Building a better blog: going a little “meta” today

I read a lot of blogs.  The endless variety of personalities, passions, and areas of expertise is truly staggering. That’s why I enjoy blogging– as a blogger and as a reader– so much. I get a great deal of pleasure from watching other people geek out on their passions… and I learn a lot.

That said, I also tend to be a stickler for spelling and grammar. Some days, I think my head will explode when I stress over the dozens of careless typos and outrageous linguistic blunders I come across in the blogosphere.

I admit to being very casual about certain areas of grammar, such as paragraph structure and punctuation. I make my share of mistakes, and will be the first to admit I’m only 98% perfect. What I’m pointing out elsewhere in the blogosphere, though, are some seriously bone-headed blunders and linguistic disasters.

Now, there are Writers and there are Bloggers. Writers often blog, but Bloggers very rarely Write. You can immediately distinguish a Writer from a Blogger. Writers write because they must; Bloggers blog because they can. There are plenty of hacks in both camps, but it’s easy to sort them out.

To Writers hoping to parlay their blogs into book deals, I would recommend making more of an effort to edit and polish your online work. Yes, there are editors and proofreaders and other lackeys to handle that unpleasantness once you sign your contract and get your big fat advance check. But why not make your best possible impression from the start?  That said, I usually cut some major slack regarding typos if the writing is good enough. A certain rawness can be overlooked in some cases.

However, when a blogger is clearly presenting him/herself as an expert in some field (and possibly earning income from their blog), I find it very difficult to overlook mistakes. A part of me actually begins to discredit the content of the blog.

If a blogger doesn’t even know the difference between “there”, “their” and “they’re”, what else might he or she be getting wrong?

You may argue that the ideas and information are far more important than the spelling and grammar used to express them. I happen to disagree. If you’re presenting yourself as an expert, then you owe your readers a higher degree of professionalism in your writing. Many of your readers might not notice the language mistakes, but the ones who do may certainly think twice about trusting your expert advice. I warn you, we are snobs, and we will question your authority.

Frugality often requires cutting corners and making do with less. Just make sure you’re not cutting corners on and lessening your professional image.

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