Proofreading for That Oh-So-Professional Look

“You only have one chance to make a good first impression.”

You’ve heard that before, I’m sure. So if your first impression with potential clients or customers is in print, you don’t want it filled with misspellings, improper punctuation and lousy grammar. To make sure your communications look intelligent and correct, have a professional proofreader eyeball them before they go public.

Proofreading, like thoracic surgery or window-washing on tall buildings, is something you don’t want to leave to an amateur. No offense, but that includes most people. Heck, you have a business to run. You’re in a hurry. You make a few mistakes.

I worked for a swell ad agency in Omaha awhile back. One of our clients was a local KFC co-op, and we produced window signs for them. As I passed by the window of the production department, I noticed a large KFC sign posted there for all to see. It read as follows:


I asked the production manager what a “bisuit” was, and when she noticed the error, she blanched. She said, “We just printed 500 of those.” Nobody had proofed it before it went to the printer, and the agency had to eat the cost. Oops.

Correct spelling, grammar and punctuation are vital in every communication you send out. That includes e-mails, postcards, brochures, catalogs, letters, advertisements, TV spots or videos, signs, newsletters, business cards, point-of-sale pieces, and whatever else you use to promote your business.

Let’s put it this way: when prospective clients or customers look on the Web for a service you (and competitors) provide, which business will s/he choose to do business with—one whose website is filled with misspelled, poorly punctuated, poorly written text, or one with perfect spelling, grammar and punctuation? All things being equal, I’m betting the customer will go with the one whose website has perfect spelling, grammar and punctuation.

That’s because taking care with the communications you send out absolutely screams, “Professional!” It suggests you take care to do a good job for your customers.

Does correct punctuation really matter? Look at the difference a simple comma makes in the meanings of the following two questions:

Q1: What’s that in the road ahead?

Q2: What’s that in the road, a head?

Point made? Every communication coming from your business should be passed under the eagle eye of a professional proofreader. Even if you’re pretty good at English, it’s hard to proof your own writing. You miss things. Hire a professional proofreader. It’s relatively cheap, and it’s better than looking like a doofus in print. Right?

Did I mention I’m a professional proofreader? Hmm. Good to know. :-) Call me at 913.236.7595, and let’s chat about your proofreading needs.

Blogger, blog thyself: Lesson from an ant

What’s the best way to rise in the Google page rankings? That’s the question I get asked. And I always say, “Blogging frequently and relevantly.” So why don’t I follow my own advice? Well, lately I’ve been busy with paying work. But that’s no excuse.

The project of this week may be done next week. The gaping maw of living expenses, like Seymour’s steroidal plant, Audrey, keeps screaming, “FEED ME!” And if you don’t keep blogging or otherwise changing content on your website, new clients might not find you on the Internets. So I say to all freelancers and independent contractors, even if you’ve got paying work today, keep on a-blogging to get work tomorrow.

You remember the familiar story about the ant and the grasshopper. When the grasshopper had collected enough food to feed him for a day, he kicked back under a big tree on a fallen leaf patio chair with a tall green grass Slushy close at hand, and now and then he would scratch out a happy tune on a miniscule violin. While he was hanging out, he observed an ant scurrying around feverishly, out of the anthill to forage, back with a leaf or a bug on his head to the anthill, and then out again to forage.

After observing about 30 of the ant’s round-trips, the grasshopper yawned and said, “Hey, ant. You’ll work yourself to death that way, dummy. Why not chill out, like me?”

The ant came to a halt, the leaf on his head quivering, and addressed the grasshopper.

“Well, grasshopper, I’ll tell you why,” the ant said, in a rather sharp tone. “All of us foragers keep working to gather enough food to feed the ant colony through the winter. When it gets cold, and there’s no food to forage, we’ll be inside the anthill, cozy and well-fed. Meanwhile, you’ll be freezing your fat rear and starving out here because you’re lazy and short-sighted. And that stupid fiddle won’t help you one bit!”

The grasshopper laughed and said, “Oh, fiddle-de-dee! I have enough food for today. I can’t worry about tomorrow, let alone winter!”

The ant scurried away, calling back over his shoulder, “Don’t say I didn’t warn you, grasshopper!”

And so blustery winter came, and one day the grasshopper, shivering and hungry, rapped on the anthill door. The industrious ant opened the door, and the grasshopper begged to be let in to warm up and get some food. “Go away, freeloader! I warned you!” screamed the ant, slamming the door on one of the grasshopper’s antennae and snapping it off. Then, just as the ant had predicted, the grasshopper froze his fat rear and starved to death.

Moral: If you have a blog, keep blogging. Because you may have paying work today, but who knows about tomorrow? And you can’t count on ants to help you.