Tag Archives: Copywriters in Gloucestershire

Atlantic rower Rachel Smith supports The Children’s Society at WinBiz barbeque

Where’s the time gone? Over a month since my last post – a Shetland trip, a couple of weekends away (including the amazing Adventure Travel Film Festival at Sherborne) and loads of head-down copywriting have kept this Gloucestershire copywriter away from WordPress. Sorry!

To business, and this is an unashamed plug for the forthcoming charity fundraising barbeque by WinBiz Networking at The Hunter’s Hall Inn, Kingscote, Tetbury, on September 11th 2014, at 18.30 (until 21.00). A big chunk of the proceeds (and raffle takings) will be going to The Children’s Society, the WinBiz charity of the year for 2014. You can book here.

Highlight of the evening will be a talk by record-breaking transatlantic rower Rachel Smith, who has kindly waived her usual public-speaking fee to join us. Add in a raffle and delicious food (indoor or outdoors depending on the weather and this promises to be an amazing evening – and a bargain ticket price too!

rachel smith transatlantic rower

Rachel Smith speaks in support of The Children’s Society at the WinBiz Networking barbeque on 11 September 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More information and booking details are on the WinBiz Networking website (discounted early-bird ticket prices end on 7 September!).

If adventure travel, rowing, barbeques or just plain old networking ‘float your (rowing) boat’, this has to be a don’t-miss evening. Please book now and support a great cause – The Children’s Society.

Al Hidden is an experienced Gloucestershire based copywriter specialising in Marketing, Web/SEO, technical and PR copywriting.

Disappearing files (or why Word users should understand FAT32 and NTFS)

I use Microsoft Word. You probably use Word. And we both know it can be a pain. As a busy Cheltenham-based copywriter, I recently had a weird experience with disappearing MS Word 2003 files (I have no idea whether the same thing can happen with later versions). In fact, it was more than weird, it was frustrating as anything and it coat me quite a few hours before I (fingers crossed) got to the bottom of it. What was even more frustrating was that online forums, though alluding to the symptoms, didn’t give me a fast answer. Eventually, my own trial and error and a forum post that I hadn’t picked up on before, gave me the answer. I’ve put things right now and all seems to be well with Word.

So just in case you run into any of these symptoms or weird error messages, here’s what happened. It all started with the appearance of worrying error messages (including those listed below) when I was working on a suite of SEO category pages for a client. All was going swimmingly until MS Word suddenly closed – taking my website copywriting with it. Worse of all, in Windows Explorer, the files had changed to 1 kb files. When opened, these contained a few lines of gibberish. Nothing more.

Error messages sent to torment a Cheltenham copywriter

 

 

 

Ominous error messages

Here are extracts from some of the MS Word error messages I encountered:

‘Word cannot complete the save due to a file permission error…’

‘There is an unrecoverable disk error on file… the disk you are working on has a media problem that prevents Word from saving it…’

‘Word failed reading from the file (…). Please restore the network connection or replace the floppy disk and retry.’

‘Word has lost data due to a bad network connection or missing floppy. Documents relying on this data are going to be saved and then closed.’

‘Word experienced an error trying to open the file. Try these suggestions. Check the file permissions for the document or drive. Make sure there is sufficient free memory and disk space. Open the file with the Text Recovery converter.’

‘Do you want to retry the save.’

‘Word has insufficient memory. Do you want to save “…” as Rescued document…’

Not what a busy copywriter wants to see

None of these is what a busy copywriter (or any other MS Word user) wants to see – especially when they accompany the complete loss of the document and your last couple of hours’ work. And just for the record, there was plenty of free space on the disks, I wasn’t using a floppy disk, and the hard drives had all been tested and were in good condition.

As Toyah Willcox once sang, it was a mystery.

More hair tearing and brow furrowing followed, along with re-installation of MS Word, virus and malware checking with every application on my system and half-a-dozen online scanners too. And all the time, it was one of the busiest periods of the year so far… The last thing I needed was lost content, lost documents and lost time. Worst of all, when I sought fresh perspectives, the ominous spectre of a complete Windows re-install kept coming up.

Out of desperation  I started working with Apache Open Office and that pretty much solved the problem – except that I couldn’t use the MS Word spelling, grammar and readability checks or run PerfectIT. So it wasn’t ideal and certainly wasn’t a sustainable long-term fix.

FAT32 formatting and Truecrypt virtual volumes

The clue to the eventual solution came from the references to disks and media. Then IT expert Tim Isles mentioned the problems that FAT32 formatting on removable disks can cause.  And that got me thinking, because the problems always seemed to occur when I was working off virtual disks created using TrueCrypt volumes.

A quick check of the formats revealed that I’d created the volumes using FAT32 instead of NTFS. And then I found an obscure reference to this online. In one forum, symptoms akin to those I’d seen had been reported to anti-virus company F-Secure. And they had mentioned the problems with FAT32 formatting. That was when I created new volumes in TrueCrypt, made sure they were formatted to NTFS and started using Word 2003 again. And everything has been working fine for several weeks.

