Tag Archives: working online in mexico

Failing at your own business–Content Writing

ce writerThose antennas are helping some with the stability of the internet. It still goes out randomly. I’ve cut my online teaching hours to the bare minimum. However, if I ever want to get a new moto, I need to earn more money than bare-bones survival income.

In December, I made an effort to find another sort of job. I must have filled out at least a dozen online applications for virtual assistants, bloggers, copywriters, and freelance writers. Finally, at the beginning of February, I heard back from one.

The position was for a content writer. With Google changing up how things are indexed and classified and rated every few months, everyone needs more content on their sites just to get noticed, whether they are bloggers or merchants. So content writing is becoming the in-demand job online.

Even though I passed the initial screening, that didn’t mean I had the job. I was given two articles to write, one was about climate change and the other was about men’s bicycles. I had no problems with the climate change topic even though it was considerably longer than most of my posts at 2500 words.

However, I completely bombed the men’s bicycle article. I had a hard time finding information for bikes in the price range I was supposed to focus on. I had never written a Best of type article before, so my formatting was WAY off. Not to mention, this article was also 2500 words.

In order to turn it in, I needed to have a Grammarly grade of at least 90 percent.  Grammarly is like an online spell/grammar checker. Grammarly decided my writing was only worth 88 percent. Even after going through paragraph by paragraph, I couldn’t improve. I had to use the Grammarly Premium app to find those two unclear antecedents that were holding me up.

So now at 90%, I turned in my article and the boss was flabbergasted, not in a good way, mind you. He said I was totally off. He gave me some suggestions, cleared up what I was supposed to be researching, sent me a sample article and asked if I would do it again. He said that my writing was good and they normally didn’t give second chances, but he thought I could do this. Oh, and could I have it in by Monday morning?

So I worked over the weekend because I really wanted this job. When the internet drops, I can go and do something else for a while, and pick back up with my writing when it decides to work again. So much less stress than dropping connection in the middle of a live class!

I also tried out Hemingway Editor, which I’d heard about but had never used. Hemmingway will tell you what grade level you are writing at based on the complexity and length of your sentences. It will suggest ways you can “dumb-down” your writing since the average reader in the U.S. reads at about a 7th-grade level. Short and clear sentences, in the manner of Hemingway (hence the name), are the key.

Just as I was finishing up my revision, I accidentally deleted the file in Google Docs. That gave me about 10 minutes of pure panicked-induced adrenalin before I figured out how to restore a previous version.  Whew! I lost some information but not the entire article.

After more hours than I could count, I finished the article and sent it back. It was perfect. I got paid for both articles, a prompt Paypal deposit, not like that Canadian lady that still hasn’t paid me. Then I got two more articles.

One was another Best of type article, only this time on hot weather tents. I nailed it the first try! The second one was a review article, which I hadn’t done previously. This was a whopping 3,000 words on a prepared meal delivery program–you know, like Meals-on-wheels. I was confused about whether I was supposed to be reviewing the product or reviewing reviews about the product. My article was rejected.

The third week, he only sent me one article so that I would have time to redo the review article. Since my class schedule was so minimal I had no problem fixing the article and completing the new one, about water toys. There was a bit of a problem with a 4% similarity with another site that reviewed two of the same toys. I was introduced to Copyscape, which will search out any possible plagiarism issues online. Since my boss thought I didn’t mean to “copy” he asked me to reword the descriptions, which took like 5 minutes to do. 

I did so well with that, he sent me the second article, this one about train tables. I finished by Wednesday, averaging one article or rewrite per day.

This job has been wreaking havoc with my self-esteem though. Being rejected is never easy. Having my writing rejected was even worse. My best online buddy Daisy kept up a constant flow of encouragement–reminding me there was a learning curve for any new job and that I was more than capable of doing this one, with a little practice. My husband was supportive in his own way–he said it was good I’m learning new things at my age–whatever that’s supposed to mean!

I’m hoping that next week, I can complete both articles without a problem making me MASTER OF THE WRITING UNIVERSE or some such totally cool person. Meanwhile, since I’m done with those articles, I’m working on that book on Mexican healthcare that’s been taking me so long to finish!

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Filed under Education

Continuing with the Internet Crusade

So all of a sudden during a Tuesday morning class, neither internet was actually providing internet service. I had to put in an emergency absence form for the second half of the shift. The satellite internet hadn’t been working since late afternoon on the day before, so I had gone into the class knowing I didn’t have the backup. Then the Blue Communications internet just sputtered and died.

Unraveling this mess took more than a week. Beginning with the satellite internet, our regular monthly payment day is the 26th of the month. We normally pay it a day or so beforehand, but this month one thing after another kept us from actually paying it until the 26th. When we called to see why it wasn’t working after our payment, it seems that the contract had been signed on the 24th even though it hadn’t been installed until the 26th. Thus, the company decided we were delinquent in our payment on the 25th of this month and shut down service. Whatever. We were now current and on the 27th, we had satellite internet again.

