Writing, Photography & Design
ianpullen@gmail.com

Writing

  • Tutorials
  • Software reviews
  • Mobile app reviews
  • Book reviews
  • Audio book reviews
  • Photographic interest articles
  • Ebooks (writing and production)

Native English speaker, comfortable writing in both American & The Queen's English

Familiar with Wordpress and HTML

Able to produce ebooks in Kindle, EPUB and PDF formats - please ask for quote

With more than five years experience of writing for various websites, I have a good understanding of the requirements. We run a few sites ourselves and so produce copy for those, but my first position was as the Graphic Design Editor at suite101.com, back in the days before it morphed into a content farm that valued quantity over quality.

Following that role, I moved to about.com where I wrote hundreds of articles related to graphics software over the course of several years. Regardless of the subject, these were very specifically targeted at the beginner level, which requires an acute awareness of all of the possible areas where confusion may arise. There's no point explaining an aspect of a tutorial in detail if the reader is left behind struggling to open a blank document to start with.

It was during this time that I first started writing reviews, primarily of software. As a result, I've learned some very important lessons about writing effective and accurate reviews. Perhaps the most important point is to remember that while a review should be objective, it's almost impossible to remove all subjectivity, because of human nature. That's why I'm conscious of couching some criticisms from a personal viewpoint and explaining that others might see my negative more neutrally or even as a positive.

With a view to accuracy, I also know the importance of language when making any constructive criticism. Particularly in the context of free and open source software, it's not uncommon for documentation to be very limited or even non-existent. This may leave me unable to find a way to perform a common task because a tool or feature is apparently missing. In such a case, however, my criticism is of there not being a clear way to achieve a certain outcome, rather than the software not being able to achieve that outcome. It's a subtle difference, but an important one that reduces the possibility of a review being cited as containing factual inaccuracies.

Beyond reviews of software for PCs and Macs, I also assess apps for iOS and Android and books too. The scope of reviewing a mobile app is very similar to desktop software, but obviously the different context leads to a different range of points to assess, particularly when an app could be used on a wide variety of screen sizes.

More Than Software Reviews

Reviewing books requires a somewhat different skill set, but the same standards still apply with regard to accuracy. I'll be honest that I've not read the print books I've reviewed in their entirety, but it can still take some time to make a reasonable assessment and ensure that key points are covered. The audiobooks that I review under a pen name are popular fiction and I do invariably listen to throughout as they're part leisure and part work. They present a particularly interesting challenge as each review has to be presented in no more than 125 words – sounds easy, but it takes a while to get used to addressing the key points in this truncated form.

Away from the web, I've also written a few ebooks that are available through Amazon and our own site Konker.it. With these, I've been responsible for the production side too and can produce high quality ebooks in Kindle, EPUB and PDF formats – if you've got a book that you want produced for publication, please get in touch to discuss the process.

I'm happy to write on all sorts of subjects and have no difficulty taking advantage of the web to research new subjects and source reliable information. As you'll see on other pages, I can also produce great looking photography and I possess design skills honed over more than two decades that can also be a great boon if you need more than someone to just produce the written word.

Photography

  • Pentax K7
  • Lenses covering 16-200mm, including macro
  • Studio with 3x 500W strobe heads
  • Post production on Mac Pro with Photoshop CS5
  • Software for HDR & panoramas

Solid technical skills

Strong skillset for post production and creative enhancement

In the run up to my 40th birthday and the anticipated mid-life crisis, I had visions of myself driving recklessly fast and just one-handed in a red open top sports car (the other hand would be holding my luxuriant toupee tightly to my head). My wife had different ideas though and apparently thought it would be a good idea for me to document any mid-life crisis through photography. Hence the arrival of a Pentax K7 DSLR on the all important day. Now photography wasn't a completely new thing for me as it was a required module when I was training as a Graphic Designer in my late teens and early twenties.

Back then, however, we were shooting with black and white film and processing and developing our own work in the dark room. I hated the dark room and in all honesty hadn't yet acquired much of a creative eye and so photography disappeared from my life at the earliest opportunity. By the time my DSLR arrived though, I'd been working with Photoshop for almost two decades and suddenly I discovered that on my Mac or laptop, I could achieve all those things digitally that had evaded me I the darkroom so many years before.

It was quite the revelation and since then photography has become an important part of my life and I've been constantly developing my technical and creative skills in the years since. I ensure that I take at least one photo everyday and have missed just one in the last four years. More and more, these shots are taken and processed on my iPhone, which helps to underline the fact that cameras are just tools and you don't always need to be rocking the latest and greatest Nikon or Canon to produce the shot that you need. You just need to be able to assess accurately and ensure that the camera in your hand is up to the required task.

