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Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Three things you need to know and do to gain proffessional authority in blogging


No blogger is perfect in this case but I have seen alot of blogs which seems to be run by sleep-blogging bloggers. This bloggers don't care about proffessionalism at all, they are of the opinion that content is king but forget to understand the simple fact that proffessionalism is the crown and authority is the palace. In a nut shell, these three things must work hand in hand to make you the island blogger (which is what we all desire). In this post, I would give you three must-follow tips to make your blog look a little bit proffessional.

1. GRAMMER MATTERS
Not being able to write fluently is not a reflection on your personal character, but it does come across as suuuuuper unprofessional.
Being a blogger, you should have it at the back of your mind that a lot of native English speakers are part of your audience. Some of whom are very much concern with your use of the language. I have come accross blog comments where native English speakers complain about the grammatical construction of the blogger. Some of them could stop visiting a blog that is not written in fluent English and you know what it means to lose traffick (especially when we talk of US traffick).
Most online users don’t know what’s happening. They don’t process bad grammar consciously. They know that “something is off” and they will leave.
In essence, you won’t be able to establish your authority because your users will not trust you.
    The user stumbles across your site but can’t navigate to the information they want because the grammar is a broken link giving them a 404 error causing them to leave which increases your bounce rate.
This post is not that, but just to beat a dead horse, let’s do a brief overview.
Here are 5 common grammar mistakes you should take note of:
1- It’s vs. its
    “It’s” means “it is”. It’s a hot day.
    “Its” implies possession. The summer has its hot days.

2- There vs. they’re vs. their
    “There” implies location. It’s over there.
    “They’re” means “they are”. They’re running a marathon.
    “Their” implies possession. Their car is overheating.

3- Semicolons
People love semicolons. I don’t blame them.
Semicolons are awesome. But only when used correctly. Otherwise, they look terrible and I cry. Please don’t make me cry…
This is the simplest way (perhaps a bit too simplistically) to explain semicolons:
    Semicolons are a way to join two separate, but related, sentences without starting a new sentence.
Example:
    I’ve heard that girls like guys who know how to use semicolons; how am I doing?
In general, semicolons are not necessary. Very rarely will I as an editor say, “A semicolon would be nice here”.
If you don’t fully grasp the subtleties and complexities of semicolons, it’s better to not use one.

4- Run on sentences and commas
I will now demonstrate a run on sentence with improper comma usage:
People like to think that using commas somewhere in between a block of text, at seemingly random points will help turn that long block of text into a much more digestible and easily readable segment of language, but will only make it challenging for the reader to read, and make it hard for anyone reading this to actually understand, what it is you’re talking about, and even though your intention is good, I’m here to tell you, it’s not easy to read, which you can probably see for yourself.
Run on sentence
Don’t do this. It looks bad. It looks really bad.
There are times when run on sentences are necessary, but 99% of the time, they are not.
    If you can say the sentence in one breath, it’s a good sentence.
    If you need multiple breaths, chances are it’s needlessly running on.
Also, commas are not breath marks.
If you play music, you may know that breath marks are noted by an apostrophe (‘).
This is not how commas function in writing. While commas may imply natural pauses in speech, they are much more nuanced and subtle than that.
While I’d love to say “(this) is the most common mistake with commas”, I can’t.
    Some people overuse commas.
    Some people never use commas.
    Some people just don’t care about where they put commas.
All three of these scenarios are wrong.
I could talk for days on the proper use of commas, but for now, I’ll give you this resource to read.
That said, there are certain ambiguities with commas.
Especially in informal writing (i.e. blog writing), overusing commas is not only commonplace, it’s occasionally good for copywriting (to an extent).
But in order to understand this, you need to understand what a comma is and how to properly use it.
Also, there’s no real consensus regarding certain comma rules.
For example:
    This, this, and this.
    This, this and this.
Both are technically correct.
It’s not important which one you use, but it’s very important to stay consistent (see point #2 below).

