Any business writing for the Internet wants to project a sense of authority in their field. Well-researched white papers, killer on-site content, frequent blog updates and a strong and carefully curated social media presence will go a long way toward establishing that coveted reputation for expertise. But it’s not just the quantity of the content you produce that matters: it’s all about quality. The way your information is presented—the writing itself—has a huge effect on how the reader perceives you as its source.
Losing Face to Typos
Building up a large catalog of content on the Internet is a great way to build credibility. But your demonstration of impressive knowledge of whatever area you’re writing about isn’t the only driving force behind what makes your readers trust you. Part of the authority you’re building is simply because you’re reaching your audience through text. Studies have shown that people are more likely to believe something if it’s written down (which explains why your embarrassing relatives buy into the hype and become outraged every time Facebook changes their privacy settings).
— Gizmodo (@Gizmodo) May 30, 2012
But it shakes our faith in the writer’s expertise when we find a typo. How would you feel if your doctor misspelled kept writing “brian” or “stomache”? Would you be less inclined to take her medical advice, or would you take everything with a grain of salt? Typos and other spelling and grammar errors are the fastest way to tank your credibility. Case in point: remember when the Romney 2012 campaign misspelled “America”? Don’t let a simple typo make you a laughing stock—there’s a simple solution.
The Secret? Editing!
The trick to making sure you don’t have errors in your content? Editing. It sounds obvious, but it’s imperative that you take a second look at every piece of content you write before it goes live. Try reading your content out loud—you’ll find errors you wouldn’t notice otherwise because you process the words in front of you differently if you’re reading out loud than you do if you’re just reading to yourself. Since it’s notoriously difficult to edit your own work, you might want to have a second set of eyes check particularly important documents, like emails to your investors or presentations for conventions. Even if you don’t have a staff of editors, just asking someone else to read over your work will help you catch any stray typos.
Another factor hurting your credibility? Using words incorrectly. It happens to everyone, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try your darnedest to prevent it. Keep an eye out for words that trip everyone up: affect and effect, for example, or compliment and complement. If you’re not sure, look it up—you’ll never regret the thirty seconds it takes to confirm you’re using the right word as much as you would regret using the wrong one and losing credibility as a result.
Being Consistent Is Key
Once you’re in the habit of double-checking important documents before sending them out, you might be tempted to slack a little bit. Why proofread an email to a colleague? She knows what you mean, even if you use the wrong “your” by mistake. Don’t fall prey to the temptation! Consistency is key—your efforts to eradicate typos and grammar mistakes shouldn’t stop with outward-facing text, like your website and documents for the investors. To really solidify your credibility and authority, every piece of content you produce should have the same level of professional care applied to it. That means that every email you send, every presentation you plan, and even the instructions you send to writers should be checked over and approved before you let go of them. If you’d be embarrassed to let your boss see you use the wrong word or leave a typo in a piece of content, why shouldn’t you be embarrassed to let your coworkers—or worse, your customers—see the same thing?
Need some help editing your content? No editors to turn to? Content Runner might be able to help. Contact us and we’ll see how we can work together to give your content the all-clear.