Here’s a little story to prove my point.
Not long after I started my other blog, a comment landed in my spam folder.
In a nutshell, here’s what it said: YOU SUCK AT SPELLING.
Now, the commenter didn’t actually say it like that. And since it was a spam comment, my first instinct was to delete it.
But then I thought, what if they’re right?
So I decided to install Grammarly, a proofreading tool and grammar checker I’d heard about it.
There were spelling errors all over the place in my blog posts.
Not because I’m dumb and can’t spell but because I type 100+ wpm and I don’t always proofread as well as I should.
It was humbling, to say the least.
I’ve been faithfully using Grammarly to check my writing ever since. And I put together this handy dandy guide to help you decide if you need Grammarly in your writing life, too.
Do Bloggers and Freelance Writers Really Need a Proofreading Tool?
Yes and here’s why. We’re not perfect. See my “you suck” story above.
Proofreading tools can help pick up on things that you might miss because you’re either skimming too quickly to notice them or not proofreading your writing at all.
And mistakes in your writing? They’re bad.
Not end-of-the-world bad but if you want people to take your writing seriously, you just can’t have misspelled words and typos all over the place.
It looks sloppy and people might not come back to your blog again if your posts are full of errors. And you definitely don’t want a prospective client to come across your site and think, “Wow–this is not someone I want to hire.”
You won’t get freelance writing gigs that way. And no gigs = no money = not a very happy writer, am I right?
And that’s not what you want.
But a tool like Grammarly can help you avoid that.
What Is Grammarly?
Grammarly is a writing tool that you can add to Windows or Google Chrome as a browser extension.
It’s free to download and install the extension for Chrome. You can also activate Grammarly for free in MS Office if you write in Word.
Once you set up a free account, you can start using Grammarly to proofread your writing.
There are four ways to do it:
- Upload a document to the Grammarly app.
- Type and/or copy and paste directly into the app.
- Activate the Grammarly add-on for Microsoft Office.
- Let Grammarly check your writing online automatically.
Mostly, I let Grammarly do its work while I type. I use Word’s Review feature to check my writing there.
When you have the Grammarly extension activated, it monitors your writing on:
- Facebook and Facebook Messenger
- Google Docs (still in beta testing)
The main place I use Grammarly is right here in WordPress as I draft blog posts. But it also comes in handy when I’m working in WordPress or another content management system for my freelance clients.
What Does This Proofreading Tool Actually Do?
Great question. The answer is, it depends on which version you’re using.
Here’s a breakdown of what you’ll get with the free version of Grammarly versus Grammarly Premium.
As you can see, the free version is pretty basic. It picks up spelling mistakes, grammatical errors and checks for conciseness and clarity in your writing.
The premium version of Grammarly is more comprehensive. That might sound good to you if you’re looking for a tool that can help you tighten up your writing skills.
You can pay for Grammarly premium monthly, quarterly or annually. If you’re serious about using it and committing to the investment, you’ll get the most bang for your buck with an annual subscription.
Who Should Use Grammarly?
The great thing about Grammarly is that you can use it to proofread virtually any kind of writing. So, it might come in handy if you’re a:
- Freelance writer
- Academic or technical writer
- Self-published author
Grammarly has some nice features that make it accessible for just about anyone. For example, the app is set up for native English speakers but you can also customize it to proofread in British, Canadian or Australian English, too.
Basically, it’s a good resource for anyone who wants to make sure their writing is error-free and feel more confident about their writing skills.
What’s Good About Grammarly
Okay, so you really want to know is why you should try Grammarly, right?
Aside from catching spelling and grammar mistakes, there are few other reasons to like Grammarly:
1. It’s super-easy to use.
All you have to do is download the extension and write like you normally would online. Grammarly does the rest.
Once you’re done writing, you can run through the checker and accept or delete Grammarly’s suggestions to improve your content. That’s it; easy peasy.
2. You don’t have to pay anything to use it.
I’ll dig a little more into the premium version in a minute but if you’re just starting as a blogger or freelance writer and you’re looking for an inexpensive proofreading tool, then you can’t beat Grammarly.
The free version is always free. Grammarly will email you from time to time to let you know that they’re running a special promotion on the Premium version at a discounted price. But other than that, there’s no pressure to upgrade.
3. It’s very accurate overall.
There are a couple of quirks that I’ll touch on in the next section but for the most part, you can rely on the accuracy of the suggestions Grammarly makes.
It’s good for picking out things you might miss in your writing otherwise. And that’s helpful, especially if you’re a new freelancer who’s still developing your writing style.
4. You don’t have to accept Grammarly’s suggestions.
Grammarly will let you know when it detects anything it considers to be an error. The app also shows you a suggested change for correcting it.