5- Capitalization
Capitalization is a bit like a semicolon; it seems like no one knows how to do it properly.
Three times to capitalize:
    At the beginning of a sentence.
    The word “I”.
    Proper nouns.
Note: There are some British/American differences, but let’s ignore that for now (see #2 below). Also, headings and titles should be capitalized. It’s up to you how you want to do it, but stay consistent (…see #2 below).
Tell me what should be capitalized in the following sentence:
    I am sitting Down now at the CafĂ© doing My work writing about How to write Copy correctly.
Only the word “I”.
That’s it. Nothing else.
Three things to remember:
    -If it’s not starting a sentence, don’t capitalize it.
    -If it’s not the word “I” as in “I am doing something”, don’t capitalize it.
    -If the word is not a specific name of something, don’t capitalize it.
        John vs. him
        Gateway Mall vs. the mall
        Nigeria vs. country
        The Nigeria Stock Exchange vs. the stock market
Likewise, do capitalize proper nouns, the word “I”, and words at the immediate front of a sentence.
It’s not negotiable. Those three things need to be capitalized.
(Yes, there are some ambiguities as to what is a proper noun, but in these rare cases, see point #2 below.)
    Please note: There are two schools of English (American and British) and several different styles (scientific, business, blog, etc.). Identify your audience and write for them. Example: a blogger focusing on American Audience uses American English.
Again, I recognize that you might not be a native English speaker, but if you’re blogging in English, you need to be able to write fluently. If you can’t do that, you won’t be able to get your point across. It’s as simple as that. This is crucial.
If you don’t feel comfortable writing in English, there are 4 things you can do:
    -Hire a writer (with excellent grammar).
    -Hire an editor (with even better grammar).
    -Study English (online, meetup groups, university courses, private tutor, etc.).
    -Use an all-inclusive grammar tool (like Grammarly, Ginger, Grammarcheck, etc.).
        Keep in mind that these tools are computer algorithms and only scan for “what’s supposed to be right”. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen that red squiggly line underneath a sentence in Microsoft Word only to realize that Word was not understanding the sentence/context/syntax as well as I was understanding it.
If you’re ever in doubt about a grammar rule, you can always ask Google.
Google knows all.


2. STAY CONSISTENT
This point is less concerned about your mastery of language and has more to do with what it says about you as a professional.
    Consistency is key.
That is pretty much my mantra in life. Everything revolves around that statement.
Without getting into heady philosophical topics, if you can be consistent, you can be successful.
Consistency is how the outside world knows you’re serious and determined about what you want and what you do.
Examples of how to be consistent when writing copy:
-Lists
Point: If you are writing a list and you started by numbering your list, don’t switch to bullets halfway through.
“3 Ways to Do Something”
Wrong:
1. This way
●2- This way
#3 This way
Right:
#1 This way
#2 This way
#3 This way
OR
    This way
    This way
    This way
OR
    1- This way
    2- This way
    3- This way
It does not matter which you choose. What matters is consistency.
Point: If you’re writing a listicle with outbound links, don’t make the first link a bullet and then wrap the next link in brackets.  (Side tip: If the product is called YouTube, don’t write Youtube.)
Wrong:
    Download YouTube here
<Download Snapchat>
Right:
    Download YouTube here
    Download Snapchat here
OR
    <Download YouTube>
    <Download Snapchat>
It does not matter which you choose. What matters is consistency.
-The Oxford/series comma
Again, we’re back at the mysterious comma.
Point: Decide if you want to use the Oxford comma. (Note: I use it. Why? Because I just chose one way of doing it and have stayed consistent.)
Wrong:
This, this, and this. (Later in the article…) This, this and this.
Right:
This, this, and this. (Later in the article…) This, this, and this.
OR
This, this and this. (Later in the article…) This, this and this.
It does not matter which you choose. What matters is consistency.
-Capitalization
Point: As mentioned earlier, sometimes capitalization can be ambiguous when dealing with certain proper nouns and headings/titles. Again, just stick with one style and don’t ever change.
Wrong:
I use the internet every day. The Internet is great.
Right:
I use the internet every day. The internet is great.
OR
I use the Internet every day. The Internet is great.
It does not matter which you choose. What matters is consistency.
-American/British
Point: If you’re using British spelling, don’t switch to American spelling midway through the next paragraph.
Wrong:
    She modelled to the organisation the color of her dress.
Right:
    She modeled to the organization the color of her dress.
OR
    She modelled to the organisation the colour of her dress.
It does not matter which you choose. What matters is consistency.
Specifically with this point, I’ve heard the argument that you’re “appealing to both markets”. That’s seriously dumb.
You’re not appealing to both markets. You’re coming across as not knowing what you’re doing. It says, “I’m wishy-washy and don’t know how to commit”.
Pick one English standard and stick with it. Make your entire blog fall under that category.
-Back to grammar
Point: If you start writing in present tense, don’t shift to past tense and then back to present tense.
Wrong:
    I’m walking down the street and I noticed that it was a hot day today.
Right:
    I was walking down the street and I noticed that it was a hot day today.
OR
    I’m walking down the street and I’m noticing that it’s a hot day today.
It does not matter which you choose. What matters is consistency.
Point: Write your copy using first, second, or third person, and don’t change it at any point during the text.
Wrong:
    A blogger can follow these instructions and you will benefit from them.
Right:
    A blogger can follow these instructions and he/she/they will benefit from them.
OR
    You can follow these instructions and you will benefit from them.
It does not matter which you choose. What matters is consistency.
I think you get the point.
Consistency is very, very, very important.
Even if you’re using an element incorrectly, if you use it consistently, at the very least, it’ll make it look like you tried.


