writing


Congratulations to our latest writing contest winners!

Medical Professions

First: Ann Major
Second: Cicely Richard
Third: Jose Juan Gutierrez 

Austin

First: N Lawrence
Second: Cicely Richard
Third: Krystal Waldron

Business Law

First: Alex Oriani
Second:Elizabeth Brandt
Third: Donna Hicks

Gay & Lesbian Issues

First: Sara Lugardo
Second: Nan C Avery
Third: Kassandra Garcia

Yarn & Needle Crafts

First: Trenna Sue Hiler
Second: Terri Espinoza
Third: Dorann Winburn

Tattoos & Body Piercing

First: Sara Lugardo
Second: Daniel Cooper
Third: Pauline Abreu

Come check out Helium’s active writing contests! We post new contest titles every week. My favorite active title this week is Words. Come, poets, astound us with your wit, compassion and grace.

For those who want to be fact checkers for Helium or Helium Content Source, here are some helpful tips from our head fact checker, Alicia M. Prater, PhD.

What makes a good fact checker?

Fact checking is present in our lives everyday. When you or I hear something, we often think “is it true?” A good potential fact checker is someone who follows that question with “I wonder how I’d find out if it’s true.” Whether a person does this is usually clear in his/her own writing. A writer who writes objectively (as opposed to subjectively) and uses primary references is most likely capable of recognizing facts in others’ writing and tracking down the sources.

How can I become a professional fact checker?

Professional fact checking jobs usually require a particular background because publishers want someone who is familiar enough with the material to know instinctively when something just doesn’t seem right. It also gives that person an advantage when looking for resources to support or refute the material he/she is checking. Although writers are supposed to provide references, they don’t always—and it’s up to the fact checker to assure the publisher that the material is solid. Because of the required experience and, potentially, the stature of the work, professional fact checking jobs vary greatly in pay, just like writing and editing jobs.

What does fact checking require? 

For Helium, credentials aren’t generally a necessity to be a fact checker (though being credentialed can help). What counts here is an ability to discern fact from opinion and search out references. Accurate, fact-based writing is a strength we look for in potential team members: use primary and multiple references whenever possible, cite your references in a clear and appropriate manner, double-check your facts, don’t rush through the writing, have pride in your work, be able to stand behind it or fix it if someone questions a fact. We all make mistakes, and fact checking is just one level of support to ensure the best writing.

Helpful references 

How to choose reliable references

How to identify a primary reference

Based on user feedback and data we have collected regarding accepted assignments, we have decided to make an adjustment that will affect all Helium writers. As of Thursday Sept. 22, we will adjust the number of assignments that writers can have in their My Assignments bin at any given time to five, down from 10.

And this will be good thing for writers. We believe lowering this number will allow more individuals a chance to accept assignments that they wish to reserve. The impact of this will mostly result in writers seeing more of the restricted assignments being up for grabs.

This change will go into effect on Thursday. You might be wondering what will happen if you have more than five assignments when we change this configuration. The answer is … nothing. You will retain those assignments and be able to write to them as you usually would. You will experience the change once you have less than five assignments in your My Assignments bin. You will only be able to accept more assignments after you have less than five assignments in your My Assignments bin.

We see this as a definite win for most writers. We believe it will spread the restricted assignments further among more users.

Helium Content Source has exciting new projects coming in all the time, which means we’re always looking for different types of writers to work on them.

This week, we’re looking for writers who live in Northern California who can write about a wide variety of local information. We’re also looking for fact-checkers who can verify pages of local information. Visit Helium’s freelance opportunities page to find out how to apply.

We’ve got lots of other projects in the works. Here’s a sneak peek of what else where looking for this week.

