Monthly Archives: August 2011

At this difficult time …

I usually publish a blog post on a Wednesday about marketing, Libro work done, students, whatever.

Waking up to another set of images of my beautiful city smashed and looted, and dreadful news of murders in the name 0f – what? I can’t help feeling that to do that this morning would be trite.  That’s my personal opinion. I completely accept the actions of whoever feels they are able or want to do whatever today. That’s how I feel about my own output.

I continue to work hard on Libro projects, earning money that I will do my hardest to spend in the local economy, with other independent small businesses. But marketing and self-promotional activity is suspended for the meantime.

I dedicate this post to the small businesses, in Birmingham, Lewisham and Peckham in particular, in all the other affected in general, who have been hit by this mindless and vile action on the part of a small section of our society.

I stand shoulder to shoulder with all my fellow city dwellers, of whatever race, ethnicity, nationality or colour and hope hard for peaceful times to resume.


Posted by on August 10, 2011 in Blogging


Libro and friends safe and sound so far

A quick update in case anyone is concerned – Libro and friends are all safe and well (as of 09/08/11 19.00 GMT) – it is a bit scary and I’m proud of the people who helped clean up and disgusted by the looters. Thinking of everyone else affected by this violence.  Thank you if you’ve been thinking of us.

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Posted by on August 9, 2011 in Business


Uninterested or disinterested?

As well as being asked to post about this by a number of people, I’ve also seen these two used incorrectly a number of times.  I think negative versions of words do get people confused – and why not, when you have odd things like “flammable” and “inflammable” knocking around …

These two don’t mean the opposite of one another, but they do have distinct, separate and different meanings.

Uninterested means not interested.  “I was uninterested in his plans for world domination”; “the cat remained uninterested in my new party dress”

Disinterested means impartial.  I think this must be connected with the idea of “declaring an interest”; the disinterested person has no interest or investment in either side of an argument. “Amid all the disucssions, the chair remained a disinterested party, keeping order between the warring sides.”

If you aren’t keen on sitting on the fence and want to get involved, you could quite easily be uninterested in being disinterested

You can find more troublesome pairs here.


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Saturday freelance chat – Matthew Marron

Welcome to another Freelancer chat!  Today we’re talking to Matthew Marron.  I met Matt via the 4N networking site forums and was impressed by the fact that he’s a student who’s already carving out a great career as a freelancer.  Although I did type up the odd thesis when I was a student, I would never have dared to try to go it alone and be completely self-employed, so I really admire anyone who’s trying to do that.  Matt’s website is here – and let’s now learn more about how he took the plunge and decided to go it alone.  I do like his answer to “What do you wish someone had told you before you started”!

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

My business is called Matthew Marron Graphic Design and I first started freelancing around 3 years ago.

What made you decide to set up your own business?

I was still at college and just didn’t seem to be learning enough, and I realised I was at the age where I could start to be taken seriously by clients.  My work was well above the standard needed, so it made sense to start earning a bit of experience and portfolio work as well as a bit of money!

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

Graphic Design is my passion; it’s as simple as that. I live and breathe it and have a lot of inspiration boiling inside of me!

Had you run your own business before?

Nah – I’d messed about with bits of freelancing throughout High School but I was entirely self taught in Photoshop back then and working at 72dpi, which meant everything I did looked terrible when printed.

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

It was just gradual, I do it alongside my University degree which helps me pay for living costs, and this in turn will set me up for going full-time after graduating next year.

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

Where the tree of clients is planted, and directions on how to get to it!

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

Plan my time better and don’t let £30 jobs have lots of amendments!

What do you wish you’d done differently?

Same as the above really; I was a bit too nice and a bit too cheap at first. I was getting lots of cheap work but the amendments meant that I was spending a lot more time than planned on what were supposed to be 1 hour jobs!

What are you glad you did?

Started in the first place.  Graphic Design is a hard game to get started in and I think too many people just assume they won’t be able to get work if they start up on their own.

What’s your top business tip?

Go for it!  It applies to everyone, but especially students who have a lot of spare time. If they’re good at what they do, they have nothing to lose, and the experience is priceless.

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

I only really try to get work during the holidays, which works really well for me, as I get a lot of work when I’m off uni and then I get a steady stream of work during term time on the back of that.

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

Full-time! Huddersfield University has a business start-up scheme which helps with office space and free phones, and this, combined with the connections I have steadily built up, will hopefully help me land on my feet.

