Thursday, October 27, 2011

punctuation speculation

They're little, but they're mighty. They have the ability to entirely change the meaning of a sentence. And they also have the power to make a respectable business look a bit less credible. We're talking about punctuation, folks. Let's look at a few examples to show how an intended message can quickly be misunderstood when punctuation is used improperly--or when it's missing entirely. Here's one example you may have seen already:

Let's eat, grandma!


Let's eat grandma!

Hmmm. I'm doubt many of you are particularly interested in sampling your own grandmother (or anyone else's!), so I'm pretty sure the first sentence is the correct one. See how important that little comma is?

Ah, the commonly confused "your" vs. "you're."Not to be crass, but this is a fun one (courtesy Terribly Write):

I saw this next one on Facebook first (and I "liked" it, of course!), but it could have originated anywhere. Again, apologies for the foul language, but I believe this gets the point across:

"An apostrophe is the difference between a business that knows its shit and a business that knows it's shit."

These are just a few examples of punctuation gone awry, and I'm sure you could provide many more. Feel free to share grammar goofs you've seen--or perhaps even made--here!

Monday, October 24, 2011

the business of small business

I guess I was, in a way, destined to become an entrepreneur. Or at the very least, I set my sights on working for a small, locally-0wned company. Because when I look back, that's all I've ever done. Here's a quick overview of my job history (excluding a smattering of part-time summer jobs and student-worker stints in college):

As a junior high student, I had a paper route delivering my hometown's weekly paper. I think I made about $15/month--but it was money I earned on my own, and that felt great. I still have fond memories of waking up before sunrise, donning my walkman, and trudging through the neighborhood, placing papers on doorsteps or, in wet or snowy weather, inside storm doors.

In high school I worked for a local commercial cleaning company, scrubbing and scouring offices, corporate bathrooms, and and assortment of bank lobbies. I definitely learned to appreciate those who harbor behind-the-scenes type-jobs.

After college I landed a job as a customer service rep at a family-owned music store. I was there for four years and learned a ton about treating customers with respect and how to work as part of a team. In a way, it was this job that allowed me to hone my writing skills in the commercial world as I created flyers, brochures, and even wrote an article for a music trade magazine.

Although these jobs required totally different skills, they all have one thing in common: not one of these companies is owned by a big-time corporation. They're all local products of their respective communities, and are all very in touch with the folks they deal with on a daily basis. I took many experiences away from each job, but the singular message I've kept in mind is that through hard work and treating people well, a small business can indeed be successful.

So here I am, many (exact number undisclosed :) ) years later, running my own business. And after having this opportunity, it's hard to imagine doing things any other way. Plus I have total respect for other small business owners. I try to patronize them whenever possible.

How about you? What types of small business to you support?

Thursday, October 06, 2011

the coffeehouse writer I sit, undisturbed (i.e., no young children calling, "Mom! Mom?") with a cup of steamy coffee before me. I've got my laptop. I've got my cell (which I just used to take a call from my husband, who informed me of an incident involving our two-year-old, her diaper, and a certain mess that resulted from her taking said diaper off...but that's for another post). I've got ideas flowing for a project I'm working on.

Where am I? Certainly not at home. I'm at the local coffeehouse. As much as I love working from home, sometimes I love working away from home more. The change in scenery does wonders for one's concentration level...and the caffeine doesn't hurt, either.

As my mind wandered a few minutes ago (can't seem to avoid that fate!), I began considering changing my business name from Cassie Hart Copywriting & Editorial Services to something more, well, business sounding. Without my name included. I came up with Coffeehouse Copywriting. Given the fact that I am, indeed, a coffee junkie, and that I enjoy the atmosphere of coffeehouses, the name seems to fit. Of course, I'd have to get all new business cards and re-create my website, which I don't really have time to do. But it's a viable thought for the future.

All this leads me to a question for my fellow biz owners: how did you come up with your business name?

Sunday, October 02, 2011

business x 2

How many entrepreneurs do you know who run more than one business? The more entrepreneurs/solo-preneurs I meet, the more I notice folks really taking charge of their own careers. This sometimes means adding a second "job" just to make ends meet, but more often it means having two careers because they have a passion in different areas. Sometimes the two paths are related; sometimes they're not.

I'm one of those folks. I've actually been playing music longer than I've been writing professionally. For a while I worked full-time at a music store and played lots of gigs. Then I left my job, went back to grad school and supplemented my meager assistantship with my gig income. After graduating, I launched my freelance writing career while continuing to play music as often as possible. Then I had my first daughter and the music had to be scaled back a bit. And then the economy tanked, plus I had another child, and gigs became almost non-existent. It was sad in a way, but since I was busy with other walks of life, I didn't miss the music aspect that much.

But then I played a gig this summer. And I reunited with some very good music friends. We had a blast playing our gig at the Uptown Normal Farmer's Market. And I decided I wanted to do this again. My husband convinced me I needed my own website and since he's a smart one--and a successful musician/composer as well--I took his advice.

Enter Cassie Hart & Friends: The Official Website. It's a long time coming, but now it's live and I'd love for you to check it out!

I realize this post doesn't have much to do with copywriting. But it's got a lot to do with my life. If you are reading this because you're a friend, you'll probably be happy to hear I've taken this step. If you're reading because you are considering hiring a writer and you happened to stumble on my blog, thanks for your consideration! I hope this post provides another look at me and the areas I'm passionate about.

I'm looking forward to embarking on not only new, interesting and challenging writing projects, but to jumping back into making music again. Here's to you, readers, and to whatever stirs YOUR passion!