Now for the Blue Communications internet story….

After trying to log in to the company site, we received an error message stating our SIM card was not functioning. This internet service uses a modem that uses something like cell phone signals to provide us internet way out in La Yacata. So since this was a SIM card issue, we took the modem to the office in Moroleon. We explained what the problem was and they started shaking their heads. We would need to call the technical service number for assistance. They couldn’t do a thing. The installer did plug it in at the office and verified that it wasn’t working correctly, but that was all. We asked whether they had another modem in the office in case the one we had couldn’t be fixed. I was assured that they did. I should have asked them to show it to me though.

Anyway, we went home with our modem and had my son call technical support. He was to be our representative in this matter for several reasons. One is my husband hasn’t a clue on internet/computer related gadgets. Secondly, though I do, I have difficulty understanding Spanish over the phone. So our teenage son took up the gauntlet.

Tuesday afternoon, he was on the phone over an hour doing troubleshooting. You know, move the modem here, press this button, now log in and tell me what it says. Nothing, ok, now reset this and reconnect that and tell me what is happening. Anyway, after all that, the tech confirmed that there was something wrong with the SIM card. He assured us that a report would be filed and that within 1-2 days, it would be resolved.

On Wednesday, the internet was still not working. So my son called again. He spoke to another tech person who said that no report had ever been filed on Tuesday. He assured us that the issue would be resolved in 1-2 days.

On Thursday, he called again. This time we instructed my son to say that it either gets fixed or we cancel the service. After being referred to a manager and then referred to that person’s manager, the cancelation request was finalized. I’d receive an email in 1-2 days to confirm that our contract had been canceled.

Meanwhile, on Friday we went to the office in Moroleon. We requested a new modem and a new contract. Now they didn’t have a modem for us. Huh! Go figure. If we would come back in the afternoon, they should get delivery by then. Meanwhile, they had a 5 MBPS modem that they could rent us. The owner had gone to the U.S. and didn’t want to let the contract lapse.

I told them that I wasn’t interested in that modem. Our modem had 10 MBPS and while it wasn’t consistent, when it worked, it worked well.

We returned that afternoon. Nope, no modem. Try back on Monday. On Saturday, the internet was working as well as it ever did. Good for a time, then dropping, sometimes coming back, sometimes not. So my weekend classes were not a bust after all. Plus, since the satellite internet was working again, I could do the ol’ switcheroo in the event one internet lost its signal.

On Monday, my husband went to check to see if the modem had arrived. The lady in the office gave him a hard time about canceling the previous service and trying to set up another one. I don’t understand why. We have no contract with Blue Communications. It’s set up on a month-to-month plan. The modem we bought outright. However since that particular modem was tied to that particular month-to-month service, in order to get a new modem, we had to cancel the old one.

Anyway, she told my husband to try the rental 5 MBPS modem out and see how that worked. So he brought it home and I used it to teach. It worked about as well as the other one. Only I still didn’t want to “rent” the modem. What happened when the owner decided to come back to Mexico? We’d be out of a modem.

My son called the support line again. He said that the person he spoke with this time apologized for the problems we’d been having as well as for her co-workers who didn’t seem to be able to figure out what they were supposed to do to file a report. Of course, no report of the internet outage had been filed for our account, nor any cancelation request sent through. As long as we paid our monthly fee tomorrow, the service would continue uninterrupted.

So we went back to the office in Moroleon to return the modem. We requested the deposit for the new modem and monthly contract back. Of course, they didn’t have the money.  The lady suggested that she could apply the balance to our monthly fees, which would pay us 3 months and change in advance. Well, it’s not what I had planned for that money, but I guess it would do. She gave me a piece of paper with words to that effect. 

Despite all of our precautions, the last day of our monthly plan, our internet service was cut off.  We learned an interesting tidbit. Once your account has been deactivated, you can not access the customer service line by entering your account number. It’s like blocked or doesn’t recognize it or something. So since we couldn’t get ahold of anyone by phone, we went back to the office in town. They said that our payment had been made and gave us a receipt. When I asked whether someone could call and find out what was wrong with our account, the service technician told me to send them an email insisting our service be fixed.

Umm, if I don’t have internet at home, how would I send an EMAIL which requires the INTERNET? Go to the Cybercafe and wait there for a response? So that was completely useless advice in my opinion.  Anyway, since the backup satellite internet was still chugging along, I had my son log on to the company website and chat with a representative. She told us that there had been no report made for service repair but there was a cancellation request. Válgame dios! (Oh my god!) She asked if we would like to reactivate our account and the next day we were back in business. Well, as much as we ever were with this internet provider.

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Filed under Economics, Employment, Teaching