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Small business chat update – Kath Kilburn

Small business chat update – Kath Kilburn

It’s Small Business Chat Update time again (a bit late today, sorry!) – so say hello to Kath Kilburn from wool shop Three Bags Full. We first met Kath in June 2014, and updated in May 2015, when her bricks-and-mortar shop came under threat (through no fault of her own), and she was still uncertain in May 2016, but she’s still going strong with her online presence and maintaining her role in the knitting community. This time last year, when I asked her where she saw herself in a year’s time, she replied “At the moment it’s really difficult to say. We’ll be doing some SEO work on the website to make it more visible and adjusting the lines we have on offer and see how it goes from there. Watch this space!” So, how’s she doing now?

Hello again, Kath. So, are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

We were in such a state of flux last year that I’m not sure I had much of an idea where I’d be but, since we closed our bricks and mortar shop, I’ve been adding more items to our website, have started selling completed garments on folksy (I did this especially in the run up to Christmas), have identified an extra regular craft market to frequent, have sold yarn once a month in the foyer of our old building in Halifax and have finished a new, short ebook about the shop closure – so I haven’t been sitting around! I’m also considering a pop-up shop later in the year if it’s feasible.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

The major change was closing the shop; still the same is the running of the website, although we’ve re-jigged the stock to some extent. I’ve also continued to meet up with the lovely knitters from what was originally the shop’s knitgroup.

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

I wish I’d known everything would be (kind of) okay after such a major change and how much I’d appreciate being able to spend more time on writing, which is the other thing I enjoy.

Any more hints and tips for people?

I really wouldn’t advise anyone to take business advice from me!

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

I think we’ll still be doing the same stuff; I’m finding the mix of different things we’re doing now really enjoyable. I’m probably more suited to it than I am to doing the same thing in the same place all the time. Having said that, as a general thing, I think it’s sad that so many little specialist shops are closing – we need independents to make our high streets interesting and unique.

Bonus question – What would I like to ask other new small business owners?

I’d be interested in which parts of their jobs other business owners hive off. For me, I’m so unsuited to the technical side of things (setting up the website, etc) and the accountancy side (preparing the tax return) that I’m happy to pay someone to do those parts of the work for me. I sure there are some great people out there who’ll successfully tackle anything, but I’d sooner concentrate on the crafty and organisational bits of the job – the bits I know I can do reasonably well

I stopped asking the bonus question after a year as I wasn’t getting the feedback I was hoping for from other business owners, but I think this one is totally valid. I am OK at the organisational side of things because I was an administrator for years of my career before I started  my business, but for creative people this can be a real issue. I’m glad Kath’s doing OK, though!

You can find Kath’s website at www.threebagsfulluk.com *there’s a Folksy button on the web page where you can find seasonal items) and call her on 07941133155 or email her if you want to get in touch. You can also read her e-books, “So You’d Like to Open a Wool Shop…“ and “So, That Wool Shop We Opened ...”.

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. 

 
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Posted by on May 20, 2017 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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Copy-typing hints and tips 2: How do I do copy-typing work?

Copy-typing hints and tips 2: How do I do copy-typing work?

In the first article in this series, we looked at what copy-typing is, the formats it comes in and how to price a copy-typing job. In this article, I will share some of the things I’ve learned doing a couple of large copy-typing projects.

I should say here that it’s not very common for me to get copy-typing projects to do – but when I get them, although they’re hard work, they are usually very interesting and rewarding.

Here are my main hints and tips:

1. Ergonomics, ergonomics, ergonomics

Copy-typing is hard work, especially if you are not used to typing a lot, for long periods of time.

If you’re usually an editor or do other mouse work, do have a careful think about the effect that pounding a keyboard will have on your shoulders, neck and back.

If you do a transcription as part of your job (like I do), you will be more used to typing fast for long periods of time.

I wrote a piece on ergonomics for transcribers a while ago – pop over and read that as it will give you some good pointers.

In summary:

  • Take care to sit up straight with a relaxed posture and level forearms
  • Arrange your chair, desk and keyboard so you’re not hunching or looking up at the screen with a bent neck
  • If your original is in a PDF or a set of images, try to use a screen where you can see it and your page on Word side by side to avoid switching between then, and large enough that you are not straining your eyes
  • If your original is on paper, get a document holder and position it by your monitor to give the same effect as having it on the screen and to avoid bending your head constantly to look at a flat sheet of paper
  • Take regular breaks to stretch, refocus and walk around

When you are quoting for how long a copy-typing job will take, factor in rest-breaks. It’s very difficult to type solidly for multiple hours at a time, and your quality will suffer.

