We’re working to continually improve the writer experience at Helium. In an effort to learn how we can make the experience even better, we’ve been reaching out to users in a variety of ways to get feedback. That includes conducting surveys, and now we want to hear from you. (Yes, you!) To help us learn more, we’d like you to complete a quick survey. This will take less than five minutes of your time. (Promise.) So what are you waiting for? Go take that survey! We’re looking forward to hearing what you have to say.

We love Facebook. Not only is a fun social site, but it’s a great place to connect with Helium members, share news, promotions, create stories together and keep in touch. So last week we sent out an email to many Helium writers encouraging them to like our Facebook page.

The response was wonderful! Not only did we get more than 700 new people to like the page, we LOVED the amazing comments, feedback and helpful advice members posted on the page.

Our email requested people like the page for a chance to win a $10 assignment. We said we’d raffle off one $10 assignment for every 1,000 new fans of the page. We did break the 2,000 “likes” mark and could have awarded one $10 assignment to a fan. Instead, we thought it would be much more fun to award seven $10 assignments for every 100 new “likes.”

The winners are:

Regine Reviere

Dayna Rutherford

Brian Keith Compton

Ernest Smartt

Cyn Lee

Carolina Dream Coy

Joseph B. Arrington

Congratulations to all! We’ll be in touch via the Helium inbox to coordinate assigning you a great title!

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.

We’re almost to 1,000 fans on Helium’s Facebook page. To celebrate this milestone we’ll be raffling off a Helium goodies prize pack that includes a Helium T-shirt, pen, sticker and more!

“Like” the page to be in the running for this gift pack.

Thanks to everyone who has already liked the page. We’ve had such wonderful interactions with Helium writers already and can’t wait for more writers to join the conversation, share their articles and have fun!

As part of our upcoming release on Monday, Helium will get more social! We’ve cleaned up the social media sharing icons at the top of each article page and included the Google +1 button.

We’ve also created an action bar that moves as you scroll down the page. This bar includes social buttons for Facebook, Twitter and Google +1. You can even click “hide” if you want the toolbar to be hidden. When logged in as Helium writer, you will also have additional tools in the action bar. They include “Article Tools,” “Print article” and the “Write now” button.

It’s important to note that the “Write now” button will no longer be at the top of the article. It will now be housed in this action bar.

If you’re not logged in to Helium, the action bar will look a little different. It will not include the “Write now” button, and it will not include “Article Tools.” This creates a cleaner and more user-friendly presentation for readers of the site.

Earnings & Payments changes

We’re also adding a new feature to Earnings & Payments for all writers. Writers will be able to download an Excel spreadsheet listing their earnings on every article they’ve written on Helium (up to 1,500 articles). Now you can clearly see how much each article has earned, making it easier to see which articles have been more successful and which ones need some editing, or some promotion.

Helium editorial staffers cooked up a delicious bevy of lunchtime snacks for the tech staffers during today’s Payback Picnic. We took over the picnic tables outside our office and piled them up with sandwiches, chips, salads, fruit, cookies and soda. It was a great event and great weather.

The Payback Picnic was held to payback the winners of our May 2 Wii Wars competition.

“What a beautiful day for a very delicious picnic. Thank you very much to everyone who made this whole thing fun – from the Wii competition to the Payback Picnic! Go Team Helium!” said VP of Product Development Lorinda Brandon.

We have created a new Helium Facebook page. Our previous Facebook page disappeared from Facebook’s site on April 14 and despite repeated attempts to contact Facebook, our previous page never was restored.

Please take a moment to “like” our new page and interact with and communicate with Helium on Facebook. On the Facebook page we post links to our blog posts, answer questions, share photos and more. We’ll also reestablish Topic Tuesdays and One Sentence Fridays.

Thanks so much everyone for your patience and understanding!

Feel free to share the link with others: http://www.facebook.com/HeliumWriters

You’re an online writer looking to improve your craft. How do you get your article read, noticed and purchased?

One key to success is to make sure you meet the publisher’s writing standards.

Helium’s Writing Standards have been updated and replaced with Helium’s Writing and Editorial Standards. Review these standards to ensure your article submissions meet Helium’s standards.

