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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.

Sites to check SERPs

3 tools to check SERPs
flickr photo by Robert Scoble shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

First of all, many of you might not be familiar with the term SERP and its implications. For this reason, it is important to first explain a bit what it means, and why it is important for your blog, and only then talk about some of the best sites where you can check for it. Let’s get started.

SERP is an acronym for Search Engline Results Pages. They are used by people when they want to look for something online using a search engine, like Google. You simply enter a keyword and the search engine provides you with a SERP.

It is not this simple though, because SERPs are different one from the other, even if you search for the same keyword on the same search engine. The main reason why this happens is because basically all search engines make the experience of using them unique by adapting to their users. The keyword is not the only factor, but the person’s location and browsing history are also taken into account.

Basically, if you want to see how well your latest post on your blog is ranking, then you should definitely check out for SERP on one of these websites. Let’s take a look at some of the best sites out there.

  1. SEMrush

On SEMrush you simply put your website URL or an URL of a blog post and this site will tell you which keywords you rank for. In addition, you can click on any of these keywords in order to see the keyword competition. It works for both Google and Bing. You can get a free 14-day trail of SEMrush, but you will need to register in order to use the software.

  1. Google Rank Checker

If you do not want to spend money on a SERP online checker, then you should definitely give Google Rank Checker a go. It is a great online keyword rank checker which is also free. All that you need to do is to include the domain name along with the keyword. Then you will get the position of that keyword in Google. It is quite simple.

  1. SEOCentro

SEOCentro is an excellent tool for checking keyword ranking. The best thing about this website is the fact that it allows you to check out the performance of specific keywords in more than one search engines. Among these engines we can count: Google, Yahoo, and Bing, but not only. It does not require you to create an account, but it is recommendable that you do so.

Now that you know where to check out your SERP, you can increase the performance of your personal blog. It is truly one great tool that you should take into account. After all, you do really want to get visitors on your site. This is an excellent way to find out how your site is performing. You should definitely keep this in mind when you write your next post.

Tips that guarantee success when starting an online business

Starting and running an online business is connected to many difficulties and issues that should be considered. Secrets to success vary among the individuals engaged in cyber work and tips that warrant a success may differ as well. Yet, here is a hit list of some common hints to follow.

Getting ideas

The capacity of our brain is predetermined to thinking and observations. This is how creativity emerges in the process of acquiring, gathering and storing information. You may never know when the right time is for an idea to come out of the bubble. This refers not only to places but people as well. Never avoid meeting a new face that may give you a refreshing perspective and an entirely new way of thinking. You might have come across useful tips on the benefits of searching the net for solutions, though it can be hard to remember everything we find interesting. Sometimes our mind is crowded with loads of thoughts and data. That is why keeping structured and developed tracks of the records you want to keep. It may be a diary or a bookmark folder in your browser. Something that is easily accessed when work has started.

Sell your experience and uniqueness not your items

Online business is not a physical space where customers and clients can see and touch the products or the service. You may think you offer and sell a service but it is more than that. It is an entire process which involves a range of activities based on your experience that need to guarantee success. The best way to do it is to be different and not imitating others. The more areas you are different the greater chance you have to make progress. For example, you can have a few satellite web pages or projects revolving around one venture. Though, remember that even in the most popular attraction you need to find and launch a very peculiar part that will make others follow you. Do not copy, but let others copy you.

Keep track of the community following you

Even the most successful business might fall apart unless you a constant back up from the people giving assurance that your job is meticulously directed to meet their interests. Try not to rely on your good sense or perceptiveness. What you actually need is a valid metrics to see where you are heading or whether you need to change your trends. Also, do not hesitate to cut off ideas no matter how much enthusiastic that might have looked at the beginning. Keep watching what people like or detest as there is no universal rule about leading a successful on line business. Just like scientists collect data based on field work before they have come up with a revolutionary theory. Measure your impact and keep your eyes wide open for any fluctuation in the process.

Tips for Spanish essay writing

Whether you are currently learning Spanish or already have good Spanish language skills, there is always room for improvement. You might understand it when it is spoken, you might be able to perfectly understand a text in Spanish, but how good are your Spanish essay writing skills?

