5 Common Spelling & Grammar Mistakes to Avoid to Improve your Writing

 

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I admit some of these still confuse me even though I’m a seasoned writer (nobody’s perfect:)), so don’t be afraid to refer back to this list during your writing to avoid making unnecessary mistakes.

Fewer than and Less than

Less is used for hypothetical quantities. E.g. “There are fewer than 30 children in my son’s class,” or “there are fewer seasonal fruits to choose from in winter.” On the other hand, less than is used for something that can’t be counted or doesn’t have a plural (e.g. money, time, air, rain, music.) E.g. “Susan eats less than me,” “It snowed less in Alaska this year.”

Affect and Effect

Once you learn the difference here, this one’s pretty easy. The key to remembering this one is that “affect” is almost always a verb (e.g., “The loud music affects my ears”) while “effect” is almost always a noun (e.g., “I love the effect that music has on my mood.”). While “affect” means to influence or create an impression, “effect” describes the result or the outcome.

Farther and Further

The word “farther” implies a measurable distance. “Further” should be reserved for abstract lengths you can’t always measure. e.g., I swam the ball fifty feet farther than Harry. e.g., The earthquake caused further implications.

Disinterested and Uninterested

Despite what most people think, these words are not synonymous. A “disinterested” person is someone who has an impartial perspective. For example, a judge or referee is disinterested because he or she is operating from a neutral perspective. If you want to write a sentence to imply that someone couldn’t care less, then the word you’ll want to use is “uninterested.”

Whether and If

“Whether” and “if” are NOT interchangeable, meaning you can’t replace one with the other. “Whether” expresses a condition where there are two or more alternatives, while “if” expresses a condition where there are no alternatives available. E.g., I don’t know whether I’ll go to the party on Friday. e.g., I can’t go to the party on Friday if I don’t get paid in time. 

Which words confuse you the most? Leave a comment below and let me know!

“Don’t Think Twice it’s All Right”

There’s something about a well-written song that resonates so deeply with me. When one of my favourite songs comes on, I just want to drop what I’m doing, close my eyes and listen to it on full blast, taking in all the elements from the instruments used to the nuances and emotions of the singer’s voice.

There’s something about the way Dylan sings this song, and the lyrics he wrote to accompany it are intelligent and pretty brutal in some aspects! It’s hard to believe he was just 21 when he wrote this song; he is such a smart and eloquent songwriter, and absolutely deserving of the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Dylan’s written some incredible songs including Blowin’ in the Wind, The Times They are a Changin and Subterranean Homesick Blues, but Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right is by far my favourite Dylan song of all time.

Writing lyrics isn’t something that comes naturally to me but I have tried songwriting on a number of occasions and I must say it is a very therapeutic and cathartic process that I thoroughly enjoy. But if I was half as good as Dylan, I’d definitely be writing songs for a living.

Have a good read of these and see what you think; hope you enjoy them as much as I do:

(P.S. Can you spot the grammar mistake? We forgive you, Dylan!)

It ain’t no use to sit and wonder why, babe
It don’t matter, anyhow
An’ it ain’t no use to sit and wonder why, babe
If you don’t know by now
When your rooster crows at the break of dawn
Look out your window and I’ll be gone
You’re the reason I’m trav’lin’ on
Don’t think twice, it’s all right

It ain’t no use in turnin’ on your light, babe
That light I never knowed
An’ it ain’t no use in turnin’ on your light, babe
I’m on the dark side of the road
Still I wish there was somethin’ you would do or say
To try and make me change my mind and stay
We never did too much talkin’ anyway
So don’t think twice, it’s all right

It ain’t no use in callin’ out my name, gal
Like you never did before
It ain’t no use in callin’ out my name, gal
I can’t hear you anymore
I’m a-thinkin’ and a-wond’rin’ all the way down the road
I once loved a woman, a child I’m told
I give her my heart but she wanted my soul
But don’t think twice, it’s all right

I’m walkin’ down that long, lonesome road, babe
Where I’m bound, I can’t tell
But goodbye’s too good a word, gal
So I’ll just say fare thee well
I ain’t sayin’ you treated me unkind
You could have done better but I don’t mind
You just kinda wasted my precious time
But don’t think twice, it’s all right

Copyright © 1963 by Warner Bros. Inc.; renewed 1991 by Special Rider Music

How to Become a Successful Content Writer

Writing is a dream job; well one that I always dreamed of as a young child anyway. It has always been my dream to create content, and although my ultimate mission is to write books (I’m still working on that), I have been fortunate enough to pursue my dreams as a content writer for the past 10 plus years, and that is something I’m very proud of.

While successful content writers might seem to have an enviable job with their own schedules and the chance to work from wherever they please, it is important to remember that it takes time, energy and determination to make it as a successful content writer.

Below are my top 5 tips on how to become a successful content writer!

1. Master a range of writing styles

As a content writer, I’m asked to write different types of content all the time. From press releases and formal articles to casual blog posts and persuasive social media content, I’ve created countless different types of content for an array of industries. If you want to achieve success in your content writing, you need to be able to master different styles of writing, as this is what increases your value and therefore makes you more in demand.

