You might be looking to learn how to grow your business, manage your finances or improve your health. You’ve bought a resource with a certain level of expectation of what you were about to read from this expert. After all – they’re an expert! You thought quite highly of the expert until you found it: the spelling mistake. And then another one. And another one. Now what are your thoughts? If you’re anything like me, not much. If you’re a health professional looking to publish and share your expertise, then you need to read on.
Why do I bring this up? Because this weekend I was perusing resources on a variety of topics. Some particular to my profession and some just for personal interest. For the ones particular to my profession, it’s important that the experts are someone I can look to for valuable advice and can trust their expertise. One expert in particular was charging $39 for the chance to read about their expertise. Now I know that’s small potatoes for a good book that will add value to my business. I’m more than willing to pay that to give my clients the best possible service. Then I got the free preview …
Within the first 10 pages of this free preview there were at least three spelling mistakes of common words and some formatting errors. My level of confidence dropped dramatically as did my willingness to press add to cart. I’d be willing to take it out of the library if possible, but not to part with $40. That might be considered a narrow view because there are possibly some great nuggets of advice in this resource. But the spelling mistakes make me wonder how credible the advice actually is if the expert can’t even catch ruffle versus raffle in their opening paragraph. Editor’s fault or not, it’s the experts name on the cover, their expertise I’m buying and my hard earned money I’m laying down.
If I’m unwilling to part with cash for a book or move forward booking an appointment with a health professional because of spelling mistakes, how many others are doing the same thing? People are looking to experts for advice on how to make their life or business better or make a change to their health. If the expert sharing that advice is you, then you need to remember that advising people on any topic involves building trust, personal connections and professional reputation. Mistakes can also erode your pocket book with lost purchases or appointments, which is probably why you put your expertise out there in the first place.
If this is ringing a bell for you and you’d like to avoid the potential pitfalls of poor punctuation and the slag of sloppy spelling, then here are five tips that will help you put your best written work forward:
- Read your work out loud EXACTLY as it’s written. Why? Writing is about having a conversation. If you’ve forgotten to take a breath by inserting a comma or you’ve gone on too long and the sentence needs to be broken up, you’ll hear it. If you meant to say treatment but somehow tuberculosis got in there, you’ll hear it.
- Don’t rely on spell check – ever. Spell check doesn’t know that you meant to put there instead of their or put in the wrong word completely. Spell check just knows if you’ve spelled something wrong and even then it misses things. You need to check the checker.
- Always plan ahead. Why? Because some of our most spectacular mistakes happen when we rush. If you know you are going to be writing a blog post to be sent out every Thursday then have it ready by at least Tuesday. Writing it frantically Thursday morning means it’s usually your eyes only and we all now know that isn’t the best idea. Better yet, plan out your blog posts a few months in advance. More on how to do that later.
- Get a second pair of eyes or a second mouth. If you are new to writing, this is especially important. The other person (who you trust and has the right background to give you an educated opinion) will be able to catch things you didn’t and provide feedback that might improve your piece in ways you didn’t think of. What’s that going to do? Help you build the trust, connection and reputation you want.
- Read it backwards. No. That is not a typo. Just like those quizzes you get through Facebook or email challenging you to find the i in a sea of 1’s or the letter out of order in the alphabet, reading your work backwards challenges you to REALLY READ each word carefully. After a while, your brain can get lazy and not register every word if you read it the normal left to right for editing. Give your brain a wake up call and backwards it read.
My bonus tip: hire a professional to take the worry out of the writing process. Someone who is trained to use editing processes, catch the mistakes and make sharing your expertise with potential clients or patients easy and profitable. You get valuable content online or on bookshelves AND build trust, grow connections and protect your professional reputation. I’d say that’s worth learning more about.