Virtual currencies

In the mobile payment segment, many competitive options exist, including NFC-based Google Wallet, a copycat dongle of PayPal, and digital wallets of Visa, MasterCard, and American Express. MasterPass of MasterCard aims to integrate mobile payment for retailers as one multipool option.

Dash cryptocurrency

Virtual Currency

17.10 Conclusions

Virtual currencies such as Bitcoin represent an innovation in financial services products and technology that has the potential to support more efficient and transparent global commerce. Since Bitcoin does not rely on intermediaries, it may lower transaction costs for businesses and emerge as a major means of electronic payment processing. In the authors’ opinion, Bitcoin has a clear potential for growth in light of these attributes. Of course, virtual currencies, like traditional currencies, can also be used for money laundering and other criminal activities.

Despite the many benefits and drawbacks highlighted by supporters and detractors of Bitcoin, it is clear that presently, virtual currencies exist in a legal gray area. Though certain regulators, including FinCEN, have sought to clarify this regulatory framework, further clarification by regulators and policymakers is necessary to foster widespread acceptance of virtual currencies.

The authors appreciate the desire of Congress and the regulators to protect the public from fraudulent schemes that make use of virtual currencies. However, the fact that Bitcoin has been used by parties as part of a fraud does not mean virtual currencies are inherently fraudulent or flawed. We are encouraged by the statements by regulators, including the CFTC that they plan to issue guidance on the regulation. However, as always, the devil will be in the details.

Understanding Virtual Currencies

Virtual currencies are a form of digital currency. They are issued by private parties, such as a group of developers or organizations, and are intended only for online use—they do not have a physical incarnation like paper money. Thus, they are different from digital representations of central bank-issued currency, also known as central bank digital currency (CBDC).

The term virtual currency came into existence in 2012, when the European Central Bank (ECB) defined it to classify types of "digital money in an unregulated environment, issued and controlled by its developers and used as a payment method among members of a specific virtual community." The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the United States describes virtual currencies as "digital representations of value that function as a unit of account, a store of value, and a medium of exchange."

The universe of currencies that may be considered virtual has expanded considerably since 2012 to include various forms of money that do not adhere to the ECB’s definition of the term. For example, certain cryptocurrencies, which are considered a form of virtual currency, like Ripple’s XRP, are not strictly controlled or used by a virtual community.

Virtual currencies have also failed to take off as a payment method or medium of exchange in mainstream society. They have restricted usage, sometimes in gaming communities and other times as a speculative investment asset. Whether they have emerged as a store of value, like gold, also remains questionable.

There’s also the question about regulation. Though virtual currencies remain unregulated in the vast majority of financial jurisdictions, that situation is slowly beginning to change. Bitcoin, the cryptocurrency with the biggest market capitalization, is legal tender in El Salvador.

In the United States, home to the world’s most sophisticated financial markets, virtual currencies are unregulated. But regulation is seriously being considered by authorities. The trading watchdog Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) wants to bring cryptocurrency exchanges under its supervision. Regulation for stablecoins, another form of virtual currency, is also in the cards. The IRS taxes trades that involve certain types of virtual currencies, such as cryptocurrencies.

The Federal Reserve is planning to release a paper that will assess the effect of releasing central bank digital currencies (CBDC) on the U.S. economy. Though CBDCs are not virtual currencies, the Fed’s paper may influence virtual currency regulation as currently discussed by government agencies.

Types of Virtual Currencies

Closed virtual currency

A closed virtual currency, as the name suggests, operates in a controlled and private ecosystem. It cannot be converted into another virtual currency or into a real-world fiat currency. Examples of closed virtual currencies are currencies in gaming systems. Though such currencies can be used in their respective environments (in this case games), they cannot be converted into real-world cash. Another example of closed virtual currencies is airline miles. They are issued by private parties, can only purchase additional miles, and cannot be converted into their associated monetary value.

Open virtual currency

Open virtual currencies are also known as convertible virtual currencies because they can be converted to other forms of money. They operate in open ecosystems and can be converted into another currency either within the platform or outside it. Examples of open virtual currencies are stablecoins and cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin and Ethereum, the two biggest cryptocurrencies by market capitalization, can be converted into other cryptocurrencies or certain fiat currencies. This conversion process is considered a trade transaction by the IRS and is taxed.

Though most open virtual currencies have a decentralized setup, certain cryptocurrencies like Ripple’s XRP are centralized in design, meaning a central agency is responsible for their production and distribution.

What are the most common virtual currencies?

1. Bitcoin [BTC]

what are bitcoin and what is inflation in the market

Bitcoin appeared in 2008 but until 2009 it did not start working. Its creator is known as Satoshi Nakamoto but nobody really knows who he is, if he is a person or a group of individuals, there has been much speculation about it. Even several people have wanted make believe they were Nakamoto although none have been able to prove it.

Satoshi Nakamoto the bitcoin creator

The Bitcoin is a digital currency, such as the Euro or Dollar, with which you can make all kinds of purchases in businesses which accept this currency. The operations can be performed either from mobile devices such as Smartphones, a Tablet or from a desktop computer.

In the following hours after its peak, Bitcoin plunged 15% in Asian markets after the South Korean cryptocurrency platform (Youbit) announced its bankruptcy after suffering a virtual theft of approximately 17% of its digital currencies.

How does Bitcoin work?

To start using Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency the first thing we need is a Wallet, which will do the same function as a physical wallet (save our money). This Wallet is an alphanumeric code and has access codes to access it and make payments. If we lose these keys we lose EVERYTHING in the wallet, which is why it is always convenient to create backup copies of our keys in different places to avoid problems.

