You Can’t Always Get What You Want….

Okay, I just celebrated my first year as a full time freelance writer, and I am discovering that it is an agreeable thing to be able to do; to write for a living, from the comfort of my own home, setting my own schedule, and generally doing things, as Mr. Sinatra so eloquently put it, my way.  Right now I’m enjoying a solid workload that keeps me busy, grateful for opportunity, and glad that there are still some folks out there who believe real talent is actually worth paying for.

A few months ago I experienced a period where I had more work than I could handle, and I reached out to a fellow writer I knew to see if they would like to take some of my overflow. Much to my surprise, they refused. Rather than take a writing assignment that would pay them real money and add to their resume, they chose to opt out. The reason? Well, it wasn’t what they were about, and they would rather write novels or poetry.

Well, you know what? So would I. I’d much rather live a Stephen King existence of pounding out tales of suspense and terror in my downstairs room (if I had a downstairs) and earning a reputation as the scary old guy that lives at the end of the road. It is certainly much more colorful than writing blogs about water damage or e-mail marketing. No argument here at all.

Unfortunately, no one is paying me or offering me an advance to take any of the story ideas currently jangling around in my head and put them down on paper.  They are however, paying me to write blogs and press releases and web content….and I’d much rather be a writer getting paid for what I do than a wannabe with a lot of dreams and empty pockets.

If you want to write, then write. Write in whatever form, for whatever gig you can find. Maybe one day you’ll be able to enjoy life as a novelist or a screenwriter, but for now, use your talent however you can. It may not be glamorous, but when people ask me what I do for a living, I still get to say “I’m a writer” with complete honesty.  It doesn’t get any better than that.

If you want to do something bad enough, you’ll do it. And if you are fortunate enough to make your living at something you love, then the cliche’ about never working a day in your life more than applies.  Quit dreaming and start doing….you might be surprised where it ends up taking you.

Now go therefore and write well…..

E-mail Marketing – Top Ten Best Practices…

Even though it has been in vogue for over twenty years, and even with numerous advances in technology, e-mail remains one of the simplest and most effective mediums for transmitting messages and information, and the world of e-mail marketing remains as busy as ever.

That being said, there are right ways and wrong ways to take advantage of e-mail in order to successfully market and generate more leads for your business. Often, e-mail marketing campaigns fall flat due to simple mistakes that render them either unreadable or indecipherable. Your e-mail marketing campaign can be enhanced by following a few simple rules.

1) Get The Most Out Of Your Subject Line – this is after all the first thing recipients are going to see, so make it go to work for you. Utilize a “tease” that will prompt folks to actually read the rest of it. Incentives such as a generous coupon or discount offer work wonders, and can generate a much higher opening rate. 69% of users base their decision to open an e-mail on what they see in the subject line.

2) Keep It Readable – remember that designs and graphics may look different on somebody else’s e-mail program than they do on yours. Try to confine your e-mail marketing to text only. You can always include a link to HTML versions of the message if there are images or graphics that you think folks just have to see.

3) Cut Down On Multiple Typefaces – once you utilize more than 3 different typefaces, your e-mail marketing message just starts looking cluttered. If at all possible, keep it to 2 different typefaces (or less). A uniform appearance will do much to translate into a higher click through rate.

4) Make Sure The Return Address Looks Trustworthy – You don’t open junk mail from dubious sources. Likewise, seeing a return e-mail addy such as 1Z-mailinglist-16-06-07@domain.com looks far less impressive than billy@billydritchie.org. Putting a name on the product makes it more personal, and establishes a level of trust.

5) Your Call To Action: Learn It, Know It, Live It – You’re sending this e-mail to people for a reason, to generate a response and earn their business. Determine your call to action and use it no less than three times during the course of the message. The first use of the call to action should be “above the fold”, early in the body of the e-mail.

6) Know Your Enemy – Spam filters are getting progressively more sophisticated, and the last thing you want is for your valuable message to get caught in one. So don’t use methods designed to catch their attention, such as subject lines in all caps, or by using popular spam keywords such as “free” or “money”. Remember, your message only works if it actually reaches the end user.

7) Make E-mail Marketing An Extension Of Your Home Page – Make sure the tone and content of your e-mail marketing message accurately reflects the tone and content of the landing page you are directing your prospects to. You can also utilize tracking tools to see which pages perform the best and generate the most productive results.

