How To Win Against Online Plagiarism

Imagine the scenario: You’ve just finished a beautifully written and well-researched piece of content. You click publish. You reap the rewards and praises from readers. You find out, after a month, your work has been passed up as another person’s original writing.

You’ve just been plagiarized!

But fear not. Modern technology is here to help you from being a victim again. Take these tips for writing and help solve the plagiarism dilemma.

By definition

It’s like borrowing but not really. It’s more of literary theft. And more specifically, cyber-cheating. It’s not accidental. Writers who plagiarize did it deliberately. But even if you do acknowledge your sources in your work, improper or under acknowledgment of sources is still considered plagiarism.

According to Wikipedia, it is a “wrongful appropriation of another author’s language, thoughts, ideas or expressions and representing them as one’s original work.”

Cut, copy and paste with no effort at all.

Is it copyright infringement?

No, there is a difference between the two. Think of plagiarism as the ethical violation while the other one is a legal crime. The acts may be the same, but if you ask a lawyer, he will give you a different interpretation.

Should we stop plagiarism?

Absolutely! It is a crime, after all.

Little do these cunning plagiarists realize how much damage they can do to the original source, (writer, web page, published material).

  • Innocent readers will start to wonder whether the original writer is indeed the original writer. Reputations are at stake.
  • In terms of revenue, the original content will have revenue taken away (example by AdSense).
  • Google’s SEO update will hit the original work while the plagiarized work will get rewarded.
  • It promotes literary creativity stagnation since plagiarists won’t do much research.
  • You lose valuable time by having to detect and prevent plagiarism all the time.

The list could go on.

Tools to help detect plagiarism

It may be impossible to totally eliminate plagiarism, but at least you can prevent it with free tools.

  • Google Search – Just type in a few lines (or the entire text) you suspect has been plagiarized. Look for exact matches.
  • Google Alert – Set it to notify you when there are copycats lurking.
  • Copyscape – Probably the most popular among the rest, Copyscape helps you detect copies of your work with the percentages of the copied work.
  • Plagium – Search for copies of large amounts of your content. It also uses other languages aside from English.
  • Grammarly – is a proof-reading service that analyzes your content and shows you the source of any plagiarized content.

Put up a fight

So what can you do when you find out someone’s been stamping your work as their own?

  1. You can write an email to the site’s webmaster and let them know your discovery. Ask them to take down the copied content.
  1. After a few days of no reply, you can file a report to the major search engines stating your case.
  1. As a last resort, you could file a case with your attorney to have legal action done to the website owners.

Flattery?

Yes, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery but don’t mistake plagiarism for imitation. It’s a totally different art form. The good news is that there are now laws to help stifle this crime and that search engines do penalize these content thieves.

Content writers should be aware of the proper citation skills they learned in journalism classes. If they don’t know, maybe they should take these tips for writing and do a refresher course in Composition 101.

 

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Why a Writer Without a Deadline Is Looking For Trouble

Writing without a deadline is like beaming a laser light into the night sky. The end cannot be found because the writing will never end. If you don’t give a writer a deadline, he will write and write forever. Doing a change here, adding a detail there. The list goes on. The word deadline has some negative hint to it, too. Take note that it has the word “dead” at the beginning. It might as well be called dreadline – the dreaded deadline. Or it was probably a shortcut to a longer phrase: “I’ll be dead at the end of the line.”

But deadlines can be friendly reminders to do a job well and send in what needs to be sent. They give writer a sense of order amidst the chaos of other articles on queue, or other lined-up work to do including non-writing jobs. Let’s see why deadlines are very important and maybe writers should see it as some serious tips for writing.

The pressure is off

Time management is the key to unlocking the deadline bolt. And so you have a deadline? Give yourself a deadline within what your editor gave you. Make it a few days earlier than the actual date. This way, you can have extra time if an emergency crops up that you cannot get away from. Or if you DO meet your self-imposed deadline, you will have extra days of R&R, self-imposed, of course.

Don’t look at it as a deadline

Imagine that it’s actually a reward when you look at a deadline. This will give you extra motivation because the reward is very satisfying. You get a sense of achievement. Give yourself a pat on the back, good job for sending it on time.