2. Check what the client wants you to do

Does your client want you to type EXACTLY what is on the page in front of you, or do they want you to edit and smooth it out as you go along? I’ve been asked for both, so don’t assume – always ask.

If you are asked to type the document as an exact copy of the original, make sure that you type what you see and not what you want to see – you will need to include any odd phrasing, punctuation or spelling. In one of my jobs, the original writer introduced most quotations with a colon or no comma at all, where I am used to seeing a comma, and I had to be very careful to type as they typed.

3. Decide (with your client) how to deal with corrections and annotations

Many typescripts can have hand-written annotations, or maybe you’re copy-typing a written manuscript that has changes made by the author or another person. How should you deal with those?

First of all, discuss this with your client, as they may have firm ideas of how they want you to handle this.

I worked out a creative and great way to handle the hand-written annotations (including parts that were crossed out, extra parts that were added, asterisks with marginal annotations and paragraphs that needed to be moved) on one job: I typed out the typescript as normal, then turned on Track Changes and added all of the author’s annotations and marks in the appropriate places. Instead of the old type-written manuscript with hand-written corrections, we then had the modern version: a word-processed manuscript with amendments made using Tracked Changes. This worked very well.


In this article I’ve shared my three top copy-typing tips. Do you have any more? Do share them using the comments!

Related articles on this blog

What is copy-typing?

Copy-typing hints and tips 1: What it is, what it looks like and how to charge

 
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Posted by on May 17, 2017 in Copy-typing

 

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Small business chat update – Ellie Levenson

Small business chat update – Ellie Levenson

Welcome to a very timely update with Ellie Levenson from Fisherton Press. I first became aware of her fantastic children’s publishing initiative a few years  ago when they did a KickStarter campaign to publish the great book, “The Election“, which basically explains elections to small people and is hugely relevant and in the news right now, of course, with a general election within the month!

I first interviewed Ellie in November 2013, and checked in with her in January 2015 and March 2016. At that point, she said that where she wanted to be by now (not knowing there would be a general election around the corner!) was: “More of the same and hopefully with foreign editions of some of our books”. So if you have a toddler or slightly older child, do pop and have a look at The Election, I passed copies to small people I know and they enjoyed it, and it’s the only thing out there that explains it all for that age group as far as I can tell. And meanwhile, let’s see how Ellie’s getting on running her publishing company and combining that with busy family life. 

Hello, Ellie, lovely to talk to you again and well done for all the great books! Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

No – I thought we would have published our next few books (our last books came out in 2015) but I decided to give myself another year of maternity leave and just keep things ticking over – our third child is now 18 months and will be our last so I want to enjoy him as well as have time for our older two. But I am hoping to publish the next three next year. Also I didn’t really plan for there being an early General Election so have had to come up with a marketing plan on the hoof for our election book for kids, The Election. Still it’s getting lots of parliamentarian and celebrity endorsements so it’s going ok despite that, and became an Amazon bestseller the week the election was announced.

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

Don’t try to do too much.

What do you wish you’d done differently?

Nothing really – even the mistakes have been fun and not too disastrous.

What are you glad you did?

The Election book – before I set up the company and decided to publish it myself it had been turned down by loads of agents and publishers but it has sold thousands and continues to do really well. And every time there is an election there should be a new generation of pre-schoolers ready for a copy.

What’s your top business tip?

Celebrity endorsements sell more than anything else!

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

Stayed the same – but that was the plan. I wanted a small business I could do alone. I am thinking about adding a few adult books to our list though which would be a diversification. And we are going to make some titles available abroad soon.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

Nothing has changed yet!

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

It’s been a deliberately quiet year so nothing really this year – though perhaps I should have expected the unexpected when it came to elections.

Any more hints and tips for people?

Don;t put off the boring bits as they need to be done too.

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

Hopefully we’ll just have released our next three books and be getting excited about those…

You can buy the books direct from the Fisherton Press website as well as from bookshops and online sources (including Amazon and Hive – those are the links for The Election). Fisherton Press and all of the books can be found at www.fishertonpress.co.uk and they are on Twitter and Instagram, 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 (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. 

