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Monthly Archives: July 2012

Impact or affect?

Here is a pair of words that are often used in reports and academic work; they do have a subtle difference which it’s worth noting and remembering.

To affect something is to have any effect on it, to make a difference (remember the difference between affect and effect).

To have an impact (on) something means to have a strong effect on it (of course, an impact also occurs when something comes forcibly into contact with something else – in a collision or wedged and crushing like an impacted wisdom tooth).

So everything that has an impact on something has an effect on it, affects it, but not everything that affects something else has a strong enough effect to be an impact.

We also have the tricky issue of the phrasal verb impact on – “low interest rates have impacted on saving”. People tend not to like new phrasal verbs, and this one is seen as business jargon. If you’re tempted to use “have impacted on”, try “have had an impact on” instead: you know you’re safe with that one

You can find more troublesome pairs here and the index to them all so far is here.

 

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Past or passed?

This one was suggested to me by my friend and fellow freelancer, Lyndsey Michaels, and is, indeed, an important one.

Of course, these two are linked, and formed from the verb to pass. And they are easy to confuse and HARD to explain! But that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be used correctly …

Passed is a verb and is the past tense of pass. It expresses the idea that something has gone by something else, or that anything that passes anything else has done so in the past tense. “She had passed the elephant house and was on her way to the penguins”; “Many years had passed, and he was an old man with only his memories of pandas to sustain him”.

If you can use the word “pass” in the present tense, the future tense, or use it in the form passing, etc., i.e. if you’re using it as a verb, a “doing” word, when you’re using one of the past tenses, or a conditional, you can use passed:

I will pass my driving test one day – when I have passed my driving test I will get a car – if I had passed my driving test, I would have been so happy –  I have passed my driving test.

I am passing the jeering pub-goers with pride: after all, I’m running and they’re not – I passed the jeering pub-goers with pride – I will have passed the pub-goers in five minutes, and then I can relax.

Time will pass and all will be better – Time passed and all was better

Contrast this with past:

Past can be a noun meaning the time that has come before – “my divorce is in the past now, and I’m moving on!”. It can be an adjective – “Past prime ministers gathered for the Royal Wedding” meaning gone by in time and no longer existing. It is also a preposition meaning on the other side of “You can see him over there, past the crazy golf but in front of the candyfloss seller”. And it can be an adverb with a meaning of “so as to go by or so as to pass – “The ball went past the goalkeeper and the Mexican team scored”.

If something has passed something else, it has gone past it. It hasn’t past the other thing, and it hasn’t gone passed it.

So past doesn’t change when it’s used in the future, present past in a conditional sense, etc.: it works as a noun, an adjective, an adverb or a preposition and as an adjective, adverb or preposition will be found alongside a verb, rather than BEING a verb.

I went past the pub – I am going past the pub – I have gone past the pub – I will go past the pub – time will go past – the driving test was in the past – the driving test was in the past – the ball will go past the goalkeeper – the ball went past the goalkeeper – the ball was going past the goalkeeper.

You can find more troublesome pairs here and the index to them all so far is here.

 

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Marvin Edinborough

Welcome to Saturday Business chat. Today’s featured freelancer is Marvin Edinborough. I know Marvin because he’s my personal trainer! It’s the first day of the Olympics, so it seemed appropriate to pop into the health and fitness industry for a while … He’s very good at training people – having been a training manager, I know how you’re supposed to train people (office systems or hanging upside down off a contraption: it’s all based on the same things!) and I can be quite stubborn and assume I know my own limits, so when I booked a month’s worth of sessions with him I was pleased to find myself doing things I didn’t think possible!

Enough of the paean of praise. Here we find, again, that whatever line of business you’re in, the issues are still the same: starting off with something you know, plucking up the courage to court new customers, and having the tenacity to stick it out and work hard. So let’s meet Marvin!

What’s your business called? When did you set it up?

My business is called Marvellous Personal Training, I set the business up in October 2010.

What made you decide to set up your own business?

I wanted to go into Personal training after several years as a fitness instructor/coach.

What made you decide to go into this particular business area?

I was already working in this industry as a coach, employed by a gym, then decided it was time for me to go it alone and offer a more personal, rewarding service to the members.

Had you run your own business before?

No, this was my first.

How did you do it? Did you launch full-time, start off with a part-time or full-time job to keep you going … ?

I went head first into the deep end. I left my position as a full time employed instructor and transferred over to being a self-employed personal trainer. I took a risk, but it was worth it and it paid off.

