Archive for April, 2012

Writing Advice for Non-Native English Writers

I recently got a comment on my post about Why I Left Textbroker asking for tips on making money online through writing. I have literally made thousands of dollars through writing on Textbroker and other platforms (I’ve recently discovered the joys of Elance, as you know) and, rather than making a short and simple answer, I decided to write a post. Here is some writing advice for the non-native English writer.

First of all, I’m firmly in favor of everyone getting a shot at writing and following their passion for writing. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a non-native English speaker or not – I believe that there’s a place for everyone, and that the need for content is such that everyone can be employed. Good search engine optimization and avoidance of Pandalization drives many content seekers to places like The Content Authority, iWriter, Textbroker, and other content mills.

At these content mills, writers can ‘cut their teeth’ on learning the business of writing for profit. There are literally thousands of articles available for individuals to learn the ins and outs of SEO, article directory submission, and more. There are plenty of non-native English speakers which work on those sites, as well as on Elance, Guru, and Odesk. And they’re making reasonable money for their location.

Here are some tactics to boost your writing skills and get the better jobs.

Interaction

Interact with native English speakers and study their mannerisms and patterns of speaking. One great place to do this is at My Language Exchange, where speakers of your language and speakers of English are paired together to work on teaching each other their native tongue. If you are in more urban areas of your country, it’s highly likely that you come in contact with native English speakers. Choose those with whom you feel comfortable, and ask them to help you practice. Another place which is extremely exciting is Duolingo – it’s in beta right now, but it’s going to be a boon for everyone.

Read fiction

Read fiction written by native English speaking authors. By reading this fiction, you will see some of the dialogue which happens between the characters, and get to understand the nuances of the English language. You see, you’re at a disadvantage, just like every person who is learning another language – you might have the basic mechanics of the language down, but nuance takes longer to learn because it comes from cultural indoctrination. Reading English fiction offers a glimpse of this nuance-filled writing in its natural habitat.

Read non-fiction

Look at some of the copywriting books which are available. There are tons of them out there, though I admit a partiality toward Robert Bly’s The Copywriter’s Handbook. For stylistic issues, turn to Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style. You can get a good round base of the mechanics of English, subject/verb agreement, and more. The first thing to strive for in the English writing world is the mechanics — then work toward the art and the passion which comes from learning a new language.

Translation

Find an article written in your native tongue that truly strikes home for you. Translate that article into English, and then show it to a native English speaker to see if they were able to get the passion and beauty of the original article through your words. If you don’t have someone available who will read and critique your English writing, I’ll be more than happy to read it over and tell you where the writing could be better.

Persistence

Keep writing. And writing. And more writing. And then when you’re done writing, write some more. Keep submitting that writing to the content mills and see if they will give you a true critique of your work, rather than telling you that you didn’t put a comma here or there. The only way that you’re going to get better, and the only way that you’re going to be taken seriously and make real money within the English article writing world is if you write. If you’re merely after a few bucks, that’s one thing, but if you want to make a real serious go at it, you have to keep writing.

Non-native English speakers have several advantages and disadvantages when it comes to competing against English speaking writers. Because of the cost of living, you can afford to charge content seekers less, but usually your work doesn’t compare in quality to the native English speaking writing. Push yourself into becoming better at English, study mannerisms, and get the technical work down cold. When you advance to the next level, it will be extremely rewarding.

Photo is courtesy of Zoetnet on Flickr, and is used with permission through the Creative Commons Attribution License.

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How to Save Money the Easy Way

With the economy still struggling and many people still in very difficult financial situations, everybody is looking for how to save money. Unfortunately, many people don’t quite know where to start, as it is very difficult for most of us to prioritize costs and know where to spend, where to save, and where to invest. The good news is that these problems do not arise due to any shortage of opportunity – people who carefully plan and keep their eyes open can find endless opportunities to save in their daily lives. Here are some excellent money-saving tips which will help you keep more money in the bank.

Ignore brand names

This tip can apply to everything from buying new clothes, new appliances, or groceries. Those store brand products are usually just as good as the ‘name’ brands, and often sell at a fraction of the price.

