3 Grammar Checking Software Tools

3 Grammar Checking Software Tools

When people pay for your writing, they expect a certain standard. Yes, you can get away with significant creative license if you write a novel or other creative work. But, you will still lose fans after one too many mistakes with your and you’re. So, if you want to have a career in writing, I suggest you use these tools to help improve your grammar and systematize your editing.

Grammarly

Grammarly is a tool that can be added to Windows, to Microsoft Office, and to Google Chrome. Grammarly’s editing algorithm checks for more than simple mistakes. Many editors check for misspelling and basic grammar mistakes like fragments. It identifies places where you may be missing an article (I always take that with a grain of salt), where you confused common words like your, you’re, too, two, to, then, than, except, accept, and others. If your friends on social media often correct your typos, you definitely need Grammarly. It will help with your editing if you want a career in writing or a related field.

Microsoft Office

I have been more impressed with Microsoft Office’s grammar algorithm recently. They have some more AI type editing that shows up in your writing as a double blue underline. This can help with tricky grammar structure. But, the most important aspect of Microsoft Office is its autocorrect functions. When you are typing, you need to be able to type without significant time editing. THe fact that Microsoft Office would have automatically changed THe to The saves me time. Except I am leaving that typo in to make a point. 
 
When you write in Microsoft Office, the auto formatting and corrections often save sginifcant amounts of time, especially if you tend to hit two keys at the same time or have slow pinkies on the SHIFT key (Did you see what I did there?).

Hemingway App

The Hemingway App is essential for any writing geared towards the general public. You copy and paste your writing into the Hemingway App, and it will analyze your writing. It looks at the complexity of sentences and phrases, the use of adverbs, and the use of passive voice. It also gives you your grade level score in the Flesch-Kincaid Readability score.
 
If you want to have a career in writing, or editing, you will need to learn how to use these grammar checking software tools to make your writing stand out.

Can You Make A Career Out Of Non-Profit Writing?

Stick around the freelance writing community for long and you will meet people who need help with writing materials to run their non-profit organization. I always like to think of it that in the for-profit world, you have to pay your taxes, while in the non-profit world, you have to file your paperwork.

Because of the amount of paperwork non-profits are required to file, the opportunities for a writer are endless. Non-profits use paperwork for licensing, IRS approval, grant-writing, policy making, etc.

So, if you are going to build a business or a career writing for non-profits, what are some things you have to understand?

You Have to Talk About Money

This is the most important thing to consider about a non-profit writing career. Non-profits are often so focused on their vision and mission that budgets and emergency funds take a very low priority in day-to-day operations. Because they won’t think about their finances as much, you have to think about yours and be clear in setting boundaries.

Because of how easy it is to volunteer time at a non-profit, you could easily find yourself earning less than minimum wage, or nothing at all, while working full time.

Look at your budget needs, and don’t do a writing project that violates your budgetary boundaries. If you need to earn $10 an hour to make ends meet, don’t take a writing gig for less. You can still provide high quality writing at cheap, cheap prices like $10/hr. Then it is a win-win for you and the non-profit.

Occasionally, when a non-profit is in an area I want to learn more about or has impacted me in some way that I want to give back more, I will volunteer writing services fully. Volunteering is a choice, but realize that it hurts your ability to sell your writing services later, because you have developed a habit of not getting paid.

Understand The Non-Profit’s Mission

You love hunting, raising and butchering your own meat, and training sled dogs. It is difficult for you to write for the SPCA or the Humane Society. Even if it’s just legal paperwork, passion shows.

Since non-profits rarely pay the same amount as for-profit businesses, your passion needs to match with theirs or you will be miserable. There are plenty of charities that match the passions of you as an individual. Find them, join them.

Love Learning as Much as You Want a Career

Writing for a career is about learning as much as you can, and teaching others what you learn. If you are going to write for non-profits, this is especially true. Constantly learn and apply what you learn to the world around you. Then, use what you have learned and practiced in your writing. Whether you write marketing copy, grant applications, newsletters, tax documents or policies, this attitude will pave the way toward your success as a non-profit writer.

What have you learned about working as a non-profit writer? Leave me a comment below.

Can I Do Any Type of Writing Career?

Is It Possible to Do Any Type of Writing Career?

Writing as a career can seem to be the height of wealth and fame, or it can seem to be a drudgery. If you are thinking about writing as a career, can you choose what type of writing will you do?