8) Bigger Isn’t Always Better – Keep your e-mail marketing message 500-650 pixels wide. Any larger and your audience will have to scroll horizontally to read the e-mail. This is a guaranteed turn off.

9) Maximize Your Company Logo – Studies have shown that folks almost always check out the upper left corner of an e-mail message. This is where return addresses were found on most traditional snail mail, and it is the perfect place for your company logo in an e-mail message. Never miss a corporate branding opportunity!

10) Conduct The Five Second Test – Send the e-mail to a friend who will be blunt with you. See if they can quickly determine what your call to action is. If they can, you’re in good shape. If they are scratching their head, you should probably back up and take another run at it.

Even in 2011, e-mail marketing is still one of the most effective yet unobtrusive methods for getting your message or product out to the largest number of people. Knowing the rules, being aware of what works and what doesn’t, and observing proper “netiquette” will go a long way towards impressing potential customers, and growing your business.

Just Enough Turbulence To Make It Interesting….

I love to fly, although for the life of me I can’t figure out why.  Other than the momentary rush of adrenaline that coincides with the moment that you actually part company with the ground, most of these trips are spent staring vacantly into the back of the seat in front of you, the only excitement being the arrival of the snack cart and hoping you don’t pitch your Diet Coke into the lap of the guy in the business suit snoring away in the next seat.  Beyond that, there isn’t much to get excited about.

The only thing that breaks up the boredom and provides a thrill, however momentary, is the occasional bout of turbulence; you know, where the plane hits a bit of wind or rough air and jostles you about, creating an uncomfortable silence in the unwarranted (but very real) anticipation of screaming downwards to certain, fiery death.  Turbulence has a way of shaking up the mundane.  You never know when it’s coming, it may be mild, or it may cause the craft to take an unearthly plunge that causes you to begin making all kinds of deals with God that you both know will be abandoned the moment things straighten out again.

But you have to admit, the turbulence does make the ride infinitely more interesting.  It’s not something we welcome, and in extreme cases it can make for some rather unfortunate results, but it is unavoidable and serves to stir the puddin’ from time to time.

So it is with life.  Many of us, this author included, tend to get our knickers in a twist when things in life go awry, but the other option is going through life staring at the back of the seat in front of us, which we have already established as ten of the most boring activities you’ll ever know.  Turbulence in our lives, those unforeseen, unpredictable shakeups that turn everything on its ear and make us look at life differently should be looked at healthily, as a welcome diversion from mediocrity.

I’m no Biblical scholar, but Scripture tells us to “count it all joy” when troubles come our way, because the testing produced through such produces character, deepens faith, and strengthens resolve.  For those of us in the arts, it also makes for incredible moments of inspiration….just look at the number of movies, books, and songs based on love lost through heartache, separation, or death.

Life has sometimes been referred to as everything that happens on the way to our goals.  Reaching a goal is nice, to be sure, but often the trip getting there is far more interesting.  The unexpected twists, turns, and drops that we encounter shape us, making us who we are and defining our lives, dreams, personalities, expectations, and even talents.

If you’re reading this, then chances are that you are a writer of some sort, like me.  Unless you have lived life, then you aren’t going to have much to write about.  And spending your days staring at the back of the seat in front of you doesn’t exactly make for much in the way of inspiration.  Every bump in the road deepens us a little more, better defines us as people, and for the writer, provides a font of inspiration to draw from.

Learn to find opportunity in the storms of your life.  That doesn’t mean we wish disaster upon ourselves or anything of the sort, but sometimes just enough turbulence to keep things interesting can make for good things in our lives.  It’s really a simple process……live it, learn from it, and then put it on paper in some form for the rest of us.

Now go therefore and write well…..

The Write Element….

So you’re a writer.  Perhaps you’re a staff writer like me, writing articles and copy to support a given company.  Or perhaps you’re a storyteller, a weaver of tales, stimulating the mind and imagination with wondrous stories of character, drama, romance, and adventure.

No matter what area of writing you work in, there is an element of creativity involved, that inspirational muse that is so often elusive but that we must capture and wrestle with in order to produce really good material.  Capturing that inspiration may prove problematic, and many times it involves finding the creative environment from which we are best able to work.

For me, I was given little choice.  Working for a company means a certain number of hours per day, and being there during a given time.  Trying to produce a good work between 9AM and 5PM when your daily creative peak is typically between 10PM and 2AM often leaves me in somewhat of a literary pickle.

