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To hire a proofreader or not to hire a proofreader? That is the question…

4 Mar
Perhaps a proofreader is needed?

Perhaps a proofreader is needed?

 

I often get asked the question of whether an organisation or an individual should hire a proofreader. In today’s day and age, budget is always the defining factor and quite frankly many small businesses can’t afford it. However, these businesses should perhaps consider reputation management.

Think about yourself as an individual, trawling the net for information on a product or service. You come across different sites that are offering the same thing, but how do you choose who to get in touch with?

As we all know, first impressions count and can be lasting. In our age of speed a business has about 10 seconds to make that impression to a potential client.

You click-through to the first site which is simple, clean, easy to understand and is well written. You keep that in your armour of potentials.

As you click-through to the next site there is a surprise waiting for you. It is simple and clean but difficult to understand and is littered with errors. How do you feel about this site? I’m guessing not too impressed. It shows a lack of attention to detail and can come across as a lack of caring as well. If their website is littered with errors what does that say about their quality of work? They are crossed off the list of potentials immediately.

Proofreading is always important to maintaining that critical first impression, so consider hiring a proofreader as part of your budget.

If you are a cash strapped small business and don’t have the budget perhaps ask a friend to cast a quick glance over your copy? It is unlikely that all errors will be caught, but it can be a cheaper way of getting a second set of eyes on your work. Not everybody can be a proofreader, but this could help you in the interim while you’re making your millions! Once you get to a point of being able to afford a service like this, it should be a critical part of your budget process.

What are your thoughts on hiring proofreaders? I would like to hear. Watch out for my next post of whether you should hire a copywriter or not.

Image copyright belongs to Mark Parisi

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Content Marketing ~ Start Thinking Like a Publisher

9 Feb

This is a good article…marketing is changing as we all know. There is definitely a point here in that we need to start thinking like publishers. As I’ve said before, it takes time and you need to make sure you have the resources to handle it!

Content Marketing ~ Start Thinking Like a Publisher.

via Content Marketing ~ Start Thinking Like a Publisher.

What’s all the fuss about content marketing?

6 Feb

There is so much out there on content marketing and it’s a revolution happening right before our eyes. I wanted to explore this phenomenon and discover what all the fuss is about…using myself as the content interactor. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the challenges you face with content marketing…

The content marketing revolution...what's the big fuss about?

The content marketing revolution…what’s the big fuss about?

I decided to use myself as the ‘test subject’ so to speak, to get an understanding of this revolution that is taking the world by storm. I used a typical day in my life, as a consumer and as a business woman, to get the inside scoop. What I’m trying to get to are my behaviours and actions, as a consumer, with the various content that I come into contact with on a daily basis. What works, what doesn’t and why? What am I looking for in content and what do I get out of it? These are critical questions that marketers need to ask themselves when creating content.

So, what’s all the fuss about?

Here is a day in my life…

8am – I’m at my desk and the first thing that I do is trawl through my emails. Due to the nature of my job I am subscribed to every blog and newsletter out there that deals with social media and content marketing. This is an ever-changing landscape and keeping up, let alone doing my own work, can be challenging. When I turn on my computer there are normally at least 14 emails relating to these subjects. What speaks to me and what doesn’t? I only have a certain amount of time…so grab me upfront.

So much to read...grab me quick

So much to read…grab me quick

  1. The headline (obviously), but it really can make a difference. Something that stands out as particularly relevant to me, doesn’t sell or has a humorous angle, are normally the ones that catch my eye.
  2. The design of the email – if it is well designed and clean with a click-through to an article this is normally ok with me…I find dense text a bit overwhelming. Quite frankly I don’t have the time.
  3. Bring me an infographic…well I’m right there with you. It’s quick, it’s easy and it’s useful. Perfect for us busy creatures of today.
  4. The initial interaction – if the opening paragraph is dull as dishwater – Hasta la vista baby, I’m out of there. The headline needs to deliver on the promise it makes.
  5. The body copy – the headline and the first paragraph have drawn me in as it’s relevant and a bit humorous or particularly thought-provoking. Now I carry on reading, taking up my precious time. Then, with horror I realise that the body copy is not entertaining, doesn’t deliver on the headline promise and quite frankly I’m practically asleep. Cheers, it’s been nice knowing you. Unsubscribe to that email newsletter quick. Phew at least there will only be 13 tomorrow to trawl through (well let’s hope that they manage the unsubscribe quickly as they should!)

10am – So I’ve trawled through my emails, what now? How have I interacted and what has set my world on fire?