Once we have our wallet, the keys and Bitcoin in them, the use is simple: we only have to decide what wallet address and what virtual currencies amount we want to send, once this is done we just have to wait for the confirmation of the shipment and we have made our transaction.

2. Ethereum [ETH]

Ether Vitalik virtual currency

Just as Bitcoin, Ethereum is based on a network of monetary value exchanges with the characteristic of having no central authority to manage control, leaving everything in the hands of users. At the same time, it is an OpenSource platform for the creation of smart contracts or tokens.

How does Ether work?

For example, companies or users can sign Smart Contracts from anywhere in the world, without commissions or control by any state, since they are only controlled by decentralized computer systems with a high degree of security. The biggest advantage of these contracts is that you do not need to trust the counterparty, as this will be resolved automatically if the conditions are agreed.

An example would be one in which two parties agree on a contract by which someone offers their products or services in exchange for Ethers and at the time it materializes, the contract will give the product and money to the corresponding parties.

3. Ripple [XRP]

Ripple digital currency

It is a virtual system of payments in real time, used by financial institutions as a faster and cheaper way than other methods, lowering the internal costs of operations since it allows sending and receiving money or liquidating transactions in less than 5 – 10 seconds. Much faster than Bitcoin.

How does the Ripple work?

4. Litecoin [LTC]

what is litecoins the virtual currency

How does Litecoin work?

5. Monero [XMR]

decentralized virtual currency

How does Monero work?

  • Security: This is one of the fundamental requirements of virtual currency transactions because, just as we want security by having our money in a bank, we want security by having our cryptocurrencies in a wallet. This is something that is being worked on every day and where the creators and developers of cryptocurrencies put all their effort to improve, but in reality nothing is 100% safe. As criminals can steal a bank, they can attack or hack a virtual wallet – it is the user who must do everything possible to keep their private keys safe, use cold wallets and increase their security levels.
  • Privacy: Privacy is fundamental for the community and for developers. Unlike what happens with Bitcoin or Ethereum, transactions are completely private, both in the parties involved and in the amounts, so they are untraceable transactions.
  • Decentralization: with Monero there is no need to depend on anyone else in the network. The digital currency works through the Proof of Work algorithm and does not allow its development in ASIC devices. It does not support the centralization of mining in large mining groups as is the case, for example, with Bitcoin.

Virtual currencies

If you do not know what the exact purchase date is, report the virtual currency’s acquisition year on your tax return, as it affects the amount of the deemed acquisition cost. Enter the first date of the year in the Acquisition date field in the calculation of capital gain tax, e.g. 1 January 2013, and leave all other fields blank.

Virtual currencies

Income received from the use and mining of virtual currencies is subject to tax. File the income you have received from virtual currencies or cryptocurrencies on your tax return. You can file the expenses on your tax return as deductions.

Estimate your gains and losses from virtual currencies using the Tax Administration’s FIFO calculator. The calculator is available in Finnish and Swedish. The calculator utilises the FIFO principle (First In – First Out) according to which virtual currencies are considered to have been spent in the order that they were acquired.

Enter all your purchases and sales in the calculator. Calculate the gains and losses separately for each sales transaction during the tax year, i.e. every time you have exchanged virtual currency for some other currency or spent it on purchases.

What Are Cryptocurrencies?

Before we take a closer look at some of these alternatives to Bitcoin (BTC), let’s step back and briefly examine what we mean by terms like cryptocurrency and altcoin. A cryptocurrency, broadly defined, is virtual or digital money that takes the form of tokens or “coins.” Though some cryptocurrencies have ventured into the physical world with credit cards or other projects, the large majority remain entirely intangible.

The “crypto” in cryptocurrencies refers to complicated cryptography that allows for the creation and processing of digital currencies and their transactions across decentralized systems. Alongside this important “crypto” feature is a common commitment to decentralization; cryptocurrencies are typically developed as code by teams who build in mechanisms for issuance (often, although not always, through a process called mining) and other controls.

Cryptocurrencies are almost always designed to be free from government manipulation and control—although, as they have grown more popular, this foundational aspect of the industry has come under fire. The cryptocurrencies modeled after Bitcoin are collectively called altcoins, and in some cases, shitcoins, and have often tried to present themselves as modified or improved versions of Bitcoin. Though some of these currencies may have some impressive features that Bitcoin does not, matching the level of security that Bitcoin’s networks achieve largely has yet to be seen by an altcoin.

Click Play to Learn All About Altcoins

Below, we’ll examine some of the most important digital currencies other than Bitcoin. First, though, a caveat: It is impossible for a list like this to be entirely comprehensive. One reason for this is the fact that there are over 18,000 cryptocurrencies in existence as of March 2022. Though many of these cryptos have little to no following or trading volume, some enjoy immense popularity among dedicated communities of backers and investors.

Beyond that, the field of cryptocurrencies is always expanding, and the next great digital token may be released tomorrow. Though Bitcoin is widely seen as a pioneer in the world of cryptocurrencies, analysts adopt many approaches for evaluating tokens other than BTC. It’s common, for instance, for analysts to attribute a great deal of importance to ranking coins relative to one another in terms of market capitalization. We’ve factored this into our consideration, but there are other reasons why a digital token may be included in the list.

Types of Altcoins


Cryptocurrencies are intended for payments, transmitting value (akin to digital money) across a decentralized network of users. Many altcoins (i.e., those that are not Bitcoin or sometimes Ethereum) are classified in this way and may sometimes be called value tokens.


There are also blockchain-based tokens that are meant to serve a different purpose from that of money. One example could be a token issued as part of an initial coin offering (ICO) that represents a stake in a blockchain or decentralized finance (DeFi) project. If the tokens are linked to the value of the company or project, they can be called security tokens (as in securities like stocks, not safety).