Among the assignments we have open now:

  • Northern California-based writers who can write about local information such as transportation, first aid, parks, wineries and digital services
  • Fact-checkers who can verify pages of local community information
  • Experienced car and truck review writers who can write positive, detailed reviews using OEM websites to find vehicle specifications
  • Marketing writers who can tackle easy website copy
  • Experienced professional copy editors for numerous content creation projects
  • US-based technical or financial proofreaders with extensive proofing experience
  • Experienced financial writers for an ongoing bi-weekly assignment aimed at appraising merchants with the latest financial information that impacts their accounts
  • Marketing writers with a background in U.S. banking
  • Experienced marketing writers who can write witty, clean copy for daily coupon deals client
  • Auto writers who can write informational articles, blog posts and know social media
  • Bloggers based in Edmonton and elsewhere in Canada to write about local news, events and entertainment
  • Writers who can write to African American topics of interest and concern, such as lifestyle, health, history, news and current events
  • Freelancers with a background in construction
  • Writers adept at covering home improvement/construction industry needs

10 Squared has been a fun and successful summer promotion, but it  is coming to an end on Thursday, Sept. 8.

Qualifying articles for the 10 squared promotion need to be published on Helium by Sept. 8. Your articles can’t be in limbo in the assignment system. All 10 must have transitioned and be live on the site by end of day (GMT) Sept. 8 in order to qualify for a $10 bonus title through the promotion.

We’re giving you a few extra days to request your bonus title after that, though. Send the emails with links to your 10 Squared qualifying articles and bonus title suggestion in to tensquared@helium.com by Monday, Sept. 12.

We have a lot of other fun promotions up our sleeves, so stay tuned for what’s next!

Helium Content Source works with a wide variety of publishing partners, and new opportunities are posted on the Helium Editorial Freelance Assignments page every week.

We’re looking for more than just writers, though. We also need knowledgeable, experienced copy editors to work on projects, and we’re currently looking to expand our pool of editors. Do you have an eye for detail and a passion for spelling, grammar and punctuation? If your answer is yes, visit the freelance assignments page to learn more about how to apply.

If writing is more your style, we’re also looking for writers for a number of different projects. Here’s a peek at what we’re looking for this week.

Among the assignments we have open now:

  • Marketing writers who can tackle easy website copy
  • Experienced professional copy editors for numerous content creation projects
  • Writers with a specialty and expertise in writing about technology and computers
  • Experienced financial writers for an ongoing bi-weekly assignment aimed at appraising merchants with the latest financial information that impacts their accounts
  • Recipe writers who can write original commentary and stick to weekly deadlines
  • Marketing writers with a background in banking
  • Experienced marketing writers who can write witty, clean copy for daily coupon deals client
  • Auto writers who can write informational articles, blog posts and know social media
  • Bloggers based in Calgary, Edmonton and Montreal to write about local news, events and entertainment
  • Writers who can write to African American topics of interest and concern, such as lifestyle, health, history, news and current events
  • Fly-fishing and hunting experts
  • Freelancers with a background in construction
  • Writers adept at covering home improvement/construction industry needs

We’re not saying that Helium is Fountain of Youth — but for one member, maybe it is. Ted Sherman, claims to have turned 86 this month, but we’re not believing it for a minute. Ted’s been too vibrant, committed and enthusiastic to be a mere 86.

Ted joined Helium in December 2006 — which puts him a month ahead of me. In that time, he’s managed to publish more than 4,005 articles (he’s written a lot more, but we’ll give some leeway for the occasional off-topic piece).

In the past nearly five years, Ted’s been an ardent supporter of Helium, eagerly supporting all of our upgrades and changes.

–No, wait, that’s not Ted. This is Ted:

Is it a deep dark secret among the big moneymakers, or will any other writers tell me how they keep their top-rated article from slipping down the list into obscurity? – January 2007

I thoroughly disagree with the decision that a short story written in the first person should be considered off topic. That is ridiculous and arbitrary discrimination, and restricts the writer unfairly. – November 2008

Too many times, when I’ve posted my articles early in the contest, I see whole paragraphs from them copied by writers from foreign lands that could be named Cutandpastestan. If the cheating weren’t so blatant, it would be funny, because much of each swiped article is written and spelled in broken English.—July 2009

I guess I’m one of the “same drab old crud that seems to keep rising to the top just in time for the announcement of winners”, to quote [another writer] about the contests (or contestants). As with all writers in this competition, I have my gripes, but Helium has set up an honest system. – June 2010

However, within the past year, no matter how improved our efforts, as your research proves, Helium found ways to reduce potential income in every direction. – August, 2011

In short, Ted’s family. He puts up with us. We adore him. Because, in the end, it’s sentiments like this that make Ted…well, Ted:

Though I’ve too often complained about Helium’s ever-decreasing pay program, I can attest that my daily writing routine has been a therapeutic mental exercise. This is especially helpful, now that my physical exercise is somewhat confined to my computer desk.

