Do Spelling and Grammar REALLY Matter?

I have encountered so many “writers” who have terrible spelling and seem to take a finished work and sprinkle commas over it with a salt shaker. This just is not going to work if you are going to call yourself a writer.

One young man asked me to read something he had written and give him some feedback. I could barely make it through a page. His meaning was completely obscured by the spelling and grammar mistakes. When I pointed that out, he became very angry. He told me that his story was good and that was all that mattered. I tried to explain that his story wasn’t accessible to the reader if they had to work out what the words were and the meanings of the sentences with improper punctuation. I offered some suggestions and resources, and presented everything as constructively as possible. I even suggested a class. He was too angry to listen and insisted that if (insert name of content mill that pays per click and generates pennies for pay) would “publish” him, then I had no ground to stand on. I reminded him that he had asked for my feedback, but ultimately he hounded me online to the point of me having to block him.

The bottom line? In order to create content, whether a novel, an article, or web content that is clear both in meaning and readability to the reader, spelling and grammar matter. So, either brush up, find some tools, take a class, or hire a good editor, because yes, they matter. A lot.

*Image found online without attribution information.

Bidding Sites – Yes or No?

There are Freelancers who dismiss bidding sites. I don’t blame them. There are a lot of bidding sites that are absolutely horrendous out there. I did tons of research to find out which one, if any, I would use. And I came up with Elance.

Here’s the deal. All bidding sites are going to have very low paying jobs on them. Some people just want the work done; the words slapped on the page; the code written. They don’t care about the quality, just the quantity, the speed, and the cheap cost. When you see those posts offering $3 or even less for 500 word articles, move on to the next listing. You have to learn what to look for in a listing, in a client, and know how to find your answers before you bid.

It can be vexing to work from a bidding site. It isn’t fun to submit proposal after proposal.  But I got my professional start on Elance and even though I have a number of private clients, I still turn to them when things get slow.

I recently returned to Elance when my kids went back to school. It had been awhile since my last visit and it took me some time to get back into the groove. There is still room for improvement, but there are also still clients willing to pay for quality work.

If you are a freelancer and looking for somewhere to get your start, try Elance. Don’t bother with the other sites, trust me. Elance has features to help and protect you. You might not get the top wages to begin with, but once you build your reputation it becomes easier.

In other words, if you want a place to start your freelance career, bidding sites may be the way to establish a reputation. Elance is the best of these that I have seen. Any questions?


**This post was sponsored by Elance, nor did I receive any payment for it. It is my opinion, and mine only.

Ghostwriting: Will I or Won’t I?

A couple of years ago, I was hired to ghostwrite a novel. My client had the ideas in his head, but he wasn’t sure how to organize it, put it together coherently, and present it as a story. I was quite excited, as this was my first opportunity to write a novel.

The process was difficult, because my client had definite ideas of the setting, characters, and vague plot. I needed to stick as close to his ideas as possible. We met a few times to review the details and settle plot points, etc. before I got to the meat of the writing. There were two big problems with this entire operation. One, it takes a long time to write a novel. It’s one thing to say, “Oh, and this guy has this ability to hear things from ten miles away” and actually articulate how someone could actually sift through all of the voices between here and there and hear what he needed to hear. Sure, it’s an odd example, and you might think that you are already suspending belief because it is obviously a superpower, but it really has to be presented in a plausible way or readers will simply reject it. In other words, it is not as simple as writing down the major plot points on index cards, putting them in order, and writing words to connect them. My client was impatient for progress and I felt very pressured because my creative process required a certain pace. I ended up rushing through the second half and giving him a list of things that would need fixing or elaboration because he wanted it NOW.

The second problem was handing over the novel. Sure, the client had come up with his concept, but I had written the words and figured out how to get from point A to B to C… Obviously, I had signed a nondisclosure agreement and the content was his and I gave it to him. But. It was really difficult to give away certain phrases and ideas I had created. And to give it up when I didn’t feel it was truly complete was also an issue for me. I had more ideas and more details and… it was gone.

So, to answer the initial question about whether I will ghostwrite… yes, I will. However, I will only ghostwrite short works, articles or lesson plans or web content. I will not commit to ghostwriting a novel. The next novel I write will be my own.