The ins and outs of Guest Blogging

For a while, bloggers and writers alike stopped using the practice of guest posting. The technique picked up an infamous reputation, because it became abused by spammers and click-bait writers. But guest posting is back and better than ever, and is actually a very useful technique for those wanting to boost their ratings and appear higher up in the search engines.

What is Guest Posting?

One of the things search engines take into account nowadays when ranking sites is the links that direct traffic to the site. This is similar to academic papers, in that a paper references by many other scholars is usually considered a better paper, because it has made more of an impact on the community.

Here’s how it works: a blogger will offer to write content for other similar blogs in their industry, as a guest blogger. In return, the blog posts a link to their own blog, providing them with an opportunity to promote their own brand.

The aims of guest blogging are threefold. Generally, bloggers want to build up their reputation as a well-known name in the industry, direct traffic to their site, and build a network of backlinks to their blog.

Using Guest Posting to Build a Rep

There are several guidelines to follow when using guest blogging in order to achieve the maximum result. These will be explored below.

First of all, the link should always be of some value. When writing a guest post, it should always still be of valuable content. Some people abuse the guest posting system by writing very short, vague posts, or even those that could be considered spam. Clearly, these posts were written with the sole purpose of getting a link, and add nothing of value to the community whatsoever. Any links included on the site should definitely be high-quality and worth clicking for the readers – this is the most effective way to optimize search engine results.

Any links included in your blog posts should also be completely relevant to the content being published. The reader should be able to gain more by clicking on the link. So, the links should not only lead to high-quality work, but also pieces that will further what they are reading and give them a good reading experience.

Another thing to bear in mind is that you should only write guest posts on a site you’d be willing to write for without anything in return. Links should not be a primary marketing strategy, nor should they be your sole goal in writing guest posts. A few years ago, the crash of guest posting came about due to this very thing: many bloggers saw their demise thanks to a link-hungry attitude that encouraged them to make too many guest posts. Quite obviously, their content began to suffer because of it. Don’t make the same mistake, and ensure that any work you complete can still be high-quality and avoid sounding ‘spammy.’ Other than links to your site, guest blogging can help you to position yourself in front of a new audience and sound like more of an expert in your chosen field. Therefore, links are not the only advantage of guest posting, and should not be the be-all and end-all of your posts.

Additionally, guest posts should not only link back to your own site. It can be tempting to stuff in a lot of backlinks to encourage visitors to your blog, but it is also important to include links to other sources and high-quality sites. The blog owner (and perhaps worse, the readers) will realise that you have only written the piece for the links if you cram in too many backlinks. This is a dangerous strategy, because it has the opposite effect of good guest posting in that it ruins your reputation. Good luck getting asked to guest post again! A general rule is to never link to your own site more than 2-3 times on a long article. In fact, it’s even best to include a few internal links as well, just to please the blog host.

Finally, don’t forget to include a link to your site in your author bio. These links do not usually generate the most traffic, but they are undoubtedly a source of traffic to your site and therefore are still important. People clicking the link to your site will definitely increase search engine ratings thanks to the increase in site traffic.

Finding Guest Posting Opportunities

When trying to find an opportunity to guest post, the main thing to consider is finding a site relevant to your field. The blog you are wanting to post on should not only be centered around the same niche, but also have an engaged readership and an active blog owner.

A good way to find blogs on which to guest post is to do a keyword search in google. For better results, search for the keyword followed by “guest post,” or something along those lines to find a blog that will allow you to write a post for them.

If you are aware of well-known guest bloggers in your industry, try searching for their articles and reach out to the same sites.

Once you have found a site you want to write for and reached out to the owner, it is essential to get to know the blog and its content. Research will unveil what posts do the best and what the blog owner is looking for, increasing the likelihood of a successful pitch and an overall successful post.

Final Thoughts

Guest posting is far from dead, but it is also not the primary marketing strategy you should be using. Still, it is very useful for writers looking to boost their ratings. Just make sure you avoid those ever-dangerous practices such as keyword stuffing, and guest blogging might just earn you the site traffic you need to become a blogging sensation. Now you know some of the basics, get to guest blogging!

