The Innovative Marketer's Blog

4 Stupid Content Writing Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them)

Posted by Matthew Cook

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Remember that particularly nasty college professor who threatened to dock a letter grade from your papers for every misspelling he found? What was his problem, anyway? Shouldn’t the content of your writing matter more than a few spelling mistakes here and there?

Like it or not, your grouchy prof was trying to teach you a valuable lesson. In writing, image matters. Sloppiness reflects poorly on a writer and, by extension, whatever argument the writer is trying to make.

A polished image is even more significant in business blogging than it is in academia. You’re not writing for the eyes of a single professor. You’re trying to establish your credibility with customers and potential customers, credibility that can make or break your business.

So, yes. Spelling matters. And so do all those other those small details that signal to readers the difference between professionalism and amateurism.

Here are a few common blog writing errors that, if I was your professor, would have me reaching for my red pen.

1. Misspelled (or Mis-Capitalized) Proper Nouns

A proper noun is the name of a unique person, place (like a city or state), or organization (like a company or team). Microsoft Word’s spellcheck has a pretty deep dictionary of proper nouns, but with new companies popping up on a regular basis and new people rising to prominence, it doesn’t have all of them.

If you see that little red squiggly line under a proper noun in Word, don’t assume you have it right. There’s no excuse for not checking it. It’s a 10 second Google search.

One of the things people frequently get wrong is internal capitalization:

  • “HubSpot” has a capitalized “S” in the middle of it.
  • “Salesforce” has a lower case “f.”
  • “Facebook” has a lower case “b.”
  • “LinkedIn” has a capitalized “I.”

Also look out for punctuation:

  • “McDonald’s” contains an apostrophe.
  • “Five Guys” does not.

Check these things before you publish and avoid looking stupid.

2. Double Spacing after Periods

Turns out my middle school typing teacher was wrong. (Do they still have typing teachers?) There’s no good reason to hit the spacebar twice after a period. And there’s a very good reason not to; it looks horrible in online content.

If you can’t restrain yourself from double spacing, do a search and replace in Word to change all your double spaces to singles.

3. Putting the Comma in the Wrong Place

In American English, when a sentence contains a quotation, the comma at the end of the quotation goes inside the quote. It might seem like a small thing, but these are the kinds of things that—even if they can't actually articulate the rule—readers see as subtle indicators that the content they're reading is less professional.

Let me demonstrate:

  • ​Right: "I love content," Matt said.
  • Wrong: "I love content", Matt said.

4. Writing ‘Blog’ When You Mean ‘Blog Post’

What you’re reading right now is a blog post. Or maybe it’s a blog article. Or a blog entry. What it is not is a blog. A blog is an online platform for publishing consecutive, individual articles. It is not the articles themselves.

Maybe one day the word “blog” will evolve to include individual posts in its definition, but that day has yet to arrive. Read any of the leading marketing sites that discuss blogging. They never call individual articles blogs, and neither should you.

You want to sound like the thought leaders, not the wannabes.

Get an Editor!

What if you can’t trust yourself to catch any of these sloppy mistakes? At the very least, have a coworker, friend, or family member give your writing a once-over before you publish. Or better yet, if you have the money for it, invest in an editor. As I wrote about recently, if your choice is between spending money on a freelance writer or an editor, go for the editor.

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Topics: Blogging, Content Marketing