This is the first of a series of guest posts on nearly everything under the sun, intersecting with the wonderful, wild, wild world of animals.

Kicking off the series is this post by Thea van Diepen, the Kitten Psychologist, a fellow wordsmith/language geek/multipotentialite.

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Messy GothShe waves at you from under half-combed hair so greasy you want to believe it’s just wet. There are actual smears of dirt on her face–which you realize as you manufacture an expression approaching nausea more than the intended pleasant greeting is not nearly so aesthetically pleasing as Hollywood would have you believe–and when she opens her mouth to speak to you, it smells like something died in there. Several times.

Would you let this woman take care of your pets?

If your response is anything other than “Oh, God, no,” then you may want to find yourself a nice psychiatrist. Because we’re not talking someone whose bunker has been found after she holed herself up inside to escape the end of the world at Y2K. We’re talking a woman that your friend just introduced as a pet sitter who could watch your fur babies while you’re off on vacation.

I know what you’re thinking.

If that woman has all the tools at her disposal to take care of herself and doesn’t…not can’t, doesn’t, why would I trust her to take care of my pets?

This is exactly what happens when someone lands on a pet-sitter site rife with typos, awful grammar, and poorly-worded sentences.

“But,” you say, “people should judge me by my work, not by my spelling.”

See, that’s the problem. Much as we talk about what the world should be like, we still have to deal with the world as it is.

People flee badly-written sites. Flee.

Your customers are tripping over themselves to escape when all they’ve seen is your writing and your writing couldn’t pass a grade five language arts assignment.

No, you don’t have to like that this is how the world is. But you do need to accept it. And give people no excuses to value the work that you care about and do to the best of your ability.

If you’ve read this blog enough, you’ve heard Nancee talk about the importance of spelling and grammar on her website. As I understand it, she’s received backlash for it. Possibly from you.

So here’s who I am: I’m a published author with three books on the market, and a blog which I’ve run for three years. It was 100% my idea to write this post for her because I know a thing or two about the importance of words on the internet.

And, let me tell you they are important.

They are all anyone online knows about you. Whether you’re on social media, writing articles on your website, emailing with potential clients, any kind of communication online is in writing. Like the hygiene of someone you’ve just met, the competence of your writing is all potential clients have to go on about your work.

Does this mean you have to have beautiful prose with impeccable word choice and comma placement?

By no means.

Remember that woman from our example? What would she have to change before you’d have no problem taking her seriously?

Taking a shower might be something. Combing all her hair. Brushing her teeth, maybe popping in a breath mint if she’s having problems on that front. Washing her face.

Nothing fancy, right? But, with those few, simple hygiene measures in place, the impression she makes takes a 180. Here is a woman whose hair, skin, and breath you don’t even notice as you talk details with her.

Why?

Because she takes care of herself.

So, how can you practise good writing hygiene?

First, write what you’re going to write and run it through a spell-checker. Preferably Word’s spell-check, with the grammar feature on. This is the absolute bare minimum. A lot of errors can still get through, but this will catch a lot.

Next, find a friend who’s good with spelling and grammar to go over what you’ve written and point out all the problems they find and how to fix them. If you need to, tell them that all you want is to fix errors while still sounding like yourself.

If you have a website with static pages (like your about or pricing pages), consider hiring someone to proofread them. Because once those are done, they’re done.

Lastly, decide to treat your writing as an important asset in your pet sitting business. If you can’t afford to hire a proofreader for all your work, then commit to improving your writing and editing skills so that you don’t need one (and there are so many online resources that can help you with this). Whatever route you choose, make it a high priority that the writing on your website always reflect the quality of your work and the pride you take in it–your clients will thank you for it.

Now, remember how I said your writing doesn’t need to be fancy? I’m going to tell you a secret about writing for the public:

Your writing only has to be at a grade seven level for it to be seen well.

Please write like you talk.

Please show off your personality.

Please be really, wonderfully, delightfully yourself.

We want to see you as you are.

So, please, write exactly what you mean to say. And write it so that your clients have no excuse– they can see with every word why hiring you is one of the best decisions they could ever make.

Image credits:

Flazingo

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