How often do you check the Helium Content Source freelance opportunities page? New projects are getting posted all the time, so if you’re not doing it already, you should make a habit of stopping by once a week to see what’s new. You never know when you’ll see something that’s a great fit for you!

We’re looking for writers for a wide variety of new projects right now. Here’s a sample of the opportunities we just added.

  • Writers in the UK and Australia who understand the drama involved in decorating teenagers’ rooms! Decorating/design background a plus.
  • Professional chefs or food writers in the UK and Australia to help a publisher develop recipes
  • Experienced medical writers who can write about health topics, including prescription drugs, in an informative and easy-to-understand way
  • Lifestyle writers who can produce well-researched articles on topics including babies, parenting and wedding planning
  • Army Reserve members (or writers with family members in the Reserves) who would be interested in writing about their experiences

If you’re interested in any of these opportunities, please email a cover letter, resume and two relevant clips to experts.helium@rrd.com. (Be sure to include a link to your Helium About Me page!)

We’re also looking for more copyeditors to add to our team. If you’re an experienced editor with a good eye for detail, you should check out our listings and apply, too.

Visit Helium’s freelance opportunities page to see the full list of what we’re looking for now!

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.

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

English can be a tricky language, and there are certain words that are always tripping writers up. Some words that sound exactly alike are spelled differently and mean two different things, and in some cases changing one letter can mean the difference between whether a word is a noun or a verb. For example, breath and breathe is one pair that I always have to double check. Here are a few commonly confused words that you might need a refresher on.

Advice: A noun that refers to an opinion given about what to do
Advise: A verb that means to give advice
Examples: The student asked her teacher for advice. The teacher advised the student on good study habits.

Altar: A noun that refers to a table or platform at the front of a church
Alter: A verb that means to change
Examples: The bride and groom stood in front of the altar. The tailor altered the wedding dress.

Breath: A noun that refers to air taken into the lungs
Breathe: A verb that mean to inhale and exhale
Examples: The doctor told the patient to take a deep breath. The man said that the cold air made it hard to breathe.

Cite: A verb that means to quote a source in support of something
Sight: A noun referring to something that is seen or the act of seeing
Site: A noun that refers to a place.
Examples: The writer had to cite the sources she used in her research paper. The cafeteria was quite a sight after the food fight. The criminal returned to the site of the crime.

Heal: A verb that means to recover from injury
Heel: A noun that refers to the back of the foot or the end of a loaf of bread
Examples: It took time for the quarterback’s broken arm to heal. The runner had a blister on her heel.

Pair: A noun referring to a couple.
Pare: A verb that means to trim.
Pear: A noun referring to a type of fruit.
Examples: A pair of birds flew by the house. The accountant wanted to pare down the amount spent on paper. The shopper bought a pear at the grocery store.

What other word pairs do you think are tricky?

There’s nothing more disappointing than toiling away researching and writing an article you’re really proud of only to notice spelling, punctuation or grammar errors in it after you’ve submitted the final draft. Writing that is free of errors looks more professional and helps make your work really shine, but it can be difficult to accomplish if you’re not sure what to look for or can’t find answers to your questions.

Luckily, there is a wealth of resources online that can answer your trickier questions and help you learn more about proper punctuation and grammar. Bookmark the ones you like best so you have a quick reference to go to when you run into a question while you’re writing.

The Guide to Grammar and Writing – Founded by longtime English professor Dr. Charles Darling, this site lets you look up topics by at word and sentence level or browse an index of everything covered on the site. There’s also a list of frequently asked questions and their answers.

Jack Lynch’s Guide to Grammar and Style – Rutgers University professor Jack Lynch provides an A to Z list of grammar hints and tips, such as a helpful explanation about the difference between “a” and “an” and which once should really be used before an acronym.

Grammar Book – At this site, Jane Strauss, author of “The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation,” breaks down grammar, punctuation and capitalization rules and looks at commonly confused words, offering plenty of examples to help illustrate everything.

Newsroom 101 – Brush up on your editing skills at this site, which combines a wide variety of interactive exercises in grammar, punctuation and AP Style with tips and advice. As you take each quiz, it will explain why each answer is correct.

As an online writer, you’ll often be asked to write using AP style. These guidelines for spelling and word usage are used by journalists all over the world, and it is suggested that Helium writers use them as well. In fact, Helium news writers have to use AP style on the articles they submit. Following a standard style guide, like AP, makes your finished work more professional to fellow writers and publishers alike.

Here’s a look at a few AP style rules that answer some of the questions that come up frequently for online writers. Ever wonder if website should be one word or two, or if email really needs a hyphen? AP style has the answers.

website: This is a rule that was changed recently, so you might be surprised to learn that website should be just one word with a lowercase w. The same rule applies to webcam, webcast and webmaster, but Web page and Web feed are both two words with an uppercase w.

home page: While we’re on the subject of websites, home page, which refers to the front page of a website, is two words.

website addresses: When referring to websites in stories, the AP recommends using the name of the site instead of the address. For example, Twitter instead of Twitter.com or YouTube instead of Youtube.com. Only used “.com” if it is included in the legal name, such as Amazon.com Inc. If a website address falls at the end of a sentence, use a period after it.

blog titles: Titles of blogs are treated differently than titles of books and movies, which according to AP style should be in quotation marks. Blog titles generally don’t need to be in quotation marks, but they should be capitalized. For example, the highest ranked entry on each of the four titles in the “World Population Approaches 7 Billion” writing contest will appear on PSI’s Healthy Lives blog. Blogs that have very unusual spellings, such as all lower case, should be in quotes, though.

email: According to AP style, the word email shouldn’t have a hyphen. This was another recent change that many writers felt was long overdue. A hyphen should still be used for other e-terms such as e-book, e-business and e-commerce, though.

