Freelance Writer Files: Two Little Words (Or is it One?)

"Rollover" can be a confusing word, but not to your dog.

"Rollover" can be a confusing word, but not to your dog.

When you say, “Rover, roll over!” if he’s trained to do so, he’ll roll his body over. Simple enough. But there is a heck of a lot of confusion among humans over “roll over,” “rollover,” and even “Rollover,” and how to use those words in regard to finances. I’ll admit it is a little tricky, but here’s a quick primer (pronounced “primmer,” not “prymer,” as some national announcers, who shall remain nameless, have begun saying).

1. There’s “roll over” as when you turn on your side to avoid snoring.
2. Then there’s “roll over,” which is what you do to money when you cleverly extract your 401(k) money and magically transfer it into a different 401(k) or an IRA without it going into your hands, thus avoiding paying taxes on it.

Roll over" is when you take money out of your 401(k) and transfer it magically without paying taxes.

Roll over" is when you take money out of your 401(k) and transfer it magically without paying taxes.

3. Then there’s “rollover,” which is what you’ve done. You can even have a Rollover IRA.

To sum it all up:

Need a financial adviser? Don't pick this guy.

Need a financial adviser? Don't pick this guy.

• “Roll over” is a verb form used to request a physical action, as in “Roll over, sweetie, you’re snoring.”
• “Roll over” is also a verb form meaning, “Hey, Herb [your financial adviser]. Take money from my old 401(k) from that crazy sweatshop where I worked until they mercifully canned me, and put it into an IRA.”
• Rollover is a noun that can be used in a sentence like, “I asked Herb to do a rollover of my 401(k) money into an IRA.”
• After Herb fulfilled your request, you could say, “I have a Rollover IRA.”

So don’t ask your dog to do a rollover, or Herb to roll over for you. They just might take it the wrong way.

Freelance Writer Files: Look, Ma! I made an animated video!

This is my first attempt with xtreme media. I was inspired a couple of years ago by a video of a graphic designer and totally clueless client. It was obscene and funny, and completely true, if you know the biz.

Give me a break on the quality. The motions don’t match what I wanted, but I have a request for help in to the company. Maybe more better videos later.

Freelance Writer Files: Need Proooofing?

Someone recently stuck this flyer in my door. I was about to throw it away, when I became riveted by the copy. Not because of the content, but because spelling errors dotted its landscape like landmines. See how many you can spot.

Flyer in desperate need of proofing

Friends don't let friends print flyers until they've been proofread.

I imagine English is not the first language of the author of this flyer. I hope s/he finds someone to look over future advertising pieces. Poor spelling gives the impression you don’t care about detail, at the very least. Or that you are dumb, at the very worst.

Need a good proofreader to make you and your business look its best? Give me a call. 913-236-7595.

Proofreading for That Oh-So-Professional Look

“You only have one chance to make a good first impression.”

You’ve heard that before, I’m sure. So if your first impression with potential clients or customers is in print, you don’t want it filled with misspellings, improper punctuation and lousy grammar. To make sure your communications look intelligent and correct, have a professional proofreader eyeball them before they go public.

Proofreading, like thoracic surgery or window-washing on tall buildings, is something you don’t want to leave to an amateur. No offense, but that includes most people. Heck, you have a business to run. You’re in a hurry. You make a few mistakes.

I worked for a swell ad agency in Omaha awhile back. One of our clients was a local KFC co-op, and we produced window signs for them. As I passed by the window of the production department, I noticed a large KFC sign posted there for all to see. It read as follows:


I asked the production manager what a “bisuit” was, and when she noticed the error, she blanched. She said, “We just printed 500 of those.” Nobody had proofed it before it went to the printer, and the agency had to eat the cost. Oops.

Correct spelling, grammar and punctuation are vital in every communication you send out. That includes e-mails, postcards, brochures, catalogs, letters, advertisements, TV spots or videos, signs, newsletters, business cards, point-of-sale pieces, and whatever else you use to promote your business.

Let’s put it this way: when prospective clients or customers look on the Web for a service you (and competitors) provide, which business will s/he choose to do business with—one whose website is filled with misspelled, poorly punctuated, poorly written text, or one with perfect spelling, grammar and punctuation? All things being equal, I’m betting the customer will go with the one whose website has perfect spelling, grammar and punctuation.

That’s because taking care with the communications you send out absolutely screams, “Professional!” It suggests you take care to do a good job for your customers.

Does correct punctuation really matter? Look at the difference a simple comma makes in the meanings of the following two questions:

Q1: What’s that in the road ahead?

Q2: What’s that in the road, a head?

Point made? Every communication coming from your business should be passed under the eagle eye of a professional proofreader. Even if you’re pretty good at English, it’s hard to proof your own writing. You miss things. Hire a professional proofreader. It’s relatively cheap, and it’s better than looking like a doofus in print. Right?

Did I mention I’m a professional proofreader? Hmm. Good to know. :-) Call me at 913.236.7595, and let’s chat about your proofreading needs.

Goofing off for fun and profit

This time of year, some people are slammed with work to be wrapped up by year’s end, but some people are bored stiff with little to do until after the holidays. Which situation applies to you?

If you’re swamped with projects and wondering if you’ll reach December 31 without going stark raving mad, I sympathize. If you’re twiddling your thumbs until January 1, I can relate. But here are a few things you can do instead of sharpening pencils down to a nub and surfing the Net.

1. Make a To-Do List
Have you neglected some projects around the house? Little, niggly things that kind of bother you but aren’t extremely horrible? Like a loose doorknob or a burned-out light bulb in the garage? Put ’em on the to-do list. Oh, yes—then do them.

Examples include:
• Clean grody-looking switchplates around the house.
• Organize your bureau drawers.
• Sort through your clothes, and donate things you don’t wear to Goodwill.
• Write a sweet note to your mom or dad, your significant other, your son or daughter, or someone else you love or appreciate.

2. Read
If you’re like me, your coffee table is littered with more magazines than you could possibly read. Pick up one or two and enjoy a few articles. Or how about making it at least to the middle of that library book on your nightstand before you have to return it?

3. Phone a friend
Is it kosher to call a person your “friend” if you never contact them except at Christmastime, with a few hurried lines on a greeting card? Why not renew your friendship with a phone call? Cards are cold; calls are warm.

4. Play mind games
Your brain, like your car, needs a tune-up now and than. Online, you can find dozens of free “Brain Games” that will help you improve your memory. And those games are fun, especially as you see your scores improve with practice. Get thee behind me, senility!

5. Take a walk
When my dad was stuck for ideas, he would do what he called “The Hat Trick.” It meant putting on your hat and going out for awhile. Sitting at a computer all day dulls the senses. Your fingers and eyes are active, but what about your glutes and quads—not to mention your creative mind? When weather permits, go out for a walk, even if it’s only around the block. Your mind will be refreshed, and you may bring back some cool new ideas or solutions to problems, too. G’wan, get out there!

The Great Typo Hunt

Here’s an NPR story about a couple of guys who decided to stop fuming about typos on signs and DO something about it!

Just trying to make school more cool?

At the end, readers are invited to tell their most un-favorite typos. Mine is “it’s” in place of “its,” as in “blah blah at it’s best.”

What’s yours?