2. Focus on originality

When I create content, I want people to be able to identify my writing, my voice and my perspective, and I can only do this by generating original, unique writing that comes from the heart. If I’m not happy with the finished product I’ll write it and rewrite it until I’m 100% happy with it.

3. Be persistent

It can be disheartening when you’re struggling to build up your client base, especially in the beginning. Don’t give up; it takes hard work, determination and persistence to find your first set of clients, but once you land even just one client, from there you will be in the perfect position to build your client base even further.

4. Read, read, read

Yes it’s essential that you write frequently, but you also need to read voraciously. Articles, novels, social media updates – even the subtitles on a video; read as much as you can and as often as you can.  This will help to expand your vocabulary, inspire thoughts and ideas, teach you about industry best practices and keep you up-to-date with goings on around the world. Staying in the loop is essential if you want to stay ahead of the game and remain valuable as a content writer.

5. Learn HTML, SEO, CSS and WordPress

Even the most basic knowledge of the above will be of value to you as a content writer. Up-to-date SEO knowledge is important because Google is constantly changing its algorithms and writers need to keep up with these changes. One factor that is not going to change anytime soon is this: high-quality will always be in demand. If you can create high-quality, original content then you will always be in demand.

As I said above, a successful career in content writing requires hard work, determination and persistence, while it’s essential that you stay ahead of the game by maintaining your knowledge of different industries.

What are your thoughts on successful content writing? Leave a comment and let me know!

 

 

March Musings

Taking a Moment to Reflect on the Past Month 

March was a difficult month for me on a number of levels (for reasons I won’t get into here), but I wholeheartedly believe in the power of positive thinking and the overwhelming effects it has on the mind, body and spirit.

As cliché as it sounds, being positive really is a game changer, not just because it calms the heart rate and brings back that twinkle in your eye, but also because it really has the power to adjust your frame of mind and help you to see the good in a seemingly bad situation.

Life is an odd thing but we’re all here, facing its challenges in our own unique ways. I know for one that I am always trying to be the best version of myself possible, whether in my professional or personal life.

Within my content writing, I’m always aspiring to push myself further and further and produce the best work imaginable. With each piece of content I produce, I scour it with a fine-tooth comb, checking it and re-checking it to see how it can be improved. Only when I’m truly happy with it will I click ‘Publish’ or ‘Send.’

As a mother, I’m always trying to educate myself and do the best thing for my children, which isn’t always easy (we all lose our tempers sometimes ;)) but it is a challenge I am wholeheartedly embracing through all the tears, tantrums, trials and tribulations (that’s enough alliteration for one day), and of course through all the joy, laughter and happiness that resonates through our home on a daily basis.

There are plenty of other versions of ‘me’ including wife, daughter, sister and friend, and I’m always committed to pushing myself beyond any metaphorical boundary and being the best version of myself I can possibly be, no matter which role I am filling at that moment.

With that in mind, I wish you all a happy, healthy and prosperous month ahead.

Here’s to positivity!

Essential GDPR Information (& How it Affects Content Marketing)

With only two months to go until the updated General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) kicks into action, it’s vital that your business is completely ready well in advance of the May 25th deadline. Otherwise, you run the risk of receiving hefty fines as high as €20 million, or 4% of total worldwide annual turnover (whichever is the most).

Any EU, EEA, and UK business that processes and manages personal data of EU clients, customers and employees will be affected by this updated regulation. Further, businesses located outside of the EU that deal with data of EU clients will also be affected.

With only two months to go until the updated GDPR regulation kicks into action, it’s vital that your business is completely ready well in advance of the May 25th deadline. Otherwise, your business runs the risk of receiving hefty fines as high as €20 million, or 4% of total worldwide annual turnover (whichever is the most).

The most important things you can do at this point are to:

  • Research the GDPR in-depth to ensure you completely understand the updated regulations
  • Perform a review of the processes and practices taking place at your business
  • Analyse your platform and infrastructure to determine whether or not you are fully compliant
  • Carry out a data audit to identify all data processing activities at your business
  • Identify the ‘weak links’ in order to strengthen or remove them

The whole point of the GDPR is to strengthen the protection of people’s personal data and ensure that all policies and practices are in line with our digital era.

The revised GDPR will most certainly affect the world of content marketing.

For instance, if you wish to send out an email marketing newsletter, you will need to comply with the GDPR. In order to be compliant, you must first obtain consent from your customers (individuals must opt-in to receive your mail). They must know what they are consenting to while consent must be “freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous.”

So let’s say you’re asking people to sign up for your newsletter. To do this, you must explicitly state that your brand is collecting data, and describe exactly what it will be used for. You will also need to have proof of consent on file, say in the form of screengrabs or consent forms. This must be stored somewhere safe and easy to access when required.

The same holds true for data already obtained, so if you’ve got details on record, you now need to reach out to those individuals to confirm that they are okay with you keeping their records on file. If not, you need to appropriately discard that information immediately.

There is a great deal involved in GDPR so if you’re feeling confused and need some professional guidance, get in touch. I work closely with a leading GDPR and FADP consultancy firm offering specialist services designed to ensure that your organisation lives up to GDPR regulation.

To learn more, email maria@hqcontentwriter.com.