Writing in English when it is not your native language and you have little money

Being in search of sufficient income to cover my basic needs in Venezuela, a country that has ridiculously high inflation rates and extremely low paying jobs, among other issues,  I learned that there were sites called content mills that paid in dollars for writing, so I signed up for Iwriter.com.

Iwriter

Although that website produced little money, I was excited because I understood that as I got more into the writing world I could aspire to a better income, in a strong and stable currency, from the comfort of my home and doing something that I love, writing. There was just one issue: most of Iwriter’s projects are in English

As a child, I was interested in writing. While working in the Judiciary, I was very happy writing sentences, but in the case of Iwriter there was a limitation: this site’s projects were mostly in English. I read dozens of stories in which people who began with nothing eventually wrote articles for which they got paid thousands of dollars for these articles which were in English!

I am a Spanish speaker and a lawyer by profession, I learned that it is certainly possible to learn English every day, but in the best case, it would take me a long time to have fluency in that language at same level as my mother tongue, thus I made the decision to focus on writing articles in Spanish. However, sometimes I accepted projects in English, but when I did,what normally took me about an hour to write it in Spanish, in English it took four. Also, my English vocabulary was not as profuse as when I wrote in my native language.

The use of automated translation software to write

I started working as an English to Spanish translator. By the way, working as a translator can be an additional source of income for a writer who speaks another language. When I was working as a translator I learned about some free automated translation tools that were not perfect, but they made my work easier. I’m talking about Google Translate, Linguee.es and Grammarly. With Google Translate I could make a decent translation from English to Spanish and vice versa; then I would use Linguee’s website and app to check this translation looking for phrases and sentences that did not make sense. Finally, Grammarly would be a kind of last grammar resource.

The above was very useful for translating (Google Translate in special is remarkable), but one day I thought that maybe I could use these tools to write in English, so I started doing that.  First, I wrote an article for a real estate agent, then two more for an immigration lawyer, then two more for an Iwriter client and finally one for Travelista.club. It should be noted that of all these customers pay for my services a sum that is higher than the one that’s earned by anyone with the highest ranking in Iwriter: Elite Plus.

How to write in English properly when is not your native language in three steps

How to write in English properly- use google translate to write
How to write in English properly

I know that it is possible to write articles in English, even if you are not a native speaker, and getting paid to do so. For this, I suggest you follow these steps:

1. Write in your native language

When preparing to write an article in English, the first thing you should do is research for references and take notes on the desired subject, then make an article structure and write an original article in your native language (this is absolutely essential if you write for SEO positioning purposes). It is easier to think and write in your native language and then translate it into English, than to do it directly in the latter.

2. Translate the written article with an automated translation tool

Although there are several translation software, most of them were too expensive for me, so I opted for a free option: Google Translate. To my surprise, this Google service is quite accurate, except in the translation of pronouns and certain idioms, which takes us to the next step.

3.  Edit the automated translation tool’s resulting translation

As far as I am concerned, although I am not a certified translator, I have taken several English courses and I speak the language on a daily basis, I recommend you to do a first personal review of the translation made by the automated translation tool (in this case, Google Translate).

Such review should be as exhaustive as possible, as if Google Translate were your intern and you were checking the quality of their work. To do this, the recommendation is that you take more than one English course or generally, have a formal education in this language, in addition to practicing it daily («Let the cobbler stick to his last»), even if you hired proofreading services, because an editor may obviate some error of your article and your client will not like it!

Now, when a word or phrase that is translated by the automated translation tool does not make sense to you – although, to be honest, this is increasingly rare in Google Translate – check it with Linguee: search for that word’s or phrase’s version in your native language on this website and it will throw you several English versions of it.

Next comes Grammarly’s turn (I recommend Google Chrome’s extension version), and it’s like having an extra pair of alert eyes. I have not purchased the paid version of this service (although I’d love to!).  The free version has saved me on more than one occasion from sending a client an article with a wrong capital letter, conjunction or punctuation mark.

Hire professional proofreading services

Finally, to be honest, when it comes to writing flawless articles in English as of today I have the support of an American lawyer, and this seems invaluable to me. I am aware that although English and Spanish have similarities, each language has its own grammatical norms and idioms, and who better to verify this in English than a person born and raised in the United States with a university degree in an area such as Social Communication, Letters or Law?

Corollary

Working as a writer and translator has allowed me to connect with my true passion which is to find the right words to convey the desired message in each case, be it for personal or third party’s purposes. I still have a lot to learn to be a great writer (and writing a book is among my plans), but the fact that there is so much information and free translation-related software on the Internet that allows anyone whose native language is not English to learn this job in a sustainable way, which is particularly useful in countries like mine, in which, while I’m writing these lines, the minimum monthly salary is about $4 (after over 160 hours of work).

Finally, if all this seems too much effort, we offer you our writing, proofreading and English to Spanish translation services, provided by a multidisciplinary team of professionals. Please contact us if you require more information.

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