The Secret to Freelance Writer Excellence – It’s in the Story

People love stories.  When I was young, I looked forward to reading a story with my Mom each night before bed.  I lost myself in the characters and storyline and often woke up the next morning having dreamed that I was part of the story.

Have you ever noticed too, that it’s almost impossible to resist clicking blog posts that show up in your inbox with the beginnings of what seems to be a good story?  It’s nearly universal, this human interest in stories.  It must come from our primal ancestry where storytelling around the fire was one of the only ways to entertain – and pass down legacies and history.

freelance writing tip - people love stories
Willem Blaeu [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
As a freelance writer, your ability to intrigue and command your audience’s attention may very well be through a story.  Not every type of writing lends itself to storytelling, but a great many such as blogs, articles – even website content – can tell a story.

Where can you get your stories?

There are many sources of stories that can make your writing more interesting.  The first and most obvious choice is to use stories from your own life.  You’d be surprised at how easy it is to find a memory or a story from your own life that relates to most topics.  These are often the most powerful stories as what we experience creates a wonderful memory to draw on.  We are able to conjure up images in our mind and description abounds.

Scenarios are similar to stories, but can serve the same purpose in intrigue and interest.  Scenarios may begin with the words “Imagine you’re shopping…”  Usually what follows is an ideal experience or a less than ideal experience.  These scenarios help readers connect with our writing.  And connection often leads to more reading and sharing – both desired qualities for a freelance writer’s work.

In writing, there is somewhat of an artistic license that applies.  Stories can be embellished and tweaked to best meet the purposes of the piece being written.  Use your stories not only to create interest in your writing, but to make a point related to the topic at hand.

Where should I use the stories?

As has already been expressed, the beginning of a piece is where people get hooked into reading the rest of the piece.  However, using the occasional short story, continuation of the story or scenario in the middle of the piece can be helpful to make a point or keep the interest up.  Using examples, shaped as stories, throughout longer articles can be particularly useful to illustrate concepts and maintain reader interest.

Stories are part of the human experience.  We all have them and we can all relate in some way to a story that’s told.  We place ourselves in someone else’s footsteps and imagine their life and experiences.  For this reason, they can be a very powerful tool in writing.  So, if you’re looking to gain a wider audience and improve your writing – use stories.  You won’t regret it.

Formal vs informal wording when writing an academic text

Writing requires certain skills you need to possess in order to produce a good and comprehensive piece of composition. At the very beginning you should ask yourself who is going to read your writing and how you might structure it the best way to deliver your message. In other words, it should be made clear whether you use a formal or informal language in your writing style no matter you work on creating an essay or a business correspondence.

Writing formal

Being formal means you are more complex and you have a depth of thoughts as you are expanding your arguments. Formal style involves scientific essays or any letter addressing a person or organization with whom you are not familiar. Regardless whether you are writing a letter or an essay, the first step is to carefully determine the concept. It should be based on a good structure which comes with an introduction, the main body and the conclusion. 

  1. In the introduction you give the reader enough background information to enable him to understand the issue.
  2. The body of your writing is where you speak out clearly and concisely. What are you writing about? What is the importance of it? This is where you create your thread of meaning and argument with a clear development of points.
  3. The final part should have an aim of the reason you are writing. It may persuade, resolve or clarify the issue you have elaborated.

Academic language consists of longer sentences and strong vocabulary without abbreviations. For instance, in a formal style a typical sentences should be “scholars have found that ethic values and attitudes begin to crystallize at the age of four with children” instead of saying that “4-year kids start to learn values and attitudes”. On the whole, you need to be objective while supporting your ideas using scientifically relevant vocabulary or commonly used, appropriate language in formal correspondence. An example of the formal versus informal wording can be usually found on online dictionary websites, as Cambridge.

