Why Being the Grammar Police Isn’t A Good Freelance Writing Quality

Do you find yourself cringing and biting your nails when reading blog posts and articles filled with grammatical mistakes?

Why Being the Grammar Police Isn’t A Good Freelance Writing Quality

You might even be in the Grammar Police group and not even know it!

The impulse to email the business or blogger about their errors is all too-consuming because not only do these grammar errors leave a sour taste in your mouth, but you’re also fed up with all the mistakes you see online from bloggers and even from freelance writers like…ME!

I’ve said many times on my blog that I’m not a perfect writer and I don’t claim to be perfect with grammar (that’s why I use Grammarly and have a proofreader for my client work).

And, I’m even fortunate enough to have nice bloggers and writers tell me my grammatical mistakes. In the years I’ve been writing online, I’ve only had less than 3 Grammar Police ridicule my writing skill.

I usually get something like this:

In the post, I noticed an error. I thought you might like to know so you can get it corrected.

“In future lessons will focus on the pages — *will* should either read as: we will or we’ll. Or, you could eliminate “In” so the sentence will read: Future lessons will focus on the pages.

Hope you’re having a great day! Linda H.

As I said, I’m fortunate that my tribe of writers, mamas and bloggers aren’t the Grammar Police but constructively critique my writing.

And that’s a good thing because if you’re a freelance writer, being the Grammar Police to clients and prospective clients is not an excellent quality. In fact, it’s a bad quality to have.

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Why Being the Grammar Police is Hazardous to Your Work

Writing is personal.

You pour your heart and soul into your writing, whether it’s for your own personal enjoyment or your freelance writing job.

You have a connection with your words, and when you hear that your writing is horrible or that you – the professional freelance writer – should be aware of these grammar errors, it doesn’t make you feel good, right?

So, imagine this Grammar Police telling strangers they have horrible writing because they have one or few double negatives or typos in their articles? Do you think this person gets freelance writing jobs every day?

Let’s go over five ways being the Grammar Police makes you less money and lessens your chance at landing freelance writing work.

1. Grammar Police Are Rigid

If you live by grammar and all things related to having error-free writing, I can bet you are unwilling to infuse personality into your writing.

Your passion for writing is limited by not ending your sentences in a preposition or ensuring you never have a dangling modifier.

And, in the end, what do you end up with then? Writing that lacks creativity. Writing that doesn’t breathe life.

Your writing becomes too rigid and something that clients don’t want on their website.

A freelance writing client wants an engaging writer that can tell a story with their words. And more importantly, isn’t afraid to bend the rules of grammar for the sake of making their writing more conversational.

If you find yourself self-editing constantly, consider the result of that when you read your writing.

2. Clients Don’t Like Grammar Police

Grammar Police are also nit-picky and rudely demonstrate this quality at times. As the person dishing out the grammar advice, you may not see this. You may feel you are doing your part in helping your clients with their copy.

Which is ultimately right, but if you nit-pick every little thing on your client’s website, do you think you’ll be their go-to writer?

Clients usually collaborate with easy going writers. These are the writers that turn in excellent work all the time, never miss a deadline, never ask for an extension and are easy to reach (and don’t nit-pick!).

3. Grammar Police Are Slow Writers

My writing process sometimes can take a while to accomplish. It’s hard for me not to hit that backspace/delete button as I’m typing my client’s post. I self-edit all the time, but I’m learning to limit this “constructive criticism” in my brain and just write.

But, for many other writers, they can’t turn that off in their brains. The Grammar Police thrive in them, and writing becomes excruciating and fixated on one paragraph or solely on the introduction.

You can also call this perfectionism 🙂

And, you know how what ends up happening when you write slow? You make less money as a freelance writer.

4. Grammar Police Focus On the Wrong Thing

Again, grammar gets the spotlight when you write, rather than the content idea or the actual writing.

You become focused on eliminating your grammatical mistakes and typos, rather than seeing if the idea flows from point A to point B.

When you make your outline for your article the spotlight, you start to care about what you are writing about, instead of how your writing sounds like or how it comes out across.

5. Grammar Police Come Across As All-Knowing

It’s unfortunate, but I lump Grammar Police with trolls on the Internet.

And many feel the same way and call Grammar Police huge jerks. Of the few that have called me out on my grammar or writing style, the most memorable was when I didn’t even write a post, but I did a webinar about freelance writing.

One person emailed me after the webinar and told me point blank that she would NEVER buy ANYTHING I created. She thought my webinar was terrible, that my speaking was poor and that there was no way that businesses were paying for my writing.