Writing in a foreign language is usually hard. I mean learning to write in your own language is hard as well. Just think about it. When you were little, you first learned to talk, then to read, and finally, you learned how to write. As you can see, writing is the hardest thing to do. So, regardless of if you are writing an essay in Spanish as a Spanish native, or as a Spanish learner, below are a few tips for Spanish essay writing that will improve your skills.

  1. Use words that you know

 

Writing in a new language does not mean opening the dictionary every couple of minutes just to use fancy words and sound smart. It also does not mean that you should not open a dictionary when you do not know a word. What I meant to say is that you should mostly rely on the words that you already know. Why? Because in writing you are also applying your grammar skills and trying to perfect them. In addition, using words that you do not really know might result in a disaster as the words might have many different meanings that you are unaware of. Better stay safe than sorry.

  1. Think in Spanish

Thinking in Spanish will make it easier for you to write sentences correctly. Trying to compose a text in your mind and later translate it in Spanish will only create confusion and frustration. Some expressions are hard to be translated. Other times, writing a text in Spanish as complex as the one that you are thinking about might not be possible. Why? Maybe because your Spanish skills are not that developed and you might end up disappointing yourself.

  1. Take accent marks seriously

As mentioned in a previous post, accent marks play a key role in the Spanish language. They can make or break a sentence and they can change the whole meaning of a word. It might take a bit of time to master accent marks, but in the end, I guarantee you that they are worth the effort. Accent marks contribute to the correctness of your text and show that you have the necessary skills.

If all of this seems like a lot of effort, do not panic. There are still some things that you can do. For example you can hire an essay writer to do the work for you and this way you will have a correctly written text in no time. If however you want to write the text yourself, but also want it to be correctly written, there is also an option. You can hire a proofreader to make sure that your Spanish essay has no errors in it.

The Importance of Deadlines

As a freelancer myself, I know how important it is to stick to your deadlines. Of course, deadlines are important in most if not all fields of work, but in the self-employed sector they can be even more crucial.

Impressing Your Clients

In a broad sense, deadlines are important because they are often set by or agreed upon with your client, in which case they will be expecting to receive your work by this date. To avoid being selfish, you should always complete work by the agreed deadline to minimise any negative effects that a missed deadline may have on either yourself or your client, or even on a third party.

If you freelance via freelancing sites such as Upwork, meeting deadlines may be even more beneficial to you, because previous clients can leave ratings or reviews. Efficiency level can be a huge factor in achieving a good rating, which is vital in drawing more attention to your skills. More attention and a high recommendation makes finding clients a whole lot easier, facilitating the process of gaining work online.

Suffice to say, you don’t always have to hand in work on the deadline. Getting your pieces in early can improve this rating even further, which leads us onto the idea of setting your own deadlines.

Self-motivation

The final deadline is the end goal for you to work towards; the finished piece to be submitted by a particular time. However, you can set yourself several smaller deadlines, or milestones, in order to make the workload seem more manageable.

It is essential to set plausible deadlines so that you don’t cause yourself more stress trying to cram in an unfeasible amount of work. That said, if the mini-deadlines are appropriately set, they can really help you to build up towards the end goal (the final deadline) without there seeming to be too much work at all.

The final deadline is, obviously, the most important, but setting these smaller goals will almost certainly aid you on your efficiency levels.

Be Strict with Yourself

The key to meeting any deadline is discipline. You have to stay motivated and disciplined in order to meet any goal you have set for yourself, because this will help you stay on task.

Staying motivated and focused is a skill which you can develop through a variety of ways. There are apps and desktop tools to keep you focussed, and practices such as mindfulness and the trait of determination will help you to stay motivated. Of course, if you enjoy freelancing and like what you do, it is much easier to remain dedicated to your work.

The discipline side is more down to you being strict with yourself, setting goals and sticking to them. You may choose to set small rewards for yourself, so that after each milestone you pass you receive something nice; this is a very good way to keep yourself going, because you will feel a better sense of accomplishment.

If you are strict with even the little goals, you will find that the completion of the end piece will come much easier and much faster.

Conditional in Spanish language

Si clauses, which are the equivalent of if clauses in English, are quite hard for most people who are trying to learn Spanish. One of the main reasons why it is not so easy to learn them is because of the beloved “subjuntivo”. However, there is no need to panic, because this article has got you covered. Arm yourself with a pen or a pencil, a notebook or a piece of paper, and let’s get started.