Writing informal

On the other hand, if you need to use the informal style, it is much simpler. You are grounded in the real world and you write from the heart. Your writing is personal, which means you use the first person “I” and your tone is more emotional and empathetic. You do not bother with lengthening your sentences but keep them short and easy to understand.  You feel confident with shortening the words so you can use grammatical contractions and abbreviations, such as “I`m”, and “don`t” or “TV” and “photos”.  You may even use incomplete sentences and still be able to deliver the message.  Informal writing is close to spoken communication. It allows for using slangs and colloquial phrases and you are allowed to refer to the reader using the second person “you” or “your”. How and when to use formal or informal writing is simply explained in numerous writing blogs, so do not worry, you have many guides to choose from.

Overall, the difference between the writing styles is not a matter of merit. Both formal and informal writing serve their purpose. It is up to you when and with whom you pick the style that suits best for your aim.

If you need someone to proofread your Spanish essay, do not hesitate to contact me.

The Copywriter’s Handbook review

Robert Bly, author of The Copywriter’s Handbook, is a professional copywriter or publicity text writer.

He wrote the book with the goal of becoming a leading resource for all aspiring copywriters.  The book truly is valuable for the reader.

One of the first things that stands out about the author is that he is a great communicator, which allows him to get his message across in a clear and concise way.  It’s not another of the many typical books that give generalized advice that can be summed up in “Be confident in yourself.”  No, in this book, the reader learns true elements of professional writing through small explanations of theory followed by examples.  Furthermore, many of the examples include the author’s own commentary which adds interest for the reader.

That being said, it doesn’t work miracles either.  After reading the book, you won’t magically become the best copywriter in the world. You’ll simply have the base from which to improve.

What You’ll Find in The Copywriter’s Handbooks

In this book, you’ll find some of the beginning general chapters are quite interesting. They include topics such as:

  • How to write titles and capture the reader’s attention
  • How to write to communicate
  • How to write to sell

The book continues with more specific topics regarding text types from emails to printed advertisements.  Each and every chapter includes clear explanations and examples.

Additionally, there are some chapters about a copywriter’s work in which Bly explains how to get jobs and other details that are supplementary.

The true value in the book is the advice about how to write.  Maybe there are a few too many pages, as some seem to have been added to reach a more attractive content quantity.  However, this doesn’t mean that it’s not worthwhile.  The valuable content is certainly present, independently of the fact that it may be a bit stuffed in some sections.

This book won’t solve your life’s problems, but precisely for that reason, it’s a good book.  It will certainly help you improve in specific aspects of your writing life.

I am not compensated for writing this review. These are my opinions freely expressed in my desire to offer commentary on a well-known book in this industry.

Getting the most out of your website in the Spanish Language

website content in spanish
Proclamation Ceremony flickr photo shared by cliff1066™ under a Creative Commons ( BY ) license

Having a website in the Spanish language can put you at an advantage to reach more clients and readers for whatever your purposes.  However, there are some important considerations to take into account when developing your website to get the most out of it.

First, consider your audience.

A website for Spanish speakers in Spain should be different from one written for Spanish speakers from Mexico which would be different from a website for Spanish speakers from Central America.  Spanish speakers in the USA are a mix of all of these countries and more.  The differences are many.  The vocabulary will differ greatly as what’s considered vulgar and rude in Central America may be everyday language for Spaniards.  Not only will the words used be different, you’re also dealing with very distinct cultures.  Consider the fact that you may want to celebrate holidays on your website with sales or promotions.  It’s necessary to be aware of the target country’s celebrations and observances. Furthermore, the way that your website flows and reads will need to be adjusted based on your target reader’s location.  Different countries’ residents have different standards and expectations when viewing websites.  You’ll want to be sure what you provide is accessible and interesting for your target audience.

Make sure you hire a great copywriter.

A great Spanish freelancer can help you create the content you need, whether translated or created from scratch.  Be sure to communicate to your freelancer regarding the audience and target country or countries that you’d like him to tailor the content to.  A native Spanish speaking copywriter will be one of the critical pieces for your website’s success.  Their expertise in writing, the language and their awareness of culture will be very important in creating quality content for your website.   If you are wondering how and why you should consider hiring a Spanish freelance writer, find the answers here.