Business Writing

The easiest writing career to get involved in, business content is incredibly diverse. At Paul Davis Solutions, we write on marketing, finances, interior design, home decorating, farming, trucking and logistics, clothes and fashion. Business writing is more valuable now than it has ever been. Yes, video is growing online, but written content still drives search engines. Plus, videos are scripted by writers.

Content for businesses includes blogging, sales copy, whitepapers, websites, brochures and more. Pursue business content creation to easily start an online writing career.

Academic Writing

True academic writing is a great method to build a career and independent income streams. But, academic writing requires that you have academic credentials, usually a doctorate in the field you want to write in. If you are willing to work through the academic process to get higher degrees, there are many careers and businesses related to academic writing: research, thought leadership pieces, and textbooks.

Literature 

Fiction and non-fiction literature is one of the most enjoyable things people read or write. Because of this, biographies, novels, histories, and even manga are all popular areas writers build a career. Since literature type content is so popular, the door to entry into living-wage levels of writing is much higher.

To start a literature writing career, pick a method of distribution for your content; your career strategy changes depending on this choice. One distribution is the more traditional one which still has the best return if you get published. Plan your novel or other book and send proposals to publishers.

The other distribution method is to publish your content yourself, using content marketing tools to market your writing and selling different access to your writing.

A hybrid is where you use a blog and other content marketing tools to advertise your writing and story-lines and then pitch your writing to a traditional publisher.

Yes, It Is Possible

Finally, a career or business as a writer is available for anyone who wants to put the time and mental energy into figuring out the type of writing they are doing and commit to developing it as a craft.

But, does everyone want to do a writing career? That question is more for each individual to answer on their own.

3 Online Businesses You Can Start for Free

Bootstrapping. The process by which you start a business for little to no capital investment and grow it primarily through grit and a never give up attitude.

These are 3 areas I have worked that did not cost any money to start or to set up lead generation systems, not even a website.

Online Business #1 – Tutoring

I did this business on Wyzant. But, you could probably find other places where you can pick up freelance tutoring or teaching gigs. Do the sites charge you after you get work? Yes. But, you can get the work without any money down.

Music, Spanish, English, Math. If you enjoy any type of study, even gardening, you can probably find a tutoring or teaching job without spending cash.

Online Business #2 – Independent Sales

This takes a unique type of person, but if you are or choose to be a salesperson, there are jobs for you aplenty. Affiliate marketing, network marketing, and more are all available to an enterprising individual who is not afraid to ask strangers if they have a few minutes to talk about their needs.

Not for the faintheart, but you can start it for free. Or, for that matter, jobs are a dime a dozen in sales.

Online Business #3 – Content Writing

If you enjoy reading and writing, you might be able to make a living or at least some cash flow, writing blogs online. Enter your details in any of the popups or forms on this site and I will send you a list of 15 websites that are hiring freelance writers.

The world is wide-open for enterprising individuals, and these are 3 areas that I have and still do make money both online and physically person-to-person.

What are some affordable ways you started an online business?

Saturday Book Review: Developing the Leader Within You

It’s Saturday, and it’s time for another Saturday Book Review on Paul Davis Solution’s Writer’s Cue. (Say that 10 times fast).

This article is about the book by leadership speaker, John Maxwell called Developing The Leader Within You.

Introduction to John Maxwell

If you have never heard, read, or watched anything by John Maxwell, you can read more about him at his website. John Maxwell is an influential thought leader on leadership, and this book, Developing the Leader Within You is one of the first books I read on my entrepreneurial journey, 16 years ago.

Maxwell has many different books on leadership, and I recommend reading at least a couple if leadership in business and life is interesting to you.

How to Grow from the Book if You are a Solopreneur

This book is great for someone who is just starting out on their leadership journey because it is about self-development. Much of the principles in the book are applicable whether you are leading a multi-person team or just disciplining yourself to get things done.

Influence

The first attribute of a  leader that Maxwell talks about is influence. While it is not the most important ingredient in learning and developing leadership, it is a defining element. If you do not have influence over others, you are not a leader. But, if you do have influence, you are a leader. Understanding influence and how to use it in life and in business is a key part of leadership development.

Priorities

Pareto Principle? Check. The Urgency/Importance Quadrants? Check.

This section of Developing the Leader Within You delivers enough gold in prioritizing and time management that the book is worth this chapter alone. Also, if you have no idea what the Pareto Principle is or what the Urgency/Importance Quadrant is, Google is your friend.

Integrity

Leadership books that do not talk about Integrity are not worth your time to pick up. According to the decades of extensive research by Kouzes and Posner, Integrity is the most desired trait people look for in their leaders. One of the more important parts of this chapter for people starting an online business, or any business for that matter, is the charts on how the more of a leader you are, the more responsibilities you have and the less rights.

