Free business cards in June 2010

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We have a special offer for new clients ordering our $990 small business website package in June 2010 - we'll throw in 250 single sided full colour business cards which complement the design and colours of your new website and/or your logo or wordmark. Business cards are for one individual only. We can do you a special price for reprints or extra cards for colleagues - just ask. Your business cards will be professionally printed by one of Australia's most reputable printing companies. They will be 'plain' cards in that they won't have embossing or coatings on them, but they will look great. This offer applies to Australian businesses only. Contact us to find out more. [form 1 "Contact form 1"]

…and it’s only Thursday

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Having started this new blog with the current incarnation of my website the intention was to post something every couple of days, but the last week has been tremendously busy. I've hardly had time to think about what to write; even worse, I did have a good idea, didn't jot it down and now I've forgotten it in the cocktail of things I've been doing for people! Grr! Busy I might be but it's all exciting stuff. I'm currently working with Martin Sekel of StreetViewHQ on rebuilding the Ryde Business Forum website in Joomla. Martin's doing the lion's share, especially some of the back end stuff with databases and online payments. I get to do the pretty graphic bits among other tasks. With all the work I already do for RBF I don't have the time to build the site myself, and as I'm not as experienced in Joomla as Martin he can get it done in far less time. Monday and Tuesday this week passed in a fug as I spent about 14 hours each day, coming up occasionally for food, working on the site and flicking ideas back and forth with Martin. We hope to have the site live sometime in June. Last weekend I did a rebuild for OctoberFirst's website. It didn't too long as it's not an extensive site, but it certainly put paid to at least half of the weekend. I knew I had fat chance of rebuilding it during the week as the RBF site was beckoning. In addition, it seems some of my smaller clients think it's a good idea to update their websites this week. So far I've done changes for Christian Community Aid and BlandsLaw, and now Devine Law at Work has sent me a bucket of changes too. Something I'll have to get out of the way this morning as this afternoon I have to head to an Economic Development Advisory Committee meeting at the City of Ryde. Oh, and  I'll have to write and send out an e-news for RBF by the end of the week.  As well this week I've had a board meeting with RBF, recorded a slot for 2RRR-FM, and the usual several hours' worth of admin/marketing work for RBF. I'm hoping to have some time off this weekend and put the work/life balance back in better order.

Lost in translation…

Posted by | Writing and Editing | One Comment
Sydney's a multicultural city, and people whose first language isn't English can sometimes find it hard to market successfully to a wide and sophisticated audience. You can have the best idea, product or service in the world, but you need to be able to tell people about it clearly and professionally. That's why one of the services I offer is editing material for people for whom English is a second language (ESL). Often these people can speak English fluently, but written English can be a much harder challenge. How many of us have had a giggle at the "Engrish" photos people have posted on various websites showing signs, products and other material translated into English, which either don't make sense or are downright suggestive. Admittedly most of those photos are taken in countries where English isn't readily spoken. Writing in a language that isn't your native tongue is hard and fraught with spelling, punctuation and grammar dilemmas which could leave you looking less than professional. Sometimes words and phrases just get lost in translation. My editing services help ESL speakers engage with their Australian audience without losing their own personality. I met a lovely lady at a function very recently; she's Chinese and is a super sales person with a vivacious personality. We got chatting and I told her some of the things I did in my business, and she's keen to talk more with me about my proof reading and editing her hard copy marketing materials. I'd love to help her, because she's very professional in her outlook and honest in her business, and it wouldn't take much to rework and polish her marketing documents. I've put a call in to her office and we'll see what comes of it. First impressions count, and if you get a flyer or brochure in your letterbox that has spelling errors or sentences that don't make sense, what's your first impression of the company that sent it? Are you going to trust them and use them? Or do you think, "Hmm, if they send out information full of mistakes, how good a job are they going to do?" Think about it. If you know someone I can help, or if you ARE someone I can help, contact me now to talk about my rates, which are very reasonable.

When good apostrophes turn bad

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Have you noticed how Apostrophe Man has been leaving his mark more and more often? How much marketing material do you receive, by email or hard copy, with apostrophes either in the wrong place or not there when they should be? Many of us use apostrophes to incorrectly denote a plural, eg: CD's $19.99, in the 1990's, PC's on sale now. You see this everywhere, don't you, and assume it's common usage. It might be used everywhere but it's still incorrect and pedants like me itch to get the TippEx out and fix it. These apostrophes are not denoting plurals, they are being possessive when they have nothing to be possessive about. In short, they simply shouldn't be there. Sadly even the most educated of us fall prey to inappropriate apostrophe usage; I've received many letters and emails from marketing managers and experts with degrees in communications who still get it wrong. This is a personal thing but bad punctuation does turn me off using or buying the product or service it's promoting. Then there's the confusion between its and it's. "It's" should only be used as a contraction of "It is". "Its" is actually a possessive pronoun like "yours" or a possessive determiner like "my". There are several good books about language and punctuation which are easy reads, can set you straight and ensure your marketing material doesn't fall prey to Apostrophe Man and his evil band of language assassins. One is the stalwart Style Manual produced by the Australian Government Publishing Service. The other is the marvellous Eats Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss, which you and your employees will fight over. It's serious, but also seriously funny. Both these books can be purchased at booksellers. End of gripe...go and check your marketing material and website now and consider your apostrophes! If you're in doubt about what's right, contact me to proof read your material for you.

