. After spending a couple of days reading all of the nonfiction eBooks my brain could stand, I noticed a trend.

Many of them were poorly written summaries of information you could find online. Thankfully, they were free, because I could have taken a screenshot of Google page 1 listings and have gotten the same result. But, there were the few that I felt understood what an ebook is best suited for and wrote in an entertaining (if not useful) style.

In my idealized view of the Internet, an ebook is an extended blog post rather than a technical training. In the non-virtual world, it would be similar to going to a presentation to see someone speak on a topic that interests you. That presentation could be engaging, with music and slideshows and cookies, or it could be an absolute bore, where you cannot understand the speaker, and even if you could, you couldn’t hear him anyways.

Many people think they can take the short cut and throw a few words on some paper with some links and they now have authoritative content. Here’s how that looks in the real world.

“Introducing Jenn, she is going to speak about online writing. Now open up your computers! Wait you don’t have a computer? Go get one. The rest of you, type google.com. This is online writing. Please don’t forget to rate this ebook!”

Good thing I served cookies, because that would have been a total waste of your time. Oh wait, I ate all of them while you were reading.

eBooks don’t have to be like this. If content creators are willing to spend the time investment writing something worthwhile, there are people who will gladly read it. These people will be so grateful for the information you have provided them, they will tell their friends, and support whatever it is you do. Writing an eBook just because it is the thing to do is bad Internet citizenship. If you want an eBook for your online presence, but don’t know where to begin, I’ll be glad to help- but bring your own cookies.