Creating Positive Change

If people want their leaders to be people of integrity, followers want their leaders to do positive changes for the organization and community. One of the more powerful parts of this chapter was a paragraph sandwiched in between a section on changing yourself and changing an organization.The paragraph stated that you start with a certain amount of “change” or permission from your followers. If you work well in relationship and produce positive changes, that “change” in your pocket increases. This increased “change” gives you permission in the minds of your followers to do more significant changes.

Problem Solving

Maxwell quotes his mentor, Fred Smith, who says that a problem you cannot do anything about is not a problem, it’s a fact of life. Learning problem solving is a key part of developing leadership within you.

Attitude

Attitude is the most important attribute for continued growth in leadership, and John Maxwell illustrates this point with a story from visiting his then 70 year old father who had motivational books in his briefcase. John asked his dad why he still read motivational books at 70 when he has had such a great attitude for so many years. His dad told him “I have to keep working on my thought life. I am responsible to have a great attitude and maintain it. My attitude does not run on automatic.”

This quote is important for people starting their own business because we have to commit to having continually better attitudes no matter how long we take.

People

A good leader cares for people. Your most important attribute in building a business is how you treat people: your customers, your employees, your family, and your friends.

Vision

Corporate ownership of a vision is important and a difficult part of leadership. Even if you are a solopreneur, you have family and friends to share your vision with. You have to convince your customers of your vision; and, this chapter deals with much you will need to know to share the vision with others.

Self-Discipline

Maxwell’s advice on self-discipline is a great bookend to this book on developing the leader within you. Self-discipline is important and part of building integrity, crafting habits necessary for success, and convincing your followers that you are worth following. There are methods for working on self-discipline, setting and tracking goals, and more in this chapter.

Staff Development

By this time in the book, the last chapter feels almost like an epilogue, but an important one. As you develop the leader within you, you will build and lead teams of people. This last chapter helps you understand how to build, train, and motivate a team of people who are working with you on your vision.

Conclusion

Developing the Leader Within You is a great book for studying some of the basics of leadership and a good opening for more in-depth leadership resources.

3 Types of Paid Online Writing Jobs Without the Hassle of Sales

Paid Writing Jobs Online

Are you looking to find that elusive paid online writing job that does not require you to do any selling to customers? That’s probably because you understand that doing sales sucks. Ask any sales person, and they will tell you that sales work is hard, thankless, and often terror inspiring. The only thing that is worse than doing sales is not doing sales, in other words being flat out broke with no hope of an income in the foreseeable future.

So, you are reading on a site geared for online freelance writers and a post specifically about how to do this without the hassle of sales. Why did I start with that paragraph? Because you can write all you want, if no one is buying it, you will be like a sales person who does not do sales: flat out broke.

There are ways to get people to buy your work without doing traditional sales: approaching and prospecting, presenting and bidding, and closing accounts. Here are 3 different types of paid online writing jobs without the full hassle of sales.

3 Paid Online Writing Job Resources

Gig Sites

I include what I call gig sites (Fiverr, Upwork, Freelancer, Thumbtack, etc.) first because they are the most similar to what you might call sales. You do not have to find customers to approach, but you do have to write proposals (a type of presentation) and close the customer over the other writers bidding on the gig.

Gig sites often require that you pay money in order to apply for the work. This means that you will quite possibly become even more broke trying to get your foot in the door. With that in mind, and the fact that it still requires essential elements of sales, you can carefully use a gig site to get your foot in the door of freelance writing online.

Content Mills

Some people may think these are the same as gig sites, but I recommend content mills for online writers more than gig sites. Content mills are websites that are specifically geared towards producing content for business’s web sites, marketing materials, and other written items.  Content mills include sites like IWriter, Blogmutt, Constant Content, and others.

These sites usually have some sort of competitive process, but it is not usually based on a proposal or bid process. You write on the site, you will eventually sell your writing. You also have opportunities to advance within the site and get access to better paying writing jobs.

Traditional Employment

For some people who want to work online doing writing, the desire for income without sales and personal freedom of a laptop lifestyle might work as a remote writer. In order to do this, you will need a resume of experience (see the sites above for ways to get that resume) and usually a related degree.

To find a job that allows for remote writing, you can search “remote writing jobs” or pay attention to companies you want to work for and see if they have remote options available. Businesses like Automaticc (the company that owns WordPress software), Meet Edgar (a social media tool) and many others work exclusively with remote teams.