I can help you with your guest posts in Spanish, drop me a message!

Key differences in Grammar between English and Spanish

Due to the fact that both Spanish and English have Indo-European origins, they have some common vocabulary. In addition, the structure of Spanish language is not so complicated to understand if you know English. For example, these two languages use the parts of speech in the same way. Moreover, the prepositions in both languages are placed before an object. However, besides these similarities, the two languages are not identical and have some key differences in terms of grammar. Read on to find out more.

  1. Placement of adjectives

In English, adjectives are usually positioned before the noun that they are describing. However, in Spanish, they are normally placed after the noun which they determine. For example, we say “a happy dog”, which translates into “un perro feliz”.

There is however, a possibility to place the adjective in Spanish before the noun that it describes, but it will totally change its meaning. For example “an old factory” is translated into “una fábrica antigua”. If however, we decide to say “una antigua fábrica”, then we actually mean that the place used to be a factory, but it is now something else.

  1. The verb to be

In English, we only have one verb “to be”, which in Spanish, can be translated in three different ways: “ser” ,‘ëstar” or “haber”. Just to sum up, the verb “ser” is used for permanent characteristics, for names, for future events. The verb “estar” is used  to express the location of known subjects, temporary characteristics, such as the emotional state. The verb “haber” is used to express the location of an unknown subject.

Even though it might be hard to understand the differences between these three verbs that mean “to be”, you should not panic. The explanation was an oversimplified version of this post, that will most definitely help you in the future.

  1. Need for subject

In English, you can’t form a sentence without stating the subject, because it simply does not make sense. However, in Spanish this is possible due to the fact that each pronoun has a corresponding conjugation. So, do not worry if you decide to skip the subject or if you omit it by mistake, just make sure that you are writing in Spanish and not in English, because otherwise you might just have a problem.

It is true that there are many more differences between Spanish and English, as they are not identical languages. Do not worry, however, because you will learn them in time. It is normal for these two languages not to be identical. What is even more important when learning a language is to try to speak regardless of whether you are making mistakes. It is normal to do so at first.

Why Knowing What Your Client Wants is Important

Perhaps one of the most important things to consider when taking up a new job is what the client actually wants. This sounds obvious, but there are several things to consider when applying for a job and discussing with the client what the job specifically entails.

Applying for the Post

You should only apply for jobs you are certain that you fit. Being a freelance writer you are likely to be drawn immediately to writing roles, or perhaps proofreading. If you have a flexible writing style, it is okay to apply to several different types of writing jobs, such as blog posts, news articles or product descriptions.

This said, it is important to make sure you are an appropriate fit regarding the content. Writing about something you know about and care about is one hundred times easier, after all. Some posts may require a little research, and that is not a problem. However, if you are being hired to write about business or use plenty of legal jargon, you must ensure that this is a field you have some experience in. Otherwise, you may struggle to write the content even despite research, and this will only cause trouble with the client.

Communication is Key

After you have applied for the post and received confirmation from the client that they wish to discuss your hire further, it is vital to establish a line of communication with the client. This may be via the messaging service of a freelancing website, via e-mail, or via a voice tool such as Skype. Different people prefer to communicate in different ways, and the client may prefer to dictate where you communicate in order to facilitate business and transaction. If you ask me, even when you chat with your client by Skype, it is a good idea ask they to write you an email with the instructions, so you have a place to look at when you have doubts about such instructions.

Before you even consider starting your work, you must discuss the job thoroughly with the client to understand fully what they want out of the job. Otherwise, it is easy to make mistakes which cause a lot of back-and-forth between yourself and the client, only creating more unnecessary work. Do not hesitate to ask questions! It is absolutely key to make sure you know how and what to write before you start.

Asking Questions

Throughout the process, it is okay to continue to ask the client about something if it springs to mind. You are not pestering them; in fact, it is likely that they will prefer someone who is dedicated and keen to complete the job to the best of their abilities.

