Whatever Happened to Proofreading?

One of the great things about the Internet is it has made us instant communicators, instant authors and instant ad copy writers. One of the WORST things about the Internet is it has made us instant communicators, instant authors and instant ad copy writers. Too many people just type an email and hit “send,” including emails intended to sell us something. Or they build a nice looking web page, type their content and immediately go to their FTP program and upload it. They don’t bother to read what they’ve written first.

We see the results of this daily: Email ads so poorly written we instantly delete them and web sites with so many typos we have no confidence in the business’ abilities or integrity. In short, lost sales. (The author of a guide I recently read about spotting scams on the Web mentioned that some things they all seem to have in common are misused and misspelled words, misused or missing punctuation and typos—sloppy work.) I’ve seen web sites that seemed to be written by people whose first language was something other than English and the whole message was lost.

And here’s one worth a chuckle—or a shake of the head: While reading an eBook telling me how to write one and stressing the importance of proofreading, I saw more typos and misused words and punctuation than I could count. Now, how much should I trust this man’s advice? In fact, I’ve found that MOST eBooks telling us how to make money on the Internet are put together so haphazardly I’m becoming convinced there IS no way to make money using their methods. Anyone who throws together their information in such a hurry they don’t even proofread it doesn’t gain much credibility with me. And probably don’t with you, either.

I’ve been told that this sloppiness doesn’t matter much to the younger generations, from the “X-Generation” down, and that’s apparent by the fact that they tend to be the ones who are most often guilty. But to the older generations it matters a great deal. Now, guess which age group is the fastest growing in terms of Internet use? Which one has the most money to spend? And which one actually spends the most on the Internet? It’s the Baby Boom generation, those people 45 to 55. If you want us to buy from you or believe what you have to say, you’d better make sure your copy is well written.

It also pays to remember that your site design and your writing should be tailored to your targeted market. If you’re selling nose rings, use wild backgrounds and slang. But if you’re selling fine jewelry, keep it simple, clean and easy to navigate and stay away from the slang. Otherwise, you’d better carry lots of nose rings!

After you’ve written your sales letter or web content, read it through. (To save yourself some time, you can use a text editor with spell check, and paste it into whatever program you’re using.) Then send it to someone else to check it—someone in the same age group as your target market or a professional editor. If it’s a sales letter, send the ‘finished’ product to yourself first to make sure the formatting came out right.

After you’ve done that and uploaded your pages to your server, do it again. I hope you’re going to check your links, anyway, to make sure THEY work. So you might as well check everything else, too. Send the URL to a few friends with different computers and different browsers to see that it looks as good on theirs as it does on yours.

A little time spent assuring it’s right will make a huge difference in your site’s traffic, and probably in your bank account, too.

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