5 tips on Choosing the Right Freelance Writing Job from an Online Jobs Board

If you don’t want to use up precious writing (and money earning) time seeking out freelance writing clients and pitching ideas to them, then online jobs boards can be a quick and easy way to find writing jobs that allow you to work from home. Continue reading “5 tips on Choosing the Right Freelance Writing Job from an Online Jobs Board”

How to Get Paid for Writing Quality Blog Posts

If there is one thing we here at Fi Darby Freelance are good at, it is writing blog posts. The life of a blogger is a happy one, you get to research and put down in words all kinds of interesting facts and figures, you also, if you write your own personal blog, get to go out and do interesting things that you can write about. Making money from blog writing takes experience and practice but it can be done. Today we have 6 top blog writing tips that will help you to write blog posts that clients will pay for. Continue reading “How to Get Paid for Writing Quality Blog Posts”

UK English Versus American English

With the continuation of globalisation and the rise of the gig economy most blog or web article copywriters will find themselves with clients from all over the world. This is great news because diversity makes our job much easier but the version of English required by clients can vary from country to country and subtle differences in spelling, word meaning or grammar can catch the unwary copywriter out and irritate clients. We look at some of the key differences between UK English and American English.

Choose the right version of English

If you aren’t sure whether your client wants you to write in UK or American English be certain to ask. Mainland USA obviously uses American English but so do some of the areas of the world that the USA frequently trades or has historical connections with such as Japan, South Korea and Jordan. Most Caribbean countries also opt for American English but those that are part of the Commonwealth prefer the UK version.

American vocabulary is not always the same as English vocabulary

Most of us are used to understanding some of the common USA/UK vocabulary differences. Word interchanges like ‘tap’ and ‘faucet’ or ‘football’ and ‘soccer’ are well known. However, when you are a busy copywriter it is easy to slip up and miss some of the more subtle vocabulary differences. For example, if you are writing a travel post and use the sentence, ‘The coach arrived late’, there is a chance that your audience might be searching for a previous reference to a sports instructor. If you are ever unsure, considering checking with your client which version they prefer. If you don’t want to do that, there is help out there on the web. Oxford Dictionaries, for example, have a fairly comprehensive list of British words and expressions alongside their American equivalents. Some that you might want to watch out from a content point of view include:

  1. ‘car park’ (UK) and ‘parking lot’ (USA)
  2. ‘aluminium’ (UK) and ‘aluminum’ (USA)
  3. ‘current account’ (UK) and ‘checking account’ (USA)
  4. ‘estate agent’ (UK) and ‘real estate agent’ or ‘realtor’ (USA)
  5. ‘pay packet’ (UK) and ‘pay envelope’ (USA)

Learn the common differences between English and US spelling

Whilst it is possible to check any UK and US spelling differences online (Grammarist is a great place to do this) or alter your word processor’s grammar setting to the country of your choice, it will speed up your writing and help you avoid mistakes if you learn some of the basic spelling differences between English and US spelling.

  1. Word ending in ‘ise’ or ‘yse’ in UK English will be correctly spelt with ‘ize’ or ‘yze’ for an American audience. For example, organise/organize.
  2. UK English words that end in ‘our’ will typically be spelt with ‘or’ in USA English. For example, neighbour/neighbor.
  3. Words that in UK English end in ‘ce’ are often written with ‘se’ in American English. It should be noted that the rules for these in UK English can be complicated (usually ‘ce’ for a noun and ‘se’ for a verb).

American punctuation is not always the same as English punctuation

Apart from the obvious issues surrounding the cultural differences between ‘full stops’ and ‘periods’ American punctuation is very similar to English with a couple of key exceptions:

  1. Americans tend to use double quotation marks whereas single ones are more common in English (both are acceptable although not in the same document).
  2. In USA English it is usual for a comma to be placed before the ‘and’ at the end of a list. In UK English this would be incorrect.

We have only picked out a few of the differences between UK English and US English. It is important not to be put off a job just because you will need to write in the version of English that is no so familiar to you. Instead, spend some time reading related blogs and articles in the same version. You will find that this will help to familiarise you with language and grammar expectations. Set your spelling and grammar checker to the version you require and it will do most of the hard work for you. Language is not a static beast and in a few years time, these rules may well have changed. At Fi Darby Freelance we say embrace the differences, they may not be with us for much longer!