You’ll have a great reputation

If writers meet deadlines, they get to be relied upon to come through with whatever task they’re asked to do. Soon, they will have a reputation of always meeting deadlines. Remember, editors like compliant writers. It takes some of the stress off their load.

Tips for writing with deadlines

  • List down all your writing tasks with the corresponding deadlines. Place your list where you can clearly see it.
  • Tick off each one once you’ve done them.
  • Do the easy tasks first. These require less time to do and less effort. The harder ones need more time and planning.
  • Update your publisher/editor/client with your progress. Give him a draft before sending in the final one.
  • It’s tempting but don’t get more work than you can handle. You’re only human.
  • Stick to your timetable. Even if you’re freelancing, treat it like a normal 9 to 5 job, with rules to follow and tasks to finish.

Conclusion

Not all writers love deadlines. They think it’s restricting. But at the end of the day, it still is a job to do. Something that needs to be done to pay the bills. Practice these tips for writing and meeting deadlines. It’s not easy at first but in time, you will learn to love deadlines. So if you’re serious at being a freelance writer, deadlines should be your best friend and procrastination is your worst enemy. Your BFF will take you away from your comfort zone just to make you meet a deadline. Even if it means isolating you from family, friends, usual luxuries and all other things that can distract you from finishing your work. It’s a tough job, being a best friend, but somebody’s got to do it.

How To Succeed In Writing When You’re Not An Expert In Anything

Niche writers are highly sought after by publications and it’s no secret that businesses are willing to shelve more cash for copywriters who have an authority in their field of expertise than someone who has no clue about what they’re writing.

Wouldn’t you rather hire a writer a retired nurse for a healthcare blog than someone who has no idea about the healthcare system?

Actually, it’s not always the case. Here’s the secret to succeeding in writing when you aren’t an expert in anything: You don’t have to be an expert in anything to succeed in writing. The only skill you need to succeed as a writer is your writing skill. That’s something no one can teach you.

That being said, there are lots of things you can do that will help you succeed in writing when you have zero expertise in any field. Here are some useful tips for writers:

Research, research and more research

Two things will help you become an awesome writer: Your writing skill and lots of research. It’s okay if you don’t know anything about the topic you’re writing. You just need to do ample research and talk to experts in the field. Google is a wonderful tool that can be used to read about any subject. Read articles, blogs and opinionated articles. Then, contact experts in the field to ask for their point of view. In no time, you’ll be able to write an elaborate, well-thought out article.

Similarly, you don’t need to have a college degree in psychology to write about Maslow’s theory of self-actualization or work in finance to pen a blog about mutual funds.

Become a Jack of all trades

I’ve seen several writers who write blogs on varied topics. They aren’t niche writers; they just juggle countless subjects with ease. In fact, this is a good strategy because it enables you to be open to writing about any subject. Would you rather be a Jack of all trades or a master of one?

Being a master in one field is good, but being a Jack of all trades is even better when it comes to the world of freelance writing. One of the most useful tips for writers I’ve come across is to be an expert in multiple fields rather than just one. It increases your employability in a fiercely competitive market.

Sometimes it’s better not to be an expert

To be honest, most editors aren’t willing to hire experts because they are awful writers. Think about it. A veterinary doctor may not necessarily be adept at penning an engaging, reader-friendly and crisp article about veterinary medicine. On the other hand, a writer with little veterinary medicine knowledge may have the writing skills to create an interesting and helpful article.

This is especially true for editors seeking writers to explain how to do something, simplifying complex jargons and giving tips on a subject.

Keep writing on topics you like or know a little about

If you do want to be a bona fide expert in a field, one of the most useful tips for writers that I’ve come across is to write on topics you like or know a little about. Have you ever bought a house? You can certainly write real estate articles. Like sprucing up a room’s décor? You can certainly pen a blog about popular bedsheet designs.

The more you write about something, the more you become an expert in that field.