Fortunately, I found a good compromise, as my employer was very flexible on when we worked our hours.  Gradually, I became a morning person, usually arriving at the office very early, 2 or 3 hours before anybody else starts showing up.  I rapidly discovered that I was able to get a lot done during that time.  Once other bodies began inhabiting the premises, it is far easier to be distracted and jolted out of your creative zone.

You may not be confined by an offsite office….you may have the luxury of working from your home, on your own terms.  I did this for over twenty years, and I discovered that it is still important to maintain some level of isolation from various distractions.  My then-wife would often ask me to come help with the kids or laundry or some other household chore during my work hours.  I had to remind her that I was working and request that interruptions cease unless somebody had an artery bleeding out or something generally as urgent.

If I am away from work and working on my own material, I like to find a good, inviting area to work.  I particularly enjoy coffee shops, even though I don’t drink coffee, the atmosphere is usually agreeably subdued, and the surroundings lend themselves to inspiration.

Okay, now you have your space….so what do you do with it?  Fortunately, my co-workers and I agree on one thing….keeping the office dark.  There are no lights except for what comes in through the windows, creating a subdued and relaxed atmosphere that I find very easy to work in.  You on the other hand, may want your space lit up like the midday sun.  It’s whatever trips your creative trigger, my friend.

I know plenty of writers who enjoy listening to music when they write.  I’m a big music lover, heck it’s what I spent twenty years on the road doing, but I cannot listen to music when I’m trying to be creative.  That which I love so much becomes a distraction.  I prefer to work in silence, while I know of others who like the stereo up, the TV in the background, basically as much sensory overload as possible.

On the other hand, I do enjoy music when I am concentrating on the more technical end of things, such as editing a piece or posting links.  That’s when I’m likely to put on the earphones and tune out the world.

Is there a set amount to write every day?  I try to do around 3000 to 4000 words a day, but then I’m on a salary and I have to give the company something for what they are paying me.  You may not be so encumbered with such matters.  I personally suggest trying to write something every day, even if it’s only a story or article idea, a line of dialogue, something.  Many times, just writing a little snippet is enough to get you into a creative groove, which you should ride for as long as it lasts, for you never know when it’s going to come again.

So where are we going with this?  I’m trying to say that there is no set in stone rule as to how you should write, or when, or where.  Writing is not like an assembly line where you can go into a productive trance at 9 and snap out of it at 5 and go home.  No, writing is a strange, wonderful, mystical, inspiring, infuriating, encouraging, frustrating process that requires all of the “write elements” for you to be successful.  Find that magical combination of elements that work for you, that bring out the best you have to offer creatively.  The world is waiting to see what wondrous works will be produced as a result.

Now go therefore and write well….

Creative Writing – A Rant…..

I just got finished editing an article that was sent to me.  The subject?  Getting started in creative writing.  The author of this article believed wholeheartedly that the only way to carve out a genuine career in creative writing was to go to school for it.  After rereading and tweaking the article for editorial purposes several times, I am now faced with the problem of replacing all the office furniture I destroyed in the process.

Call me eccentric (God knows I’ve been called worse), but I have a hard time subscribing to the theory that creativity is something that can be taught from a book.  There has to be something there to build on in the first place.  You can teach somebody to draw a circle, but it is a whole nother concept to transform that circle into a globe, a planet, a world of your own creation, with a reality that you manipulate, characters that you breathe life into, and the orchestration of those lives through the strokes of a pen or keyboard (pick your poison).

I remember a few years ago when our church hosted some musical guests, a husband and wife opera duo from Julliard School Of Music.   I sat and listened to the wife perform….she had a gorgeous, God given soprano gift that she had taken on to the Julliard School and accentuated into something truly remarkable.  It was a joy listening to her.

Then came the husband, who wasted no time in informing all of the great unwashed in the auditorium that night that he was “classically trained” (Warning: any time somebody feels compelled to share the “classically trained” gem with you, it is advisable to run like a river when the snow melts).  He began singing, with proper breath control and technique to go, and with all the tonality and appeal of an out of tune foghorn.  Better still, he did it into a microphone to make sure none of us MISSED IT.

The moral?  The husband had the education down.  I’m sure he was a straight A student.  Unfortunately, he failed to realize that when it comes to talent, you’ve got to meet them halfway.  You’ve got to bring some innate ability to the table with you and work to improve it.  One night with this guy proved that whole ‘silk purse/sow’s ear’ concept beyond all doubt.