Other tokens have a particular use case or function. Examples include Storj tokens, which allow people to share files across a decentralized network, or Namecoin, which provides decentralized Domain Name System (DNS) service for Internet addresses. These are known as utility tokens.

Regulation [ edit ]

Virtual currencies pose challenges for central banks, financial regulators, departments or ministries of finance, as well as fiscal authorities and statistical authorities. Gareth Murphy, Central Bank of Ireland, described the regulatory challenges posed by virtual currencies as relating to:

US Treasury guidance [ edit ]

New York state regulation [ edit ]

In July 2014, the New York State Department of Financial Services proposed the most comprehensive regulation of virtual currencies to date commonly referred to as a BitLicense. Unlike the US federal regulators it has gathered input from bitcoin supporters and the financial industry through public hearings and a comment period until October 21, 2014 to customize the rules. The proposal, per NY DFS press release "… sought to strike an appropriate balance that helps protect consumers and root out illegal activity". It has been criticized by smaller companies to favor established institutions, and Chinese bitcoin exchanges have complained that the rules are "overly broad in its application outside the United States".

Virtual currencies

Virtual currency developers vary in how much interaction they allow their system to have with “real” currencies. At the extreme end of the spectrum, World of Warcraft is very strict; Blizzard does this primarily to avoid legal headaches, as their currency would incur taxes if the government recognized it as having actual value. In order to maintain the perception that their virtual gold is fake, violating this rule is punishable by a permanent ban, and they actively search for accounts involved with real-money trading. Many items bind to an account upon acquisition; since this restricts the free flow of goods, the net effect of such restrictions is to reduce the scope of the game’s economy.

Ms. Pelker

Virtual currency

Virtual currency, also known as virtual money, is a type of unregulated, digital money, which is issued and usually controlled by its developers, and used and accepted among the members of a specific virtual community. The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), a bureau of the US Treasury, defined virtual currency in its guidance published in 2013. In 2014, the European Banking Authority defined virtual currency as "a digital representation of value that is neither issued by a central bank or a public authority, nor necessarily attached to a fiat currency, but is accepted by natural or legal persons as a means of payment and can be transferred, stored or traded electronically". By contrast, a digital currency that is issued by a central bank is defined as "central bank digital currency".

In 2012, the European Central Bank defined virtual currency as "a type of unregulated, digital money, which is issued and usually controlled by its developers, and used and accepted among the members of a specific virtual community".

In 2013, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), a bureau of the US Treasury, in contrast to its regulations defining currency as "the coin and paper money of the United States or of any other country that [i] is designated as legal tender and that [ii] circulates and [iii] is customarily used and accepted as a medium of exchange in the country of issuance", also called "real currency" by FinCEN, defined virtual currency as "a medium of exchange that operates like a currency in some environments, but does not have all the attributes of real currency". In particular, virtual currency does not have legal tender status in any jurisdiction.

In 2014, the European Banking Authority defined virtual currency as "a digital representation of value that is neither issued by a central bank or a public authority, nor necessarily attached to a fiat currency, but is accepted by natural or legal persons as a means of payment and can be transferred, stored or traded electronically".

History of the term [ edit ]

In his written testimony to the 2013 congressional hearing on virtual currencies Ben Bernanke stated, "virtual currencies have been viewed as a form of ‘electronic money’ or area of payment system technology that has been evolving over the past 20 years", in reference to a congressional hearing on the Future of Money before the Committee on Banking and Financial Services on 11 October 1995. The Internet currency Flooz was created in 1999. The term "virtual currency" appears to have been coined around 2009, paralleling the development of digital currencies and social gaming.

Although the correct classification is "digital currency", US government institutions have preferred and uniformly adopted the term "virtual currency", first the US Treasury’s FinCEN, then the FBI in 2012 and in the General Accounting Office in its 2013 report and other government agencies testifying at the November 2013 U.S. Senate hearing about bitcoin like the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the Office of the Attorney General.

Virtual Currency

Stock image of three computer screens with computer digits and a world map in the background.

In June 2014 the U.S. Marshals Service held a first-of-its-kind auction to sell an unusual asset: 29,656 “bitcoin,” units of “virtual currency,” which function much like traditional currency on the Internet but are not controlled or backed by any national government. 1 The bitcoin, valued at $18 million at the time of auction, were a portion of more than 179,000 units seized by the FBI in 2013 during the takedown of Silk Road, an extensive black market website. For over two years, Silk Road facilitated the sale of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of narcotics, stolen identities, and numerous other illegal goods and services. 2 All transactions were conducted exclusively in bitcoin.

Use of virtual currency has evolved over nearly two decades alongside the expansion of the Internet. Every day, people across the globe use the Web to move money. Most transactions are denominated in U.S. dollars or another national currency. However, a small but increasing fraction of those transactions use virtual currency as an alternative form of payment. Until recently, all virtual currency existed within centralized systems. In the centralized model a private company controls the virtual currency, issues units to its users, determines the virtual currency’s value, records transactions, and keeps track of customers’ balances. The company is the controlling force that drives everything in the system.

Centralized virtual currency systems encompass a wide range of business models. The technical operation of online payment systems, such as WebMoney and the now-defunct Liberty Reserve, is nearly identical to that of traditional online systems, apart from denominating users’ accounts in virtual currency, rather than a national currency. Some systems, such as Pecunix and the now-defunct e-Gold, allow users to exchange digital units of gold bullion or other precious metals, earning the systems the name “digital precious metals.” Other systems operate within popular virtual worlds and online games where entire microeconomies develop among players relying on in-game currency.