For a friendly and experienced chat about web content development for your project in either US or UK English please feel free to get in touch with us at Fi Darby Freelance.

 

 

 

Will artificial intelligence replace human content writers?

As a species we’ve made a mess of a fair few things but we’ve proved ourselves to be adept in the field of invention. We invented wheels to stop ourselves walking, we invented steam engines to put ourselves out of work and now we have invented artificial intelligence to help us avoid the strain of thinking. As I type I’m aware that there is a high possibility my content writing will be the tool that eventually puts me out of a job. To explain I examine the question of whether or not AI will ever replace human content writing.

Computer generated content writing is already with us

Almost all blog content you currently read on the web is human written but once technology perfects the art of rewriting existing articles, this will change. At present it is likely that if you read sports or financial reports, at least some of these will have been written by computer. You won’t be able to tell because these formulaic snippets of text don’t require much variety of language.

If you think about it, machine written content could even be better than human written. Computers have far quicker access to existing information than humans and can assimilate it in a fraction of the time. Computers now also have the ability to judge their audience and write accordingly. Something many of us content writers would love to get right every time!

Computers are learning how to write

Today the Internet has an estimated (nobody actually knows) 50 billion web pages. This number will have grown by tomorrow, and the next day… This represents an awful lot of writing and all of this writing is already used by programmes like Google’s search algorithms and Siri’s language generation to conduct machine learning into language patterns, styles and responses, all of which will lead to more ‘human’ computer generated language. This is known as Natural Language Generation and is progressing fast.

Should we be worried?

Well if you are a content writer like me then the answer to this is ‘yes’. Pundits predict that by 2018 20% of web content will be computer written. If you are planning to retire next year then fine, otherwise you might want to start learning a few alternative skills. There are questions too of course about the impact of machine writing on the quality and innovation of language, vocabulary and style, and computers have already been proven to ‘learn’ bias such as gender stereotypes from existing web content. The debate is interesting and one I shall certainly be watching.

For now though, quality human written content remains the best way in which to reach your web audience, build a relationship with them and promote your products or services. For a friendly and experienced chat about web content development for your project please feel free to get in touch with us at Fi Darby Freelance.

We don’t bite, we write!

Which freelance writing niche?

One of the regularly asked questions at Fi Darby Freelance is,

‘What are your writing niches?’

You would imagine that this would be an easy question to answer, we all have our own favourite topics and expertise in certain areas. In an ideal world everybody would be writing about the things they love. I would choose the outdoors and literature above another topic anytime. However, as freelance writers, we live in the business world and we can’t control demand any more than we can control the weather.

Client Choice of Niche

Clients (particularly web development agencies) require blog posts and other web copy on a wide range of topics. When I started out as a freelancer I was tempted to turn down topics I didn’t understand. This would have been a bad idea for three reasons:

  1. Freelance writing is a competitive world and annoying your client by being fussy about topics is not a tactic set to impress.
  2. Learning about new topics is actually quite easy; much of the required information is already on the web and just needs verifying and assembling.
  3. The more niches you can demonstrate in your portfolio, the more chances you will have of being picked up by a client.

Most Interesting Niches

It goes without saying that if you are interested in your topic you will produce a piece of work that is more lively and engaging, you will also feel more motivated. The same is true if you have developed a level of expertise in a subject. If you have got to a stage in your writing where you can be more choosy about your work, you might want to have a brain-storming session in which you consider topics away from your main interests on which you would like to write.

A great way to test your levels of interest is to write a piece. You could either do this for practice or pitch it to possible interested parties.

It also pays to know which niches you definitely would not like to write about. For me this would include sport as I find it a tad confusing.

Best Paying

Even if you always enjoy your writing, you should remember that freelancing is your business; it is the bread and butter that is going to keep a roof over your head and pay your bills. To this end, and to help you enjoy the freedom of freelance work, it can be a good idea to work out which niches pay best.

Traditionally these have included real estate, technology, medical writing and e-learning. However you might find in the future that other factors such as blog length, media (e.g. video scripts), graphics inclusion (e.g. infographics) and an innovative angle are the things that tip the pay-scale balance.