If your website offers a service, make sure it’s accessible for the target readers.  This means, figure out if there’s shipping to the country in question if your product is physical.  Also, if offering online services such as video lessons or digital downloads, try to make it as easy to manage as possible, keeping in mind that not all countries have excellent offerings in internet service.

Finally, if you have an English version of your site, make a quick, easy to see link to the Spanish version.

That way if you have readers arriving at your English site who are more comfortable with Spanish, it’s easy for them to get to your Spanish site.  Similarly, you can also program your site so that the server reads the locale setting of the browser request. That means that if your reader has logged on from a Spanish speaking country, your website should automatically show the Spanish version.

By following this advice, you’ll be sure to create a fantastic website that is accessible, relevant and useful to your Spanish speaking audience.  Get started with this project today!

How to use Skype to use Skype translator

Skype has allowed us to take multiple benefits in the digital era within a wide scope of opportunities. The most recent advantage Skype users can take is the use of the Skype Translator application.

This can be done not only from the comfort of your personal computer but also on any mobile device. In these terms, Skype continues stretching over the boundaries of geographical areas and language barriers. It came as an inevitable result of the widespread use of Skype calls and the necessity to overcome the obstacles of misunderstanding both in professional and personal relationships.

Steps to set up the Skype translator

For the beginning you should follow a few steps to set up the application providing you already have downloaded Skype on your device.

If you need to download Skype from the beginning look at this guide.

First, after, you have logged in to your Skype account choose the contact from your Contact List and click the Globe button, a small, grey circle on the right corner of the screen.

If you use an older version of Skype and cannot see the icon, go to Tool-Options-General and you will see the icon named Skype Translator on the left menu.

After clicking the Glove button, a box will appear with a Translation Preview. On the drop down menu that you see next to your contact, choose your contact`s current written language to see translations in the chat or from the spoken and written list to hear the translation on a call.

With all this done, you are set to start chatting or talking via Skype.  If you choose to chat with your contact, you write the massage on the chat box and will receive the translated version of it shortly after you have sent it. On the other hand, if you choose a video call and decide to speak to each other, remember to ensure that your headphones provide good quality of hearing the translation. Each speech will be automatically translated by Skype Translator on both sides and it will appear on the screen. It is very important that you speak clearly with short pauses after each sentence. After your utterance wait for a while until the translated speech appears for you to read it.

Spanish voice to voice translation is available among six other languages (Chinese Mandarin, English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese) while chat translations are provided in more than 50 languages. Make sure that you have the latest version of Skype which already has the software.

Tips for getting the most accurate Skype translations

  • Check the reliability of your network
  • Test the quality of your webcam, microphone and speakers. (It is recommended to use a headset instead of a built-in microphone. )
  • Call from a comfortable surrounding with no background noise

Once you start experiencing Skype Translator you will be empowered to extend your goals and hopefully achieve interactions with your friends, colleagues or coworkers while maintaining a fluency of speech will be a perfect experience. Also, we should have in mind that Skype Translator as an advanced application is constantly being improved which means it is a question of time when it becomes a high quality routine.

Earning Money Online: Tips For Starting Your Career As A Freelance Writer

Advice to make money online as freelance writer
creative commons licensed ( BY-ND ) flickr photo shared by marksaplenty

Working online as a freelance writer can be a great way to make an income while maintaining your freedom and flexibility.  However, it’s not something that you’ll find success with immediately; it takes time to develop your skills and client base.   If you’re getting started, here is some advice for how to make a great impression on your first clients and help grow your reputation, as well as your paycheck!

Make money online: Get Started Through a Freelance Platform

The easiest way to get some of your first jobs is by joining a freelancing platform such as Upwork.  There, you’ll be connected to job opportunities and can apply to quite a number of jobs for free!  The key on these platforms is to gain a reputation by completing jobs successfully as clients can give feedback.  The more positive feedback, the more likely others will want to hire you.

Get Experience as freelancer

When getting started, don’t look for the big pay just yet.  You need to establish yourself as an experienced, expert writer in order to get the better paying jobs.  When looking for your first jobs, you may need to be willing to earn a bit less in order to build your reputation.  Later on, once you’ve gotten some better jobs, it’s definitely time to drop the poor-paying ones!