Result!

By the way, an interesting coda to the story came when I worked on a MS Word 2003 file that was on a removable SD card. Exactly the same symptoms occurred and of course, when I checked the SD card I found that it was formatted as FAT32.

If you’re baffled by similar symptoms and error messages, this could be the answer you’re looking for. If it is, I’m pleased to have helped.

 

is an experienced Gloucestershire based copywriter specialising in Marketing, Web/SEO, technical and PR copywriting.

Dru yoga comes to a copywriter’s rescue…

It’s been a week or so now since we did Airbuses and barking dogs. Forgive me for the longer than usual break, but two things have conspired to make blogging a mightier-than ever challenge. Life as a Cheltenham copywriter would have been a whole lot more difficult if it hadn’t been for the generous help of a neighbour who teaches Dru Yoga.

First, there’s been a very welcome rush of work requiring quotes – and writing! That’s a good problem. Spring is well and truly sprung and several projects that have been in the pipeline for a while have finally gone live. I’ve got SEO copywriting, client case studies, website product and category page writing and more on the go at the moment. All my favourite stuff. Lovely!

But circumstances have conspired to make looking after clients and getting work done harder than usual. Last week, some thieving toe-rags decided to vandalise (or try to steal) the copper wires in my telephone exchange here in Cheltenham. Nicking copper has to be the big growth industry around here – as elsewhere in the UK at the moment.  Anyway, the result was that several hundred Cheltenham properties have been phone-less since the middle of last week. That’s never happened before…

Combine the two events and you’ll understand why being a Cheltenham copywriter has been less than easy since 27/3/13. BT says the phone line will be fixed by tonight, but the day’s nearly over and it ain’t working yet.

The last couple of days have been made easier by the generosity of one of my neighbours, Dru Yoga practitioner Karan Walsh. Karan very kindly let me access her Wireless-Internet. It hasn’t been ideal, because I’ve had to work on the 15-inch screen confines of my laptop, but it’s been a whole load better than trying to work with an old dial-up connection as I did for the first few days… Thank you Karan.

‘Glacial’ is the word that comes to mind. How did we ever manage back in the old days?

So, by way of a thank you to Karan, here’s a link to her Dru Yoga in Cheltenham page on yogahub. She’s a great yoga instructor and passionate as anything about the Dru variety. If you’ve never tried yoga, give it a whirl (Mrs H did and loves it).

On the other hand, if you’re more interested in getting copywriting off your to-do list, please contact me. I’ll write while you go to Karan’s yoga class!

is an experienced Gloucestershire based copywriter specialising in Marketing, Web/SEO, technical and PR copywriting.

Copywriters: look after your clients during the hard times ahead

I read an interesting article on the LBC 97.3 FM website over the festive season. It was titled ‘UK Economy: Workers Face A “Hard Year Of Slog” ‘ and it summarised a number of reports that are warning of a tough 2013 in the UK jobs market.

No surprises then. We know its tough and it isn’t going to get better for a while. Quoting Dr John Philpott, director of The Jobs Economist,  the piece said: ‘workers can expect longer hours, a continued squeeze on pay and fewer jobs being created’.

But what does this mean for copywriters in Cheltenham or elsewhere in the UK? If organisations find themselves caught between the need to promote themselves through recession  and pressure to get the most out of a limited number of people, I believe that this will only increase the value of professional independent copywriters. Small, responsive organisations like mine who offer good value and get the job done fast and accurately with inspired copywriting.

Whether we’re supporting hard-pressed in-house writers or being the sole copywriting resource for an organisation on a ‘power-by-the-hour’ basis, we’re going to be in demand. At this point, it could be tempting to get greedy and exploit the situation in the short-term. Instead, I advocate continuing with fair pricing and great value for outsourced copywriting. What goes around comes around. By playing fair and not exploiting our position when times are hard, we should be in a strong position when the good times return.

From experience with my lovely clients, most have long memories and will remember how we treat them.  Helping helping them through the tough times looks like a great way to build strong, sustainable working relationships – and the decent thing to do. That’s the kind of partnership that leads to profitable long-term repeat business.

They say it costs five times more to win a new client as to look after an existing one. I’ll be looking after my clients through the hard times. Will you be doing the same?

Happy New Year everybody.

is an experienced Gloucestershire based copywriter specialising in Marketing, Web/SEO, technical and PR copywriting.

Business computing pre-Microsoft: the Hidden connection

I learned to drive in an unmissable Texas Yellow Volkswagen Variant back in the 1970s. I remember that car because (as well as being a surprisingly fast-for-the-time fuel-injected 1600) my dad bought it new in 1971 when he co-wrote a book on business computing with his former colleague Edward Lowe.

Recently, in a rare (there’s lots to keep us copywriters in Gloucestershire busy) idle moment, I did an Amazon search for the book. I was delighted to find copies of Computer Control in Process Industries on the Internet bookseller that I use to increase my writing knowledge, as well as an entry in Google Books. Copies in the UK and North America started at £0.01. I bought one for my technology-mad nephew in Germany – a nice reminder of what his late grandfather once wrote.