9 Elements Of Persuasive Content

Why do businesses hire writers? For one and only one reason – To persuade. You’re either selling something, giving information about a product or service, influencing the reader to see your point of view or triggering an emotional response. The point is that words are a powerful tool that can evoke a response.

Professional writers know this.

That’s why content is never random. Writing persuasive content is an essential component of being a successful writer. Fortunately, it’s easy to influence readers. Here are a few useful tips for writers that can help them influence readers:

  1. Catchy headlines

The reason why a reader will click your article over another boils down to your headline. Use a catchy headline rather than a boring one. For example, you’re more likely to pay attention to a headline that says, “6 Things You Never Knew About Potato Chips” rather than “Facts And Information About Potato Chips.”

  1. Add Bullet points or subheadings

Bullet points and subheadings break down text into easily digestible reads. Large, chunky text is harder to read than small paragraphs or bullet points. Remember that readers like to skim through articles before reading them. Attention span is short.

  1. Give important information first

You don’t want your audience to wait till the conclusion to receive the most important information of your article. Give the most essential information at the beginning of your content because if you wait till the end, they’ll be long gone.

  1. Use short sentences

Long sentences confuse readers. They might not even remember what you wrote at the start of the sentence. Short sentences are not only easy to read but they keep copy crisp and clean. Short sentences are powerful.

That being said, you can use long sentences. Just make sure there is a short sentence before and after the long one. It’s perhaps one of the most useful tips for writers.

  1. Use simple words

Avoid using complex terms and jargon unless you’re writing a technical article. Nobody likes fancy words. You might come across as a know-it-all. Content should be light, conversational and simple to read.

  1. Trigger a response

At the end of the day, you want to trigger a response in the reader. It may be an emotional one (laughing or anger), a physical one (buy a product) or a mental one (a change in opinion).

  1. Add an image

The old adage that a picture says a thousand words proves true in content writing too. One of the most useful tips for writers that I’ve come across is to always add an image to the copy. It could be an attractive picture, a diagram elucidating the content or a chart supporting factual information.

  1. State facts but also give your opinion

Professional writers know that facts can serve as the foundation for persuasive content. But facts can be boring. It’s your opinion that will draw the reader in.

  1. Add the you in your writing

Finally, add a dash of personality, a good measure of your writing style and a generous dollop of your unique voice to make the content truly persuasive. When you show your most authentic self to your audience, it increases your credibility and trustworthiness.

In conclusion, persuasive content consists of a catchy headline, bullets or subheadings, short and simple sentences, gives pertinent information in the beginning, avoids jargons, triggers a response, has a nice image, states facts but also has your opinion and has a dash of your personality. Now it’s time to woo your readers.

Essential Tips For Keeping The You In Your Writing

I’ve often come across editors looking for writers with a distinctive voice. Someone who has their own unique style and persona and isn’t afraid to let that show in their penmanship. How you write is just as important as what you write.

In fact, having your own distinct voice and style is what will set you apart from other writers. And here at The Content Fair, we’re all about helping writers succeed in an increasingly competitive market.

When I started to work as a full-time writer, I realized that almost all editors were looking for writers with a special voice. Some editors wanted someone with a quirky voice, others sought for a frank, no-nonsense writer that wasn’t afraid to rip the Band-Aid, and still some wanted writers with a flowery and colorful voice.

So, how can you keep the you in your writing and really shine through in the industry? Here are some useful tips for writers:

Add your personality

Are you an old-fashioned person? Or do you like being blunt? Or are you really funny? Identify your personality and add a good measure of it in your writing. Your blogs should reflect who you are.

Add your own style

Now that you’ve added a generous dose of your personality in your writing, it’s time to add a dash of your personal style. One of the most useful tips for writers for developing their specific style is by writing just like the way they talk. Your voice should be a reflection of what makes you, well, you. Your attitude and the tone of your voice make up your personal style. Just like a singer has their own signing voice, a writer has their writing voice. Identify that voice by just letting go and writing from your heart. Let is flow naturally.

To better understand the concept of personal style, consider this: You might feel like you’re “hearing” my voice while reading this but it’s actually my personal style that makes you feel like you’re “hearing” me right now.