  1. I’ve visited a couple of times and quite frankly you’ve hit the nail on the head with me. Guess what, I trust your content and I really like your writing style. I have to mention one of my all-time best blogs here www.blog.hubspot.com.  My favourite post headline was ‘How to totally suck at Marketing’. In all my interactions, I’m looking for trends to keep up to date with (this differs from person to person) and this did it for me. I also used this presentation for a company I’m working with to prove my point about certain marketing techniques. So this article ticked all the boxes for me. Another very interesting article was ‘How to be a spammer in 20 simple steps’ This article amused me and once again I used it to prove a point…woo hoo! So for me it was a win, win situation.
  2. Now that I trust you and feel like you are targeting the right information at me, I’m visiting more regularly. In fact I’m even starting to engage with you. Then the next part of the magic formula, I love your content so much that I’m beginning to share it too. Your marketing sweet spot and my needs are met. Perfect!
  3. Now what’s really ticking the next box for me…please don’t try to sell me something each time you send me an email. I immediately shut off. My decision process is continuing all the time as I’m interacting with you and my curiosity is growing as I’m starting to see how your product could help me…yes really. Soon, oh soon dear company who gets it right, I will be asking for a quote.

In Summary

What’s the big fuss about?

  • The people who are doing it right are fulfilling my need
  • They are also helping me solve some business problems
  • They are not selling to me…they are guiding me in my decisions – gently
  • They are also sending me regular information, and because I now trust them, I’m sharing their stuff

So that’s why there is a big fuss about content marketing – and rightly so! Tick all the boxes for your clients.

But be warned when you embark on content marketing for your business – have a content strategy, have a content plan and calendar and churn it out (quality over quantity works)! Be prepared that this takes an immense amount of time, and that cannot be ignored. Get experts in your field, get the right people and also have copywriters to help with this process. Keep learning and adjusting and it will pay off…even if it takes a bit of time. It is not an overnight success story.

I’ve worked in many industries in generating content, and have a large amount of strategic experience, so if you do need any help, give me a shout and I’ll see if I can help out (it’s not a hard sell I promise!).

How are you managing content within your organisation? Is it taking an immense amount of time and is it paying off?

Online proofreading programmes put to the test. Can they replace the human kind?

28 Jan

By the human kind I mean someone like me of course. I’m sure you can already guess that I am going to fight for my little place in humanity as a proofreader and editor, but as they say ‘the proof is in the pudding’. So let’s see if online programmes can replace us humans! With proofreading being such a critical element of business communications, I wanted to put some online programmes to the test and see the results. As you can see from the image below, getting the details right are so important.

I think an online programme may not have picked up this error...

I think an online programme may not have picked up this error…

Although I was highly doubtful that these programmes could replace us human proofreaders, there was a slight moment of trepidation before I embarked on my test!

Which programmes were tested?

I tried a variety of different programmes, which all claim to be able to highlight spelling and grammatical errors amongst others. I won’t mention names, but most of the bigger online proofreading services were tested. I also included Word, for a more complete picture, although from experience I knew that not all errors could be detected.

How did I approach the test?

I used an article that I had recently written for a parenting website and littered it with errors. I’ve included the test article below for you to take a look at…I think the errors are quite plain to see.

The importance of art…can it help ADHD children

What the benefits of art?

I have always been very interested in art and drawing, and when I had my little boy for some he was just not interested in art at all – that’s all changed but more on that later!

Art is an incredibly powerful for children and has heeps of benefits, here are some:

  • It develops their fine motor skills as well as muscle tone in the upper body;
  • They can express themselves creativly and there is lods of research that shows the art helps stimulate language – it is a type of language which helps them to talk about their world;
  • Art helps children to discover and learn – think about colours, shapes, textures and cognitive thinking to name a few;
  • Art is a great emotion release;
  • The physical movement of art can bee very calming.

There has also been a lot of research in to the other benefit of art…

  • Early exposure too visual art, music or drama stimulates brain activity;
  • Art helps children understand other subjects more easier;
  • It encourages inventiveness, helps with development of selfesteem, selfdiscipline, co-operation and self motivation;
  • It help them to creatively problem solve.

Art and ADHD

Very often children who are active minded, for example an ADD or ADHD child, struggle to concentrate or sit still for drawing, but there are ways to encourage art.