Happy Birthday, Ted. Here’s to your 8,006th article!

Janice & the whole Helium Team

 

Janice

Helium’s assignment system brings you hundreds of assignments each day. However, some assignments are only open to writers with certain qualifications. How do you find these additional writing opportunities? Visit the Editorial Freelance Assignments page!

Helium Content Source works with many publishing partners and every week we post new opportunities for freelancers to write for our clients.

Among the assignments we have open now:

  • Writers with a specialty and expertise in writing about technology and computers
  • Business journalists with experience covering sustainable business practices
  • Experienced financial writers for an ongoing bi-weekly assignment aimed at appraising merchants with the latest financial information that impacts their accounts
  • Recipe writers who can write original commentary and stick to weekly deadlines
  • Writers who can tackle computing subjects like cloud computing and business analytics
  • Marketing writers with a background in banking
  • Writers with a specialty in writing about military wedding etiquette
  • Experienced marketing writers who can write witty, clean copy for daily coupon deals client
  • Freelancer skilled at writing advertorials or white papers for major software companies
  • Auto writers who can write informational articles, blog posts and know social media
  • Bloggers based in Calgary, Edmonton and Montreal to write about local news, events and entertainment

Learn about how to apply for these assignments on the Editorial Freelance Assignments page.

As a writer, it’s usually easy to tell if you need to capitalize a proper noun. Most of them are easy to recognize, such as the names of people and places. Trademarked products are trickier, though, and writers often forget to capitalize them or mistakenly use the brand name when they should use the generic term. (For example, did you know that Dumpster is really a brand name?)

When writing articles for publication, it’s especially important to get this correct in order to avoid violating the trademark. Here are a few of the most commonly misused brand names and suggestions for generic terms that should be used instead, unless you are specifically referring to that particular brand. Some of them might surprise you!

  • Band-Aid  — adhesive bandage
  • Chap Stick — lip balm
  • Crock-Pot — slow-cooker
  • Dumpster — trash bin
  • Frisbee — flying disk
  • Fudgsicle — fudge ice cream bar
  • Hi-Liter — highlighting marker
  • Jacuzzi — whirlpool bath
  • Jell-O — gelatin
  • Kitty Litter — cat-box filler
  • Kleenex — tissue
  • Krazy Glue — super adhesive
  • Kool-Aid — soft-drink mix
  • Magic Marker — felt-tip marking pen
  • Ping-Pong — table tennis
  • Post-it — self-stick note
  • Q-Tip — cotton swab
  • Realtor — real-estate agent
  • Rice Krispies Treats — cereal treats
  • Scotch tape — cellophane tape
  • Seeing eye dog — guide dog
  • Styrofoam — foam plastic
  • Velcro — adhesive fastener
  • Windbreaker — lightweight jacket
  • Zip-loc — zip-top plastic bag

With similar spellings and related meanings, affect and effect are two words that are easy to mix up. It’s a word pair that leaves a lot of people second guessing themselves, but there are a few simple rules that will help you tell them apart and feel more confident that you are using the correct word.

Noun

Generally, if you are trying to decide between using affect or effect and you need to use the word as a noun, then you should use effect. As a noun, effect means result. For example, “The effect of obedience school on the dog was obvious.”

The Associated Press and other style guides recommend avoiding the use of affect as a noun. It is occasionally used in psychology as a term for an emotion, but it is not used as a noun in everyday language.

Verb

The difference between affect and effect is a bit more nuanced when they are used a verbs. As a verb, affect means to influence, while effect, as a verb, mean to cause or accomplish. For example, “The bad test score will affect the student’s grade.” “The new manager will effect many improvements in the department.”

If you are having trouble deciding which verb to use, try subbing in influence or cause for affect or effect. If influence makes more sense in the sentence, then you should use affect in that instance. If cause makes more sense in the sentence, then effect is the correct word to use.

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