What do you wish someone had told you before you started?

That you get out what you put in. Moving to self-employed, I thought it would be all fun and games and a walk in the park. Go to work when I want and leave when I want. This wasn’t the case.

What would you go back and tell your newly entrepreneurial self?

To always listen, never stop learning, keep the research up and be prepared to give it 100% ALL THE TIME.

What do you wish you’d done differently?

Took a more outgoing approach. For example, to gain business in my field you have to walk the gym floor A LOT, talking to members and potential clients. I’ve never done this as I’m quite a shy, laid back person. My clients have all been referrals, or members seeing my work on the gym floor.

What are you glad you did?

Made the switch in the first place: having your own business where you’re entirely the boss is very rewarding in many different ways.

What’s your top business tip?

Be prepared to do a lot of work for not much return, but stick to it and the tables will turn in the long run.

How has it gone since you started? Have you grown, diversified or stayed the same?

It’s been amazing, I was expecting a struggle at first but my business has grown and grown and has now been active for 2 years. Like any business it has its downs, but there are a lot more ups than downs.

Where do you see yourself and your business in a year’s time?

Continuing to grow, continuing to help clients achieve their goals no matter how big or small they may be.

One day I’ll do that chin-up … What a variety of businesses we’ve had in this series but it is interesting how similar the issues are, whatever it is you do. Good luck to Marvin, who is staying the course in an industry known for being quite fickle: getting over that initial set-up and getting those first clients is the hard bit, and having work through recommendations and people seeing what you do is, well, marvellous!

Marvin can be contacted and booked by email, via www.club-training.com (sign up required) or on Twitter. He’s running a Summer Boot Camp in Kings Heath Park this summer which sounds like great fun …

If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more freelancer chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured.

 
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Posted by on July 28, 2012 in Business, New skills, Small Business Chat

 

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My short cuts: format painter

Today I’m going to introduce you to a lovely quick short cut that can save what can only be described as a lot of faffing around: format painter.

We use format painter to pick up the formatting of some text, copy it, and paste it into some other text, to make the formatting match. I’ll give you a simple example.

How do I copy the formatting of one bit of text into another?

Here we have some text in the format we want, and some text not in that format, which we want to change.

Now the trick is to use a little button you may not have even noticed before. It’s on the Home tab (in Word 2007 and Word 2010; in Word 2003 it’s in the Format menu) in the cut, copy, paste area. Handily, it has its name next to it:

Now, it’s important to get this next bit in the right order! Highlight the text which is formatted in a way you want to copy, in this case the first line of text, and, once it’s highlighted, press the Format Painter button:

It doesn’t matter how much of the original text you pick up, as long as it has the right formatting. Now you will notice that the cursor has changed into a little paintbrush. Annoyingly, this doesn’t show up on a screen print, so you will have to take my word for it. “Paint” with the paintbrush across all of the text you want to change, keeping your left mouse button down, and it will highlight it (but nothing will change … yet):

Now let go of the mouse button and hey presto …

Note: the formatting will change to exactly what you picked up from the original text. So if you have a word in bold in the middle of your text, it will change to whatever the original had.

This is quite a simplistic example, but here’s where it comes in handy:

Say you’re editing a document with a lot of different text styles, header styles, etc. Maybe there’s a table with a variety of fonts. Rather than clicking on the text that you want your text to look like, noting the font, size, etc. then highlighting your text and changing all those features manually, simply highlight, format painter, and paint away!

Please note, these hints work with versions of Microsoft Word currently in use – Word 2003, Word 2007 and Word 2010, all for PC. Mac compatible versions of Word should have similar options. Always save a copy of your document before manipulating it. I bear no responsibility for any pickles you might get yourself into!

This is part of my series on how to avoid time-consuming “short cuts” and use Word in the right way to maximise your time and improve the look of your documents. Find all the short cuts here

 
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Posted by on July 25, 2012 in New skills, Short cuts, Word

 

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Elude allude or illude? Elusive, allusive or illusive?

Are they escaping or are you referring to them? That’s an odd sentence, but it’s what you need to consider when you’re choosing between these two words. They are used in different ways, too, which helps!

To elude means to escape from or evade, usually in some kind of skilful or cunning way (this can be concrete or abstract – “The moth eluded me and flew out of the window”; “The meaning of his ideas eluded me”). Note that elude has one l and something eludes something else.

