Monthly Archives: December 2017

Fornication or formication? Bonus: vermiculation

Fornication or formication? Bonus: vermiculation

OK, hands up who’s actually got these two mixed up? I’m sharing this Troublesome Pair mainly because a) someone suggested it (who? I suspect it might have been Mr. Libro, who is a great source of inspiration for these) and b) isn’t the word formication excellent? There’s a bonus word in the works, too. I’d love to know which word you were looking up when you found this article – do share in the comments!

Fornication is officially the act of having sexual intercourse with someone to whom you are not married. The OED marks this as being “formal or humorous” which seems an amusing and odd pairing to me, but also quite true.

Formication is the sensation of having insects (it comes from the word for ant, also found supplying formic acid, which is emitted by some ants) crawling on your skin. It forms part of some medical conditions (or comes from having insects crawling on your skin).

And I’m always reminded of the word vermiculation by formication – it’s another word from the world of fauna, meaning marking with wavy or wiggly lines or, indeed, worm-eaten (the latter being “archaic” according to the OED. I’ve always come across the first meaning in relation to a particular type of decoration on stone, although if you have a look at this Wikipedia article, you’ll find it’s used in enamel work, too.

Don’t say you never learn anything here!

You can find more troublesome pairs here, and here’s the index to them all!

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Posted by on December 13, 2017 in Errors, Language use



Small business chat update – Karen White

Small business chat update – Karen White

Welcome to another Small Business Update, and it’s a bit different this time, as Karen White, ELT editorial project manager from White Ink Limited. has made a big decision and kindly shared her story with us. I love sharing all sorts of freelance paths and I think some of us might be a little envious of this one! Karen’s been talking to Libro about her business since March 2014, and gave us an update in June 2015 and then August 2016, when her plan by now was:  “I hope that by this time next year, the third ELT Freelancers’ Awayday will have been a huge success, and that the fourth one is in the pipeline. I hope the industry will have settled down a bit, with plenty of work for everyone who needs/wants it. I hope I’m still remembering to put my desk into the stand position!” So, what happened next?

Hello, Karen. Well, you’ve got some big news for us, haven’t you! First of all, though, are you (at the moment) where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

Yes, in that the third ELT Freelancers’ Awayday was a great success, with participants coming from as far afield as Canada, Greece and Spain, as well all parts of the UK. The fourth Awayday will be held at the end of January 2018 and we’ll be adding on a day of practical workshops the day before as well. (Full details here.)

Work-wise, this year has been as productive as ever for White Ink, and it seems that there is plenty of work to go around the ELT freelance community, which is good news.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

In some ways, nothing has changed. Interesting work offers continue to come in, and I still enjoy running my busy White Ink Facebook page, which continues to be somewhere freelancers can come to ask questions, discuss hot topics, find work opportunities, share tips and post the occasional photo. With my ELT Teacher 2 Writer colleagues I’m continuing to help writers get training and get published.

In other ways, everything has changed! My husband and I have decided to leave work behind and do some travelling in 2018. A number of friends have been diagnosed with serious illnesses in the last year and we realise that if we wait any longer, it might be too late to do the travelling we’ve always talked about. So, on March 16th we’ll be getting on a plane to Australia where we’ll spend a few weeks shopping for a motorhome, then plan to set off on a Big Lap. Whether we complete a lap or not, it will be an adventure! (We’ll be blogging about it here:

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

I’ve learned that it’s good to have trusted colleagues. Although the White Ink Facebook page is just a page, it’s become a lot more than that to me and the ELT freelance community, so I was reluctant to simply close it down when I finish work at the end of the year. Fortunately, I’m leaving it in the capable hands of two fellow freelancers who I’ve known for many years. They will rebrand it and give it their own personality, and I’m sure I’ll stay tuned to it, but I’m happy to leave it with them because I know they will carry it forward.

I’m also learning that planning a big trip takes a lot of work. My husband has already finished work and has applied for visas, booked accommodation and started planning our route, but there’s still a lot to do in preparation for letting the house out, etc.

Any more hints and tips for people? 

There is more to life than work. Although I realise that not everyone can up sticks and head off to the other side of the world (and not everyone wants to of course), I think it’s worth taking a step back from time to time to assess your priorities and see if you can make any work-life balance changes before getting to the point when you say ‘I wish I’d done x, y and z’ and it’s too late to do anything about it.

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

On a beach in Australia!

Isn’t she brave! What an exciting thing to do! But it’s true that there IS more to life than work. I’m training to be an endurance (cross country and road race) official at the moment, which means lots of time outside, wearing gaiters and clutching a clipboard, pen that writes in the wet and whistle, a real antidote to sitting at a desk. Good luck to Karen and her husband and let’s all follow their blog!

You can visit Karen’s new blog and her Facebook page for White Ink Limited. She has a new database for ELT freelancers and runs ELT Teacher 2 Writer with colleagues.

If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured (I have a full roster of interviewees now so am only taking on a very few new ones). If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my books, all available now, in print and e-book formats, from a variety of sources. 


Posted by on December 9, 2017 in Business, Small Business Chat


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Seven top tips for the newbie blogger

Seven top tips for the newbie blogger

New to blogging? Asking “How do I set up a blog?” Not sure where to start? Here are my top seven tips for the newbie blogger.

I’ve assume here that you have something to blog about and you know you want to do it in the first place …

Under each heading, I’ve linked to more articles on this blog that will help you get more into the topic. I wanted to gather the basics in one place!

1. Sign up to a blog platform

Blogger, WordPress, it’s up to you. But you need to sign up to a specific blog platform in order to write a blog.