Google, Googling, Googled: Google should be capitalized because it is a trademarked term. Google, Googling and Googled can be used as verbs, but they should still be capitalized.  

cellphone, smartphone: Both cellphone and smartphone should be one word without any hyphens.

Internet: Yep, this still needs to be capitalized.

Helium is excited to announce that member Susan Quilty has an essay published in the new book, “Inside Joss’ Dollhouse: From Alpha to Rossum,” a compilation of pieces digging into various elements of Joss Whedon‘s show, “Dollhouse.”

The book is edited by Jane Espenson, writer and producer for the shows “Dollhouse,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Battlestar Galactica” and “Caprica,” and is published by Smart Pop Books, a division of BenBella Books, Inc. Espenson also provides additional insight and context that Whedon’s cult following can sink its collective teeth into.

BenBella Books, Inc. writes:

Inside Joss’ Dollhouse is a fitting tribute to this complex, engaging show. The anthology’s 18 sometimes funny, always insightful pieces cover Dollhouse from anticipated start to explosive finish. Drawn from an international contest judged by fan favorite Whedon screenwriter Jane Espenson, its essays get right to heart of what Dollhouse viewers loved most about the show.

Quilty’s essay, “Negative Space in the ‘House: How Caroline is the Vase,” takes a philosophical look at how the concept of personality, as portrayed throughout the “Dollhouse” series, compares to the artistic concept of negative space.

Fanatical Whedon show fans will never stop enthusiastically theorizing sub-plots and theories, character development, setting, red herrings and so on. And Susan’s “Dollhouse” essay, as well as the book, opens up a new world of mind-blowing possibilities to think about almost a year after the show ended with only two seasons under its belt.

Anyone interested can purchase the book on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble.com, Borders.com and at the BenBella website.

(Susan Quilty is also a prolific 5-star writer on Helium, with more than 350 articles in her portfolio. She has also sold 14 pieces through Helium’s Marketplace and hundreds of articles via Helium’s custom editorial solutions.)

Myself and others have explained many times how you can harness the power of Helium to make money for you.  The following is what I hope is a simple tutorial to show you a powerful example.  I am going to show you how to set up an RSS feed for a leaf channel that will update you any time a new empty title shows up.

What does this mean?  This means you will have a page you can go to that will regularly update with empty/shallow titles in channels that directly interest you.  It will be like every morning (or however often you check it) someone shows up at your door and delivers a list of potential assignments for you to make money on.

Let me repeat that.  This will allow you to add any leaf channels that interest you to an RSS reader (I use Google Reader in this example, but any will do) and as long as you check said reader periodically you will be presented with fresh, minty empty/shallow titles to potentially earn empty title bonuses and upfront payments on.

Sound good?  Let’s go.

First Step – go to Helium

Simply navigate to the Helium home page.

Second Step – pick a channel

I like to write to Computers and Technology.  So I clicked on that one.  Pick whatever channel you want.

Third Step – Navigate down to a Leaf Channel

A leaf channel has no children.  You can tell non-leaves because they’ll ahve that red down arrow next to their name.  I continue down the tree by clicking Internet.  If you didn’t pick the same one as me, just pick the one that interests you.

Finally I find a leaf channel I like, I choose and click Web Design.  At this point you should be on a leaf channel that interests you.

Fourth Step – find the empty titles container

This is at the very bottom of every leaf page. It’s called “Writing Assignments” right now but could change at a later date.  Click the RSS Feed link in the bottom of the box (not the one at the bottom of the page).

Fifth Step – copy the RSS feed URL

Once you click the RSS Feed link above, you’ll be taken to the RSS feed page.  Just copy the URL in the address bar.

Sixth Step – subscribe to the feed

Our more advanced users (ones who use RSS readers and feeds) can probably skip the rest of these steps.  For beginners, it’s not enough to know how to find the feeds of the empty titles.  The real power comes in harnessing all of these feeds and making them work for you.

You do this by inputting them into an RSS reader.  You can find these in most browsers, most ISP home pages (AOL, Yahoo, Google, even Comcast I believe), even in some e-mail clients.  I’m using Google Reader only because it’s simple if you don’t already have a reader and many people already have Google accounts (for GMail, AdSense, etc) so you have a Reader account as well.  You can find Google Reader at http://www.google.com/reader.

But I don’t use/like Google!  Fine:

Now, back to the steps, you just copied the feed url and navigated to your Google Reader.  You’re going to see a navigation button in the top left.  Click that to show a drop down.  The very first link should be “add a subscription”.  Click that to show the box below.  Post the feed url in the box and click “Add.”

Seventh Stepmake money

Now you have the feed in your reader.  Repeat for all the channels you like to write to.

Hope that helps.

Helium is proud to announce that member Cathie Beck’s “Cheap Cabernet: A Friendship” is officially published today!

Described as a wild ride of a memoir—a “Thelma & Louise-like” tale of love, perseverance, friendship and triumph, Cathie’s book can be purchased on Amazon.com and you can read more about the memoir on her Helium Zone and her website.

Kirkus calls “Cheap Cabernet: A Friendship” a “searing portrait,” and ForeWord Reviews says, “Beck’s writing is breezy, polished
and fun to read.”

Visitors to Cathie Beck’s website can get free “Signature Cheap Cabernet” wine and she has also promised to launch a Helium-based presence on her book promotion to help other Helium authors get their books published and promoted.