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Three Handy Tools No Textbroker Author Should Be Without

Gabriella gives us her best online and offline writing tools to help boost your productivity and motivation.

In the two and a half years I've been with Textbroker, I've gotten hooked on three basic tools. Without them, my job would be unmanageable. 

Dictionary.com

Is there an author out there who isn't already using this website? The Dictionary.com toolbar (http://dictionary.com/tools/toolbar1?trackid=gog-187) is easy to install and very convenient, but it's no longer compatible with Firefox, my browser of choice. Instead, the website is front and center on my “Recently Bookmarked” list, and I have the website up and running whenever I write. 

Sometimes, I need to clarify the precise meaning of a word. I may think a word means one thing when it actually means something else. By checking when in doubt, I avoid using a word that confuses the meaning of my writing and makes me look unprofessional as an author. 

There are also words like “silhouette” and “corduroy” for which I can never quite recall the correct spelling. If I check a word on Dictionary but spell it incorrectly, Dictionary will suggest other words, one of which is usually the correctly spelled version of the word I'm after . 

Dictionary.com also has a Thesaurus tab. This tool provides tons of synonyms for any given word and is essential for avoiding repetition and for finding descriptive bons mots. Their Encyclopedia tab comes in handy for quick research. 

As an aside, the Google toolbar can be set to automatically check spelling on any web form including Textbroker. This option is in the upper right-hand corner of the page between “Bookmarks” and “Translate.” With Google as my homepage and several open windows ready to go, I'm set to research anything. 

Mobile Device

If you don't already own one, invest in a smart phone. I switched from an old-school flip phone to an LG Android last summer, and it was one of the most profitable investments I've ever made. 

It gives me 24/7 access to Textbroker from any locale. Within the first week of using my device, I accessed enough Level 5 orders to pay for 6 months of data charges. 

The Textbroker website is very mobile friendly. I can log in and monitor all open orders continuously without going near my PC. We all know how fast those coveted Level 5 articles can go, but with a mobile device, you'll be poised to pounce as soon as the orders come in. 

My device also syncs with e-mail, so I can respond to client messages, acknowledge Direct Orders and provide turn-around times for my work. Should a text come back for revision, I'm alerted immediately. 

EFTPS

As independent contractors, we're responsible for paying quarterly withholding taxes on that income. If you earn less than $400 per year as a freelancer, you can pay your entire self-employment tax annually. If you earn more than that, you're required to make quarterly estimated self-employment tax payments. 

The Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS) makes this process as painless as possible. It's a secure website (www.eftps.gov) where you can link your bank account to your tax account and make or schedule estimated tax payments at any time. You can also see what you've paid in. The website has all the particulars, and it takes about two weeks to set up an account. 

The beauty of EFTPS is that you can adjust your tax payments to reflect your earnings. I like to base my quarterly payments on what I've earned over the preceding three months. Paying as you go is much nicer than finding yourself with a staggering tax debt when April rolls around. 

I wish I had a tool to share with you for jump-starting a sluggish and uncooperative writing muse. Sometimes, the only first-aid for writer's block is a lengthy and self-indulgent day at the mall. A healthy dose of retail therapy always awakens my creative spirit; it motivates me to earn enough at Textbroker to pay off what I've just spent.


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