The Internet is indeed the great equalizer. In removing the middle man in publishing, we’ve seen record labels crumble, bloggers get six figure book deals and more cute kitten videos than America’s Funniest Home Videos can shake a stick at. Add in social networking and entire new markets have been created, because professionals in information industries can more easily reach potential customers.
The “Spider-Man Rule”, as you might call it, definitely applies though: With great power comes great responsibility. One of my interests outside of software development and writing is the fitness & nutrition industry. As you can probably guess, there’s no shortage of personal trainers hocking their wares via various storefront platforms. This is a perfect example of harnessing the power of instant publishing to make a living selling homegrown information products. I’ve used both free and paid eBooks, videos and even some printed materials over the past few years, and some of the spelling and grammar mistakes I’ve encountered would blow your mind. Aside from common mistakes (like your/you’re) you’ll find run-on sentences, missing words and some sentences that don’t even make logical sense. It’s a shame, because whether they’re using software plug-ins or a consultant, the production value on a lot of this stuff is professional level. When the quality of the content itself is lacking, however, you’ve already lost my interest.
Of course fitness isn’t the only industry plagued by this, and I know from my own experience programmers are notoriously bad spellers. The lines between industries are blurring, though, and just as companies now must control their image across multiple mediums, anyone who wants to wear the hat of a writer, videographer or publisher in addition to their primary job must take it seriously. If you’re not a spelling bee champion, go to elance and hire one to work with your paid materials. At the very least, get a family member who’s good at such things to help out. A second pair of eyes can’t hurt, right? Your customers want to trust you and support your personal brand, and in doing that we want to feel like we got what we paid for.