Likewise with writing, if you want to write, write.  In the end you’re going to learn much more by actually doing it than you ever will from a school.  Now I’m not discounting the importance of book learnin’, and I have a B.A. in Communications (big fat, hairy deal, right?) but I maintain that you can’t learn how to be creative in some by the numbers, A-Z approach.  The creative spark is already there, within you, in whatever form.  You just have to learn how to channel it, and most of that is going to be learned through simply putting pen to paper.

Yes, you can go to classes, attend seminars, read what others have written on the subject, practice osmosis, whatever, but without the spark, without that creative muse, you will never be anything more than the literary equivalent of the out of tune foghorn mentioned earlier.

So don’t put it off.  You’ve had that idea for a story, a song, a poem, or even a novel percolating around inside your head for some time now.  Go sit down and start it.  See what comes out.  If you like it, you’ll be inspired to plow forward.  If you don’t, well, hey, that’s what Delete buttons, White Out, and erasers were invented for.  Back up and take another run at it.

And spell my name right in the dedication……

Pay The Writer….

I am a writer. That is what I do. I actually get paid to sit and be creative and write all day, which according to Stephen King, is “an agreeable thing to be able to do”. I love to write and have done so for many years, but I never considered myself a “writer” until I sold. Until that moment that somebody picked up something I wrote, decided that they were sufficiently interested, and transferred a few bucks from their pocket to mine.

It would be a couple of years before I landed a job writing full time (as the Content Director for a company servicing the water damage industry). Not exactly War & Peace, but it pays the bills and beats the heck out of sales. I consider myself extremely lucky, especially when I peruse the freelance writing scene, and never cease to be amazed at how many good writers are selling themselves out for peanuts.

Companies are perfectly willing to pay their CEOs, their IT guys, heck even their custodial staff a decent wage, but for some reason when it comes to getting quality content for their websites, promotional material, press releases, etc., all the rules suddenly seem to go out the window. They want something for nothing, or next to nothing. And of course there is always the crazy first cousin to “nothing” known as “no pay, but getting credit” for the work. Last time I checked, there is not a single bill that “getting credit” would pay for.

Sci-fi author Harlan Ellison commented that amateurs make it hard for professionals, because amateurs are perfectly willing to work for chump change in the vain hope that somehow, somewhere, some day, some way, they will get “discovered” and their hard work will pay off. It won’t happen. As long as writers are willing to work for nothing, companies are under no great pressure to increase their payment offers.

So how to get around this problem? First of all, stop taking any job just for the sake of taking it. Establish what you believe your time and talent is worth, and stick to it. If someone offers you a job writing a 700 word article for $8, calmly counteroffer and tell them your rate is $50 an hour (or whatever you decide on). And hold your ground. Chances are, once they have received a few articles and see what kind of 700 word article $8 gets them, you will suddenly start looking a lot more attractive.

So how do you make yourself appealing? First off, know your business. You can’t be a writer if you can’t…well…write! Make sure what you are offering is well written, concise, to the point, and free of grammatical gaffes or rambling, incoherent content. Learn other talents related to writing. In today’s market place, being proficient in SEO strategies is almost a must. Learning how to write with both end users and search engines in mind is a delicate balancing act (much like balancing a cue ball on the tip of a pool stick), but if you can master the art, you will be a much sought after talent.

Assemble a portfolio. If you don’t have one, start building it now. Online portfolios are especially effective, since you can not only update it as often as you need to, but you can slip the link right into your resume or cover letter. I suggest making your portfolio a sampling of the best of your work from a wide variety of sources. In my own, I have samples of everything from articles to web content to short stories to technical manuals to poetry to screenplays. If you already have any material published prominently on another site, provide the links to that site. Don’t be afraid to let people know that you are good at what you do! Blow that horn!

You can also check out the book Writers Market 2011 to get an idea of the going rate for professional writers. Know your profession and know what you are worth.

Again, as long as writers keep taking on jobs for little or no pay, that is what we will continue to be offered. Don’t be afraid to embrace the power of the word “no”. If somebody wants you but they are not willing to pay for your time and talent, do not hesitate to refuse the job. It is up to the writing community to make ourselves valuable again. Don’t join the ranks of those who are working daily to devalue our profession.

Now, go therefore and write well….and get paid handsomely in the process!

Writing Articles That Sell…

So you like to write. You’d like to do more of it. You’d like to make a few bucks in the process. And if you could pay your mortgage writing, you would. Well, obviously the only way to do that is to make sure that what you write is actually of interest to enough people to make it financially feasible.

