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....Putting my rant-pants on. By: Kylie (First guest blogger!!!!)

Anyone who knows me “in real life” will know that I’m generally a fairly happy-go-lucky person. I’m pretty levelheaded and know when to speak up but also when to let things slide.

Thanks to the fabulous and crazy thing that is the Internet, I don’t always have to be that person online. I’m not a troll, or a flamer, and I don’t attack people for the sake of seeing reactions. But between my blog and Twitter I’m able to air my petty everyday grievances and get them off my chest and out of my head.

I’m beyond thankful to have several little release valves at my disposal, and now that I’ve upgraded my terrible BlackBerry Curve to a sleek and sexy iPhone 4S, I can tweet to my heart’s content from anywhere (and I think my increased stream activity lately proves that I’m thoroughly enjoying that).

Lately, I’ve slowly been trying to make a name for myself in Edmonton as a freelance writer/blogger/photographer, etc. I’ve been taking small steps, dipping my feet into the pool and seeing how I find the temperature. I’m lucky enough to know some fabulous people in the industry, and they’re letting me do this at my own pace, which I appreciate.

What I have noticed though, is an increasing and disturbing number of people who are marketing themselves as professionals...with very little to back that claim up, and terrible writing to show for it on their “portfolio” sites.

This is absolutely a pet peeve of mine. Owning the equipment to perform a task does not, in any way, qualify you as a professional! Buying a DSLR does not make you a photographer. Having a URL does not make you a “professional” writer/blogger, and so on and so forth. Even with a related degree, I’m reluctant to tout my “expertise” to potential employers (and humility may be a fatal character flaw of mine, who knows) and despite taking three semesters of photographer courses I would never claim to be a “professional” photographer. I usually say “semi-professional” with the caveat that I’ve done large shoots but for people comfortable with my experience and background.

Writing can be especially deceptive. It can be easy to think: “Well, I’m a native English speaker, so that means that I can write, right?” Wrong! Literate people have the capacity to read and write in English, but that doesn’t mean you’re a “writer;” it can be incredibly difficult to conceptualize an article or blog from start to finish, in a way that is both accessible to the vast majority of people and written clearly. It’s almost like being a word-ninja (which I totally want on my next business card); you need to know when to be subtle and when to be aggressive with your diction and structure/style.

Having finished my degree in journalism, I’m something of a stickler for grammar and punctuation errors. I am by no means trying to claim that I am a flawless writer (that’s the whole point here, there’s no such thing!), but when a “writer” can’t differentiate between “your” and “you’re”; “there” “their” and “they’re”; or even “to” and “too” that is a problem. These aren’t words that are difficult to spell; they’re just homonyms that confuse the living fuck out of people who haven’t bothered to learn the difference. They are not interchangeable -- they just sound the same!

Every time I read a “blogger” who makes these errors, I immediately write them off in my brain (rightly or wrongly so), and then shake my head and think: “This is my competition?”

Make sure you folks visit Kylie here: http://kayjer.com/ & follow her on Twitter: @kayjer

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