Use a strong and consistent voice

Have you ever noticed that when you read a good book, you tend to develop the author’s voice and writing style? Your voice can change over time and be heavily influenced by the books, articles and blogs you read. But it’s important to maintain your voice and style consistently so that editors can rely on you to produce work that always reflects your individuality.

Take your time in developing a distinctive voice

New freelance writers should nurture their authentic voice by writing a lot. The more you write, the more your natural writing style shines through. This process takes time and patience, but it’s worth it in the long-run.

Be natural

Set your heart free and just write. Sometimes, you might over-think things as a freelance writer, but it’s important not to. One of the most useful tips for writers that I’ve come across is to simply let go of all the fears, inhibitions and mental blocks and stop chasing perfection. Just write.

Later, when you’re editing, remember to ensure that you read the words out loud. They should just roll off of your tongue. You should feel like you’re talking to a friend.

To summarize, identity your personality and add it to your writing. Then, write like you talk in order to find your inimitable style and maintain it. Be patient in developing your voice and finally, just be yourself, don’t worry too much, and have fun penning that article, blog, essay, novel or poem.

Transitioning To Fiction Writing? Consider These Tips

Any writer wanting to delve into the intriguing world of fiction dreams of having best-seller successes like J. K. Rowling or Stephen King. If you’re already from the “other side” or the nonfiction genre, and want to cross the border into fiction writing, you must have had some confidence with your writing. If so, then you’d think transitioning won’t be so difficult, right?

Wrong!

The lines are clearly drawn in knowing what some essential elements of fiction writing are – elements like point of view, conversation, conflict and climax. But it’s also another line in mastering these elements. Isn’t it obvious that bestsellers are those that captivate readers and get the rave reviews?

So before you expect to be the next Sidney Sheldon, consider some writing tips when transitioning to fiction writing.

The habits of the nonfiction writer

More often than not, the nonfiction writer will seem all-knowing and a bit cocky – that they will only need a few edits here and there. But I’ve been asked a few times to proofread some transitioning authors’ works and right from the get-go, I notice that there are no attention-grabbing words that jump right at you. No interesting banter in the dialogues.

In other words, there is no engagement with the audience.

Plus, the English is just too stiff. You can’t have fiction following all the writing rules. It just won’t work with conflict, intrigue, tension, conversation and an overall bit of pizzazz! Let loose a little with your language and let your story be told by the characters themselves using emotions and feelings to bring out the truly charismatic appeal of your hero that everybody loves.

The following are writing tips for those who want to be good at storytelling:

Your protagonist’s POV

Show the events of your story through the eyes and feelings of your hero. Let your readers know him personally so they can be emotionally attached to him, feel his inner turmoil and cheer for him.

So stick with your hero’s head and stay there. Then move on to the others and let them do the storytelling. Weave the characters’ interactions in a natural way without having to explain with too much information to your readers. It’ll come out naturally and they will get it.

Make interesting conflicts

Your characters should have ample conflicts but not too much or else you’ll drown your reader with too many intricacies. Remember, conflict is the backbone of fiction. Make each scene have one conflict to keep readers in suspense with the tension in each page.

Show their emotions

The sure way to make your characters come alive is to make them show their emotions, touch feelings, hurts, aspirations, inner and outer sensations. Don’t just describe what your hero is seeing. Write what his senses are telling him. Even his sense of taste.

Dialogue should be animated

It’s all about attitude. Even in the conversations. Don’t make your dialogue sound like the author again is speaking. As mentioned before, you don’t have to use perfect English. Don’t make it too rigid with a lot of narration. Nobody likes reading too much description, unless they’re really interesting.

It’s not an easy ride when transitioning to any form of writing but it’s not that difficult either. These are only a few writing tips and a few of the many steps you can do to master fiction writing.

Remember, nonfiction sees things objectively while the novelist makes up things in an engaging way. In the end, it’s all about imagination, language, practice, patience and a lot of heart.

Dear Me, What Is The Ideal Copywriter?

I came upon an email that made my heart skip a beat. It was from someone who wanted to get my services as a copywriter.  I was humbled by the message but it made me think: Am I the ideal copywriter she is looking for? What then should my qualities be?

