One piece of advice you’ll see over and over again (yes, from me too) is to engage your audience with blog posts, newsletters, email, Twitter and Facebook. This means writing in such a way that your ideas are communicated clearly to your readers.
(Puts on hat of Mrs. Spurlock, fifth-grade English teacher)
I followed a link this morning to a blog post that looked interesting, on the subject of making your WordPress installation hacker-proof. The first two sentences read:
Today there is more and more security breaches than ever before. Web browsers seems to fall behind faster than they can spell to themselves and this really makes an online business or venture quite hard work.
Web browsers spell to themselves? Who knew?
The entire article was unreadable because of numerous subject-verb number disagreements. Simple homonym problems such as “boarders” when the author meant “borders.” Not to mention the usual suspects of “it’s/its” and “you’re/your.”
I must be fair. Since there was no contact information on the site, I looked up the domain name WhoIs to find out that the site was registered in Sweden. English is obviously not the writer’s first language. On the other hand, if he is writing for an audience who will read in a language not his own, it seems reasonable to have a fluent speaker review and edit the article. This reads like he ran it through Babelfish.
The writer of this blog post failed in his most important task — he did not communicate his ideas clearly. He was so muddly, in fact, that I have made a note not to follow any links to this particular website in the future. It’s just not worth my time to try to puzzle out what he means.
Spelling counts too!
CBS42.com, which really should know better, recently ran a story about former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy and his ongoing battle with the courts over hidden assets.
Attorney for HealthSouth shareholders John Somerville was quoted:
”[The] IRS back in 2003 documented some 300 million dollars worth of property he had and that frankly a lot of it is missing. All the jewelry, 21 carrot diamonds, artwork is missing…”
Although the meaning of the sentence is still clear in this case, the absurdity of the mental image completely stopped this reader’s train of thought.
How many readers are you potentially losing because of unclear writing or poor spelling skills?