It is better to check as you go along instead of wasting time sending off various draft copies to be marked and edited and sent back for corrections. This is why establishing a good line of communication early on is so important.

Criticism

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, there will still be things that the client wants to be changed. Do not take this to heart, it isn’t personal. The client is hiring you, after all. If you have followed all these other steps and done your best to satisfy the client completely before sending off your work, it will likely only be minor changes that can be finished very quickly.

This amounts to minimal time wasted and a high level of satisfaction with the client, probably earning you a good future reference when you require it.

Fulfilling a client’s needs is far from impossible. It’s simply all about communication, creating a better way to understand exactly what is being asked of you. I hope you heed this advice and that it serves you well in your freelance career. This is not to say that every future job will come up roses – some things just aren’t meant to be!

Helpful and Simple Tools for Translators

If you are a freelancer, like myself, who speaks multiple languages and is occasionally tasked in writing pieces in both, then you will know how difficult this task can be. No matter your academic prowess in a second language, there will always be words that you come across and don’t know how to translate, or grammatical constructions that you are slightly unsure of.

In the world of freelancing, it is important to make sure your articles are perfect, in which case the grammar and spelling must be spot on. As a Spanish freelancer, I often write in Spanish as well as English and also translate, and thus I have found some helpful online tools to help me when I come across something tricky.

First of all, I would suggest avoiding Google Translate. Although it may give you a correct word, Google’s algorithm is not very efficient when it comes to translating sentences. Sometimes it spouts out an incorrect word order, messing up a sentence completely, and sometimes – given that Google Translate cannot process context – it slots the wrong word into the sentence. For example, in English, the singular and plural forms of the word “fish” are the same, but this is not the case in Spanish; Translate cannot understand which form of the noun you are wanting to use, and so it may give you an incorrect translation.

This moves us onto SpanishDict, an incredibly useful and accurate translator tool. Again, it becomes a little trickier when translating sentences, but SpanishDict is a little more accurate on this front. When it comes to individual words, however, this website offers you a whole selection of words which might be appropriate, featuring example sentences and brief definitions to ensure that you are using the correct word for the specific context.

Additionally, WordReference is a more accurate tool, also featuring handy definitions and examples. However, WordReference does not give the option to translate more than one word at a time, unless the phrase is a well-known idiom. This can dissuade you from typing whole paragraphs in at a time, which can improve accuracy if you are someone who is tempted to do such a thing. In terms of colloquialisms and slang, SpanishDict is a better tool to use, but for a compiled dictionary of terms, WordReference is extremely helpful.

For the more traditional people out there, a dictionary may be the way to go. After all, a dictionary is a very trustworthy source that also provides helpful definitions to help you choose the right word.

In terms of grammar, there are grammar books available in stores to simplify those difficult constructions. But in addition, there are free online sites such as StudySpanish which contain hundreds of pages on various parts of the Spanish grammar system.

Furthermore, if you feel like your knowledge on the language is slipping drastically and you need a refresher course, there are also online courses you can take. For example, I teach an online Spanish via Skype to help people learn. Similarly, there are apps like HelloTalk which connect you with a native speaker of the language – it never hurts to ask!

3 Do’s and don’ts of learning Spanish

Do's and don'ts of learning Spanish
flickr photo by quinnanya shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

Learning a new language does not come easy to many people. Some parts are easier to understand for some people, while others find them hard. For example, there are people who find vocabulary easy to learn, while for other people grammar is key. However, the sad part is that we kind of need both grammar and vocabulary to learn Spanish. Well, do not panic as this post is going to help you with some tips and tricks to make your life easier and who knows, maybe you will end up speaking Spanish in no time.

Do’s:

What should you actually do while learning Spanish?

  • Repeat new words

It is said that you have to stumble upon a word for a number of 80 times in order for it to remain locked in your mind forever. What can you do about it? Listen to eat, repeat it out loud, and even write it down.

  • Put words in context

Learning a new word might be hard. However, putting it in a context will ease your way. You can listen to some songs and the words will come easier in your mind. You can also try to make sentences with the new words in order to remember them better.

