Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A Grammarly Guest Post: Finding work in unexpected places

Remember this blooper? 

I was contacted recently by the clever and innovative folks at Grammarly, who specialize in helping writers (and non-writers!) produce the most correct copy possible. They asked if they could visit my blog and share a few tips on how grammar skills can help writers find work.
Okay, I said!
So here's a guest post from Grammarly's Nikolas Baron on how to market your grammar skills to find work in unexpected places:
Grammar Skills that Kill
You’re a writer. You’re already ahead of most people when it comes to writing eloquently, stylistically, and correctly. Why not market these skills to business owners, friends, and various other industries to gain work? Grammar is a difficult set of skills that takes years of practice to learn and many people don’t spend the time to learn proper punctuation and grammar; but you have. Good grammar is an excellent commodity in a world where professionals are still struggling between they’re, there, and their. Start printing business cards because you’re going to take your skills to a monetary level.
 Where to Go
Now that you have your business cards, it’s time to use them. Start looking for community bulletin boards in local restaurants or establishments and post them there. Ask business owners if they ever need freelance editing help and hand them your card. Try to see if friends can get you an in with their boss or company or try to find errors in your daily life that you can offer up to fix. I’ve come across many ads, menu items, and billboards that have mistakes. Why not offer to help fix them? The worst that could happen is you’re turned down and you have to try again.
Think of the world of opportunities out there for writers. Every mistake you can find along the way, could be a potential job. If there is a community newspaper run by your neighbors, offer up your grammar and punctuation proofreading services. If you visit your favorite restaurant’s website and notice they have errors littering the page, contact them and explain your services. Anything you can think of that’s printed, on the Internet or from a business, must be proofread. Having grammar and punctuation knowledge can get you jobs in no time.
 Market Your Skills
When you begin contacting businesses or getting emails from people who picked up your card from a bulletin board, you want to make sure that you’re clear about what you’re offering. You can offer any of the following services:
·   Proofreading/editing
·   Grammar and punctuation checking
·   Re-writing/re-phrasing
·   Updating content
·   Marketing content
·   Creative Writing
·   Technical Editing
·    Fiction Editing
·   Technical Writing

If you’re not comfortable with any set of skills, don’t suggest them to a client. You want to show them that you’re confident in what you can do without going overboard and selling something you don’t possess. If they’re looking for technical editing and you know more about fiction editing, explain to them that although you commonly do fiction editing, this can help them. Sometimes technical content can become boring and stodgy. But by utilizing your fiction editing and writing skills, you can help technical content come alive. It could flow better, be more interesting, or invite more people to read it. You want to make sure to give the customer what they want, however, and shouldn’t go overboard with fiction technique if they want something more cut and dried.
Explain your years of writing knowledge, education, previous work history, and any important accolades you may have won. You want the customer to feel as if they contacted you for the right reason and that you can deliver. Even if you are unfamiliar with vegetarian eating, remind the client that you’re extremely familiar with AP (or, in Canada, CP) style, grammar, and punctuation. As a writer, it’s also important to be a good researcher to understand the content you’re editing. Explain to the client that you will do the necessary research to deliver the product they desire.
Most importantly, the work should be correct and excellent. When I’m unsure about a grammar or punctuation change, I like to refer to Grammarly for a grammar check. Grammarly lets me know when I’ve misused a comma, what my most common errors are, and teaches me how to fix my errors easily. Even if you just want to proofread and email, Grammarly is accessible from any device and works quickly. You can run your work through Grammarly to ensure that it is completely accurate for your client.
 Get Out There
The more cards you hand out and the more people you speak to, the better your chances are of using your grammar skills for profit. You could even reach out to the local hardware store to help them edit their monthly email blast or newsletter. For every business, there’s an opportunity to grow your resume so get out there and market your skills.
 Nick's Bio:
Nikolas 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, traveling, and reading.