Guest post*: Why Do Writers Make the Fewest Mistakes?

Let us congratulate writing professionals. Of the eight job categories on Elance, an online workplace for freelancers, workers in the writing and translation division had the lowest number of mistakes in their profiles. Grammarly, an online grammar checker, evaluated the profiles of about 450 freelance contractors who had been awarded four- or five-star ratings from clients. The purpose was to see if there was a correlation between profile accuracy and other factors such as wages, credibility and hireability.

Why do you think that writers had the fewest mistakes in their profiles? After all, many of the other categories require extensive training. While no one can say for sure, there are at least a couple of traits shared by most great writers.

A Cycle of Feedback and Revision

Many good writers read their manuscript dozens of times before they even consider sending it to a publisher. Each reading uncovers weaknesses that they want to improve.

Hemingway rewrote the final page of Farewell to Arms 39 times before he was satisfied.

Hemingway rewrote the final page of Farewell to Arms 39 times before he was satisfied.

Next, they may ask the opinion of friends, colleagues, or professional editors. The fresh eyes of these ones may find spelling and grammar issues that the writer missed. Finally, writers may submit the work to a publishing company. Interested publishers respond with more suggestions for revision. With this abundance of counsel, writers are able to meticulously refine a document until it is ready for the public eye.

One author, Libba Bray, claims that “there are a gazillion revisions, large and small, that go into the writing of a book.” Over the course of a career, the process of feedback and revision becomes automatic. Are the writers on Elance more likely than other professionals to review and edit their profile to make it more effective? If so, this habit may be responsible for their more grammatically correct profiles.

Use of Relevant Tools of the Trade

IT and Programming professionals have trade tools as do professionals working in all of Elance’s other seven categories. While Photoshop may help a design professional to edit a picture, how effective is this tool when the same artist wants to perform a grammar and spell check of their writing?

As you can imagine, professionals outside of the writing world may be unaware of what tools are available. On the other hand, seasoned writers have a number of tools that help them to write accurate and effective documents. It is not a stretch for them to use these tools to improve their Elance profile.

Here is another advantage that authors may have; they often possess the tools necessary to edit their writing. Whereas a sales professional may hesitate to invest in software programs to proofread a short profile, writers usually already own such programs. What is more, they know how to use them!

Elancers of all categories are seeking to find online work. The well-written profiles of the workers in the Writing and Translation category might be a reason behind the success that these writers have. While the average freelancer may not be able to rewrite their profile “gazillions” of times, they can take a lesson from the writers. (1) Ask an honest friend to critique the profile before publishing it online to the site. (2) Use a software program to catch spelling and grammar errors. Why not revise your profile today?


Nick Baron* Our guest is Nikolas Baron, who discovered his love for the written word in Elementary School, where he started spending his afternoons sprawled across the living room floor devouring one Marc Brown children’s novel after the other and writing short stories about daring pirate adventures. After acquiring some experience in various marketing, business development, and hiring roles at internet startups in a few different countries, he decided to re-unite his professional life with his childhood passions by joining Grammarly’s marketing team in San Francisco. He has the pleasure of being tasked with talking to writers, bloggers, teachers, and others about how they use Grammarly’s online proofreading application to improve their writing. His free time is spent biking, travelling, and reading.

photo credit: CUBAN PORTRAITS via photopin (license)

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