Over the past six years, decentralized virtual currencies also have grown to prominence in the virtual currency landscape. Decentralized virtual currency systems afford users many of the same benefits as their centralized counterparts—users can hold funds and transfer value to other users within the system. However, unlike centralized systems, decentralized systems are not run by a company. Rather, transactions are sent across a peer-to-peer network without involving a third party. Users anywhere in the world can download the free, open-source software specific to a particular decentralized virtual currency. Once they have done so, users can send funds securely and almost instantly across vast distances with just the click of a button. Bitcoin is by far the most popular and well-known decentralized virtual currency, with a total market value of approximately $3.4 billion as of May 2015. However, there are hundreds of other decentralized virtual currencies—often called “altcoins”—also in circulation.

Most virtual currency in centralized systems has a fixed value whereby the controlling company sets an exchange rate. Often, this value is linked to some quantity of national currency. For example, one Liberty Reserve Dollar was equal to one U.S. dollar, and one unit of WMZ, a currency controlled by WebMoney, also is equal to one U.S. dollar. The value also may be fixed to some other real-world value. Companies running digital precious metals systems fix their virtual currency’s value to some quantity of a precious metal, commonly gold bullion. Alternately, a virtual currency’s value may fluctuate based on the supply of and demand for units of that currency. This model is seen frequently in decentralized virtual currencies, which have no company to enforce a pegged exchange rate.

While users can transact entirely in virtual currency within a system, most individuals also want to cash in and out of the system, converting their dollars to virtual currency and, ultimately, back again. This exchange function is central to the virtual currency ecosystem. In centralized models the user may deal directly with the administrating company to cash in or out. However, not all companies offer this service, and decentralized systems lack the capability altogether. As a result, third-party companies have established themselves as “exchangers,” providing a venue for customers to cash in and out of virtual currency or to convert from one virtual currency to another. Exchangers are one component of a network of sites and services that have developed to support and enhance the virtual currency landscape.

Under U.S. money services business regulations, any business that transfers virtual currency from one person or location to another is obligated to register with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) and comply with Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) requirements, including implementing anti-money-laundering programs and filing suspicious activity reports (SARs). 3 Additionally, many states require money transmitters to obtain state licenses. The U.S. Department of Justice has identified these regulations as “crucial tools in preventing malicious actors from exploiting virtual currency systems in furtherance of illicit activity.” 4


15 best Android apps available right now

Google Play Store 2021 3

Android and the war: Developing Android apps in Ukraine in 2022

Material You and Android 12L and 13’s big-screen focused changes are all the rage right now, but so far, we have mostly looked at it from a consumer perspective. We covered how Google apps are switching to new interfaces, which third-party apps follow suit, and how well the theme is implemented across the board. But how do these changes affect developers, and does Google even give them the right tools to bring their projects up to snuff?

Up-and-coming Ukrainian indie app developer Pavlo Rekun sat down with Android Police to talk about updating his apps with Material You and tablet-focused optimizations, as well as the situation in his country and how it affects not only his work and life.

Pavlo Rekun has been an indie developer since 2015 and focuses on, as he says, "really useful ad-free and scum-free apps" for Android. He recently updated his app manager Skit to version 3.0 in the midst of the Russian attack, complete with Material You elements and tablet-focused optimizations. Now, he has the rest of his lineup left in the pipeline, consisting of subscriptions manager Tilla, system info app Castro, and EXIF editor Graphie.

Android Police: We usually cover Material You from a consumer-perspective, focusing on how it changes the look and feel of apps for phone users. But for you as an Android developer, what was or is the biggest challenge with Material You?

Pavlo Rekun: Well, the biggest challenge with Material You for me—and I guess for many other developers (looking at the list of open issues on the GitHub Material Components repository)—is the way how Google "announces" things and how it implements them. Let’s say, Material You was announced a year ago, but Material Components (the development kit which holds all UI components for Material 2 and now for Material You) were released only half a year ago, allowing indie devs to start adapting UI.

This is the main problem — many UI components are being shown in and used by Google apps, but those components are coming into the development kit with some big delay, which means some developers have to just wait (like I did it), or start creating their own components based on guidelines.

The other problem here, that currently, Google is trying to promote Jetpack Compose (a new framework for building adaptive UI) and most new UI components come to it at first, and only after a few months they become available for generic XML interface builders. At least there are not so many differences as there were when updating original Material to Material 2, just some theme and components updates, and the base interface is ready.

Yeah, tools are coming with much delay, so I guess it was the main problem for them, all of the Google apps already got their UI to revamp, but third-party apps are just starting to adopt Material You, but I guess the process will go faster now when most of the tools are ready now (only sliders and bottom navigation bar are still missing).

It is a beautiful tool and I don’t see any problems with it as a development kit, but the main issue is that Google puts its focus on it, leaving generic tools (XML) behind. This means new development tools come first to Jetpack Compose, and only with some delay to the older framework. So if you are already using Jetpack Compose, everything is cool for you, but if you haven’t adapted it yet, then you may face some problems with new tools coming later.

That makes sense. Probably a lot of bigger studios are slow at transitioning, so we might just have to wait quite a while for design updates from big apps. To get back to Material You, though, do you think the new design language is a good idea at all from a UX and interface design perspective?

Well, I couldn’t say I am a big fan of the current Material You implementation, since the spectrum of colors that are extracted from the wallpapers is limited to 10 colors or so — something which is much improved in Android 13 already. But I guess it is just not enough to become a "personal" design framework, because now all of the apps look very similar, colors are the same, and components are the same.

That is actually why I have created a set of hand-crafted themes in the new Skit update, to allow users to set the color of the UI without tying it to Dynamic Colors or the default app’s theme. The main idea for this feature is directed at people on older Android versions, though, to mock Dynamic Colors for older devices.

I could bet that in the next releases, Google will add some ways to change the shapes of components, and maybe make specific changes for specific groups of apps. As for the UX, I don’t see any big changes coming from Material 2, maybe components just became bigger.

