Proper grammar is essential, but many writers struggle in this area. If you are writing just for yourself, grammar may not be that important to you. But for those of you that write for a living, those of you who want to garner the respect — and the reward — that you need to support yourself, proper grammar can be a huge factor.
For your writing to standup in a competitive market, you need to take the time to ensure your grammar is spot on. Clients looking for freelance writers are inundated with applications from writers who haven’t taken the time to spell or grammar check their work. This is partly because the early days of content writing was all about keywords. Back then, as long as you could stuff an article with the right keywords, the client, and Google, was happy.
Online writing rules were very lax, keyword stuffing was an accepted practice and many writers picked up bad habits. But as the search engines and Google have become more sophisticated, “keyword stuffing” is out and valued content is in. To get the attention of the search engines and avoid being penalized for bad content, articles and blog posts need to make sense, have valuable content, and be spelling and grammar free.
You may have heard about an app called Grammarly. It works similar to spellcheckers in word processing programs, but as well as spelling, it is also designed to check for grammar and punctuation errors. With Grammarly, you either copy and paste your work into the online editor or you download and install the free browser tool.
Polish Your Online Profiles and Bid Proposals
A huge part of being a successful writer is putting your best foot forward so you can get noticed by potential clients. An app such as Grammarly can help you polish your online profile and double check your bid proposals or letters of inquiry before you publish or send them. A mistake in your profile, inquiry, or bid proposal could be a red flag that prevents you from making the cut.
Learn as you Go
Grammarly will check your written work for over two-hundred different types of spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors, (150 if you use the download version). It also gives you an idea of the logic of each error and suggests corrections, leaving the decision to you.
To use the web version of Grammarly, you need to login to their dashboard, before pasting/writing into their portal. Errors detected by Grammarly will be underlined, with the premium version does picking up on more errors than the download version.
Improve Your Vocabulary
The premium version includes an optional vocabulary improvement tool which will make alternative suggestions for different words. This is helpful if you have some “favorite” words or phrases that you use a lot and may want to vary a little bit. It will identify the overused words and provide an alternative word choice. If you don’t like the first choice, double click on it and Grammarly will provide several other options.
Prevent Embarrassing Typos
The browser version of Grammarly is especially helpful for short posts on social media. It works quietly in the background of your browser and will underline errors and even provide an error count. If you use social media frequently this browser version is a great way for you to catch those embarrassing typos or autocorrections.
Check for Unintentional Plagiarism
In the premium version, the plagiarism checker is extremely helpful for writers who use the work of other writers as inspiration for their own work. When the plagiarism checker is on, Grammarly not only underlines phrases that are “unoriginal”, but it also includes a pop-up that shows you where your work may have been copied from. It also gives an estimated percentage score to let you know how much of your document is unoriginal.
One helpful aspect of this feature — especially for students and other writers of academic content — is that it provides you with a citation. It includes the proper citation for MLA, Chicago style, and other professional citation formats. This is a real timesaver for anyone who may not be intimately familiar with those styles.
Send Corrections to Someone Else
If you are an editor or have been asked to review a document that someone else has written, the premium version allows you to download a PDF version of the identified errors. You can then email that PDF to someone else who can make the corrections, or show it to someone else.
Overall Grammarly sounds like the perfect writer’s companion, right? There are just a couple of things that you need to be aware of before you purchase. First of all, the paid version has three pricing levels, the least expensive is the annual plan, at about $140.00. If you need to pay by the month, you’ll pay a pretty steep $29.95. There is also a quarterly plan which is a little better at $59.95 every 3 months. If you can afford the annual price, it’s a pretty good deal, especially if you write for a living. Students may find that the free version will suffice most of the time, and that paying for one month to quickly check their work might be the best way to go.
Also, Grammarly is not a substitute for paying a professional to check your work, especially if you are writing for publication. It’s always best to read the document several times yourself and ask others to proofread it for you as well. For longer works, like a fiction or non-fiction book, you simply must have a professional human editor review your work. The premium version of Grammarly does offer a paid service that matches you with a human proofreader if you choose to take advantage of it.
Overall, most writers who have used Grammarly are reporting that it is a worthwhile tool to have.