Grammar Ranter Drops by eHow.com
If you’ve read my book Write Where the Money Is, you know I exhort caution when it comes to building up your clip file by submitting articles to blogs or so-called articles sites. I cite several reasons. Among them: Your submissions will almost certainly go through unedited. Ergo, your goofs and gaffes will remain exposed to the world for eternity.
Think about it. Your blab, your unsupported assertions, your dangling modifiers, your sentences you meant to delete in favor of revisions but forgot to in your haste to hit that submit button…all live on to plague your legacy.
You would, of course, carefully omit gaffe-rife pieces from your clip files, but editors and/or future employers with access to a search engine, heh, might very well google your name and dredge them up anyway.
The learning here: Edit yourself like your career depends on it. And if you don’t trust your own editing, find someone you can trust and sic them on your copy.
Sadly, the same advice holds true should you decide to submit to sites known as content mills or content farms—some of which purport to edit their writers.
I’ve generally been dismissive of the whole genre because their payment rates for freelance writing are so paltry compared to what I’m accustomed to making as a freelance writer for national magazines.
But I’ll concede that for an inexperienced writer looking to bring in a few extra bucks (very few) working from home, content mills can serve a purpose. It’s something we’ll explore further in other posts.
For now, let’s stick to your clip file.
For fun, I went to a site that claims to copyedit its writers: eHow.com.
EHow’s parent, Demand Studios, touts on its homepage: “We rely on our world-class copyediting team to ensure every article we publish is of the highest quality.”
So far so good.
Then I searched eHow for a topic I know something about: earning money as a freelance writer. I swear, I chose the two articles I quote utterly at random from the search results. I virtually closed my eyes and clicked. And read…
“As a freelance writer, you are probably contently making a certain amount of money each week. Now, wouldn’t it be nice to make more money from freelance writing this week and every week after that. For many writers, this seems like a dream that will not come true. These freelance writers tell themselves that there is now way that they can make more money from freelance writing.”
Now, this writer might have had some valid points to make, but her copy editor did her no favors by allowing glaring mistakes in three of the first four sentences: the misspelling of “contentedly,” a missing question mark, and “now way” instead of “no way.” All in an article about writing. Plus note the drumbeat repetition of “freelance writer.” Shoot me if my concern for SEO ever leads me that far down Keyword Alley.
Here’s an excerpt from the second piece:
“Just like when you were in English class in school, capitalize what needs to be, add a period at the end of your sentence. Make sure your article flows and makes sense!”
Apparently eHow’s copy editors have an extreme tolerance for exclamation points! And a willingness to join independent clauses with a comma! But hey, who cares, so long as your article flows and makes sense!
Unless you write and edit really, really well, don’t count on your content-mill articles to become portfolio showpieces when you try to graduate to markets that pay well. Their demands will be far greater than, well, Demand’s.