By meeting these standards and writing a great article free of spelling and grammatical errors, you increase your chances of having your article be chosen as the best piece.

Meeting these standards, writing to areas you’re knowledgeable about, meeting deadline, having a great bio and filling out your address on Helium are all great ways to get noticed and open yourself up to additional writing opportunities.

Helium Content Source publishers will have their own set of expectations and guidelines you must meet. These are typically much more extensive than Helium’s. By getting used to writing to and meeting guidelines, you train yourself as a writer for these future assignments.

Writing standards defined

  • Articles must be your original work
  • Helium follows AP style
  • Plagiarism is not allowed
  • Duplicate articles are not allowed
  • Do not include your name or references to your own company in your article
  • Do not repeat the article title in the body of the article
  • Solid research and citing sources is key
  • We delete articles that are mostly lists — develop your work
  • Use of third and second person is encouraged (first person is not allowed in some articles)
  • Subheads are encouraged
  • Write with an authoritative, unbiased tone — develop your voice and style
  • No adult content, hate content or profanity is allowed

Writing guidelines example

Write a knowledge-based, objective article in the second or third person that provides readers with insightful, useful information. Sources should be reputable and cited where applicable.

Helium Content Source guidelines example

The following is typical of what you might see on a Content Source assignment:

Please write an original 500-1,000 word article that includes the following details. Write to a homeowner audience about choosing the right contractor for this job. The article should educate the reader with consumer tips and information about the specific service.

Give the homeowner useful tips (bulleted lists are strongly encouraged); include items such as what to look for in a good contractor, questions to ask, professional associations, certifications, etc.; common problems, pitfalls to avoid; if they should ask for mechanic liens; Insurance; Bonding; etc. If that information is limited please expand by describing different materials and the advantages or disadvantages of each.

Write in the second person voice. Clear, simple sentences are easier to read than long, complicated ones. Do NOT editorialize by adding your own opinions or beliefs about an area. Instead, just present the facts in an informative and positive manner.

This should be an original piece. Sourced information must be rephrased. If you quote statistics or phrases, you must put links to your references listed at the end of the article, or put the information in quotes. This is done for fact-checking processes. If you do not put a list of references/sources at the end of your article, it will be sent back to you. This is required!

Please view this sample to get an idea of bullets, tone, style and layout [link not included to protect publisher’s identity].

Helium editorial staff battled it out against tech staffers mano-y-mano in a competition of lightsabers and bowling during Wii Wars today. The May 2 throw-down was in celebration of a great deploy of Helium’s assignment system last week.

Brett and Jim battle it out in "Star Wars The Clone Wars."

Beginning at noon, in the big conference room, staffers got their competitive juices flowing.

First VP of Product Development Lorinda Brandon and Sr. QA Engineer Cindy Berube took on Content Source Assignments Manager Sarah Menesale and Sales Exec. Christine Otis in a game of Wii bowling. Sarah and Christine destroyed the competition and took the first win of the day!

Next up playing “Star Wars The Clone Wars” was fellow Sales Exec. Alyson Graves against Sr. Software Engineer Kim Kantola. Alyson took the win. Then Engineering Director Brett Edminster stepped in to take on Alyson, but the Wii shut down and no winner could be declared.  Senior Tech Support Staffer Jim Logan replaced Alyson in a matchup of lightsaber skills against Brett.

It was a stalemate, with each gaining one point for their teams.

“Return of the Developer Jedi was I,” said Brett.

Tech battled back winning the next two rounds. Principal Software Engineer Brendan Clemenzi beat Christine in a game of Wii tennis. Then Cindy showed off her serving skills beating Product Manager Dave Roh (filling in for an Editorial staffer) for another point.

The score is now tied 3-3.

The score is now 3-3 with the tiebreaker game set to begin shortly between CEO Mark Ranalli and VP of Content Source Janice Brand.

Results of Wii Wars will be announced as soon as a victor has been crowned. The winner gets bragging rights around the office; the losers, well they have to host a pot luck for the winning team.

UPDATE: Tiebreaker game set to begin at 4 p.m. Eastern!

Mark and Janice put on their boxing gloves.