Could you imagine how Material You will evolve over the next few years? You already mentioned Android 13, but would you like to elaborate on these specific changes for groups of apps you mentioned?

Google Drive

Google Drive screenshot 2020

Google Drive is a cloud storage solution available on Android where all new users get 15GB for free permanently upon signing up. You can, of course, buy more if needed. What makes Google Drive so special is the suite of Android apps that are attached to it. They include Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides, Google Photos, Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Keep. It just covers so many bases and it’s so cheap that it’s impossible not to recommend it to just about anybody.

Some of the features of these apps include live collaboration, deep sharing features, and compatibility with Microsoft Office documents. It’s easy to use, you get 15GB of free storage for your documents, and the cross-platform support is pretty good. You can find more cloud storage apps here and more office apps here if you want something different.

Google Maps and Waze

Google Maps screenshot 2021

Google Maps virtually owns the navigation apps scene and it remains of the best Android apps ever. It gets frequent, almost weekly updates that seem to only add to its incredibly generous list of existing features. Aside from the very basics, Google Maps gives you access to places of interest, traffic data, directions to things like rest stops or gas stations, and you can download maps for offline use.

If you add to that the Waze experience, which includes tons of its own features, and you won’t need another navigation app. Ever. Google also owns and operates Waze so we list them together. Both navigation apps work on Android Auto and usually, they work better than car navigation systems. Of course, we have more GPS apps options as well here if you need them.


When the Pixel 4 debuted in 2019, one of the best things to come with it was Google’s Recorder app. Recorder not only filled one of the big missing gaps on Pixel phones — which previously didn’t feature a built-in voice recorder — but did it in style. Recorder could transcribe your recordings in real-time, even as you were speaking. And all that transcription work was done locally, without sharing your recordings to the cloud.

Recorder was so good, Google hasn’t restricted it to just the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL. The app is available to all Pixel phones, and updates have added editing features introduced with the Pixel 5. Even if you carry around a different Android phone in your pocket, there’s a workaround to install Recorder on your Android device. You’ll need to be running either Android 9 or Android 10, and some features may not be supported on all phones, but it’s still a great way to experience one of the best free Android apps we’ve ever seen.

Moment – Pro Camera

A truly great camera app arguably needs to both avoid clutter and be packed full of manual controls, so you can capture an image exactly as you want it, but that’s a tough balance to strike, and few manage. Moment – Pro Camera (opens in new tab) arguably does though.

It gives you full manual control, including RAW shooting, shutter speed, ISO, white balance, exposure compensation and focus. There’s also tap to focus, a timer, a grid and several different lenses. It’s an impressive toolkit, with the app focusing more on powerful utilities than gimmicky filters, but it all has a very clean, minimalist look.

The main downside of this Android app is that it can’t currently shoot videos, but for photos there’s a good chance you’ll want to replace your current camera app with this, and video is apparently in the works.

LightX Photo Editor

You can merge photos, add effects and filters, selectively apply colors to regions of an image, adjust the color balance, smooth and sharpen images, crop them, rotate them, draw on them, add frames and stickers, add text, create collages and a whole lot more.

That’s all handled through the Android app’s intuitive interface; bring up the main menu with a tap, select the category of edits you want to make (filters or frames, for example) and you’ll be taken to a menu with all the relevant options.

Most of it is fairly self-explanatory, but there are also tutorial videos for if you get stuck, and for a one-off $3.69/£3.49 IAP you can get rid of adverts, unlock additional stickers and frames, and add the ability to save images in PNG format.


Even More! ) Web Content Writing Tips

You’d be amazed at how many words people misuse on a regular basis. For instance, peruse probably doesn’t mean what you think it does (in fact, it’s probably the opposite). Never use words unless you’re absolutely certain of their meaning.

Content writing and strategy

There are days when writing for the web can feel like shouting into the void. I craft a story to be published and wonder who is actually reading it. The reality is that no writer wants to create copy that nobody reads.

We research what people are sharing on social media. We dive into organic search analytics to figure out how people are searching for the topics we’re covering and how search engines are providing them answers. We read content on similar topics to see what other writers are doing and make sure we can differentiate our content.

Every piece of content I create on a given day begins with strategy. Usually, it’s a combination of collaborative discussions with clients and independent research, but regardless of the methods, the goal is the same: Tell a story that’s engaging for the reader, valuable for the client and strategically designed to get noticed on the web.

In a lot of ways, a professional content writer is a well-rounded content specialist, with strengths in multiple content marketing disciplines. That’s how great content is born: mapping SEO, social media, technical research and more to the core task of putting pen to paper.

(Even More!) Web Content Writing Tips

Step Up your game

You don’t have to be a professional to know what good content writing looks like. If you’ve ever searched for something on Google and found a page that’s actually been helpful — congratulations, you’ve experienced good content writing!

While great content writing certainly gets clicks (and keeps people on your page), it has the power to do so much more. Good copy answers someone’s question. Great copy answers their question — and a few they didn’t even know they had.

Why should entrepreneurs learn content writing?

Good content writing is your best employee — in fact, a Salesforce/Pardot survey found that consumers consider trust in a company’s content to be 3x more important than trust in the brand’s actual employees. 97% of the same survey respondents also said that bad content negatively affected their trust in a brand.

1. Good content writing begins with keyword research.

Before you even start to write content, you need to know what you’re writing about — and you can kill two birds with one stone if you combine search engine optimization with your editorial calendar planning.

Keyword research tells you what topics Google (and your target audience) finds relevant.

It illuminates your competitors content strategy, and highlights the strengths and weaknesses in your own. And it allows you to optimize individual articles and your content strategy as a whole to bring in more traffic.