Obviously our initial inclination is to write about things that interest us. Which is fine, but profitable only if what interests you is also of massive interest to scores of other people. One of my interests is miniature aeronautics, or model rocketry, and while I find the hobby fascinating, any article I write on the matter would probably sit largely ignored online and refused flat out for print (unless it was in the two or three hobby related magazines that maybe five people in North Dakota read).

You need to look for subjects that are of interest to the most people, and write your articles or materials accordingly. For me, I’ve found a veritable gold mine in writing material related to our nation’s current bad economy, such as how to vacation on a budget, live well on a budget, create wealth in an economic downturn, etc. People flock to that because now more than ever, folks want to know how to get the most out of every dollar that they spend.

People not only read these articles, but they also get picked up and reposted on other blogs, directories, websites, etc. increasing your viewership and readership, and if it’s a paid gig, putting a few more cents in your pocket.

You can peruse the headlines looking for subject matter inspiration. Just today I found a headline article on Yahoo entitled “10 Reasons Couples Therapy May Not Work For You”. While I have no desire to write my own article on that subject, a quick glance at the side bar will reveal several other related subjects such as “10 Things You Didn’t know About Sex”, “A Prettier, Happier Life”….other subjects that may spark inspiration for an article.

You can also pick a subject such as “vacation” or “cars” and do any number of variations on the subject, such as “10 Best cars For under $20,000” or “Prime Vacation Spots in the Southeast”. I have to write about four articles a day, so picking a subject that may be successfully mined keeps me focused and on target.

You can also break down articles into series. Look for elements in a specific article that may lend themselves to additional installments broken down by gender, age, location, income level, political class….the possibilities are endless. I have wrangled as much as a week’s worth of articles out of a single subject before.

Avoid biased writing. Articles that take only one side of a given issue (particularly if it is a controversial one) decreases your opportunity for publication by exactly half…namely the half that will agree with you. If you take on a subject that has more than one point of view, ideally give equal time to all sides. That way you stand a much better chance of it getting picked up by more sources.

You also always want to include a link to your home page or blog. As the article is redistributed, hopefully your link will be kept intact. This increases link juice to your site and raises your visibility in the eyes of the Google search engines.
Unfortunately there is no way to insure that those who repost will extend the courtesy of leaving your link intact. Almost every day I find articles of mine that have been rewritten slightly, links removed, and credited to somebody else. Don’t bother trying to chase down and deal with these crooks because you’ll end up spending your entire day doing so and not getting anything else done.

Figure out how to post the same article in multiple sources. Many article directories don’t like duplicate content, and if your article is posted elsewhere, it will get flagged and refused. However, posting the same article to multiple directories, with similar turnaround times between submission and acceptance, makes it much more likely to be able to get an article on several different sources at once.

Now go therefore and write well….

Blog Entry

Chasing Inspiration….

Writing is an unusual job, and frightening at times because it is so dependent on the magical muse known as inspiration to get good things happening. Nothing is more frustrating to the writer than to sit down at his or her keyboard, or laptop, or typewriter, or notebook or whatever, and realize with horror that they have nothing. No ideas, no mental nudges, no untapped goldmine of material from which to carve an article, blog, or story. It is a depressing feeling, made all the more so by the fact that we never know how long the dry spell will last.

There are many ways that you can attempt to break the cycle of non-productivity. Not all of them will work; you have to find the ones that work for you.

Personally, whether I’m working on my own material or at my day gig writing for a water damage company, I have found that nothing beats just putting pen to paper (or whatever method you employ). Sometimes just the act of writing is enough to get something going.

I also enjoy getting out and driving, preferably in the country. Locations, buildings, homes, even people that you see on your journey have a way of inspiring stories, characters, scenarios, etc. For example, an isolated farmhouse at night, with one light visible, set far back off a desolate back road, provided the impetus for a short story, currently being written into a screenplay for a horror film. An abandoned quarry near my childhood home became the setting for my short story “The Mountain”. Always be open to inspiration from what you find every day around you.

Reading about writing. I love to hear from other authors, and see what works for them. There are enough blogs online about writing to keep you busy reading two years after you are dead.

Some of the methods suggested may seem a bit unorthodox (and that’s putting it mildly), but in the wonderful world of the written word, there is no right or wrong way to get inspired. Go with what works.