The power of editing

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I was reading a memoir by an Australian author a few weeks ago. I won't name and shame, because that would be unfair; especially as this was the most badly-edited book I'd read in a long time. Blimey, the punctuation was painful! Commas in the wrong places, colons and semi-colons inserted apparently at random because they're punctuation marks and deserve to be used. Every proper name (ie Christian name, name of town) was italicised every time it was used. By the time I crawled through Chapter Three I was in two minds: do I get the red pen out and do a proof on the book as I go, or do I write to the publishers expressing my frustration at trying to read something so unreadable? Both options would make me feel better and I opted for the latter. The publishers replied within a day, and I could feel their embarrassment jumping off the screen. The book had slipped through the system with minimal editing in an effort to get it printed. The author has now written a follow-up, which is being heavily edited (my heart goes out to the editor). The first book, which the publisher wished they'd pulped before too many copies got loose, is going to be reprinted next year after a heavy editing session. I offered my services there. The subject matter was one that really appealed to me and I'd have a ball turning it into readable English. Now when I bought that ill-fated book it was on the remaindered pile, despite only being published the year before. That's sad news for a local author with a good tale to tell. I suspect the poor writing style had something to do with the remaindering. Really, there is no excuse for not presenting a well-written document to the world, whether it's a memoir of your fantastic time living overseas for ten years, or a company newsletter with a casual feel. Casual doesn't mean sloppy, by the way. You can be friendly and casual and still conform to the rules of punctuation and grammar. This post is an example. It IS worth asking an editor to check your work. Isn't it better to have a second pair of eyes go over your work, make any necessary corrections - especially those little typos which may have slipped your notice after you've redrafted something many times - and leave you with a document that presents a professional image to your clients? I get numerous e-newsletters in my inbox every week; most are well-written and professional, some make me wince. The ideas are good but the grammar and punctuation isn't. Editing is a powerful tool that can make a massive difference to how people perceive you and your company. If in doubt, try it out! Mention this post and I'll give you an hours' worth of editing for free. Contact me if you're interested.

Graphic Design – Ryde Business Forum

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RBF invitationWe design all of Ryde Business Forum's marketing material, and because cost is an issue for every not-for-profit organisation we use specific, simple templates for invitations, rather than design something completely new for each event. Events can be anything from workshops for a maximum of fifteen people to lunch or breakfast for around 200 - as this invitation was for. Arion Productions  changed RBF's branding from staid and traditional three years ago to fresh and inviting, with sans-serif fonts used in all marketing material, and the 'wave' device of blue, green and white common across all invitations, the website, stationery and newsletters. Aqua and green colours have been introduced as part of the corporate look, which was previously Reflex Blue and white. We believe the change in branding has definitely made a positive impact on the way RBF is perceived by members and future members.

Graphic Design – CDS

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CDS Annual ReportI've designed the annual report for the wonderful people at Centre for Disability Studies since the early 2000s. When I was engaged to do the job initially the brief was to modernise the look and feel of the report. Budget was a real issue and for several years we did the whole job in two process colours. Careful use of white space and those two colours taking specific roles in the document still made the annual report look clean and fresh. The 2009 report was the first we did in full colour and it looks one hundred per cent better again. Those two colours - the red and the blue - are still very much in evidence and apart from full colour photos and black body copy they are the only colours used in the document, retaining a clear link with the organisation's corporate colours and previous reports.

Graphic Design – SCG

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SCG brochureFor this client, Stonewater Consulting Group, I designed a branding package - logo, corporate colours, style guide, marketing material, business cards and Word document templates. SCG was a startup employment agency when they asked me to design a logo. They knew what they wanted - a drop of water making a big ripple. The brief for the entire look was that it had to have a slightly traditional feel in terms of fonts, but modern, clean lines. These clients are a pleasure to work with - and if you're looking for an executive role in Sydney, I recommend you seek them out - www.stonewater.com.au

Websites- OctoberFirst Consulting

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This is one of our recent site rebuilds. OctoberFirst Consulting is based in Sydney and offers Australian and international companies investment opportunities throughout Africa. October First Consulting In a continent experiencing a mining boom and an amazing growth in telecomms and other markets, there are countless opportunities for investors to get in at ground roots level with reputable partners. OctoberFirst's principal wanted a professional website which reflected his intention to grow markets between Africa and the rest of the world, particularly the Pacific Rim. This php site allows for infinite expansion, and displays beautifully across all browsers. It's robust and attractive with good security and excellent SEO. Visit the site.

Websites: Ryde Business Forum

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Ryde Business ForumWe work with quite a few not-for-profit organisations to give them a smart presence on the web. This is Ryde Business Forum's site - RBF is the umbrella Chamber of Commerce for the Ryde area and the site is updated on almost a daily basis. Sabrina Ferguson is responsible for co-designing the site with Martin Sekel of Street View HQ and she maintains the site. Apart from external articles sent in to RBF for the news page, she writes all copy for the site and provides nearly all photographs. Visit the website.