If you want to have freedom to work from a laptop wherever the coffee is cheap and the wifi is free, these are some ideas. What ideas do you have for writing without sales? Give us your tips for paid online writing jobs without the hassle of sales (or with the hassle, if you must).

Here’s How to Get Freedom From Writing Without Selling Your Services

Do you want to get financial freedom from writing? Are you interested in the “laptop lifestyle”? Do you want to write as a form of income because your introverted heart wants to work from the comfort of your own home without worrying about convincing people to pay you to write?

Many people want to learn how to write from home without the hassle of the hustle. And although each of the following 3 tips require some hustle, an aspiring writer can earn good income using these three ideas.

Find a Silent Salesman

What’s a silent salesman you ask? Simply put, a silent salesman is a term for a display that is designed to sell a product to people. This is a display that is placed in a store, has information about the product it is selling and ways to answer the questions people may have. It can include pamphlets and brochures to help a buyer make a decision.

What is a silent salesperson for a writer? For starters, a website usually functions as a silent salesperson. I have had coaching clients who are blogging regularly because they love it, and end up using that website to get a job in an entirely new field or use it as a sales tool when looking for freelance writing gigs.

Another silent salesperson for writers is often the location you write. For myself, one of my best places to get new business is when I write from a coworking place. Rather than looking for customers, I wait until someone says they need help with a blog and ask if I can help. Not really selling in my book, I just happened to be at the right place at the right time to help someone out.

Use a Content Mill

A content mill is a site where businesses can go and look for writers to help them with projects. Each content mill is unique, and some things that you can treat as a content mill are actually freelance sites. For a writer who does not want to sell their services all the time, the key thing to look for in a content mill or freelance website is that they have regular work opportunities at an entry level position. One thing to watch out for is whether the content mill accepts writers from multiple countries, and which ones.

My first writing gig was for a Pakistani content mill, and I was netting $2 an hour writing for them. if you live in a place where you can survive on that, then go for it, otherwise you should stick to sites that only hire US writers or plan on sifting through a lot of cheap job offers.

Find a Remote Writing Job

Finally, the laptop lifestyle does not require that you work as a freelancer or start your own business. You can find jobs with many employers that will allow you to work from home, from the hotel, or wherever your heart desires. If you have experience in a technical field look at companies that are in your area of expertise and see if they have jobs available for telecommuting. Or, you can start working at their location and then move to the laptop lifestyle later.

While many people, myself included, love the hustle of starting our own digital business, you don’t have to take on all that stress and business building energy if you do not desire. There are many options to have a life of freedom from writing online.

Let me know if these tips helped you out, or if you have any quesitons about starting a business, writing for a living, or what my favorite color is…

 

 

It’s Only Day 5, It’s Not too Late for NaNoWriMo!

What is NaNoWriMo?

Short for National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo is an organization that encourages people to write through some really great and fun challenges throughout the year.

Their biggest challenge is of course the challenge to write a novel in the month of November. Since they are not associated with any publishing organization and are funded mostly by donations, NaNoWriMo participants are encouraged to do more than just write novels.

You can set a challenge to write 50,000 words of any type of genre, including a content-marketing challenge to write that many words in one month.

For myself, this year, I intend to attempt a journalistic styled expose of my legacy, titled White Man from a Slave? But, since I am a content marketer and I have neither time nor creative energy to do all my normal writing and an additional 50,000 words on a novel, I am including blogging and other job-type writing in my word count, just because.

So, it is only November 5. You can still get a really good start at writing that novel you always wanted to, getting a really meaty blog going in one month, or writing your autobiography, because everyone needs at least one.

What Do You Want to Write This Month?

So, I am writing a autobiographical expose, and thousands of words in blogs. What are you going to write this month?

Head on over to nanowrimo.org/  to get started in the community and experience a great month writing this month!

Also, leave your comment below on what you are going to be writing this month.

 

ps. I just happened to move last week and was not able to get started quite yet. What’s your excuse?

Saturday Book Review: The Merchant Bankers

The Merchant Bankers

The Merchant Bankers, by Joseph Wechsberg, had a tremendous impact on the way I think about my business. Because it is written well before the housing crash of 2008 that sullied many merchant banker’s names (notably Lehman Brothers), like 42 years before, it does not address many of the issues regarding modern business and political processes.

But, what was it that inspired me and I think will inspire others by reading this book?

