Monday, November 13, 2017

Who needs a professional editor?

The question of who needs a professional editor is one I've come across a number of times. I decided it would be beneficial to post the answer here.

It's important to note that in this instance I'm referring to a WRITING editor. Not a music or video editor.

Firstly, a preamble: What is an editor?  An editor is more than someone who simply checks your grammar. An editor will make suggestions regarding content (when applicable) and style. He or she will check your formatting and lay the document out for publishing whether it be online, as a thesis or scholarly paper, a magazine article, journal, etc 

Who needs an editor?

Anyone writing a document for publication - students, authors, business people.

The reason for this is simple. Even though English may be your first language, it's very hard to spot your own mistakes. And a published document is a representation of you and / or your employer. A published mistake is a slur on your or your employer's reputation. It's no discredit to you to admit you've used an editor - in fact, anyone who knows this will appreciate your professionalism.

Someone who is writing in a language that is not their first language.

It's important to ask a first-language speaker to assist you to check that you've got all the nuances and idiosyncrasies correct. 

Someone who doesn't consider language or writing to be their strength.

We all have different strengths - I have to hire a plumber or a mechanic,  I just can't do those things. Therefore, if you are not confident in your language skills, using them to market your business might not be the best idea.  A recent example I've seen is someone advertising Christmas signs. The signs say (for example) "Christmas at the Smith's". It makes me want to ask "what smith? The blacksmith?

Have a look at my new website, Check My Writing.  Should you still have questions, or feel that YOU need an editor, contact me.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Online marketing and other bits

So, it's been a while since I posted here .... but I met with a friend of mine today who has recently begun working in a start up (they do furniture and woodwork), and being a 'veteran' of being self-employed, I (annoyingly, probably) dished out advice.... but it was a great conversation and got me thinking. There are a number of things I did when I started out, marketing wise and also discipline wise. These things tend to fall by the way side as we go along and sometimes it does us good to remember them and do them again. Also there are things we learn along the way that are good to keep in mind.

1). Take it one day at a time. Sometimes things can get very overwhelming when you've just started out, you're used to having a salary, and suddenly month end is coming and there's no salary. Try to make plans before you start out and cover a few months' rent, medical aid etc. But spending all your time worrying about tomorrow impacts on how productive you can be today.

2). Take marketing breaks not tea breaks. This is something my friend and colleague Alison Fourie of AMF Typing told me. I haven't always followed this, but when I do, my sales esclate.

3). Set up a website. This may not sound like rocket science, but sometimes people are daunted by the whole idea of a website. The advent of things like WordPress, however, make setting up a site much less daunting than it needs to be. You simply register your domain with a service provider, and go from there. If you have funds available you can also employ a web designer. And something I learned after a while is that it's much better to have an email address with your own domain name than with a generic provider.

4). Social media. Social media can be a full time job if you do all the things there are available. There are so many outlets. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Linked In, Google Plus. My feel is that it's better to stick to a few of these and do them properly than go all out with too many and get none of them right. My personal favourites are Facebook, Twitter and Linked In. I feel that they all have different benefits. Linked In in particular is a great place to showcase your experience and skills. But make sure that your profile is extensive and detailed otherwise it may work against you. Facebook is simply the most popular platform. And Twitter has a wide open reach which gives you great exposure.

5). Your work is your reputation. Provide a good quality service and your work will sell itself.

6). Print and distribute brochures, brand your car, put up posters and signs on community boards and in local libraries. Do everything you can to get your name out there.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Send a file from a cellphone to a computer using Whatsapp

More and more people use their smartphones as a means to record and use Whatsapp as a method of communication. 

It often happens then that once the recording is done, they wonder how to get the recording sent to the transcriptionist. 

In a climate that is relying more and more on cellular technology (and where cellphones are used to access the internet more than computers are), I thought it would be worthwhile to explain that it is possible to send audio via Whatsapp to a computer. 

All the client has to do is send the file to your cell number as they would normally send a Whatsapp message. 

You then do the following:
1. Go to settings in your Whatsapp account on your phone. 
2. Click Whatsapp Web
3. Go to on your computer and scan the QR code
4. You will see your messages on the left hand side. 
5. Click on the relevant message and you will be able to download the file. 

You obviously need a good internet connection to do this - I recommend wifi for cellphone and ADSL or wifi for computer. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Tips on Audio Recording

The way that an audio file is recorded greatly influences the quality of the transcript. There’s no two ways about this and no way around it, no matter how good the transcriptionist. Although there is software that can help clean it up this is both time consuming and not always efficient.I do not offer recording as a service as it is a speciality on its own, but there are a number of options you as a client who needs something recorded have. The first is to outsource the function and this is probably the most secure, with the best guarantee that you will get a good recording. For this purpose I recommend AMD Solutions and if you use their services please let them know that I recommended them.

audio_ds-2500__front_left_xlThe second way is to do it yourself. There are a number of ways to do this, and if you talk to the guys at Maynards  they will be able to recommend a good recording solution.  You can also use your cellphone or laptop using recording software, but you may not be guaranteed a good outcome.
If you are doing your own recording, there are some things to bear in mind to make it as clear as possible.
  1. Try to record in a quiet place. Loud background noise, while it may not be obvious to you sitting in a restaurant or shopping centre, is very obvious to the transcriptionist trying to make out a particular voice from many in the background.
  2. Try to minimise distractions such as ringing phones, dogs barking or children making a noise.
  3. If there are a variety of speakers, you can ask each speaker to clearly identify and introduce him or herself.
  4. Record a few seconds of ambient noise. This is the room sounds without anybody talking. This allows anyone cleaning up the recording to use that section of recording as a noise sample and use software to remove that type of noise from the recording.
  5. Try to make sure that all speakers speak directly and clearly into the microphone. If someone is sitting across the table and not speaking into the microphone, that person’s contribution may be lost.
  6. Try not to record in the vicinity of loud machinery or activities.
  7. Some form of noise is inevitable and expected in transcripts, but much can be avoided.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Audacity Noise Removal

I have recently discovered how to clean up audio using the freeware software Audacity and I thought I would share it.

This might not be rocket science to anyone else, but it took me a while to discover.

When I say this I should point out that it is versions of Audacity before version 2.1.0 that I am referring to. You can talk about being on the slow bus, but I haven't figured out the supposedly much improved 'Noise Reduction' function of later versions. Anyway, it's actually fairly simple when you know how.

1) Open Audacity.
2) Load your audio file.
3) Select a small section of the file that contains the noise you want to get rid of.
4) Go to the Noise Removal function in the Effects tab.
5) Click 'Get Noise Profile' and here it will allow you to get a preview of what your new file will sound like.

6) Go back to your file and select the whole thing.
7) Go back to Noise Removal and hit 'remove noise'.

 Bob's your uncle! It takes a while to do fairly big files and then to save them as well - but I have achieved some very good results doing this. It's prudent, if you have any control over how the file is being recorded, to record a few seconds of ambient noise - meaning just room noise without talking. Then, when you get to Audacity, this will be the section you select for your noise profile, and all similar sounding noise will be removed from your file.