The ROI is unbeatable. TCF’s site generates over $400,000 worth of organic traffic each year (as in, we’d have to spend more than $400,000 dollars in AdWords to get the same number of site visits). And all it takes is a little extra research time, and occasional tweaks to update the content and keyword targeting.

2. Keyword stuffing is never okay

A web page stuffed with keywords looks dubious and untrustworthy — to both Google and human readers. Your conversion rate and SERPs rankings go down, along with your page views. Readers start to see it as a low quality page and bounce quickly, and over time search engines slap down your domain.

Search engines are smart these days. You don’t have to work in grammatically incorrect keyword phrase just because searchers use it. You don’t need to work in every conceivable variation of a search term for Google to understand what your page is about.

3. Drive toward powerful calls to action (CTAs)

What do you want readers to do with the content you create? If your only answer is, “Well, read it, I guess,” you need to go back to the drawing board. Before you even start writing a blog post, you need to know what your call to action will be, and you need to make it compelling enough that readers can’t help but click. That’s how you connect content writing to marketing goals and prove ROI.

Which calls to action should businesses use in their content?

When writing calls to action, put yourself in the reader’s shoes: what would it take for a company you’ve never heard of to convince you to do something, even something as simple as sharing the article with a friend? Now, connect it to your goals: how can you craft a CTA and content specific to your company’s marketing and sales KPIs that actually persuades readers to take action?

4. Email vs. e-mail, Internet vs. internet and other style debates

Language always changes, and web writers need to be hip to the trends to appeal to modern audiences. For example, many organizations would never use the singular, gender-neutral “they” as recently as the early 2000s. Now, the only language authorities that make you write out “he or she” are middle school English teachers.

Similarly, “e-mail” was considered the correct term for a long time by major authorities like the AP and The New York Times, but one by one they gave in. The same goes with the lowercase “internet.” There are people that still treat it as a proper noun, but none of them work as editors in The Guardian, The Economist or the BBC.

The bottom line is, whatever your language pet peeves are, your online writing is for your audience, not for you.

5. Always hyperlink to your sources

When you reference another website’s content, make sure you hyperlink back to that site. It’s good internet etiquette, and you’d want the same courtesy. Always cite your sources, even if you’re afraid it’ll send your web traffic to another site — and you can always choose the “open link in another window” option if you’re that concerned about keeping your traffic.

6. Make the reader feel something.

But almost all viral writing shares one thing in common: emotional impact.

In a recent article, Hubspot interviewed three different marketing experts on why content goes viral. Although each emphasized different factors, all three emphasized the importance of creating web content that evokes an emotional response in the reader. Megan Conley, Content Marketing Strategist at HubSpot, put it this way:

We all have opinions on what types of content go viral: a soundless social video, a data-backed explainer, a perfectly timed newsjack. But no matter the format, it ultimately comes down to emotion. Does the story make you feel enraged, inspired, understood? With everything you create you have to ask: If this scrolled by on my newsfeed, would I care? If the answer is no, it’s not worth it. Your online content habits are your own best judge.

4 Tools that Every Web Content Writer Needs

The tools that content writers use include processing programs, web writer software, research tool, and content calendars, among others. But, there are several tools for content writers to use. As you may have guessed, these programs are essential for providing quality and useful content for websites.

Here are some of the most popular tools that a web content writer needs

1. Word Processing Program

The first tool is a word processing program for formatting the text in a way that would make it look neat and attractive. Tons of word processing programs already exist on the internet today. However, some of the most popular ones include Microsoft Word, WPS, Apache OpenOffice, etc. Note that Word Processing programs don’t have specialized features for web content development. So, you may want to consider a web writer software instead.

2. Web Writer Software

However, there are web writer applications, such as INK, that offers the best of both worlds. Along with optimizing your content for search engines, the INK editor combines automated grammar and readability checking features for an excellent writing experience.

ink editor

3. Content Calendar

A content calendar allows the content developers to keep track of the date and schedule for the articles. The purpose of a content calendar is simple. It gives your whole team visibility on what you’re working on and allows you to plan ahead. Also, keeping track of deadlines becomes easier when you’re using a content calendar. One of the most popular content calendars to consider is CoSchedule.

4. Researching Tools

A fourth tool is a researching tool for finding what’s relevant to your readers. To show up in search results, it’s essential to understand your target market and how they’re searching for your content. That’s where keyword research comes in.

Each of these tools helps in creating a good quality website that’ll attract many visitors and increase conversion. But, these are just tools. While they can help create an engaging article that would rank on the search engine, they won’t make you a good writer. You have to do that all by yourself.

4 Tips to Help You Become a Professional Web Content Writer

Here are some tips to help you become a professional content writer.

1. Understand the Realities of Content Writing

An average entry-level content writer with less than one year experience earns roughly $37,593 in the United States. Meanwhile, writers with over 20 years of experience earn an average of $60,318 annually.

2. Learn the ropes

3. Search for the right mentor

You could also look outside your comfort zone for mentorship. For example, you could intern at a local publication in your community to find the right mentor. Another option is to join a community of writers such as the Professional Writers Alliance.

4. Practice Content Creation

Most blog posts on the internet are either journalistic article-writing style or use an educational format. So, read these types of articles and study the form, structure, voice, and tone until you’re familiar with them.

Read More: 10 Content Writing Tips for Beginners and Entrepreneurs


Tips for negotiating your first job offer (and every one after that! )

When an employer extends a job offer, they’ll usually present you with a compensation and benefits package verbally or in writing with a proposed salary. If you don’t feel the pay aligns with your education, career level, skill set and experience, you may choose to negotiate for more money. You may also suggest another form of compensation, such as equity or stock options, or additional perks such as extra vacation days.