5 Things to Learn from The Merchant Bankers

Learn to Trust Your Intuition

Although much banking is based on numbers, Wechsberg interviews and studies multiple houses of merchant banking families (3 in England, 1 each in the United States, Italy, Germany, and then he covers the Rothschilds). Through interviews and research, he tells about how much of a merchant banking operation is based off of the intuition that comes from many mistakes combined with an innate sense of relationships. Whether building a business or teaching a classs, writing a book or digging a ditch, I think that we can learn to treat our mistakes as necessary parts of learning a business and learn that the people we interact with are more important than the numbers on a spreadsheet.

Never Forget Your Core Values

Wechsberg mentions in the chapter on Lehman Brothers how they loaned money to a company that lost their Chief Administrative Officer. Lehman Brothers sent one of their managers to work without charge to the company until a replacement could be found. Contrast that to the attitude of unbridled greed selling bad loan certificates in the 90’s and 00’s and you will see that when a business or group of individuals forgets what made them great in the first place, they will cause catastrophes.

The Rich Are People Like Us

Reading the history of some of the most elite families in the history of humanity in terms of riches and power associated with those riches, I was struck with the fact that they really are not that different from us. People who take a risk, make mistakes, and grow something of value can be found on any corner of any street throughout this world. Some may say the rich are just lucky, but as I read the stories of these families and individuals, I realized that the rich generally do certain activities to get rich, and avoid activities which don’t increase their income and profits.

In the same manner, many people I know consistently choose activities which will increase the value of their friends and family over the value of their wealth. I have many poor friends who are surrounded by richer culture and relationships than any of the merchant bankers I read about. On the other hand, I know people who are rich in computer games and poor in just about everything else.

History is a Valuable Study

Do you read historical books? Do you understand who the major players were in world history? Your nation’s history? The merchant bankers Wechsberg studied were well versed in their respective histories; they were steeped in it. Even the West German merchant banker, Abs, who lead the way to economic recovery after the devastation of World War II, made a purposeful choice to acknowledge the history of his people that lead to the rise of the German Reisch and then depart from that history.

Other merchant bankers would tell stories of the time their ancestor ran supplies through the lines in this war or that one, and all the time, they reinforce the values and strategies that made their homes great.

Free Market Capitalism Has Nearly Died Out

I know that people talk about how capitalist a society we are, but reading the analysis of a dying breed of business in the 60’s that has become almost extinct today, I was reminded that our modern society is more socialist than not. Because the government controls the money supplies and the private banks, the type of entrepreneurial spirit and desire for return on capital that we saw in the past has been nearly regulated out of existence.

It is a sad thing, but many people say it is a necessary thing.

If you want an interesting look at bygone eras in western finance and European culture, I highly recommend reading through The Merchant Bankers.

 

Grammar Rules You Still Have to Use in Modern English

English Grammar Rules

Everyone has seen one of the “If you can read this” memes about how we can read so many different things, or the phonetic tropes like, “hukt on fonics.” But, how you use language, grammar and vocabulary matters. Especially if you are selling something, even if it is just a book.

That said, there are few rules that are universally applicable in what grammar or style of language you should use in marketing content, blogging, or even writing a book. Because every piece of written material has an author and an audience. Even if the author is just journaling for their own enjoyment or record keeping, this is still an audience.

Because there are educational forms of content, entertaining, inspiring, and more that combine with different dialects and cultural groups, take anything I am about to say with a grain of salt.

3 English Grammar Rules

  1. Don’t Use Taboo Words in the Wrong Place – While many sales people and coaches drop an F-bomb or describe the stinkin’ stench o’ sh…, understand that this might turn certain audiences off. And also understand that what is one person’s swear word is another person’s term of endearment. In most languages, a taboo word will either be around politics, bodily functions, religion, or a person’s identity. Use these words with caution.
  2. Understand The Determiner – If you learned grammar in classical schooling, they call this the article. But, we often don’t use article when we can use null determiner (See what I did there?). While your grammar check may tell you to always add the or an, sometimes dropping them and using what linguists call the null determiner makes a stronger point or makes the sentence stand out. (You might also think I just wrote a poor sentence, but whatever.) Other determiners include numbers, possessives, and words that come before a noun and determine its function and relationships.
  3. No, Abbreviations Are Not Great Marketing – Most hip marketing lingo does not age well. Current abbreviations will age just as well as a picture of a Motorola phone with a text following the abbreviations of the early 2000’s did in my old youth group room. Lol has been around a long time, and it might have crossed from the world of punctuated writing into real communication. But, brb, ttyl, roflmfao, op, ty, gg, and many other abbreviations will not create marketing that lasts and engages people. It might be catchy.

These are just some thoughts on grammar and English use. From my tired brain to yours.

~N Paul Davis