3. ALWAYS PROOFREAD:
This. Is. So. Important.
And yet, very few people do it.
I don't proofread either
But proofreading can make you a more successful blogger.
Proofreading can be an emotional nightmare.
You’ve just spilled out your thoughts onto a computer and are about to show the entire world your opinions/knowledge/vulnerabilities. You just kind of want to get it over with and hope for the best.
But this approach is beyond dumb.
Why?
Because if you proofread, you are GUARANTEED to find mistakes.
Always.
    -If something sounds bad and awkward, you need to get rid of it.
    -If you haven’t explained something fully, it’s not good, and you need to go back and explain it.
    -If there’s a misused word, don’t assume the audience will “know what you meant”. You need to fix that.
-The last point is particularly troubling. If I see a misused word, I know you didn’t bother to proofread.
Examples of misused words:
    “This is the way to master special media”… Uhh, you mean “social media”?
    “Follow these steps and you’ll be a tip writer”… Uhh, you mean “top writer”?
    “Check out this new apple”… Uhh, you mean “new app”?
…and there are so many more…
Autocorrect is a likely culprit of these typos, but autocorrect is not an excuse. If you had proofread your work, this kind of error would never have been published.
Another way I will know you didn’t bother to proofread:
    Duplicate content!
I don’t know how or why (I think it may be something with WordPress’s dashboard), but there’s sooooo much duplicate copy littered across really unprofessional websites.
When editing a published (!!!) blog post you may find out that you had the same paragraph written 5 times. 5 times!!
This is what that looks like:
I am writing this paragraph to demonstrate what not to do. Not because it’s an example
I am writing this paragraph to demonstrate what not to do. Not because it’s an example of what you should do, but because you should never do it. If
I am writing this paragraph to demonstrate what not to do. Not because it’s an example of what you should do, but because you should never do it. If
I am writing this paragraph to demonstrate what not to do. Not because it’s an example of what you should do, but because you should
I am writing this paragraph to demonstrate what not to do. Not because it’s an example of what you should do, but because you should never do it. If you proofread your work, this will never happen.
Ask yourself, does this look professional?
Here’s the gist:
You. Need. To. Proofread.
At least twice. At least.
I like to say:
    If you’ve read through it and you’ve found an error, you need to do at least one more read through.
Only publish (or submit) when you’ve read through it and it’s spotless.
If you aren’t proofreading, you are DEFINITELY coming across as unprofessional. Guaranteed.
When I edit, I make sure to do at least two rough reads, and then at least one final “front-end” read through.
TIP: It is so important to do a “front-end” read through. You will, guaranteed, see mistakes that you can’t see in the back-end. Sometimes there’s an extra space in between words. Sometimes if you bold or italicize a word before a punctuation mark, that punctuation mark gets lost.
Yes, you need to read through your copy, but you also need to make sure that your copy is displayed and formatted properly.
Imagine if you came across a website and the text was overlapping, or the font color was hiding certain words. You’d probably see this as mega unprofessional because all it would’ve needed was for the webmaster to do a front-end check to see that there are some serious problems.
Check everything from every angle. Always.
Building Professionalism!
I don’t want you to be discouraged by any of this.
My goal is to make us better. If you feel none of this applies to you, please disregard it.
But if you’re not seeing the kinds of conversions you want, or you know there’s something that’s “off-putting” about your business, there’s a high probability that you’re coming across as “unprofessional”.
In my observation, around 80% of obvious “unprofessionalism” on the internet is due to the above three points.
I’m merely giving a critique because critique is a such an important part of any artistic/entrepreneurial endeavor.
    -No great artist has ever gone from 0 to famous without being critiqued to the point of utter oblivion.
    -No entrepreneur has ever had an idea and executed it to perfection without the useful critique of a mentor.
    -Every book ever written has gone through a series of edits by a team of editors.
This is the process.
Learn from your mistakes and you will not only be more successful, but you’ll be way ahead of the competition that’s afraid to learn anything new.
If “advancement” is my goal, challenging my own ego is usually the road to take.
Ok, yes, this was a long-winded post, but it’s important.
Why?
Because of three things:
    -Your artistic endeavors (blogging/business/writing/etc.) are important.
    -The critique you need to hear in order to grow is important.
    -The self-reflection you need to display in order to learn from your mistakes is important.
If you fully understand these three steps, professionalism will ensue.
I guarantee it.
Thanks to SML for the inspiration for this post.
Tell us what you think in the comment section.
And don't forget to share this, it might me exactly what your friends need to read

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