Professionally Proofed

Professionally Proofed

Starting from Scratch

January 31st, 2015 by

how-it-works3When I was a kid, I used to infuriate my mom because I had an intense yearning to understand how things work.  This wouldn’t have been a problem at all (I think my mom really liked my curiosity); however, it usually resulted in me taking apart everything I could get my hands on in my room with a screwdriver.

I distinctly remember taking apart a calculator in my room, looking at the basic circuit board inside, pulling off every piece inside I could, and putting it back together.  The only problem with this was that I had two pieces left over when I was finished and the calculator didn’t work.  At that point, sadly, I didn’t have a very good understanding of how a calculator worked.  I just understood that there was a board inside, and I didn’t know what all the stuff on the board did.

This curiosity has followed me into adulthood.  I don’t often take things apart any more; however, I love to build things from scratch and learn how things are put together and work.  I have done this with computers, and I am now doing it often with websites. Continue reading »

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Wayback Machine Nostalgia

January 29th, 2015 by

wayback-machine-logoI’ve been on a walk down memory lane.  I started doing stuff on the web around 2006 when I started a blog to rant about politics.  It garnered a few followers, like-minded people and people who disagreed with me completely, and I enjoyed my time on there writing and having people to discuss things with that were educated and interested in the same things I was.

Then, at the end of 2006, my friend gave me a domain name and hosting space for Christmas.  He said he would pay for it for a year, and he gave me a few lessons about web design and a book about CSS to work from.  I designed and maintained a few sites at that time, and I started to use a classroom website with a Google calendar and linkable assignments, a practice that would become (and still is) an obsession.

As my skills improved and my need to blog became paramount, I started a blog called “The Multifaceted Me.”  I was never good at niche blogging.  My interests are very diverse, I’m terrible at having more than one blog (I know….I tried), and I have a pretty good case of adult ADD that doesn’t allow me to focus on one thing for too long.  I’m blaming that for my inability to write the great American novel. Continue reading »

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SEO Fundamentals: Audiobook Review

January 28th, 2015 by

seo-fundamentalsI spent 5 hours in a car last night, so I thought I would take the opportunity to educate myself on a subject I know very little about–SEO.  So, I downloaded SEO Fundamentals from the SEO University from Audible on to my iPhone and started my education into the world of search engine optimization.

Let’s start with the audiobook.  It is well written, easy to follow, and thorough in its discussion of the topic.  It starts with the very basics: what is SEO, how Google’s algorithms have changed over the years, and what the basic goals of an SEO campaign are for a company rolling out a website.  Most of this information was a review to me.  I don’t know a lot about SEO, but I know the basics.  The part that was new and particularly interesting was the discussion of changes to Google’s algorithms.

About 10 years ago Google was losing the war against spammers who were artificially inflating page ranks of sites and domains through unethical means (key word stuffing, link farming, spamming, etc.).  Their algorithm wasn’t filtering out this irrelevant content that was being rocketed up the search pages by SEO masters regardless of the quality of the content within them. Continue reading »

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Building Online Urgency

January 27th, 2015 by

Sense-Of-UrgencyStarting a business offline, in the real world, is scary.  There are a ton of overhead costs.  You have to secure a space, buy product, and attract customers through advertising.  I have friends with small businesses, and they work all the time.  They are always at the store, or on the phone, or at the computer crunching numbers.  There is a fierce urgency in what they are doing because the margins are razor thin in the real world, and profit is hard to come by because of the initial (and on-going) costs of doing business.

Starting a business online is completely different.  I believe that most online businesses are started by people like me.  People who have other jobs to pay the bills and who are starting an online business because they love to do something and would love to make a little money for it.  While the passion is good and keeps you motivated, the online world doesn’t inspire as much fear and urgency as the real world.  It’s cheap to start a business online.  A domain name is $10/year or so, hosting space is < $120/year, and a business license is < $50.  Of course, there could be a few other costs, but those are the minimums to get started.

So, with the cost of starting a business being way less than an average car payment, how do you create the sense of urgency that will make you successful? Continue reading »

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Frequently Confused Words

January 26th, 2015 by

unsure_emoticonSo far on the blog, I’ve focused on web design and tech. I love web design and technology, and I’ve found interesting things to write about on design and technology. So, that’s really been my focus so far.