My imagination went wild and with a wave of a wand and a cloud of smoke, I whisked myself in front of Ellen Degeneres and created a self-serving interview scenario and I got to answer her copywriting questions and giving out writing tips. It went something like this:

Ellen: And so what is a copywriter? Do you copy? And then write? Isn’t that the same thing? I imagine it being a bit boring.

Me: No, no! Actually, it’s never boring! We don’t just write something and then copy it over and over again. I feel it’s actually a misnomer.

Ellen: So what do you do?

Me: It’s simple, I have a client who has this message she wants to announce to the world. I write her message in a way that people will respond in a positive manner.

Ellen: Oh, like a street vendor saying, “Hey you! Come buy this watch!” And I buy it?

Me: Well, not really! Let me explain. As a copywriter, I’ve been asked so many times what makes me different from the millions of copywriters out there. Each time, I came up with different answers but all of them led to one definitive quality, I communicate the message of my client very clearly.

Ellen: So what other qualities do you need to have?

Me: The question is not what else do I have but rather one big question: Can my writing inspire?

Ellen: (stunned silence) Go on.

Me: The answer should be, yes! If it doesn’t inspire, then why bother hiring me?  Copywriters should not only inspire others to do some kind of action after reading, but also make them feel something. You read something about a kid falling from a bunk bed and you feel the pain from the fall. Just by reading, you cringed!

Ellen: I can feel some pain just by listening to you.

Me: Exactly! That’s good copywriting! Feeling something from what you’ve just read or heard.

Ellen: Man, you’re good!

Me: Thank you! Anyway, a few writing tips to add. Great copywriters can manipulate and appeal to strong emotions. And that’s what I do to make audiences react. But first, I need to get a deeper understanding about the business. Like for you, Ellen, I need to know what makes you tick. Why does your audience love you?

Ellen: That’s easy. I give away money!

Me: Yes, that’s true but what is the real Ellen? I need to do research about you and your company and ask you tons of questions to get the total picture. I need to be curious and inquisitive about you, and not just ask questions that everybody already knows.

I will then write about your company and embody your voice with my writing style.

Ellen: Then you should live in my house because we’ll never finish in one day!

Me: Why not! Anyway, a good copywriter needs to have some form of strategy in writing all the information at hand. Strategy is key! It starts from having good titles and headings. Why then do we need a catchy title? To get people to read my first sentence. I can just put “Interview with Ellen” as my title but that’s not too attractive. Now if I write “Unboxing the Real Ellen” Then people will get curious and engaged from the get-go.

Ellen: I’ve never been unboxed before.

Me: And that’s good! Copywriters write about brands that will give audiences more information about it and use that information to better their lives. In your case, Ellen, what I will write about will make audiences feel the need to listen to you and follow what you say because you have a message. I know you as a brand and I know who your audience is.

Ellen: You’re very creative.

Me: Copywriters should be. It doesn’t end in headlines. It’s also in the meat of the content. It’s a lot of hard work and experience because there are no shortcuts in making your brand seen in a different light. It has to be in a way that’s entertaining, playful, informative and even funny. Just like you.

Ellen: Shouldn’t you be good at selling?

Me: Well, not exactly. But I should be good at making readers think about the product, give the good points and what great value they are getting and then make them decide whether it can really be good for them or not. Everything is a sales pitch, after all. But the way copywriters should do it is not too obvious or else from the beginning, readers already know. It’s a big turn off. The result? They won’t get to know you and what message you really want your audience to know.

Ellen: And what is that?

Me: After knowing you, you really are a good person and that in everything we do, we just need to do one thing: Be kind to one another.

Poof!

Smoke is gone, I’m back to reality.

So you’re an aspiring writer? You want a career as a copywriter? Take these writing tips even if they were in a dream sequence with Ellen.

In the end, what makes an ideal copywriter is all heart. And creativity to use the right words that will work in communicating and persuading people. And dedication to really feel for a client’s business in building a bridge to reach their target audience.

Hopefully, the end result is, more and more people will eventually be crossing that bridge.