  • Si + present indicative=?

When we use this structure, the actions that we are talking about are possible. The condition has a high chance of being fulfilled. In addition, it is important to know that the two parts of the sentence “si clause” and the result clause, can be interchanged in terms of which comes first, without changing the meaning of it.

If in the “si clause” we have present indicative, then in the result clause, we have three options:

  1. Present indicative

Example: Si nos vemos hoy, te doy el libro. (= If we see each other today, I give you the book).

2. Future

Example: Si tengo dinero, viajaré a Paris. (= If I have the money, I will travel to Paris)

3. Imperative

Example: Si me desmayo, dame agua. (= If I faint, give me water).

  • Si + imperfect subjunctive =?

When we use this structure, we think about a hypothetical situation, which is impossible to happen. If in the “si clause” we use the imperfect subjunctive, then in the result clause, we will use the conditional. Write this down: we never ever use the conditional after si. Contrary to all expectations, si is never found near the conditional.

Example: Si pudiera volar, viajaría por todo el mundo. (= If I could fly, I would travel the world).

  • Si + pluperfect subjunctive

 When we use this structure, we talk about the opposite of what happened. It refers to a hypothetical situation, in which things would have turned out totally different. We have three options for this situation:

  1. Past conditional

Example: Si hubiera ganando la apuesta, habría ido al concierto. (= If I had won the bet, I would have gone to the concert).

2. Simple conditional

We use this structure when the result clause is still valid in the present.

Example: Si hubiera aprendido hablar inglés, entendería mejor las películas americanas. (= If I had learned to speak English, I could understand American movies better).

3. Pluperfect subjunctive

We use this structure mostly in the spoken language.

Example: Si hubiera tenido un hermano, no me hubiera aburrido tanto. (= If I had had a brother, I wouldn’t have gotten so bored).

You see? Si condicional clauses, are not that hard after all. Apply three magical formulas and you have learned your lesson. Try it, it is fail proof. Your Spanish will improve in no time, and if you learn these magic formulas, then you will have demystified the Spanish language. Spanish grammar, is easy if you find some simple tricks. Go ahead, test them out.

Working from home -how to boost your self-improvement

Home working can be an amazing experience for everyone if you have in mind the commodity and flexibility of doing your job. In comparison to the office work, homeworking offers your more flexibility but probably less competitiveness. You are on your own as you dictate your pace without any stress produced by the environment. However, you should know how to become more productive and catch up with the latest trends.

The first thing that pops up in mind when talking about home working is “time”. Creating a schedule according to your needs can be awesome but it can also lead to procrastination and laziness. If you don`t have to wake up at 7.00 am to catch the bus for work, it does not mean that you can`t keep the habit when you work at home. Setting your working time and sticking to it is important to develop good working habits.

Dress code is something that you are bound to in your company so why not to go on with the habit. People often say it might be fantastic being able to stay in your pajamas during work but wearing the clothes that bring to your mind rest and sleep would not make any good. There is no need to dress up but some casual everyday outfit can cheer you up and break the monotony of the day.

When you work from home you are not stuck to work hours as you would be in the office. Though, you should set your specific working hours and stick to the schedule. Find out when you are most productive. Some people do better early in the morning, while others are night birds.

Make sure you set aside a specific place for work. No matter how handy is using your laptop it does not mean you can crawl around your home with it. Being disciplined when working from a particular place can make you get in the working stream right ahead once you enter this realm. It does not have to be a room- a small, cozy corner in a room is enough to be named “my office”.

Being in a place accessible and needed to use by all the family members is not a good idea so you need a quiet space and the possibility not to get interrupted. Make it clear to everyone around your household that you are working seriously and you need your privacy and complete concentration. If it is difficult, use headphones and pick up some good ones with sound cancellation option.

Finally, you can`t work without a break, so go ahead and use your time for a nice cup of coffee. You can do it even better, take the opportunity to stretch your legs and go to the nearest coffee shop. Just as in a regular office when having lunch time.

Remember-you can always change your workload, but always think about ways you can work smarter not easier or harder.