Art can help a child to concentrate, slow down and stabilise. As weve mentioned earlier it is a good emotion outlet and helps with stabilising mood and building self-esteem. My little boy is active minded and did not like art for the first 5 years his life…and I didn’t know how to encourage it. What often happens is once they realise they can draw, and feel proud of themself, they are off like rockets. It was amazing to see ny little boy going from zero to hero…he is now proud of his art that he carries his art books everywhere with him. With these active little minds they really need a non-competitive area of master, and art is often the answer. Art is used for so many therapies and has a very calming effect.

10 Tips to encourage your little artist…

If your children are not interested in art, here are a few tips to encourage them to get drawing!

  1. First start small and simple and make sure you work with child;
  2. You might find that initially, especially if they are quite active, that they are disinterested, restless and questioning the time. If this is the case make sure you give lots of attention and sit with them while they drawing;
  3. Find what interests your child – often children have particular interests…start with a particular and let them colouring in first and then you can move to drawing. For example boys might love pirates or cars and girls might like Barbie! Work with what you no;
  4. Children love to work with new things…so if you have new materials the time this will often spark a creative interest. I use egg boxes, cereal boxes, lids of wipes, leaves, foil…anything that I can lay my hand on;
  5. You can let them stand, lie on the floor or neel if they struggle to sit still and make sure they can have break if they need to;
  6. Compliment, compliment, compliment and build pride – praise is fantastic for a child’s self-esteem. Tell them how great the drawing and if they are old enough get them to talk about it with you. Try not to ask what it is as this can sometimes leave them feels like they haven’t accomplished anything.
  7. If  your child has just done a pencil drawing, try and encourage them to add extra for example colours.
  8. Build pride in their work – once it is completed, hang it up somewhere and make fuss about the art. This will encourage them to do it mor.
  9. NEVER throw their art away – if you do this, you can be guaranteed that they won’t want to do it again!

Good luck!

What were the results?

  • All the programmes highlighted the glaring spelling errors;
  • None of them, besides Word, picked up the spelling errors that were grammatically incorrect, for example where I have used ‘too’ instead of ‘to’;
  • None of the programmes picked up the fact that there are only 9 bullet points.  At the beginning of the list I clearly state ’10 Tips…’;
  • None of them picked up ‘…it is a good emotion outlet’, where it should quite obviously be ‘…it is a good emotional outlet’;
  • Some, but not all, highlighted the punctuation errors.

Although this list may seem small and inconsequential, these are the absolute basics of proofreading and editing – spelling, grammar, punctuation and consistency. Get these wrong and you have wasted your time and effort. I have only highlighted some of the results to give you an idea of the general theme of the tests.

So, can these programmes replace us?

Happily no, no, no, no!!!! Yes humans, we still have a very important role to play. Proofreaders and editors – 1. Technology – 0!

If you need any help with proofreading or editing, please feel free to contact me at anytime.

Fifty Shades Trilogy…well written or not?

22 Jan

I have heard many grumblings and rumblings surrounding the Fifty Shades Trilogy and the fact that they are badly written. So today, with the banning of the books in Brazil, I’ve decided to tackle the question full on…are these books well written or not?

Here I give you my little Fifty Shades journey…what was your journey like, should you have succumbed to the Fifty Shades phenomenon?

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Secret agent antics

I am one of those people that shamelessly needs to read any book if there is a hype – raunchy or not. Admittedly it took me a while to build up the courage to read them and this is where my journey starts. One fine day I sported my dark sunglasses and entered the ‘quite far from home’ book shop…all the time watching over my shoulder to make sure no secret agents were hot on my tail. Racing thoughts…people will think I’m kinky, I’m deprived, I’m weird and watch raunchy movies. By the way, just to set the record straight, I am none of these (just incase you were wondering). I approached the check out of the book shop mumbling, fumbling and blushing cheeks to match. Never have I charged out of a shop so quickly feeling like a criminal being watched for indescribable crimes. However, one and a half books down, here I am talking openly about it. I’ve clearly come to terms with myself since then!

Dreaming of what Christian Grey looks like…

Secretly I opened the first book and launched into the dark world of ‘Fifty Shades’. I was a bit taken by surprise that I was actually enjoying it…not too sure about the raunchy parts, but nonetheless I was completely engrossed in the story line. Quite aside, I would very much like to meet this Christian Grey character, and feast my eyes on what seems to be the most good looking man ever described! Mind wondering…oops, ok back to the point of this piece. In all seriousness, I was hooked – drawn into the intrigue of Christian Grey’s dark past and the charming, feisty and innocent Anastasia Steele. The combination fascinated me.