To allude to something means to hint at it indirectly, or mention it in passing: “When discussing Betty he alluded to her plastic surgery but it was not the main part of the conversation”. “‘Ah, the majesty of your figure,’ said Adrian. ‘Are you alluding to my boob job?’ shrieked Betty”. Note that it has a double l and someone alludes to something else. Also note that this is sometimes used mistakenly in place of refer. You can’t say “He alluded to the actress by her name”, as to allude is to be indirect. Here you would use “He referred to the actress by her name”. Save allude for a use such as, “He alluded to the actress, mentioning an infamous role she played earlier in her career but not naming her”.

And to illude (has anyone ever used this?) means to trick or delude. But it’s hard to see when either of those words wouldn’t do, and it saves you remembering this one. I am just including it for the sake of completeness, to be honest. It is important when it comes to the word formed from it, illusive, though …

A bonus section today …

If something (language, on the whole) is allusive, it means it uses suggestion (yes, alluding to something) rather than mentioning something explicitly. “The poet uses allusive language to describe the pile of droppings without mentioning what it actually is”.

If something is elusive, it is difficult to achieve, find, catch, etc. It aims to elude the person who is trying to catch it. “The moth proved elusive, as I chased it around the bathroom, and it escaped through the window”.

If something is illusive, it is illusory and deceptive – it’s main purpose is to illude. “His wealth was illusive – all fur coats on top, all cheapo clothes underneath” (wealth can be elusive, of course, too, if you can never manage to achieve it, but the meaning is different).

You can find more troublesome pairs here and the index to them all so far is here.

 
 

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Small business chat update – Alison Neale

Welcome to another small business chat update! I have been featuring a fellow small business or freelancer on this blog every week for over a year, so I’m catching up with everyone and seeing what they’ve been up to in the past year.

Today we’re catching up with Alison Neale from The Proof Fairy. Her original interview was published on 16 July 2011. When I asked Alison where she wanted to be in a year’s time, she replied, “I hope I will be doing more of the same, but I would like to be doing much more website work and maybe managing a small outsourced team of writers and proofreaders”. Let’s see what’s happened in the intervening year …

Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

Not quite – I am still doing almost all the proofreading work that comes in, though I have renewed my plans to start outsourcing some of it and am slowly building contacts so I can build the “proof fairy circle”!

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

Strangely, the website work has tailed off a bit, though I have recently completed my first “squeeze page” sales website. I’ve recently started managing social media accounts for a handful of clients and I am writing a lot more too. I’ve also started doing some public speaking at networking events, which has positioned me as something of an expert on blogging, and I ran my first blogging workshop recently.

What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?

My personal circumstances have changed a lot in the last six months (for the better, I’m pleased to say!) and as a result I lost the tax credits that had been supporting the business. I’ve learnt that actually they were a bad thing as they were limiting my ambition to make the business stand on its own two feet. Since then I’ve had good months and bad months but I’ve held my head above water, just about, and hopefully it will get better and better from here.

Any more hints and tips for people?

Don’t be afraid to take a leap of faith – it’s normally not as scary as it seems.

And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time.

I really enjoyed running the blogging workshop, so that’s something I’d like to do more of. I’m also still keen to build a group of proofreaders/editors to handle that side of the business so I can focus more on writing and blogging.

So lots of new challenges and a new avenue of opportunities opening up around blogging and workshops – plus some positive moves on the personal front – a good year, all in all! Best of luck for the upcoming year and I’ll look forward to hearing from you next year!

And here’s her 2013 interview!

Have a look at the Proof Fairy website, or you can get in touch with Alison by phone on 01367 888 229 or email her.

Here’s more information about the Freelancer / Small Business Chat feature and there’s an index to all the featured people too!

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2012 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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A proper author – Victoria Eveleigh and her story

Victoria Everleigh I am delighted to publish this guest post by author, Victoria Eveleigh. I “met” Victoria via Twitter, through a discussion I was having about pony books with a bookseller (who I’m going to feature on the Saturday Small Business Chats soon). Victoria has an interesting story to tell, as she has become a somewhat unlikely author, and has now moved from self-publishing to being published!

You can read all about Victoria’s farm, horses and books on her website. Let’s hear her story …

How I became a Proper Author by Victoria Eveleigh

Nobody was more surprised than me (with the possible exception of my old English teacher) when I became an author.