  • Try to think in Spanish

Thinking in Spanish is one step forward towards learning the language. Writing your sentences directly in Spanish without translating them is essential and you are less prone to making mistakes.

Don’ts:

  • Skip learning some words

I am 100% sure that you have at least once in your lifetime found a word that you were like: oh, when will I use it? Three years later, you are stuck in a gas station not knowing how to say that you have a flat tire. Learn words when you stumble upon them. You will later thank yourself.

  • Translate sentences

You should not think about full sentences in your own language and then try to translate them. You will end up frustrated and your text might not sound as good as you have imagined it.

  • Skip writing accent marks

Accent marks are a key aspect of the Spanish language. They can change the whole meaning of a sentence. It is important to learn how and when to put them. In addition, you should always try to write them. This way you will get used to it and your Spanish skills will definitely improve.

Learning Spanish might not come so easy, but in the end it is totally worth it. Whether you are planning on visiting Spain or Latin America, or simply want to read your favorite authors in their original language, it is always good to know how to speak it. Do not worry if your Spanish is not yet perfect, the good thing is that there is always room and time for improvement. Also, if you are not sure about whether your text has errors or not, you can always hire a proofreader.

Technology and Artificial Intelligence in Freelancing

Technology is changing significantly these days, and with the world so focused on using technologies in our day-to-day lives, scientists are unsurprisingly eager to make everyone’s lives increasingly easier.

Artifical intelligence, or AI, is a relatively new field, but one that is expanding at a rapid rate. AI involves creating “smart” computers or machines that can, in a sense, think and learn for themselves to perform complex tasks. But how is this relevant to the world of freelance?

Proofreading

Already, there is a variety of sites and tools out there that proofread your documents and correct errors without you having to go through the effort of proofreading yourself. A basic example of this is SpellCheck and GradeProof, which points out simple mistakes to you. However, there are now also free sites such as Hemingway App, which goes into detail about your piece, including how lengthy and complex the sentences are, whether the words are over-complicated and can be simplified, and how many adverbs you have used.

This new kind of “smart-proofreading” is a good example of how AI can help in freelance work – it certainly speeds up the process of nit-picking!

Already helping us in our researches

AI-powered systems can also help freelancers with their research. Any freelance content writer worth their salt will know about SEO. Search Engine Optimization is a vital part of content writing, because there is no point in writing articles and posting them on the web if nobody is going to see them.

Ten or so years ago, web and article writing commonly featured keyword stuffing as a way to boost traffic through the site, because search engines were not able to detect this. In the last few years, however, the game has changed drastically. Now, search engines such as Google are integrated with AI in order to search for high-quality content, rather than just turning up sites that feature keywords. Search engines can now understand the content, and therefore push pages that are well-written and relevant rather than ones containing multitudes of keywords.

In addition, a relatively new AI algorithm can summarize long documents, therefore saving you a considerable amount of time researching. Of course, for many topics, the research you conduct may have been brief skim-reading anyway, which is why AI tools such as this come in handy.

Some people even use this technology to sift through messy e-mail inboxes, helping them to better prioritize their tasks. Again, this is an extremely useful freelance tool.

Even Logos

AI has a lot of uses other than writing tools. For example, Logojoy is a company that uses artificial intelligence to produce high quality logos for any business. The logos are created instantly after the user answers a few quick, simple questions about their preferences, and thanks to the AI integration, Logo Joy creates unique, aesthetically-pleasing designs.

The Future of AI

There are currently scientists working on ironing out the kinks in AI writing tools, meaning that in the future there may be bots capable of performing content writing tasks. This is a pretty scary thought for those of us who make a living off content writing, but as of yet the technology is extremely underdeveloped. Furthermore, it’s unlikely that computers will ever be able to surpass the flow of human language use.

A fair handful of freelancers are not limited to just one field. Perhaps writing is not your only expertise and you like graphic design, or perhaps you are wanting to branch out of freelancing into running a business of your own.

The uses for artificial intelligence are endless already, and who knows what will happen in the future.