Libro of course wishes Matt the best of luck with his future endeavours! You can find the Matthew Marron website at and contact him via email, on Facebook at or on Twitter: @matthewmarron

Click here for more freelancer chat.

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Posted by on August 6, 2011 in Business, New skills, Small Business Chat


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Guest blog spots available here!

August and September are traditionally Libro’s busiest months, and this year is no exception – as well as the usual dissertations from students, I’ve been expanding my client base in all sorts of ways.  Of course (of course!) I’m able to support and complete all the projects I’ve taken on, but it struck me that I could take my own advice about outsourcing and share the joy of running this blog …

So, for a limited number of weeks through August and September, I’m offering my Wednesday blog post slot to people who would like to express themselves and talk about anything that fits into the general subjects I blog about already.   I ran some guest posts earlier in the year, and this is an extension of that, but rather than being very sporadic, there will be a series of them, starting the week after next. Get your thinking caps on!

What’s in it for you?

One word: exposure. Let people see how you can write, what you’re passionate about. Share your ideas. And of course, there will be a link to your blog, website, Facebook page, Twitter feed, etc.  I will promote the posts through my usual channels – and I get quite a lot of hits on back issues of the blog from people searching for the topics they’re interested in. And by reading the other posts in the series, you might get some new ideas, too!

What’s in it for me?

I’m looking to fill a gap that I’m a little bit too busy to fill at the moment – but also to share new ideas and new writers with my readers. I’m also hoping, of course, that you’ll blog/tweet/update your Facebook status, etc., about your lovely new guest blog post, bringing more readers to this blog in turn.  I’ve found with my Freelancer Chat interviews that the interviewee and I can really drive a lot of click-throughs between our sites if we both talk about the post to our circles of influence.

What can you blog about?

I don’t want to limit you, so if you’ve got a good idea of a subject to write about, let me know anyway.  The subjects I tend to write about on here are …

  • writing, language and words
  • business matters – especially as they relate to small businesses, startups, freelancers and entrepreneurs
  • personal development – learning experiences
  • social media and marketing
  • what exactly I do in my day-to-day work

How to submit a guest blog post (and the small print)

You can submit your guest blog post via email or via my contact form.

I reserve the right to accept or reject your post.  I also reserve the right to do a little light editing on your post – nothing major, but if some spellings and grammar need a tidy-up, I will tidy them up.  I’m really careful about how I write my posts, so I need to make sure any guest posts I host are as tidy as they can be, too.

I’ll let you know when your post has arrived.  If I think it needs some editing (more words, fewer words, more on a particular subject) or I don’t think it’s suitable, I’ll let you know. And I’ll let you know when I publish it, and send you the URL, so you can talk about it online and show off your work.


Posted by on August 5, 2011 in Blogging, Guest posts



Comparative or comparable?

I’ve had so many suggestions of troublesome pairs from people – but please keep them coming!  With some of the pairs, I know the distinction immediately (but I still look it up, just to make sure); with a few, I really don’t know the difference (and sometimes there isn’t one!); and with others, like this one, I know the difference and will happily write one or the other, or exchange one for the other in someone else’s text, but I need the might of the dictionary to help me define them.  So I’m never setting myself up as the expert here; I’m just trying to guide us all to simple distinctions to help with our writing and/or comprehension.  I’ve even changed a few posts as a result of readers’ comments!

Anyway, here we go with comparative vs. comparable.

Comparable – able to be likened to another, similar, of equivalent quality i.e. the same.  “Smith’s skills on the cricket pitch are comparable to those of the previous captain, Robinson.”

Comparative – measured or judged by comparison, relative i.e. different. “Joe’s performance is poor comparative to Bill’s, and Bill is likely to beat Joe in the next race if he doesn’t improve his time.”  You can replace “comparative to” with “in comparison with” and still get the same sense out of the sentence.

Comparative to other posts, this one has been fairly easy.  It’s comparable to, say, “disinterested or uninterested”, rather than one of the trickier ones.

You can find more troublesome pairs here.


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What I’ve been up to in July

It’s the beginning of a new month – and Libro was 2 years old on Monday, so Happy Birthday Libro, first of all!  I’m doing better than I could have imagined when I set it all up in August 2009; well, we all know I love my job by now … and I’m building up a good base of regular clients but still with the time to do one-off projects as well.  The variety in my Libro life has increased dramatically; originally I was just offering proofreading and copyediting but now I do writing, transcribing and even good old copy typing for all sorts of people, from academics to journalists, working on websites to novels to advertising materials to … well, anything to do with words!