However, we at Professionally Proofed offer other services as well.  One of my favorite services and most misunderstood is proofreading and editing.  While getting my haircut yesterday, I told the hairdresser that I was an English teacher, and the first two things out of her mouth were the first two things that I always hear when I tell people what I do:

“Well, I’m terrible at English, and I better watch how I speak…ha ha!”

It used to upset me that people stereotyped me as this weird guy with a red pen copy editing the world, but I think I now understand where it’s coming from, and I now have thicker skin for things like that anyway–probably a by-product of age.

With that being said, I would like to do some posts about frequently misused or misunderstood aspects of the English language.  This may include a series on how to quit abusing the lowly apostrophe, but I haven’t decided yet.  Today, I wanted to look at a few pairs of words that are often confused and give you a tip or two for distinguishing between them in your writing. Continue reading »

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Sunday School: Scott Young at TED

January 25th, 2015 by

I really want to blog everyday, but I also need to have days that I can blog quickly and spend time with my family.  So, I think I’m going to start a “Sunday School” column, where I share a video or a tutorial for learning that someone else has done.

This week’s comes from TED.  Scott Young did all the coursework for a 4-year degree from MIT in one year.  He shares his experience and insights below.

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Web Design Toolkit: Colour Lovers

January 24th, 2015 by

ZapotecI’m not an artist, and I’m especially not one when it comes to colors.  I mostly wear earth tones and purple (I’m not sure what my fascination with purple is), and I tend to think most colors look fine together, but I tend not to care.

Unfortunately, in web design, I have to care a whole lot.  Color schemes and palettes make the difference between a good design and a great design.  I tend to think that color and typography are the two most important elements in a design, and I’m definitely lacking in my eye for color.  In the past, I have overcome this limitation by stealing colors from logos and images that I was using in the site to make sure everything coordinated.  This was generally a good strategy, and it’s one I still use. Continue reading »

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Old Reliable

January 23rd, 2015 by

google-formsWell, we had our first hiccup on our website.  For a day, we didn’t have a functioning contact form.  So, if any readers tried to contact us yesterday or this morning, we didn’t get the email.  We’re very sorry, but please send it again, and we’ll be happy to help you.

So…what happened?

I love using Google Forms for everything.  They make great contact forms, quizzes, data collection mechanisms, surveys, etc.  I have been able to use them in lots of creative ways, and they never fail me.  However, they aren’t really pretty.  On the old Google Forms, you could make your form transparent, and it would blend into your website seamlessly.  With that functionality gone, you are left with Google’s default styling and colors (although this is getting better and much easier to work with). Continue reading »

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Peek User Testing Review

January 22nd, 2015 by

peeklogoA month ago when I was doing research for starting an online business, I listened to a podcast that suggested using Peek User Testing to get feedback on a website.  I thought it sounded like a great idea, so when I finished the first iteration of, I went over to their website ( and followed the instructions to have them test my site.

What Peek advertises is to have a random internet user use your site for 5 minutes while recording their thoughts, and that you can receive three of these tests a month for free.  This is an amazingly useful tool when designing a site and starting a business, so I was excited to get feedback and hear from users about our site.

What I got was a mixed bag. Continue reading »

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What I’ve learned starting an online business

January 21st, 2015 by

business-plan-concept-23869209I never really saw myself as an online business owner.  Any dreams of starting my own business were of the “one day I’d like to own a coffee shop or a book store” variety, more ways to feed my obsessions than actually make money.  They were always abstract too.  I’m a teacher.  That’s what I do.  It’s my passion.  So, there really wasn’t a reason for me to pursue something else.

That being said, I do have a lot of passions outside of the teaching field.  I love to read and write.  I love computers, and I love the power of the internet to bring people together and to give people a voice.  For many years, I blogged.  I wrote about politics, religion, philosophy, and sports.  I dabbled in web design, creating my own blog templates and designing sites for schools I worked in.  The web was a playground, not really a place for me to make money or do business.

Then one day Shanda came home and said her boss needed help with her website and that she would pay me to help her do a few things.  Two meetings later and I had been hired to completely redesign a website for a small business. Continue reading »

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