How to Negotiate Salary: Tips You Need to Know

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A survey by revealed that only 37% of people always negotiate their salaries—while an astonishing 18% never do. Even worse, 44% of respondents claim to have never brought up the subject of a raise during their performance reviews.

Here’s a good example: A famous study done by Linda Babcock for her book Women Don’t Ask revealed that only about 7% of women attempted to negotiate their first salary, while 57% of men did. Of those people who negotiated, they were able to increase their salary by over 7%.

That may not sound like much, but as Stanford negotiation professor Margaret A. Neale puts it: If you get a $100,000 salary and your co-worker negotiates up to $107,000, assuming you’re treated identically from then on, with the same raises and promotions, you’d have to work eight years longer to be as wealthy as them at retirement.

Do your research

Students should go into a salary negotiation “prepared with a desired salary,” DiNiso said, based on the starting salary in your field. And, although “salaries will vary greatly, this number will give you a ballpark estimate of what you should be making and help you determine your salary goals.”

The team at Handshake, a job network for college students, suggests checking on the Bureau of Labor Statistics website and searching for your specific job title to gauge a typical pay range, which will vary by location. (Jobs in New York City, for example, typically pay more than those in more suburban or rural areas just because the cost of living is higher.)

David Paykin, who has amassed over 1.7 million followers on TikTok and has huge followings on other social media, has helped many college students, recent graduates and young professionals in their job search. He suggests doing research across several sites including PayScale, SalaryList,,, Indeed, Glassdoor and other sites to really get a sense of the salary range.

Rules for Negotiating a Job Offer

In some industries, a weak labor market has left candidates with fewer options and less leverage, and employers better positioned to dictate terms. Those who are unemployed, or whose current job seems shaky, have seen their bargaining power further reduced. But the complexity of the job market creates opportunities for people to negotiate the terms and conditions of employment. Negotiation matters most when there is a broad range of potential outcomes.

There are 15 rules for negotiating a job offer. One is “don’t underestimate the importance of likeability,” which means managing inevitable tensions in negotiation, being persistent without being a nuisance, and understanding how other people perceive your approach. Another rule is “make it clear they can get you.” Indicate that you’re serious about working for a potential employer, and don’t discourage them from trying to win you by suggesting you have too many better options. You should also “be prepared for tough questions,” like Are we your top choice? Don’t lie or try too hard to please, lest you lose your leverage. And “consider the whole deal,” including the job’s perks, location, opportunities for growth, and flexibility in work hours—not just the salary. These and other guidelines can help you attain the terms and conditions of employment you want.

You’re in a third-round interview for a job at a company you like, but a firm you admire even more just invited you in. Suddenly the first hiring manager cuts to the chase: “As you know, we’re considering many candidates. We like you, and we hope the feeling is mutual. If we make you a competitive offer, will you accept it?”

You’ve received an offer for a job you’ll enjoy, but the salary is lower than you think you deserve. You ask your potential boss whether she has any flexibility. “We typically don’t hire people with your background, and we have a different culture here,” she responds. “This job isn’t just about the money. Are you saying you won’t take it unless we increase the pay?”

You’ve been working happily at your company for three years, but a recruiter has been calling, insisting that you could earn much more elsewhere. You don’t want to quit, but you expect to be compensated fairly, so you’d like to ask for a raise. Unfortunately, budgets are tight, and your boss doesn’t react well when people try to leverage outside offers. What do you do?

Each of these situations is difficult in its own way—and emblematic of how complex job negotiations can be. At many companies, compensation increasingly comes in the form of stock, options, and bonuses linked to both personal and group performance. In MBA recruitment, more companies are using “exploding” offers or sliding-scale signing bonuses based on when a candidate accepts the job, complicating attempts to compare offers. With executive mobility on the rise, people vying for similar positions often have vastly different backgrounds, strengths, and salary histories, making it hard for employers to set benchmarks or create standard packages.

Read more about negotiating job offers:

In some industries a weak labor market has also left candidates with fewer options and less leverage, and employers better positioned to dictate terms. Those who are unemployed, or whose current job seems shaky, have seen their bargaining power further reduced.

But job market complexity creates opportunities for people who can skillfully negotiate the terms and conditions of employment. After all, negotiation matters most when there is a broad range of possible outcomes.

As a professor who studies and teaches the subject, I frequently advise current and former students on navigating this terrain. For several years I have been offering a presentation on the topic to current students. (To see a video of this talk, go to Every situation is unique, but some strategies, tactics, and principles can help you address many of the issues people face in negotiating with employers. Here are 15 rules to guide you in these discussions.

This sounds basic, but it’s crucial: People are going to fight for you only if they like you. Anything you do in a negotiation that makes you less likable reduces the chances that the other side will work to get you a better offer. This is about more than being polite; it’s about managing some inevitable tensions in negotiation, such as asking for what you deserve without seeming greedy, pointing out deficiencies in the offer without seeming petty, and being persistent without being a nuisance. Negotiators can typically avoid these pitfalls by evaluating (for example, in practice interviews with friends) how others are likely to perceive their approach.

It’s not enough for them to like you. They also have to believe you’re worth the offer you want. Never let your proposal speak for itself—always tell the story that goes with it. Don’t just state your desire (a 15% higher salary, say, or permission to work from home one day a week); explain precisely why it’s justified (the reasons you deserve more money than others they may have hired, or that your children come home from school early on Fridays). If you have no justification for a demand, it may be unwise to make it. Again, keep in mind the inherent tension between being likable and explaining why you deserve more: Suggesting that you’re especially valuable can make you sound arrogant if you haven’t thought through how best to communicate the message.