Computer Control in Process Industries

I’m sure I got some of my interest in writing from Dad. As a university lecturer and researcher, he was always penning something – whether it was lectures for his students, this book, or information about the wave-power energy research he did later in the 1970s. It must have rubbed off and helped to shape the interests and skills that subsequently led me into my copywriting career. It’s a shame, however, that Dad died before I set up my own freelance copywriting business. I hope he’d have been proud of what I’ve achieved since 2006.

My search for his book prompted me to take a look through my own copy. Even a quick scan of the index highlights the hugely changed world that we occupy. It’s a world where IT and the Internet determine large chunks of my work. It struck me as interesting that Dad was already writing about business computing when ARPANET, the prototype for the Internet, was just a year or so old. And as for Messrs Gates, Joy, Jobs and other shapers of the online world we now live and work in? There isn’t a mention of them, or their subsequent companies in the book. Hardly surprising, given that a teenage Bill Gates was still burning the midnight oil and developing his coding skills at CCC while dad and his co-writer penned their book at the end of the 1960s.

The computing environments described in Computer Control in Process Industries have changed beyond recognition since 1971. What’s more, the chapter titled ‘The Future’ only hints at the massive changes that have taken place over the following four decades.  What struck me most of all was how, thanks to technology that’s evolved since that yellow VW turned up on our drive, I can now locate copies of Dad’s work around the world. And thanks to Google Books, parts at least of the book’s contents should be online for ever.

Oh yes. It’s interesting when you go back and explore the roots of your career as a Gloucestershire copywriter.

is an experienced Gloucestershire based copywriter specialising in Marketing, Web/SEO, technical and PR copywriting.

Guest copywriter on organic Shetland lamb, beef and wool blog

Like copywriters everywhere, copywriters in Gloucestershire need a break every now and then. I must have enjoyed last week’s trip to Shetland, because here’s my second post on the subject in a week!

Clift Sound: Uradale organic lamb is reared on its shore

In my last post I referenced my visit to Uradale Farm, high above Scalloway, west of Lerwick. While there, I was persuaded to put my writing head on and do a guest post for the Uradale blog. After having been filled with delicious organic lamb and learning about the philosophy behind Ronnie and Sue’s venture, what could I say, but yes.

Uradale already supplies several discerning butchers elsewhere in Great Britain. If you fancy some of the tastiest, most natural meat or wool you’ll ever find, get in touch and order direct from the farm. Next-day delivery is possible across the UK: beats your local Tescasdasons any day!

Uradale cows: beef as well as organic Shetland lamb

After several intense months of writing for a variety of clients in and around Gloucestershire, and elsewhere in the UK, Shetland provided a wonderful change of scene. I may have returned to Cheltenham with a summer cold, but also with newly recharged batteries and a desire not to leave it so long before getting back up to the Shetland Isles.

In the meantime, I’ve also created a dedicated copywriters for Shetland page on my website. I’m not strictly a Shetland copywriter, but now I’ve written for Uradale, and with plans afoot to write for Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary, I can certainly offer my services as a wordsmith for other Shetland organisations. We’ll see what happens…

You can read more about Uradale organic Shetland lamb, beef and wool here…

is an experienced Gloucestershire-based copywriter specialising in Marketing, Web/SEO, technical and PR copywriting.

Pro bono charity copywriting in Shetland

I was up in Shetland recently, enjoying a week of great weather, delicious food and good company with family. As one of the busy copywriters in Gloucestershire, I really needed a break. Mrs H and I have visited Shetland before, and it’s always been a rewarding experience. This time was no exception – in more ways than one.

Trondra, Shetland

Another pro bono copywriting client

As well as getting roped in to do a guest blog entry for a local organic lamb and beef farm at Uradale, above Scalloway, I also added another animal welfare charity to my select portfolio of pro bono copywriting causes.

 

Gloucestershire copywriter and otters crossing sign in Shetland

I like to help worthwhile causes

As I’ve said before, one of the founding principles of my freelance copywriter business was to use my skills to help worthwhile causes. Sometimes, this means pro bono work; for others, it means a discounted copywriting rate. And of course, I’ve got to relate to the cause. Otherwise, it’s impossible to write with passion and conviction. Since 2007, I’ve written regularly for the North Devon Animal Ambulance (NDAA). I’ve learned that behind most animal welfare stories there’s a human benefit too. I like that.

Seal pup at Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary, Shetland

Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary, Shetland

While up in Shetland, a chance meeting with Jan Bevington, founder of the Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary, led to me offering my copywriting services for newsletter, website and brochure writing. Her response was positive, so I’m looking forward to promoting Hillswick’s otter and seal rescue work over the months ahead.

You can read more here…

is an experienced Gloucestershire based copywriter specialising in Marketing, Web/SEO, technical and PR copywriting.