Freelancers can’t afford to be lazy emailers

Those who know me won’t be surprised when I say that using proper spelling and grammar in your business-related communication is just as important as the actual work your clients pay you for.

I’m freelance writer so I may be biased, but I believe that if you don’t consider your spelling and grammar in emails and instant messages, you could hinder the rest of your project. There’s one simple reason for that.

You can appear unprofessional and careless if your spelling is bad

I don’t mean the occasional mistake here and there (“Occasional” is one word I personally always mess up on the first go). I’m talking about emails littered with spelling errors and grammatical mixups.

Imagine you are the client and you email your freelancer a question about the project you’re working on. The email you get back is full of so many spelling mistakes and poorly-constructed sentences that you have to read it twice to understand. How would your opinion of the freelancer change? How much time will both of you waste trying to understand what’s going on?

To put it another way, which looks more professional to you:

A) Thanks for sending the ad specs. I’ll have the ad ready for you by 5pm tomorrow. What format do you prefer I send it in?
B) Thx for add specs. It’ll be ready by 5 tomorro. Best way to send?

Freelance writers aren’t immune to this phenomenon, either. You may consider email to be on a different level than the professional writing you do for your clients. However, in my opinion, your email “voice” should reflect your level of professionalism and attention to detail.

Take your time and review every message

Emails and instant messages are immediate forms of communication, but take a minute to review every message before you hit Send. It’s been my experience that most poorly-constructed emails and letters are a result of a perfectly good writer rushing through it — and I’ve been guilty of this too.

Read over your email or message and make sure that all the client’s questions are answered and your relevant points have been made. Read it out loud to make sure it flows well. Look for obvious errors, but also watch out for spelling mistakes that spellchecker programs might not catch because, technically, they’re not spelled wrong. These include they’re/their/there and you’re/your mixups — and my personal favourite: it’s/its. Someone I know reads each word backwards — she says that it helps misspellings jump out at her.

Nobody’s expecting perfection

Everyone makes spelling and grammar mistakes, and your client will understand that. The important thing is to just take care with the things you write. It’s one of the most important things you can do to improve your reputation and put forth an image that’s just as professional as your work.