We have found here at Fi Darby Freelance that it pays to keep an open mind about niche writing work. What was a chore one week may well become your favourite topic the next. What pays well in February might not be as lucrative by April. We wouldn’t want to stop you having your favourite topics however; that way you can look out for matching clients and savour your writing when a job in a niche you love lands in your lap.

Keen to avoid some of the common writing pitfalls? We have some advice for you here

http://www.fidarby.co.uk/2017/01/13/freelance-writing-pitfalls-three-things-a-new-freelancer-shouldnt-do/

After some tips on how to make money from freelance writing?

http://www.fidarby.co.uk/2017/01/09/how-to-make-money-from-freelance-writing/

 

 

What is the gig economy?

The gig economy has been getting some big news headlines over the last few months. If you have been reading the news, you will have heard the company names ‘Uber’ and ‘Deliveroo’ because they have both found themselves in disagreement with employees over workers’ rights. Both Uber and Deliveroo are big players in the gig economy, but what exactly is it?

Continue reading “What is the gig economy?”

How to find freelance writing work online – Copify

There are no shortage of online job boards from which the budding freelancer can choose work. However each one requires you to share a certain amount of information, create links to a portfolio and sometimes even take a writing test before they will take you on.

This makes sense but as a freelancer who is keen to start making some money, it can be frustrating to spend hour after hour creating profiles and uploading work samples. So where should you start? Which freelance writing sites are the most effective? Today we are going to take a look at Copify.

Copify is not the most popular of boards for writing jobs and it definitely isn’t the best paying, but it does have a few advantages for the new freelancer:

1. Copify is UK based
In many ways the country of origin of your writing jobs doesn’t matter. At Fi Darby Freelance we have clients across the globe including Argentina and Australia. However there are two main advantages to finding writing jobs from your home nation: the first is that you will be less likely to make colloquial language mistakes and the second is that you will be working in your own currency.

2. You don’t have to bid for Copify jobs
Most job boards require you to make bids for jobs. This becomes easier once you know where to pitch your work but until then it can be frustrating waiting only to find out you didn’t get the job. With Copify you select a job and it is yours.

3. Copify is a great learning platform
The range of Copify jobs is varied and changes from day to day. One day you might be writing about drone technology, the next composing product descriptions for printer parts. This is all excellent practice but more than that, if you keep a record of your work it helps you to build a varied and impressive portfolio.

Copify isn’t perfect however (no freelance job boards are). Here are its main disadvantages:

1. Copify jobs are low paid
You will definitely get paid more for jobs from other freelance job sites, however Copify makes an excellent starting point and always lets you know exactly how much you will be earning. Besides, having to do more jobs to get the money in is no bad thing; it will teach you to write faster.

2. Copify ‘professional status’ will not greatly improve job rates
Copify do offer freelancers the opportunity to promote to ‘professional status’ after completing 25 jobs. This is useful but relies on professional level jobs being available. As these are more expensive for clients, you will have to look regularly if you want to find them.

3. Some Copify jobs can be monotonous
Sometimes the only jobs available on the Copify site are large sets of very similar requests. Not only can this become boring, it can be tricky to ensure that you don’t repeat what you said in previous pieces of work.

Copify is a great place to start for someone who is thinking about online freelance work. It offers a good range of jobs that fit into relatively short time spans. I still use Copify to fill in slots between larger jobs. The Copify pay system is reliable and easy to use and they are very quick to provide support via their live chat set up. We recommend giving Copify a go, but here is a little warning, you will have to complete a writing test before you are allowed to join.

Have fun!

New to freelancing and want to avoid some pitfalls?

Freelance writing pitfalls – three things a new freelancer shouldn’t do

Freelance writing pitfalls – three things a new freelancer shouldn’t do

Starting any new job can be a worrying time. Switching from a salary to freelancing is exciting and it means you can work from home, but it is inevitably scary and brings with it its own set of risks. To help you as you start out as a freelance writer, we have three initial pitfalls for you to avoid: Continue reading “Freelance writing pitfalls – three things a new freelancer shouldn’t do”

How to make money from freelance writing

I have an announcement to make… are you ready?

The truth is that you can make enough money to live on from freelance writing and you can do it from home, from the beach or from the top of a mountain (well a mountain with internet access).

But… and here is the caveat (bad news)… it’s going to take you a while to build up enough income to give up the day job altogether. Before that can happen you will need to:

Continue reading “How to make money from freelance writing”