Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

Do the Little Things in Life (Like Typos) Really Matter?

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Typos Last night, I signed in to Facebook to see this hilarious, but serious, advertisement in my feed.

Under the image, there was a debate about whether or not we should care about “little things” like typos.

One group of people said they didn’t mind the typo and that it wouldn’t affect their purchasing decisions. And the other (of which I was a part) was outraged.

The person responsible for the ad said he was aware of the typo (there are actually two — bonus points if you can find them both), but it would take 10 minutes to fix. So he wasn’t going to bother. Plus, the ad was converting just fine — no need to change a thing, he said.

This raises an important question: What really matters?

  • Do typos matter?
  • Does doing your best work, even when no one notices, matter?
  • Does the work you do in the dark that you may never get credit for matter? (You can see where I’m going with this.)

Here’s the truth: If what you do is merely a means to an end, then how you work is irrelevant. All that matters is the outcome. But maybe that’s not all there is to consider.

If you steal a scene from a movie for your memoir, it doesn’t matter that it didn’t happen, does it? What matters is whether or not the book sells… right?

If you beat and shame your kids into compliance — and as a result, they become well behaved — then you’re in the clear. You’re an “effective” parent… aren’t you?

And if the way you sell stuff to your audience insults their intelligence but allows you to meet your bottom line, don’t worry about “little things” like trust and permission. After all, this is marketing, not English class… so who cares?

Certainly, there are successes to be made with this kind of thinking, but there’s also a cost. And for those of us who care, who believe how we do something is as important as what we do, it may not be worth paying. (I personally don’t think it is.)

The alternative is to care about everything, which is hard (but important).

It requires the audacious belief that everything we do matters, even the little things like watching typos and paying our taxes and not cheating our employers out of a few hours of work.

And who has time to worry about those things? We’ve got stuff to sell… right?

What do you think? Share in the comments.

For what it’s worth: If you want to build a platform, the little (but intentional) things are what matter most. Success, in my experience, is more about habits than big breaks. I talk more about that in this interview.

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About Jeff Goins

I help people tell better stories and make a difference in the world. My family and I live outside of Nashville, TN. Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or Google Plus. To get updates and free stuff, join my newsletter.

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  • ~Marie

    Jeff, I’m a firm  believer that anyone who writes loves language, therefore would want to write a beautiful piece every time. Unless of course, it called for exactly the opposite, in which case it would sell as such. I speak two languages fluently and strive for my best work in both. I also believe that it all comes down to habits, bad ones are easy to acquire. Not to mention the fact that an incredible amount of people read what we write and learn from us. Therefore, we have the responsibility to write what’s true, accurate and correct.

    ~Marie

  • http://twitter.com/humblequill Kim Finn

    I’m just amazed by how many people are here talking about typing perfection with massive glaring errors in their own comments even. Either get it together and practice what you preach or stop moaning guys.

  • Sam Edge

    Typos are God’s practical joke on me.

    I have a love and passion for writing and I’m mildy dyslexic .. it is nearly impossible for me to produce typo free posts that are more than 200 words. My Saint of a Wife proofreads almost all my work and saves my looking like complete idiot. Personal e-mails and comments are another story

    I’m posting this because I’m sure I’m not the only one who has trouble seeing their own work once its written. I’m not saying typos are acceptable, especially in business or professional context, but there is another perspective out there.

    Just sayin.

    In fact, writing this I’m inspired to write a post on my blog – my Wife will be proofreading it so there won’t be any typos (99% sure) http://www.edgeynotes.com

    Cheerz :) Sam

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