Regardless of whether you’re a freelance writer or not, at some point, you’ll be writing proposals, blog posts, ad copy etc in your freelancing business.
If you want to continue to get good clients, you’ll want to make sure that you aren’t stuffing up with basic grammar mistakes… you know the one’s, easy to make and easy to overlook. Those are the ones that can start to have an impact on your business, which isn’t great, particularly when you’re just starting out.
Below is a list of the 13 grammar mistakes you should avoid. I’ll also provide you with some tips on how to avoid making these mistakes and some resources to help you out further. I don’t want you losing clients because of any of the mistakes below!
13 Grammar Mistakes That Make You Look Like an Amateur
#1: Getting your clients name wrong. Misspelling someone’s name is probably the biggest boo-boo you can make. Really, misspelling anyone’s name can cause major issues. To avoid this, simply double and triple check your work before sending it out.
#2: Getting your client’s company wrong. So maybe I lied. Misspelling the client’s company name is probably just as bad as misspelling their name. If you are writing on behalf of the client and this goes out via their social media account, rectify it quick smart. Again, double and triple check your work before hitting that post or submit button. Taking your time to check these sorts of things will enable you to avoid the ‘egg on your face’ look.
#3: Misspelling your own name. Wow, if you’re doing this, then you probably need to take a break! Check EVERYTHING!
#4: Ditto for your company name. Misspell this and you just look like you don’t pay attention to detail. Really bad for business particularly if you’re a writer or graphic designer. The devil is always in the details, so pay attention.
#5: Using the wrong version of a word. English is definitely one of the hardest languages to master, even I struggle and I’ve spoken English all my life! The are plenty of words that sound the same but are spelt differently because they have a different meaning. Some examples are two, to or too. My personal favourite is they’re, there or their. Easy to get mixed up. Your spellchecker will miss these, so you’ll definitely want to keep an eye out for these. If you see you’re making the same mistake often, run a find and replace to make it a little easier.
#6: Missing out words in a sentence. This is easy to do when you’re tired, so avoid doing important work when you’re spent. Missing words can change the meaning and structure of a sentence, so be careful with this one.
#7: Using the same words or phrases over and over again. This is easy to do and if you’re writing follows the way you speak, you can find yourself repeating phrases within the same sentence. Be vigilant and avoid overusing words, it get’s boring to read very quick.
#8: Trying to look like an expert aka using big words. Use too many of these and it can make a sentence really hard to understand. Keep it simple, plain language always works best.
#9: Overusing the exclamation mark. This is something I’m guilty of, because when I talk, just about every phrase or sentence could be punctuated with an exclamation mark! When you see this in writing, it looks ridiculous. The rule of thumb I go by is no more than 2 per page of text.
#10: Using slang. Ok in your personal emails, but not ok when doing work for a client. Be extra vigilant when sending emails to a client overseas, as one word you use often might have a completely different meaning from where they come from. Avoid slang like the plague or you could have your client wondering exactly what you’re getting up to…
#11: Incorrect placement of a decimal point. This can be pretty major if you’re talking dollars. Review your client contracts and invoices before you hit send to make sure that your decimal point is in the right place. Too many zero’s after that point could leave your client wondering if your services come with a bar of gold.
#12: Letting text messaging abbreviations creep into your communications. Text message abbreviations should remain on your phone, in your text messages, nowhere else. Similar to slang words, using text abbreviations can leave a client scratching their head trying to figure out exactly what you’re trying to say. Just spell it out.
#13: Keeping paragraphs short. If you’re writing for the web, you want to keep your paragraphs to 2-3 lines. It makes it much easier to read and allows people to skim read faster. Split your text up where possible.
These are just some mistakes you’ll want to avoid, particularly when dealing with clients or working on client work, no matter what the scope.
Here’s some resources to help improve your grammar:
- The Purdue Online Writing Lab
- Hemmingway App
- Grammar Girl Quick & Dirty Tips for Better Writing
Have you ever made any of these mistakes? What were the consequences? Have a grammar resource you’d like to share? Then leave your suggestions in the comments below.