Anyway, here’s what I’ve been up to in July …

Well, first of all, I went on holiday! Just a quick week in the Lake District, staying here, which is a hotel I can heartily recommend, especially for those on special diets.  I had a bit of a break from Libro work; I did have a few bits of work in but I took a laptop and managed to get them out of the way in the early mornings (and I didn’t mind being interrupted slightly).  Apart from that it was all very relaxing, but a lot of walking meant I got enough exercise not to get twitchy, and I even took Matthew out in a rowing boat on Lake Windermere!

The rest of the month was nice and busy …

I transcribed two interviews for journalist Jude Rogers (and she kindly tweeted about my services to her followers – social media exposure really helps my business – which I think I’ll blog about soon!)

I carried on coaching my Taiwanese client through the final stages of her Master’s dissertation – not long to go now and I’ll miss working with her.

I did various bits and pieces for my lovely physiotherapist client, Kate, including a final proof-read of her new brochures and e-book and a section on her new colleague for her website.

My American PR company client sent me various projects, including the usual bi-monthly magazine and an advertising leaflet to copyedit and proof.

A previous client came back to me with another medical journal article to work on, with more to come …

And I wrote pieces on local businesses and a downloadable brochure about retail shelving for two clients who came to me through recommendations.

I’ve also been busy networking, attending the Birmingham Entrepreneurs meetup and the Social Media Cafe this month.  I’ve met lots of interesting people through these two regular meetings, and while networking often doesn’t generate direct sales or offers of work (although sometimes it does!), it’s worth remembering that everyone on whom you make an impression is likely to remember you and perhaps recommend you when they hear of someone who needs what you provide. I’ve also ended up with an unofficial mentee; I’ve been helping one of the entrepreneurs with his website, advertising materials and marketing strategies, which is a nice way of giving something back.

As we go into August, the dissertations and theses are starting to build up already (get your booking in now if you’re a student with a dissertation due in August, September or October!) and will join my regular clients’ projects in what are traditionally my busiest months of the year.  I’ve got some time booked off my part-time job towards the end of the month to make sure I’ve got the time to devote to Libro.

I’m concentrating on building up a set of troublesome pair and business-related blog posts so I can just publish as I go through my busy weeks, and there are still opportunities to take part in my Freelancer Chat interviews, which are proving popular with my interviewees and readers alike.

Libro offers copyediting, copy writing, proof-reading, transcription and typing services to other small businesses, individuals and corporations. Click on the links to find out more!


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Test match … special?

So, according to fellow Birmingham tweeter, Cybrum, the lovely Phil Tufnell muddled up the words “minx”, “minks” and “Manx” while commentating on the Test Match yesterday.  I love cricket and I like to respond to reader requests, so here’s a quick guide to the three.  I bet I’ll never see a search for this combination on my analytics!

Manx is defined as relating to the Isle of Man, its people or its language.

A minx is a cunning, impudent or bold and flirtatious young woman.

Minks are stoatlike carnivores.

So if a cheeky young lady from the Isle of Man had some stoat like carnivores as pets …

“The Manx minx kept minks”

For more (and possibly more useful) troublesome pairs and triplets, click here!


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Posted by on August 2, 2011 in Troublesome pairs, Writing


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Owing to or due to?

This is a slightly tricky one – before I looked it up, I wasn’t sure what the difference was, and I would probably have used either of them in a sentence without thinking about it too much.  And it turns out that one is preferable to the other, not that they mean different things. It’s nice that we all get to learn something from these posts!

Due to, used for “because of” (as opposed to “timed to” – “the train is due to arrive at eight”), is usually seen as being incorrect, according to my OUP reference books, which prefer “on account of”.  I’m going to quote the New Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors here: “Due to: traditionally condemned as incorrect in the sense ‘because of’; on account of is a better alternative.”  I don’t feel that we use on account of very much in common written or spoken English. So, maybe it’s best to stick to …

Owing to, which is defined as meaning “because of” or “on account of”.

So: use “because of” or “owing to” if you don’t want the good people of the OUP to think you’re incorrect!

“Owing to leaves on the line, and because of other issues with the track, this train, which is due to leave at eight, will not be departing on time.”

For more troublesome pairs, have a look on the category cloud or click here.


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