Minimize Your Transportation, Minimize Gas Costs

While the best money saving tip would be to leave the car behind and choose public transportation, this is obviously not a choice which can be made in most areas. When possible, try to use your bike or even your feet. Instead of making the special trip to the gym, take a walk around the neighborhood. Remember, you are trying to save money overall, and every little bit that you don’t spend, you can save for later.

Cut Back on Bad Habits

Bad habits are expensive, and you are spending large amounts of money to sustain those habits. The average price of a 2 liter bottle is $1.50. The average price of a pack of cigarettes is $5. The cost for good alcohol is enormous. Minimizing, or even cutting out altogether, these bad habits will both save money and reduce the instance of the bad habit.

Get Stable Investments

The stock market is a roller coaster. The real estate market is in shambles. Give some thought to investing in gold, a more appropriate and stable safe haven for your money.

Sell Your Stuff

Many people have attics, basements, and storage units that are positively crammed with goods that are just collecting dust. Have a good garage sale, look toward one of the selling sites, or simply sell some of this to friends. You’d be absolutely amazed with the amount of money that you can earn, and you’re clearing the way to a more minimalist, frugal household. If you clear out your storage unit to the point where you don’t have to have it anymore, that’s an additional savings per month.

Keep your eye out for coupons and deals

There is nothing so tasty as a meal which is bought with a coupon. There is nothing which reads better than a book bought at a significant amount off of the list price. Keeping those deals in mind is easier than ever these days – there are sites, apps, the tried and true local papers, and more which have the frugal person in mind. Before you purchase something at retail, think about the deals which you can get on those products.

Photo is courtesy of Epsos.de and is used with permission under the Creative Commons Attribution license.

Online Coupons Done Right

Finding the best online coupons is a passing fancy for some, a mission for others. Me? I rarely buy anything more than groceries, but when I do purchase my books, music, or clothes, I buy them from online vendors. While I love supporting local stores, it’s often easier and cheaper to use an online retailer for those extras. Why is it cheaper? Coupon codes are available for nearly every major online retailer in the world, and that can save you a ton of cash.

Where do you find coupon codes?

The largest database of online coupon codes can be found at Coupon Chief. Basically, if you’re wanting to purchase something online and need a coupon code, start with Coupon Chief. It’s likely there’s a coupon for you in their expansive list of stores and listings. You can find offers for free shipping, money off your total purchase, as well as percentage discounts off of your total purchase. There are also a few surprises from vendors, so it’s worth checking out.

I’ve tried some other coupon sites, but they are difficult to muddle through. While they might have the coupon codes available, you have to jump through countless hoops or go through a pesky registration process to get to them. Personally, I see registration, even if the account is free, as a barrier. Coupon Chief is different. While they encourage you to sign up, it’s not necessary to register on the site to receive great deals.

How does Coupon Chief Get Its Codes?

That’s one of the great features. Many coupon places solicit their codes without anything expected in return. Coupon Chief has a program called Pays-2-Share where you can get 2% from any of the purchases that are made from the codes. In other words, if you’re one of those who scours the net looking for the best coupon codes, you can get paid for your efforts with an affiliate program. That’s the part which requires registration, but it’s worth it to get some money out of the deal.

As a result, countless coupon codes are submitted for review from everywhere on the web. When the database is added to, everyone wins. Coupon Chief harnessed the power of social networking in the interests of helping everyone save money.

Are these codes legit?

With such an overwhelming incentive to bring coupon codes to the site, some might get the idea that they can submit false codes in the hopes that they will receive money. Each of the codes at Coupon Chief is rated, commented upon, and thoroughly reviewed by its users. If someone submits a bogus coupon code, or the code goes to a sleazy vendor, it will be quickly caught. They have no tolerance for BS, they just want to bring you the best coupon codes around.

Whether you’re just dabbling in coupon codes, or you have a passion for finding the best deals and sharing, Coupon Chief is the best place to go. I know that I will go there before I shop at any online retailers so I can get a discount on already low Internet prices.

Disclosure

While this is a paid review, the opinions expressed herein are my own and not influenced by Coupon Chief or any other individual, entity, or corporation. Although I don’t go shopping often, when I pick up something from Amazon or Woman Within, I’ll be stopping there first. Picture courtesy of DMDonahoo on Flickr and is used with permission from the creative commons license.