I grew up in London, but spent as many holidays as possible on my grandmother’s farm on Exmoor. From an early age, my ambition was to marry a farmer and live on Exmoor. Remarkably, I’ve managed both: Chris and I have been farming for over twenty-five years now.

At 240 acres, our farm is fairly small, so we’ve had several other enterprises: a self-catering holiday cottage, horse-drawn tours over Exmoor with Shire horses, Land Rover tours of the farm, organic farming, cream teas, renewable energy and publishing.

Starting to write

The Foot and Mouth crisis of 2001 was partially responsible for my first book. We never got Foot and Mouth on our farm, but it came far too close for comfort. For nearly half a year we closed the self-catering cottage and horse-drawn tour businesses, and our children stayed at home for the whole of the spring term. It was a nerve-wracking year, and our cash flow became a trickle, but in some ways it was a holiday from all our usual commitments. For the first time since we were married, we had time to spare. Chris took up drawing and painting, while I sat down and wrote the book that had been forming in my head for several years: the story of a girl and an Exmoor pony growing up on an Exmoor hill farm together.

Full of optimism, I purchased a copy of The Writers’ And Artists’ Yearbook and started writing to agents. After several months, I’d received polite rejections from some and no communication from others. I felt utterly disheartened, and would have given up completely if a friend hadn’t suggested publishing the story myself. She’d published her own books in the past, and said all I needed to do was register myself as a publisher (I registered as Tortoise Publishing), get someone to design the layout of the book (I asked a good friend who’s a graphic designer), get a printer to print it (our local printer who printed our holiday cottage leaflets obliged) and some people to buy it (um…).

Learning from self-publishing

It was shocking how much space 6,000 books took up when they were delivered to our house by the printers. Too late, I realised I knew nothing about selling and, being typically British, I didn’t feel comfortable promoting myself. However, the prospect of never being able to use the sitting room again spurred me on. I loaded some books and leaflets in the back of the car and went for a drive around the Exmoor area. There weren’t many bookshops but there were gift shops, tourist attractions and tack shops, so I had more outlets than I’d realised. In fact, my best customers turned out to be places which normally didn’t stock books because there was no competition. (I’ve found that the easiest way to get depressed is to go into a large bookshop and see how many different books there are, all vying for attention!)

Probably because of Chris’ illustrations, the first book sold so well that I had to do another print run, and I was encouraged to write a sequel. Now I had stacks of boxes and a bit of money, so we converted Chris’ work shed into a farm office where I could store both the books and the ever-increasing quantity of farm records. At last I had a warm purpose-built room where I could write and deal with the paperwork for the farm and publishing businesses.

We made the Exmoor pony story into a trilogy, wrote and illustrated a colouring book about the farming year for the Exmoor Horn Sheep Breeders’ Society and then published a story set on the island of Lundy.
The amount of effort it took to promote, sell, distribute and account for the books meant I had an ever-decreasing amount of time for writing. Furthermore, while I was trying to build up my publishing business several things happened to the book industry: the economy slowed down, then went into recession; fuel and postage prices went up, squeezing margins because books are typically delivered for free; paper and printing costs increased, and large bookshops and online stores started a price war. Simultaneously, the whole book industry was going electronic, and I couldn’t really get my head around it all.

Never give up …

I’d more or less decided to quit while I was ahead when I received an email from Louise Weir, who runs a website called Lovereading4kids. She’d read my Lundy book and wanted to make it a book of the month on her website and, to cut a long story short, through her I was taken on by Orion Children’s Books just over a year ago.

Since then my life has changed quite a bit. I have to treat writing like a proper job now, and it’s a scary, serious business with deadlines to meet, schools to visit and talks to give. However, I wouldn’t turn back the clock for anything. I love writing and I’m so glad I’ve been given this fantastic opportunity to turn it from a hobby into a whole new career. I’ve re-written my existing stories (which have been published as Katy’s Wild Foal, Katy’s Champion Pony, Katy’s Pony Surprise and A Stallion Called Midnight) and I’m writing a new trilogy for publication in 2013. It will have horses and the countryside at its heart, but it will have a boy as the main character for a change. Chris is still doing the illustrations for my books – so I’m now a proper author and he’s a proper illustrator!

I wish Victoria all the best with her new trilogy, and I’m looking forward to reading the Katy books soon. I should mention that Victoria’s publisher will be sending me a copy of “A Stallion Called Midnight” to review, but I wanted to share her story to encourage my readers who are writers: never give up!

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2012 in Guest posts, New skills, Reading, Writing

 

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