Listen to people. When you are in a crowd, don’t be afraid to eavesdrop. There are some very interesting real life characters out there, and many times a conversation or even a snippet of dialogue may be enough to get the gears humming.

Read bad work. I love this, partially because I am amazed at how much bad material gets published, partially because we all like to watch a good train wreck, but mainly because it fires me up with a “Good grief, I can do so much better than this” fervor. I particularly like reading the work of one specific author who is amateurish on almost every level, yet has had a thirty year career publishing novels. Hey, if he can do it, I certainly can.

Movies can also be a valuable inspirational source. Most of the fiction I write is firmly ensconced in the suspense/horror genre, and when I write, I tend to think of how those movies are constructed, with shaky, grainy camera work, sparse dialogue, and threatening music. By writing with those images in mind, it helps me to frame the story in my head and have a good idea of the end effect that I am going for.

Music can also be a wonderful source for the writer. I don’t normally listen to music during a writing session, but when I do, it is usually movie soundtracks, specifically one that attempts to grab the atmosphere of the work I am creating.

Dreams. I don’t dream often, but when I do they are usually quite bizarre. One particularly disturbing dream ended up as a nightmare sequence in a novel that I am currently outlining. Keep in mind that dreams tend to fade in memory after you wake up, so keep a journal beside your bed and write down these dreams when you wake up.

Along the same lines, keep a writing journal. Make notes on ideas, plot lines, characters, lines of dialogue, etc. Then refer back to it. It can be an invaluable source of inspiration during those dry spells.

The internet. If you can think of it, it can be Googled. Sometimes researching a given subject can inspire a new work. Film director Eli Roth claims that his controversial horror film HOSTEL was based on an actual website. While this may be an urban legend, it certainly isn’t hard to find infinite variations on any subject you care to name.

So get out there, chase the inspirational muse, and put your pen to paper. And make memories for all of us to enjoy.

Best Ways To Proofread Your Work…

Proofreader

As the Director of Content for a company servicing the water extraction and damage restoration industry, I have to knock out a lot of written material on a daily basis. Set up in my little corner of the shop, I get inspired, research, write, edit, and proofread everything before sending it out the door to wherever it is going to be published, posted, distributed, etc. I am a one stop shop.

One of the hardest things for any writer to do is proofread their own work. It is truly amazing just how many goofs get out the door as a result. Unfortunately, many of us don’t always have the luxury of another pair of eyes to help us out, so we have to double our efforts at making sure the product is solid.

So how do you proofread your own work and not let mistakes slip by? Listen, children…..

Go line by line. Ideally, cover the entire page except for the line you are reading. It prevents distractions. Otherwise you might just skim right over the top. You’ll be surprised at how many more errors you catch this way.

Third time’s the charm. Read your paper several times. Put it down and read it again the next day. I have caught mistakes on the third or fourth time through that completely escaped my notice initially.
If you find an error and correct it, re-read the sentence again. Sometimes the act of correcting an error can be the basis for an entirely new problem, either in construction, syntax, or flow.

Read the document backwards. Isolating sentences, removing them from being a part of the whole, allows you to better concentrate on that one sentence and hopefully catch anything that might be questionable.

Read the work out loud. You’ll be surprised at how many goofs you catch this way. This works even better if you have someone who can follow along with the printed copy.

At the risk of stating the obvious, use Spell Check. Be forewarned however, that Spell Check doesn’t always correctly identify incorrect words or punctuation. You still need to know your stuff.

Keep a list of your most common errors (or of the writers you are proofing) and proof for those on separate “trips.”

Be aware of homonyms. Homonyms are words that share the same spelling or pronunciation, but have different meanings. Switching accept with except or complement with compliment could be disastrous, so pay attention to them.

Differentiate between contractions, apostrophes, etc. People often mix their and they’re, its and it’s, your and you’re and so on. If there is something that can hurt the credibility of your text, it is a similar mistake. Also, remember that the apostrophe is never used to form plurals.

Proof your work at the beginning of the day, when your senses are the sharpest. Listen to music or chew gum to keep yourself relaxed during what can be a rather boring process.

Continue your education by refreshing your memory on grammar rules. Take nothing for granted.

So yes, it is possible, if not desirable, to successfully proofread your own work. Take your time. You don’t want to let your masterpiece go out in any form that is less than flattering.

If you do find a mistake, however, don’t spend a lot of time fretting about it. After all, nobody’s perfekt.