Make money online: Offer to Do Revisions

One way you’re sure to get great feedback is by offering to make changes to your work once it’s been submitted.  By showing that you’re willing to learn from constructive feedback, you’ll assure yourself continued work from the client.  This is important as you are beginning because many times, the feedback will help you grow as a writer.

Always Meet Deadlines

This may seem obvious, but in my experience, there are many writers out there who don’t meet deadlines.  Don’t fall into this problematic behavior, because when working with a client, reliability and responsibility are as important as your ability to write well.  What good is a great writer who is unpredictable and doesn’t meet deadlines? For many clients, this is a big turnoff that will lead to an ended contract.

Negotiate a Byline

Another important way to build your reputation and get to those more exciting and well-paying jobs is by building your portfolio.  If possible, look out for jobs that offer a byline and prioritize applying for these jobs over other ones.  Or, ask your client if it would be possible to negotiate a byline, even if it means dropping your pay a bit.  Growing your portfolio so that you can show off work to potential clients is a great step on the road to becoming an established freelance writer.

Make money online: Know Your SEO

Learn a little bit about SEO.  Even if you don’t plan to focus on copywriting or website content, many clients will expect you to have some idea of what SEO is.  Take a look at this blog that will go through the basics of SEO content writing. This will increase your value as a writer and get you more jobs.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Ghostwriting

freelance ghostwriting
“ghost” flickr photo shared by Baby Karate under a Creative Commons ( BY ) license

Ghostwriting, as the name suggests, is basically writing and attributing your writing to somebody else. It could be any piece of writing, going from articles, academic work, to books, even biographies. While it sometimes implies contact with people of high status who do not have the time or maybe talent to do it, ghostwriting has its benefits and drawbacks, which is why usually freelance ghostwriters either love it or avoid it.

The clearest disadvantage would be that you get no personal credit for your own writing. To some extent that is OK, but if your job position requires personal marketing and if your next potential jobs depend on your reputation, that might be a problem. That adds to lack of portfolio material, as while some employers allow ghostwriters to mention their work on their portfolio, others ask that you sign a non-disclosure agreement, which is your agreement that you will claim no connection whatsoever with what you have written.

Additionally, clients have the right to publish your work to as many websites as they wish, and they even have the right to sell your work to other people without your permission. Of course, some ghostwriters do not mind being completely anonymous as long as they are well-paid, even if somebody else gets the credit for their work.

Another disadvantage that could, from the other side of the coin be seen as an advantage, is being able to place somebody else’s mentality into yours. You have to have a chameleon personality and constructive criticism to be able to challenge your own ideas and many times- confute them. That sometimes results in miscommunication between the ghostwriter and the employer, as the ghostwriter need to fill in the gaps and see the links between pieces of information shared. This is quite a demanding task, as some employers may not be as cooperative as others.

Still, ghostwriting has many advantages as well.

While not getting personal credit can be seen as a disadvantage, it as well may be an advantage. As a ghostwriter, you are content- unaccountable, so if your client asks you to write about something you don’t agree, at least it is the client that carries the responsibility of it.

Also, usually, it is paid well, much better than any other writing jobs. There is a high demand of it, so you could make a good living. Even though you are looking for clients, you are not looking for sponsorship or publishers, which makes your job less stressful.

When it comes to instructions, ghostwriters are well-instructed, employers may provide with titles, links and any other relevant material. Not burdening yourself with numerous sources whose trustworthiness you also need to validate, in the case of ghostwriting, you get first-hand valuable information. In addition, the process of coauthoring and your domination over the story through getting to know different topics that might not be of your professional area, or interviews with influential people and digging deep into their personality and experience, makes it extremely interesting.

Ghostwriting has been exercised a long time, and nowadays it is quite easy to find ghostwriter blogs with tips on how to do it properly or what aspects to think about before deciding to ghostwrite. If you are a person with good writing abilities who thrives on investigation but not personal promotion, ghostwriting is the right profession for you.