 
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Posted by on May 13, 2017 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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Copy-typing hints and tips 1: what it is, what it looks like and how to charge

Copy-typing hints and tips 1: what it is, what it looks like and how to charge

In this article I’m going to share my learning points from a job I’ve recently done, copy-typing a manuscript which had originally been typewritten. In this case, it had the added complications of having hand-written alterations and corrections made to the typescript, all of which had to be taken into account. Here’s what I learned, but first a quick round-up of what copy-typing actually is.

What is copy-typing?

Copy-typing means creating a Word document (usually) out of a document which is not editable in Word. This might be handwritten notes in a notebook, notes made during meetings on large sheets of paper, typescripts or PDFs that it’s not possible to convert using Optical Character Recognition.

What format do copy-typing jobs come in?

The copy-typing jobs that I have done have come in PDF format or sets of images. I’ve worked with photographed hand-written notes and in the latest case, a set of pages that had originally been typed out on a typewriter, then amended by hand, then, a long time afterwards, scanned and put into one big PDF.

You might also copy-type hand-written or typed documents on their original paper (if this is the case, do invest in a document stand). You could also receive a scanned or printed copy of a word-processed document where the original has been lost and only the printed pages are available!

It is possible to convert PDFs of type-written or word-processed script into Word documents using Optical Character recognition.

Why is this not used instead of paying someone to type out every sheet by hand?

  1. Even if you have the document converted, some errors are bound to creep in (ever read a Kindle book that’s been scanned in and notice weird spellings or gaps in words?). So someone will still need to proof-read the resulting text to check it is the same as the original.
  2. Some PDFs are simply not suitable for conversion – the pages may have copied dark, there may be all sorts of annotations and scribblings on the typescript which will confuse the convertor, there might be speckles, blotches and rings of coffee on the typescript, or the type itself might be fuzzy and indistinct.

How do you charge for copy-typing?

It’s difficult to charge a per-word rate for copy-typing because you cannot know how many words the original has.An hourly rate often works well, as this can also take into account any indistinct pages or sections, adding in annotations, etc. none of which would be covered by a per-word rate.

I tend to charge for copy-typing on an hourly basis, although this does have the disadvantage that you don’t know exactly how long the job is going to take so how much it will cost.

In order to quote either a fair (to you and the client) per-word rate or to estimate how many hours a job will take, I recommend doing a test copy-type.

When doing a test copy-type, I will typically spend an hour on a representative sample of pages from the document (usually the most complex and wordy pages, so I over-estimate how long it will take, rather than under-estimating). I will see how many pages I can type out during that hour, then divide the total number of pages by that number to see how long it will take (for example, with my last job, I managed four pages in the hour, so if the document had 60 pages, I knew it would take me around 15 hours. This gave me a ball-park figure of 40 hours for the whole job. I did it in 39 and felt quite smug).

Of course, as with all jobs, if it looks like you are going to go significantly over your original estimate, work out why (had the client only sent you a few pages, and the others had more text or alterations?) and warn your client in good time.


In this article we’ve reminded ourselves what professional copy-typing is, looked at what formats copy-typing jobs can come in and discussed why sometimes conversion from PDF to Word isn’t a viable option. I’ve also given some suggestions on how to price copy-typing. In the next article, you’ll find hints and tips for the actual process.

Other relevant articles on this blog

What is copy-typing?

Copy-typing hints and tips 2: how do I do the actual work?

 

 
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Posted by on May 10, 2017 in Copy-typing, Word

 

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Small business chat update – Shelly Terry

Small business chat update – Shelly Terry

Welcome to another update from one of our crafty ladies – this time Shelly Terry from hand-made card company, Evelyn Mae, We first met Shelly back in in February 2013,  and then updated with her in March 2014, February 2015 and most recently, April 2016. I’ve really enjoyed watching Shelly’s story unfold – last year she was working around having a young baby, and this year she has different challenges to face. Is she where she expected to be – “I imagine I will still be open but still only taking incoming orders, and not actively advertising. Keeping the pressure off and spending time with my daughter.”? Read on to find out …

Hello Shelly, and welcome back! So, are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

Yes, I have had a very busy Christmas period, and an unexpected amount of corporate design work on, but all work which I didn’t advertise for, which is great, and what I had planned for.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

Much is the same as last year, although I have a better routine with my daughter’s naps, which is helping me to plan my work time better. I feel the business hasn’t grown in any directed way, although it is organically growing through word of mouth and repeat customers which I am very happy about.

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

I would like to have known that I would still put pressure on myself to build the business and have a good home life! I am learning that I can achieve all of it a little better if I let off the pressure of working, and keep some free time to not do anything – and enjoy it!

