WriteWorldwide was formed with a simple mission in mind: to help those whose first language isn’t English achieve freelance writing success.
Recently, we’ve been focussing on the mechanics of building and sustaining your writing business – from how to build a list of prospects, right down to what makes a perfect pitch.
But even that doesn’t skim the surface of everything freelance writers have to do to keep themselves out there – there’s the marketing involved, the fact that cold pitching is a numbers game, and an ever-increasing pool of competitors ready to snap up potential clients before they even know you exist.
It’s daunting to even consider putting a website together, let alone marketing and charging for your services, when English is your first language – if it’s not, your challenge is that much greater. But as our series of WriteWorldwide reader interviews show, it’s entirely possible for ESL freelance writers to stand out from the crowd and thrive within the industry.
How a famous comedian can help freelance writers improve their English skills
One of my favourite quotes ever is by the comedian Steve Martin. In his autobiography Born Standing Up, his seven word solution to the problem of how to succeed in show business is one of the most effective and simple mantras I’ve read, and I come back to it time and again.
Now, you might be thinking: But Ciaran, Steve Martin is a world famous funnyman whose heyday was in the 1970’s, how can his advice possibly be relevant to ESL freelance writers today?
Well, this particular quote is so timeless, so mind-shatteringly brilliant, that you can easily apply it to any field in which you’re striving for success – including closing more deals than a native writer when English isn’t your first language. In fact, this nugget of wisdom is so on point that just a couple of years ago, one guy named a best selling book after it.
So, what’s the the advice? Here it is.
Be so good they can’t ignore you.
That’s it. nothing more, nothing less. Pretty powerful, right? When you boil it down, that’s all it takes to succeed in any area of life.
Want to win that local hotdog eating contest for the twelfth year in a row? Be so good they can’t ignore you.
Need to up your marketing strategy? Be so good they can’t ignore you.
Want to stand above other freelance writers in your niche even though English isn’t your first language? Be so good they can’t ignore you.
Of course, mastering a language that’s not your native tongue and building a writing business at the same time is no easy feat. With that in mind, here’s 7 tech tools to help you get there faster. Let’s take a look.
Duolingo is ‘free, forever’, and focussed on beginner language learners. By spending as little as 20 minutes per day with its game and science based interface, you can start from scratch or simply brush up on your skills in a fun and engaging way. There are currently 325 million users learning English, so ESL freelance writers are in good company.
FluentU presents itself as something a little more complex than a simple learning tool. Marketed as ‘language immersion online’, it’ll help you learn English interactively through the use of video, explainer images, flashcards and quizzes. There’s a free trial period, after which you can upgrade to their basic or plus plan.
Memrise bagged the 2017 Google Play Award for Best App, and promises to unlock your learning superpowers. It offers community-generated courses, such as Learn English Grammar and the intermediate 400 words of English as a Foreign Language test. Again, there are free or pro pricing options to choose from.
4. Open Language
Open Language opts for a slightly less playful tone (‘Real language. Not games’) and states the bold aspiration that it’s ‘designed to replace the textbook’. Full access to their English course starts at $30 per month, but a sample course is all yours if you want to get a feel for their comprehensive and authentic learning methods first.
SpeakingPal helps you learn English and track your progress with video lessons, text and image prompts, plus simulated spoken conversations. There are multiple quizzes and different levels to crack, and the intuitive interface allows you to direct your own learning experience in a way that’s comfortable for you.
Vocabulary does exactly what you think it will, acting as a central hub for improving your English and learning new words. You can feed Vocabulary up to 100 pages of text or a list of words, and it’ll create a learning programme based on your choices. You can sign up free as either a student or an educator, and the more you use the site the more it adapts to your choices and word goals. It’s more advanced, but worth digging into if you really want to stretch your language learning muscle.
EnglishCentral has more than 2 million users in 120 countries. The interactive video courses are tailored to each user, and supplemented with one-on-one tutoring to so you get feedback on your progress in real time. You can choose from yearly or monthly subscription packages, along with a free registration option which includes a trial session. In fact, they’re so confident you’ll improve with their weekly plan, it comes with a 100% money back guarantee.
I hope you’ve found value in this list of 7 tech tools to help freelance writers sharpen their skills and master the English language.
For additional help, be sure to download our Ultimate Guide to Improving Your English Language Skills. It’s a fantastic free resource created with ESL freelance writers in mind, so If you haven’t checked it out yet, give it a look here. You’ve nothing to lose!
Have you found your own ways for freelance writers to to bridge the gap between ESL and English writing? Share the strategies that have worked for you in the comments.