Ouch! I never publicly told this story because it hurt me! Deeply!

The next time I did a webinar was two years later!

Grammar Police want to come off as all-knowing because they just want to be right. That is not how you do business with potential clients.

The Right Way to Acknowledge a Grammar Mistake

Look – I know that many of you reading this aren’t Grammar Police, but you want to know how you can tell someone (ahem…a potential client of yours) that they have a typo or grammatical error.

How do you do it kindly?

As I mentioned, the bloggers, mamas, and writers in my community are very helpful and very kind when they tell me I have a spelling mistake:

But, McKinzie is a blogging friend of mine, so it’s easy to call-out other friends for a typo.

It’s different when you want to tell a potential client they have errors all over their website. How do you tell them?

In my private Facebook group for Writeto1k course students, Michelle asked:

How do you suggest someone hire you as a copy editor without sounding rude? I have seen so many big brands with typos and other errors lately, but I don’t know how to contact them and not seem like a jerk by pointing out the mistakes.

I asked my dear friend and editor, Lorraine Reguly this question and here is her expert advice:

When you contact the company, the very first thing you want to do is compliment them on their content. This will create favorability in their mind, which will hopefully lead to a positive response.

Once that has been established, you can then point out their mistakes, using screenshots, and explain that you are concerned about their image as well as their professionalism online.

Then you can make your pitch!

By pointing out all of the positives, you will gain their trust. All of the positives will outweigh the negatives, so a positive response will be more likely to happen!

As you can see, instead of being the Grammar Police, Lorraine suggests that you compliment the company first.

As the saying goes, you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. The same is true for business – always start with a positive thing to say before you state a negative.

Lorraine also makes it a point to say that you should tell prospective clients you are concerned about their brand and image, and professionalism.

This changes the mindset of the potential client feeling inferior or embarrassed by the typo, and instead, puts the idea that these mistakes can hurt their brand.

This opens the door to your editing and writing service.

Don’t Be the Grammar Police

Am I inviting Grammar Police by writing this post? I hope not! I want to help as many writers as possible to make money with their writing.

If grammar is your sole focus, you may be better off as an editor rather than a writer! But, if you truly love writing, it’s okay to point out typos, just use constructive criticism because everyone makes mistakes!

Over to you – have you been called out by the Grammar Police? What was your experience?

Remember to pin me!

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Hi I'm Elna and I'm a freelance writer and mom blogger. I help people just like you become a profitable freelance writer. Within 6 months of starting my freelance writing business from scratch I was able to earn a full-time living as a part-time freelance writer while taking care of my twin toddlers. Check out my free email course Get Paid to Write Online and learn the steps you need to take to be a freelance writer.

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6 Comments

Elna, I am so glad you wrote this post! I first want to start off by apologizing on behalf of those Grammar Police: your writings and webinars are great and you have so many people who adore you! Anyway, I am so thankful for this post because… I am definitely one of those INNER grammar police (plot twist). I emphasize inner because I never, ever, act on my impulses (I actually discuss this in my About Me section on my website). However, the thoughts are definitely alive and well in my head. Although I do believe I am voice-conscious of my writing, I find so much of this to be true. Topic number three in particular– I am definitely a slow writer! Not because my brain is slow at all, but because I am going over every little detail and punctuation and alternative adjective in my head while I’m writing. It was actually pretty fun to read this– like I was looking at myself in a mirror! On a more serious note, I have always had that question of, ‘How do I tell this person without sounding rude?’ So I really appreciate you reaching out to Lorraine to ask that question. You continue to speak to me!Reply to Sonya
Hi Sonya, Glad you enjoyed this post and you were able to look inward to try to fix some of your challenges! It does take a long time to turn off that grammar police switch in your brain! Good luck!Reply to Elna
Elna, I love this post! I too have had some unfavorable comments due to typos or grammar mistakes that weren’t mistakes but done to match a different style. It is called being a human! I’ve found typos in best-selling books. You know, books written by highly paid authors with highly paid editors to read through them many times. If they can let something slip, then I can definitely have more grace for myself and other bloggers.Reply to Ashley
Hey Ashley! Thanks so much! Yes, there are typos in everything and at every level of professionalism! But, yeah, knowing how to approach it kindly is always the best way to handle it!Reply to Elna
What a great post! I used to be often accused of being the Grammar Police. Then I learned how to best approach others to point out their mistakes. Thanks for sharing my tips in your post! 🙂 I appreciate the backlink, too!Reply to Lorraine
Hey Lorraine! Yes, you’re a great editor for sure mama! Love your advice for sure!Reply to Elna