The Visual Web

Ever faster internet connections have made today's web a much more visual environment than the web of just a few years ago. Go back a decade or more and pages were often largely text with small and heavily optimized images to add some variety. Today it's not unusual for an image to fill your screen and strong and attractive photos are an essential ingredient for very web page, not just to engage human visitors, but search engine robots too.

Of course, no two photos are born equal and the web is awash with poorly composed and ill lit snapshots of people in night clubs, cats in boxes and food on a plate. In fact lots of cats in boxes and, quite possibly, even more food on plates. However, thankfully the web is also a beautiful place to visit as more and more content producers have come to appreciate the importance of great imagery to support their written words.

If you want to appear relevant on today's web, you need great images, the kind that will make visitors want to pin and share them. There are two ways to address this need. There are multiple sites offering great photos for use by web publishers, some for free and others for relatively low prices. Alternatively, you can have photos created specifically for your use to ensure you have exactly the images that you require.

In this I can help you. Whether it's sourcing a commercially available photo and perhaps adapting or improving it for your use (free images in particular will often benefit from some post production) or creating new images for your specific requirements, I can make this process as smooth as it can be.

Design

  • Print design
  • Web design & development
  • Logo design
  • Proof reading

Proficient with Photoshop, Illustrator & Indesign

20+ years experience

As a kid, drawing was one of my great loves and having trained as a Graphic Designer, much of my working career was also devoted to drawing pretty pictures – at least that's how more than one client has characterized the role.

In reality, graphic design is about so much more than looking good, far more important is its ability to communicate a message clearly and effectively. There are plenty of great designs that use pure typographic solutions to put a message across. On the other hand, sound design can communicate even complex messages without recourse to the written word. To conceptualize simply – it's very much a case of different horses for different courses.

Considering how effective writing and effective design share so much, it continues to amaze me how so many graphic designers can struggle with the written word. Perhaps, though, when you feel confident in your ability to communicate through imagery and graphics, you can afford to ignore the rules of grammar.

Actually, it's perhaps not too different to me choosing to learn just the basics of Spanish and supplement that with heightened and well honed miming skills when dealing with everyone from the postman through to doctors and lawyers.

A Coherent Message

If you want to relieve yourself of the stress of producing not just text for a website, but also other aspects, such as the design and development, I can help you with the full package. Taking this route can help to ensure a brand consistency across both written and graphic messages.

As more and more websites realize the importance of professional design, it's becoming ever harder to stand out and ensure that your web presence really presents you in the way that you want.

Even if you're not looking to cede control of the creative process, I can still help with such things as proof reading (one of those dull jobs that often gets put off to point of never being carried out) or offering advice on how you can move your existing brand forward to ensure that your written and graphic personality are in tune with contemporary trends.

About

You can email me at ianpullen@gmail.com

Along with my wife Kate, I've been living for nine years in a small village in south western Spain, about an hour's drive north of Seville. We're towards the south of the region of Extremadura, a part of the country that still feels like traditional Spain without the sense of being behind the times. Life here can throw up some strange contrasts, such as an old man plowing a strip of land with a donkey while an adjacent field is simultaneously plowed by a large modern air conditioned tractor.

After a career working primarily in publishing and design, the move to inland Spain was a significant change in lifestyle. We know from meeting others who have made the same change that it doesn't work out for everybody. For us, however, it feels like possibly the best thing that we've done.

We live in an old palacio with worn tiled floors dating back more than a century and a variety of ornate boveda ceilings, many with hand painted designs from an age long gone. We're also able to enjoy the benefits of modern life, including a broadband internet connection and double glazing. When we first moved in, few of the windows shut correctly and our first winter was especially well ventilated. Fortunately, we'd spent the previous four winters living within sight of Hadrian's Wall on the English/Scottish border, so we were hardy enough to take it in our stride.

In reality, the winters here are short and the sun shines often to warm things up nicely by late morning, meaning outdoor living is quite possible for much of the year. That's very much one of the joys of life here, in that we can get out and enjoy the countryside for most of the year. Picking wild asparagus in spring, early morning walks before breakfast during the summer and picnic lunches to satisfy an appetite brought on by walking or cycling during autumn and winter are regular parts of life here.

We rarely stay out from the house for too long though as we've a household of ten dogs and five cats, many of which have special needs. Two of our cats are blind, while of the dogs, four are completely blind, one is deaf and another suffers epilepsy. They ensure the house never feels empty and its been incredible to see how able and normal all of them are despite their problems.

Of course, we also need an income and so I do work from home for various clients. As this site shows, I work in several creative fields. I've touched on the fact that I design and develop websites and you can find out more about this aspect of my work at awaywiththepixels.com, a site that I share with Kate.

If there's anyway that you believe I can help you present yourself more effectively online, please get in touch and I'll get back to you as soon as possible.