Bonus hint: Don’t pay for anything much at the start. WordPress has lots of free “themes” (setting the look of the blog and where all the menus go) and you might want to have your own domain name (think as opposed to but I don’t think that matters for a personal blog that’s not a business brand.

Find out more about starting out on WordPress here.

2. Write your first blog post

What’s a blog post? Think of it like a diary entry. Your blog will be updated regularly with new content appearing, which is not the same as a website which tends to have static pages full of information.

Bonus hint: There may be a blog post already set up with some sample text: WordPress does this. Overwrite the text, hit “Publish” and you’re off!

Find out more about writing blog posts here.

3. Set up an About Me page

You don’t need too much fancy stuff (like on this blog, I know) but it’s very useful to have an About Me page – this is a static page which can appear in your menu and tells your readers a bit about you.

Bonus hint: You don’t need to disclose your inside leg measurement or even your photo if you don’t want to. But a bit about who you are and where you’re from is more welcoming.

Find out more about setting up a page here, and, for advanced users, a landing page here.

4. Go no-ads

I get really put off when I’m reading a blog and adverts appear all over the place. Yes, people do manage to monetise their blogs with paid advertising – no, truthfully, you won’t be doing this for a while. WordPress has a no-ads package I renew every year. Use it to avoid annoying your readers.

5. Moderate comments

You will want to encourage readers to make comments on your blog, but you need to set up some form of moderation to avoid your blog comments being taken over by spammers. There will be a way to do this in your blogging software.

Bonus hint 1: Check your spam folder in your blogging software regularly as sometimes it will carefully send legitimate comments there

Bonus hint 2: I choose to moderate just the first comment a particular person makes, as I find a spammer will show their colours right away.

Find out more about moderating comments here and why we should do this here.

6. Engage with your readers

Build social capital … no, scrub that. Enjoy engaging with your readers. If they’ve taken the trouble to comment on your blog, take the time to respond to their comment!

Bonus hint: You’ll find more readers for your blog by commenting on other people’s and including your URL. Do this wisely, sensibly and without spamming, of course!

Find out more about engaging with your readers here and reciprocity across social media here.

7. Enjoy yourself!

Blogging shouldn’t equal slogging! There are various techniques to get your blog posts written, and obviously it can be more important to keep a business blog going than a purely personal one, but if you’re not enjoying it, it’s not worth it!

Bonus hint: If you find pumping out long articles a drag, try writing shorter, snappier pieces instead. There’s no word limit!

Find out more about why you should blog here, and why you shouldn’t here.

This has been a whistle-stop tour through my top seven tips for new bloggers, inspired by someone who wants to start a book review blog. I hope they – and you – have found it useful: do comment or share if you have!


Posted by on December 6, 2017 in Blogging, WordPress


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Small business chat update – Pat Wilkes

Small business chat update – Pat Wilkes

It’s Small Business Chat update time (a bit late today, sorry!) Let’s see how Pat Wilkes from gift company Starlight Keepsakes and Gifts, (formerly Starlight Gifts by Pat) who we first met back in June 2013, then in August 2014, August 2015 and September 2016, at which point this was where she wanted to be now: “I really hope I’m in a similar position as I am now good work life balance and the business holding its own, still stocking shops and doing the odd event. Of course it would be wonderful to have more sales, as most small businesses must be thinking. Look forward to speaking to you next year.” How nice – I love that my interviewees look forward to doing these updates!

Hello again, Pat! So, are you where you thought you would be a year ago?

Hard one as I had hoped to be earning a bigger revenue but due to the financial climate this has not been possible – but most small businesses are in a similar position.

What has changed?

A couple of the shops I had stocked have closed which was a shame, but that’s the ups and downs of business. So I have had to think of other ways of getting my gifts out into the world. I have opened an Etsy shop for quieter times in the year and have just secured another stockist. I am also making new ranges which so far have been selling quite well. I haven’t been able to do events this year due to health issues and hope this will improve in the near future. I am also hoping to start up my workshops again which I do enjoy, especially seeing people’s faces when they produce something handmade that they did not think they could do.

What has stayed the same?

I am still doing two days at my day job, I still work longer hours producing stock just because I love making and enjoy every minute of it. I still stock a couple of shops and still love meeting customers and hearing what they like and what they think about what I do.

What have you learned?

Not to waste time trying to please everyone, it is impossible and I have accepted that what I love to make is not everyone’s cup of tea. Let your business head rule your hear,t something I find hard to do but I am learning that I need to have a better business head on in order to make my business a success.

What do you wish you had known a year ago?

I wish I had known that health issues would have stopped me getting out to events and been able to put energy into investigating more online sales.
It would have been nice to predict that sales would have been lower this year than last, just due to the financial climate.

Hints and Tips
I think I may have said this last year but get a good work life balance, make time to rest and recharge the batteries.

Adapt and change what you make if things are not working so that you don’t become stale. Artists and makers need to keep things fresh but still staying within their own style.

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

Hopefully still working my part time day job but doing workshops and continuing to stock shops and to be trying new things and of course improving my work all the time and learning.

It sounds like Pat is doing all the right things, keeping it diverse and trying new channels to sell through, too. Hopefully sales will pick up next year.

You can visit Pat’s website at and view her products, or visit her Instagram and Facebook page. Here’s her Etsy Shop. Click to email Pat, too!

If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured. If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my books, all available now, in print and e-book formats, from a variety of sources. 


Posted by on December 2, 2017 in Business, Small Business Chat


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