Any more hints and tips for people?

When you are working in your children’s naps, there is a tendency to not leave any time at all for a hot cup of tea or watching TV!  I would say to make sure you have down time in the naps, as well as productive work.  Work benefits from you relaxing, as well as yourself.

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

Next year I have a feeling it will all change when my daughter starts to drop her naps- I am hoping this is the same time she can attend nursery, so I can still have some designated work hours, but we shall see!

I admire Shelly’s resilience in keeping her business going and agree that organic growth through recommendations and repeat business is an excellent way to grow – it’s rare to not get the work if you’re recommended for it, I find. Good luck to Shelly through this next exciting period!

You can find Shelly’s work online at www.evelynmae.co.uk (with links on there to other crafting sites where she has a presence, such as Etsy). She has a blog on that site, too, and you can also find her on Facebook.

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. 

 
 

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Breach or breech?

Breach or breech?

I was asked about this one by my lovely friend Linda, a good friend and a super editor, too. It’s sometimes hard to think up new troublesome pairs to write about, so I love it when people suggest them to me, often because they’ve encountered someone else confusing them, sometimes for themselves (it’s the former in Linda’s case).

To breach something (the verb) means to make a hole in it OR to break something like an agreement or a law, or simply a code of conduct. A breach (the noun) is the result of someone breaching something: it’s the act of breaking an agreement or a law (a breach of conduct) or a gap or hole in a wall or other barrier. “By wearing jeans in the dining room, he breached the club’s formal dress policy”. It’s often used in a military sense, but in a general one, too.

The breech (noun only) is the part of a cannon, gun or rifle barrel that is behind the bore. The old-fashioned use of the word means a person’s buttocks, but this survives chiefly in the term “a breech birth” which occurs when a baby is turned around in the womb so that its bottom or feet emerge first.

Breeches (which that last sense of breech comes from) are short trousers, ending just below the knee, which are nowadays used in ceremonial or riding dress.

Breaches are multiple gaps in a wall, etc. or multiple infringements of policy and laws.

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

 
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Posted by on May 3, 2017 in Errors, Language use

 

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Small business chat update – Kathy Ennis

Small business chat update – Kathy Ennis

Welcome to an update with Kathy Ennis of LittlePiggy, formerly Kathy Ennis: Your Brand is You. Kathy joined this interview series in n May 2012 and updated her story in July 2013 and August 2014. We last chatted in February 2016, and at that point, when asked where she wanted to be in a year’s time, Kathy said, “You reminded me, Liz, that in 2014 I said “Bigger, better, bolder!” and to be honest I don’t believe I can think of anything better so I am going to stick with it through 2016.” So, is she bigger, better and bolder this time round? Read on to find out.

Hello again, Kathy, and welcome back. Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

Not really. During 2015/16 I realised that my business had moved in a slightly different direction. Although I was still working with business owners on their brand / personal branding, I was also being asked to help with their engagement marketing and general business systems and processes. Also, increasingly, I was delivering training in these areas for both organisations and enterprise agencies.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

The upshot of these changes was, in the summer of 2016, I decided to rename my business to reflect these changes. I also carried out a complete overhaul of the brand and key messaging. The upshot is my new business: LittlePiggy.

I am still working 1-2-1 with clients, but I now work closely with a few Enterprise Agencies on the delivery of their mentoring and training programmes. This is the side of the business that I want to grow.

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

I don’t think I learned anything in 2015/16 that I didn’t know – because what I did is what I work through with my clients – but it has given me more practical advice and experience that I can impart to my clients.

Any more hints and tips for people?

Plan any changes fully. Because I sat down and worked out precisely what I wanted / needed to happen; the timescale; researched people / organisations to outsource to (web design etc.) it all went really smoothly. It only took two weeks for it all to happen once the planning was complete.

Biggest tip: When planning, have many, many post-it notes, and be prepared to use them all

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

I may be moving home in the next 12-months so, although I am planning, things may be disrupted because of that. However, my plan is to increase the amount of work with Enterprise Agencies, or other organisations that offer training and mentoring support for small and micro businesses.

I admire people who can pivot like this and make brave and bold decisions – and I also admire people who plan first! Kathy did both of these things, and as you can see, it paid off for her. She has a great logo now, too!

Website: https://littlepiggy.ltd/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LittlePiggyUK/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kathyennis

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kathyennis

Email: kathy@littlepiggy.ltd

Phone: 07815951585

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. 

 
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Posted by on April 29, 2017 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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