Most people imagine they’re capable of writing professional copy but when you look around the web, the number of sites with screaming errors is phenomenal.
There are two main reasons as to why this is.
The Great Writer That Never Was
The first reason for bad copy is that those who write the articles, saleletters or whatever, aren’t the great writers they believe themselves to be. Just being able to understand the English language does not a great writer make!
"Seperate" or “Separate"? “Lay" or “Lie"? “Affect" or “Effect"? “Professional" or “Proffesional"?. “Would have" or “Would of"?
The thing is, the English language is incredibly complex. Words that sound the same have different meanings and other words sound as though they should be spelled one way, but are spelled in another way entirely. Our grammar is complex and we have strict rules relating to sentence structure. And I haven’t even mentioned punctuation!
Time after time I see webmasters using foreign “writers" because they’re cheap. But what do they really get for their $5? Badly written copy that they could just as well have written themselves. I know it’s true because I’ve had to re-write such copy on far too many occasions. I’m not saying there aren’t those who are 100% fluent and able to write beautifully in English, but they’re generally not selling their services for a pittance.
If well-written copy is important—and it certainly should be—it’s worth paying a professional who will not only write great copy, but will have it proofed to ensure perfection.
The Self Proofer
Proofreading your own work is the most difficult thing to do. That’s why true professionals often use other writers or professional proofreaders to proof their work for them. However, that isn’t always cost effective—especially not when you consider the constant battle for lower prices that’s happening on the Internet—so more often than not we have to proof our own work.
While this is far from impossible, it certainly isn’t easy. Not only do we have the problem of reading word patterns (more on that later), we also have the added drawback of knowing what’s coming before we actually get to it.
Personally, as long as I’m not working to a very tight deadline, I always try to leave my copy for at least 48 hours before proof reading it. At least I’ll have forgotten exactly what I’ve written by then—I’ll probably have written at least a couple more articles/salesletters/press releases etc. , in the meantime—and can come at it with a fresher, if not entirely fresh, mind.
Why Use A Professional?
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If you understood the above, you’ll understand why proofreading is an art that not everybody can do well, let alone master. It’s little wonder that typos are missed when our brains automatically see misspelled words as being correct. And yet sometimes those very same typos stick out like the proverbial sore thumb. Why?
Because they’re in the middle of correctly written words, that’s why! A professional proofreader will spot them immediately, but an amateur would most likely miss a percentage of the mistakes made in any written copy because he simply “can’t see the trees for the woods" or—in this case—“the words for the page".
It’s important, therefore, that you ask yourself whether it’s worth saving a few dollars by dropping the proofreading stage and posting your copy directly onto your website, into your e-zine, or wherever else you choose to use it. After all, what do you imagine badly proofed copy will say about your professionalism? What you write, after all, reflects your character, intelligence, professional abilities and a whole lot more.
I certainly wouldn’t hand over my money to somebody who obviously wasn’t willing to pay a professional to write and proof his copy. If he’s that tight, what are the goods he’s selling likely to be like? Will they be wrapped well enough to take the kind of beating they’ll receive during transit? Will they have been stored properly? Where else is he cutting corners?
People put different values on their businesses. How much is your professional image worth to you?
Sharon Jacobsen is a full-time freelance writer based in South Cheshire, England. For a reasonable fee she will happily write articles on any subject from fashion to farming. Sharon can also provide dynamic salesletters, press releases and just about anything else based around the written word.
To contact Sharon or to learn more about her work, please visit http://www.sharon-jacobsen.co.uk