I breezed through the book and was still a little shocked that I’d enjoyed it…oh dear maybe I am kinky, deprived and weird? Quick mental assessment of myself…outcome of assessment…no, I am still none of those things…phew! As I had enjoyed the story line so much, I paid absolutely no attention to the finer points of writing style. At this point in the journey I wouldn’t be able to answer my question posed of whether they are well written or not.

Once the last word had been read, I was left completely frustrated. To put you in the picture, I NEED to know what happens next…until there is a final conclusion. Take one of my favourite TV shows for example…when it ends on a cliffhanger I am not a happy camper.  I was so intrigued and frustrated that I just had to read the next one.

Secret agent antics – Round 2

Secret agent antics for Fifty Shades continued. Play it again Sam…back to book store, shades on, bright red cheeks and lightning speed exit.

I darted home, opened the book (secretly of course!) and started frantically diving into Fifty Shades Darker. Initial thoughts…I just wanted to get it over and done and get to the point of knowing the outcome. I carried on frantically reading.

Time to answer the question…is this trilogy well written or not?

I don’t claim to be any literary super power, but my frantic reading of Fifty Shades Darker has come to a complete and utter halt. I have only read one and a half books, so I’m not really in a position to be answering the question, or am I? This is still my experience and I look forward to someone convincing  me otherwise or supporting my experience of the book/s.  The reason my frantic reading has come to a complete halt is the simple fact…I am bored stiff. The intrigue surrounding Christian Grey has completely been removed for me and to be honest, he has turned into a bit of a good boy – somehow a mystery man is a bit more intriguing. In my honest opinion the books I’ve read have left me a bit cold…they read a bit like a Mills and Boon story. So, in summary, I don’t think they are very well written. What do you think (if of course you are happy to admit that you’ve read them)? Have I got it wrong? Have I got it right? Or, do I need to give it a bit more of a chance?

Over to you lovely readers…

Picture credits: Random House UK

A simple guide to the difference between proofreading and editing

20 Jan

The words proofreading and editing are often confused as the same thing, but in fact they are quite different. Take a look at the checklist so that you’re easily able to identify which service you would need.

A simple guide to the difference between proofreading and editing

A simple guide to the difference between proofreading and editing

20 more weird and wonderful words…

17 Jan

I know I did a similar post a couple of days ago (although these are of course different), but I just can’t help myself in my mission to find the weird and wonderful words out there. I challenge you to use at least one of these in a conversation over the next couple of days and see the response you get…I’m certainly going to try. I do however see myself hidden in the bathroom with my cheat sheet of words, scheming how to randomly drop them into sentences and then forgetting what they mean in the first place! Take a look and share your own…

More weird and wonderful words

More weird and wonderful words

  1. Risorial – something that causes you to laugh. Yes, I do want a risorial moment.
  2. Misopediayou hate children, but worse even is that this specifically means to hate your own! I do hope I never experience misopedia.
  3. Zateticto question or ponder upon something.
  4. Wheepleto try and whistle loudly, but monumentally failing! I definitely wheeple a lot…I just cannot whistle!
  5. Antingantinga lucky charm.
  6. Aposiopesisstopping an idea in mid-sentence. Um, yes, I can definitely relate to this!
  7. Aeolistic a person who is very long-winded and boring. I have come across many in my time…in fact one of our friends was only allowed to say five words, otherwise we’d all fall asleep.
  8. Limosisa strong urge to eat chalk. Well, maybe it’s tasty.
  9. Discalceateto take your shoes off. I think my family would think I was rather strange if I called from the bedroom “I’m just discalceating”.
  10. Carwitchet a funny pun.
  11. Novercaphobiaan abnormal fear of your step-mother. Is this not normal?
  12. Thibblea stick for stirring porridge.
  13. Acclumsidclumsy, numbed or paralysed.
  14. Abliguritionspending an abnormally high amount of money on food. I suspect I might have this problem…don’t we all?
  15. Calamistrateto curl your hair.
  16. Dactylonomycounting on your fingers.
  17. Fludgshurry up! I would love to confuse the morning chaos with “Come, fludgs”. Perhaps then the family would hear me?
  18. Gangrelwhen a child is just starting to walk. Perhaps toddler is a bit more user-friendly?
  19. Hautainto be proud or arrogant. I will definitely throw this word into my next meeting with an arrogant person – that could put them off.
  20. Infucateto use make-up. “Hold on darling, I’m just infucating.”

You might know some of these, you might not…but please bring on the weird and wonderful!

I used a couple of sources to bring all these together, so thanks to www.fictionpress.com, www.squidoo.com and www.brownielocks.com.

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