You can either accept it or dismiss it, whatever you prefer. Grammarly isn’t going to change your writing for you automatically, so you don’t have to worry about something getting switched around without your okay.
5. You can build your custom dictionary.
Even though it’s comprehensive, there are some words Grammarly just doesn’t recognize. In my experience, these are most often slang words or brand names.
Microsoft Word is more or less the same way. Instead of having to dismiss a suggestion each time Grammarly gets hung up on a word it doesn’t know, you can just add it to your custom dictionary in the app.
What Bugs Me About Grammarly
Okay, so there are a few things about Grammarly that I don’t necessarily love and you might not either.
For one thing, this app is a real stickler for the Oxford comma.
Most of the freelance clients I write for use AP style and actively avoid the Oxford comma. So I don’t make a habit of using it unless I have to, meaning you’ll never see it on this blog.
But of course, it never fails that every time I check a post in Grammarly, it’s always nudging me to add Oxford commas all over the place. So that’s a little annoying.
And sometimes, Grammarly is just plain wrong.
There have been a few occasions where Grammarly has suggested that I change a word when the change isn’t warranted or just plain doesn’t make sense. I just dismiss the suggestion and move on. But still, it’s distracting at times.
Bottom line, if you’re going to use this proofreading tool, you have to pay attention to what it’s telling you. Don’t just blindly accept or dismiss changes without first making sure they’re accurate.
Is It Worth Upgrading to Grammarly Premium?
So, let’s talk Grammarly Premium. Here’s what you’ll pay to have a premium account:
- $11.66/month (Billed as one payment of $139.95)
- $19.98/quarterly (Billed as one payment of $59.95)
Obviously, if you pay for the whole year you can get Grammarly Premium at a much better price than just paying month to month.
But is Grammarly Premium really worth the money?
Yes, if you want all of the extra features, such as the plagiarism checker and the expanded grammar checker.
I mean, honestly, it’s like having an English teacher or your own personal copy editor in your laptop. The level that Grammarly Premium breaks down things like sentence structure is a little unreal.
And that’s good if you’re looking for guidance on how to improve your writing. If you’re new to writing, then going premium can be a little intimidating because Grammarly will pick out everything it thinks is wrong.
But according to Grammarly, premium users report a better experience overall. Specifically:
- 76% of premium users say writing is more enjoyable.
- 99% of students who use the premium version say their grades improved.
- 85% of premium users say they’re now stronger writers.
Those are some pretty good stats. And I can say for myself that I only wish I’d started using it sooner.
So, my advice is that if you’re not using Grammarly yet, to give the free version a try first. Then, you can decide whether you want to upgrade to the premium proofreading tool.
Bottom Line: Can Grammarly Make You a Better Writer?
Here’s the truth: no proofreading tool, no matter how great it is, can wave a magic wand and instantly make you an expert freelance writer.
Becoming a better writer or blogger takes practice. The more you write, the more you learn. The more you learn, the better you get at writing.
But, can Grammarly help you polish your finished blog post or freelance article?
Can it help you catch spelling errors, grammar goofs and punctuation mistakes?
So give it a shot and see how it works for you. And before you go, here are a few other (totally free!) tools I think you’ll find useful for fine-tuning your writing:
This site can help you test the engagement value of your blog post or freelance story headlines. I use it all the time to come up with clickable titles for posts and Pinterest graphics.
CoSchedule also has a great headline analyzer tool you can try as well. You can run your headlines through both tools to see what kind of results you get from each one.
I was introduced to this writing tool by one of my editors and it’s become indispensable. The app lets you gauge the readability of your writing and points out tweaks you can make to improve it.
Specifically, it looks for things like passive voice, wordy sentences and over-used adverbs. It’s helpful for tightening up your writing before sending it off to a client.
So this one has to do more with what you’re writing about, than what you write but it’s still worth a look if you’re struggling to come up with blog post ideas.
You just plug in a noun and the generator will pump out a lengthy list of blog post ideas that you can use as writing inspiration.
This tool is super basic but it’s amazingly helpful for pointing out cliches in your writing that you’re better off avoiding. Cliches don’t add to your writing and using them too often can make you look amateurish.
Do You Use a Proofreading Tool as a Blogger or Freelance Writer?
So there you have it, the full rundown of Grammarly and all its capabilities.
If you’re not using it already, then I would definitely sign up for the free version at least to try it out. You can test it for a week or two, then decide if you want to go Premium.
Is there a proofreading tool you use as a blogger or freelance writer that you think is a must-have? Head to the comments and tell me about it.
And of course, I hope you’ll pin and share this post if it helped you!