As a freelance writer, you’re only as good as your latest article. If your work is fluent, free from grammatical errors, and requires very little rewriting, you’re sure to be the darling of your editors.
On the other hand, your career is likely to be far less successful if your copy is riddled with mistakes and your editors need you to make extensive changes. In a worst-case scenario, an editor may decide never to work with you again on the basis of a particularly atrocious spelling mistake.
Unfortunately, none of us possesses an encyclopedic knowledge of all the grammar rules in the English language. As a freelance writer, I’ve been in the business for more than 15 years (a fact that makes me feel very old), but I still notice typos and occasional punctuation errors creeping into my articles.
If this sounds familiar, it could be worth investing in a digital writing tool such as Grammarly Premium to help proofread your work and suggest areas for improvement. But is its premium upgrade worth the money, or would you be better off relying on free alternatives?
In our Grammarly review, we examine the platform's pros and cons so you can decide if it could be right for you.
What is Grammarly Premium?
Offering more than 400 checks and driven by artificial intelligence, Grammarly is an app, web, or desktop extension designed to improve the quality of your writing. As well as performing grammar and spelling checks, its writing assistant can point out stylistic issues such as redundant words or passive phrasing.
Aimed at individuals and providing basic writing suggestions, Grammarly’s free version offers the following checks:
By upgrading to its paid Premium service, you’ll also receive the following extra features:
- Tone adjustments
- Clarity-focused sentence rewrites
- Plagiarism detection
- Word choice
- Formality level
- Additional advanced suggestions
For more information on the differences between the two plans, visit Grammarly’s website.
In addition to checking content for more formal pieces of writing, you can use Grammarly on platforms such Twitter, Facebook, and iMessage by installing it on your smartphone keyboard.
What benefits does Grammarly Premium offer?
Whichever version you choose, Grammarly provides you with real-time suggestions by highlighting any spelling or grammar errors in red, green, blue, or purple.
As well as helping to correct spelling, Premium’s advanced suggestion mode points out inconsistencies in spelling and punctuation. Likewise, its word choice feature will provide alternative vocabulary suggestions to help hold your readers’ attention.
Improved clarity and word choice
Even if you write for a living, it is possible to rework a passage numerous times but never feel quite satisfied that you have conveyed your intended meaning. Premium’s clarity-focused sentence rewrites automatically rephrase any difficult-to-read passages in your work.
Its formality checker also helps ensure your language and word choice are appropriate for your audience, which can be invaluable when you’re producing content for a professional or academic audience. Similarly, a tone adjustment tool eliminates uncertain language and unnecessary qualifiers to help make your content as authoritative as possible. Its inclusive language checker could also ensure your vocabulary choice doesn’t alienate readers or potential customers.
Help with learning
Both the free and Premium versions of Grammarly offer registered users access to their weekly stats, which provide updates on their writing accuracy based on factors such as mastery, productivity, and vocabulary levels. The program also provides information on how a user’s writing stats compare to other Grammarly members. With this information, you can be alert to areas for development in your writing, which can you improve your work in the future.
Protection for your reputation
If you’re a freelance writer, the consequences of falsely claiming someone else’s work as your own could be devastating. As well as checking more than 16 billion web pages, Grammarly Premium’s plagiarism detector searches ProQuest’s academic database for duplicate text.
If you write for a range of audiences, you may be pleased to learn that Grammarly allows you to customize your feedback to reflect your writing goals. When you open a document, you can:
- Manage your personal dictionary
- Update your language preference
- Activate fluency suggestions
What are the cons of Grammarly Premium?
While there are undoubtedly benefits in using an online editor such as Grammarly, you should never rely too heavily on their accuracy.
However effective these AI-driven platforms may be, they can never replace a diligent human editor. As such, you should never blindly accept all suggestions made by any online tool without ensuring these suggestions do not alter the underlying meaning of your content. Remember, you know your work best of all, and the responsibility for producing accurate and high-quality content ultimately rests on you.
Whenever you sign up for monthly or annual subscriptions on any product, there’s also a risk that you could end up paying for a service you rarely use. Before committing yourself to Grammarly Premium, it’s wise to do some research to ensure you’d benefit from all its features. Otherwise, you could find money being taken from your bank account on a regular basis with little reward.
How much does Grammarly Premium cost?
If you decide to take out a Premium plan, the following costs apply (as of November 2021).
- Annual: $12 per month
- Quarterly: $20 per month
- Monthly: $30 per month
A business version is also available, which carries a fee of between $11.67 and $12.50 per user per month.
Whichever pricing plan you choose, you can pay for your subscription via credit card, PayPal, or debit card.
Are there any free or paid alternatives?
Grammarly Premium is far from the only option available to content creators. ProWritingAid, for instance, markets itself as “a grammar checker, style, editor, and writing mentor in one package.” Like Grammarly, it does offer a free version, although with the free version there is a maximum 500-word limit on the amount of text you can review.
With a monthly premium cost of $20 and an annual subscription of $79, it’s less expensive than Grammarly Premium, and also offers a lifetime subscription for $399.
As you might expect, both packages offer robust spelling, grammar, and punctuation checks. However, while Grammarly helps you learn via weekly stats email, ProWritingAid offers 20 in-depth reports focusing on different aspects of your writing, as well as offering educational in-app suggestions, quizzes, and videos.
And while Grammarly Premium provides an in-built plagiarism checker, you’ll need to upgrade to ProWritingAid’s Premium Plus version to receive this service, which carries a monthly fee of $24 or an annual cost of $66.79 and includes 60 plagiarism checks per year.
If you’d prefer to keep costs down, you could also consider the free online version of the Hemingway app, though you’ll need to cut and paste your text into an online checker. Taking its name from the simple and direct style of Ernest Hemingway, it checks for overly complex or lengthy sentences and offers more concise alternatives. Plus, it highlights adverbs and other turns of phrase that can weaken your work.
You can also upgrade to a paid version of Hemingway for Macs and PCs for a one-time fee of $19.99. In addition to the features offered by the free version, the paid version offers one-click integrations with Medium and WordPress and enables you to generate marked-up PDFs to send to colleagues.
Of course, you could use Grammarly free of charge if you don’t need all the swanky features of the Premium version. You can always upgrade if you change your mind.
Is Grammarly Premium worth the investment? It depends on the level of confidence you have in your writing skills. As a journalist and editor, I don’t personally use the premium version, as the free plan more than meets my needs for both my professional and everyday writing.
While my writing is far from perfect, Grammarly's free spelling and punctuation checks provide all the reassurance I need that the freelance writing I submit is up to standard. Of course, I also know that my Eleven copy will have the benefit of a double-check by an editor within the company.
However, Grammarly Premium’s features could benefit plenty of writers. For example, I know some fantastic professional writers who have a flair for generating ideas but struggle with certain key points of grammar. Some of them feel their work doesn’t live up to its potential due to grammar or spelling mistakes.
If you fall into this category, it could be worth investing in a paid platform such as Grammarly Premium. Likewise, those concerned about their professional reputation may feel reassured by the benefits its plagiarism checker can bring.
Finally, if I could make a suggestion to the producers of Grammarly, I would love to see the company offer a free trial of its Premium plan to allow potential customers to check if the product is right for them.