The winner is tech over editorial as Mark knocked out Janice in a supreme battle of wills in Wii boxing. Congrats to Tech! Go ahead, send over your list of favorite foods.

Mark goes for the KO!


As an online writer you’re constantly building your portfolio and getting your byline out there. You promote your work using Facebook, Twitter, and your blog, directing readers to your Helium.com articles.  But are you forgetting one important piece of the puzzle?

Your byline is a hyperlink directly to your Helium About Me page, published with every article. So, it’s imperative to keep the information professional. This will be even more important as Helium launches the Assignment System later this month with targeted assignments for writers.

Think of your bio & photo on this page as your online resume. It’s a place for readers and publishers to learn more about you. Novelists have a book jacket– you have your About Me page.

Biography guidelines

The bio should highlight your professional writing and/or editing experience. When completing the bio, keep in mind the following:

Do:

  • Include your full name or pen name (first and last) in the first sentence
  • Include the year you started writing and/or editing
  • Include areas of expertise and any publications in which you’ve been published
  • Stress why you’re a good writer in niche areas, such as pets (I’ve worked in a vet’s office and am working toward a degree), accounting (I’ve been a CPA for 5 years), or sports (I cover high school basketball and soccer for my local newspaper)
  • Include certificates, accreditations and/or achievements (awards, certifications, workshops) if applicable
  • Include education, including school and degree type and field

Don’t:

  • Include superfluous information, such as how many children you have, or the town you live in. You address should be filled out in your “Account Settings.”
  • Mention how many articles you’ve written for Helium. This information is clearly presented in your “My Stats” section of the page. Or that you “look forward” to writing for us.
  • Mention the titles of the Marketplace and Stock Content articles you’ve sold and the dates or links to them. This information can be clearly explained in a simple sentence.

Having a quality biography will open up more writing opportunities, including targeted writing assignments for Helium Content Source, or stock content sales, and even volunteer opportunities.

Good examples:

Nan Keltie

Nan was born with a pen in one hand, a legal pad in the other and has been writing ever since.  Published in local and regional magazines, she has also written her own curriculum for teaching creative writing, speech and debate.

For the past 32 years, Nan has also kept a daily journal.  These annuals take a prominent place on her library shelves and include personal travel diaries, current events, family memories and humorous reflections on life.

Fresh out of college, Nan worked part time as a freelance features editor for a local newspaper, The Florence Herald.  She covered the opening of a new mall and did feature articles about local artists, health care facilities and farmers.

The Herald, which began in 1884 as a weekly newspaper, has since become a publishing company and is no longer a news source.  Nan is grateful for the lessons she learned as features editor.  Interviews, deadlines and tight-writing requirements sharpened her skills and taught her the lesson that still guides her writing today – if her first sentence doesn’t snag you, she’s wasted your time.

As manager of Helium’s Education Channel, Nan works with a great team in maintaining that site.  She creates new titles, oversees articles that come into the channel, reaches out to new members, encourages veteran writers and contributes articles of her own. With her dictionary and thesaurus nearby, Nan gave up the pen and pad of years gone by and now writes on her laptop.

Susan Quilty

Everyone has something to share. Maybe it’s a review of a great movie that slipped under the radar. Maybe it’s advice on how to shop with a toddler in tow, or the experience learned through years of throwing children’s birthday parties.

Whatever I experience in life becomes a lesson learned. Some of my experiences are from trial and error, others have been learned in books and classes. Writing online is an opportunity to share my experiences with others.

When writing at Helium, I regularly contribute to a variety of channels. I have participated in various writing contests and have sold articles through Helium’s Marketplace and Stock Content programs.

I am also a member of Helium’s Editorial Advisory Board and participate as the Channel Manager for both the Board Games and Card Games subchannels in Hobbies and Games.

For more information about my freelance writing outside of Helium, please visit my personal blog (www.susanquilty.com). In addition to freelance writing, my career background includes computer systems administration working in Unix, Windows, and Novell environments.

Please feel free to contact me with questions or comments. I will respond as quickly as possible. You can also follow me on Twitter @SusanQuilty

Interested in learning more? Read our previous blog post:

Craft a professional Helium About Me that is sure to impress