People won’t want to expend political or social capital to get approval for a strong or improved offer if they suspect that at the end of the day, you’re still going to say, “No, thanks.” Who wants to be the stalking horse for another company? If you intend to negotiate for a better package, make it clear that you’re serious about working for this employer. Sometimes you get people to want you by explaining that everybody wants you. But the more strongly you play that hand, the more they may think that they’re not going to get you anyway, so why bother jumping through hoops? If you’re planning to mention all the options you have as leverage, you should balance that by saying why—or under what conditions—you would be happy to forgo those options and accept an offer.

Companies don’t negotiate; people do. And before you can influence the person sitting opposite you, you have to understand her. What are her interests and individual concerns? For example, negotiating with a prospective boss is very different from negotiating with an HR representative. You can perhaps afford to pepper the latter with questions regarding details of the offer, but you don’t want to annoy someone who may become your manager with seemingly petty demands. On the flip side, HR may be responsible for hiring 10 people and therefore reluctant to break precedent, whereas the boss, who will benefit more directly from your joining the company, may go to bat for you with a special request.

They may like you. They may think you deserve everything you want. But they still may not give it to you. Why? Because they may have certain ironclad constraints, such as salary caps, that no amount of negotiation can loosen. Your job is to figure out where they’re flexible and where they’re not. If, for example, you’re talking to a large company that’s hiring 20 similar people at the same time, it probably can’t give you a higher salary than everyone else. But it may be flexible on start dates, vacation time, and signing bonuses. On the other hand, if you’re negotiating with a smaller company that has never hired someone in your role, there may be room to adjust the initial salary offer or job title but not other things. The better you understand the constraints, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to propose options that solve both sides’ problems.

Many job candidates have been hit with difficult questions they were hoping not to face: Do you have any other offers? If we make you an offer tomorrow, will you say yes? Are we your top choice? If you’re unprepared, you might say something inelegantly evasive or, worse, untrue. My advice is to never lie in a negotiation. It frequently comes back to harm you, but even if it doesn’t, it’s unethical. The other risk is that, faced with a tough question, you may try too hard to please and end up losing leverage. The point is this: You need to prepare for questions and issues that would put you on the defensive, make you feel uncomfortable, or expose your weaknesses. Your goal is to answer honestly without looking like an unattractive candidate—and without giving up too much bargaining power. If you have thought in advance about how to answer difficult questions, you probably won’t forfeit one of those objectives.

Tips to prepare for salary negotiation

1. Start by evaluating what you have to offer

Geographic location: Consider the cost of living in your geographic location. For example, you might require a higher salary in San Francisco than in Minneapolis for the same set of responsibilities because it generally costs more to live there.

Licenses and certifications: An employer may require or prefer that you have specific licenses or certifications. If you already have them, you might be in a good position to request greater compensation.
When you begin your salary negotiation, be sure to reiterate why you’ll be a valuable employee and consider using the above factors to justify your desired salary.

2. Research the market average

. Knowing the market average can give you a good baseline for your salary request and can even be used as justification. This tool uses salaries listed from past and present job postings on Indeed as well as data submitted anonymously by other Indeed users. Here are some questions to consider as you begin your market research:

3. Prepare your talking points

As you’re developing negotiation notes, it might be helpful to answer the following question as a framework for your conversation: Why do you feel you deserve a higher salary than the one the employer is offering? Put together a few talking points before you contact the employer and be as specific as possible. Those details might include information like:

4. Schedule a time to discuss

Reach out to the recruiter or hiring manager to set up a time to speak over the phone. While it’s acceptable to negotiate over email, it’s highly encouraged for the conversation to happen over the phone. Speaking over the phone or in-person allows you to have a back-and-forth conversation, express gratitude and clearly communicate your requirements. Try to be respectful and clear as the recruiter or hiring manager will be the ones advocating for your salary to the decision-makers.

5. Rehearse with a trusted friend

and identify areas of improvement. The best way to practice would be in front of a trusted friend or colleague that can provide helpful feedback. Alternatively, you can try recording your conversation on a camera or speaking in front of a mirror.

6. Be confident

Delivering your negotiation with confidence is as important as the words you say. The more confidence you convey, the more confident the employer will be in their consideration of your feedback. Confidence, an appreciation of our own abilities and qualities, should not be confused with arrogance, an exaggerated sense of our importance. Lack of confidence can also result in over-explaining or apologizing for your ask, neither of which is helpful in a negotiation scenario. Instead, confidently and simply state your requested salary, including a brief summary of your reasoning.

Remember that you’re bringing an important set of skills and experience to the organization. The pay an employer offers should account for the value you provide. If you feel the employer’s original offer is below the value that aligns with your skills and experiences, be prepared with researched market salary research and personal value data that supports your ask and be confident in your decision to ask for more.

7. Lead with gratitude

Once you reach the job offer phase of the hiring process, you’ve probably invested a great deal of time and energy applying and interviewing for the position. The employer has also invested time in the process, so it’s crucial you recognize this and thank them for considering you for the opportunity. Be sure to share any specific reasons why you’re excited about the job, such as the culture or the product.

8. Ask for the top of your range

One fundamental rule of salary negotiation is to give the employer a slightly higher number than your goal. This way, if they negotiate down, you’ll still end up with a salary offer you feel comfortable accepting. If you provide a salary range, the employer will likely err on the lower end, so be sure the lowest number you provide is still an amount you feel is fair.

9. Share job-related expenses you’re incurring

Another reason you may ask for an increased salary is to cover any costs you’re accumulating by taking the job. For example, if you’re relocating to a new city for the job, you’ll have to pay moving expenses as well as any costs associated with selling or leasing your current home. If you’re taking a position further away from home, you’ll have to factor in commute expenses such as train fare or gas and wear and tear on your vehicle. It’s not unusual for candidates to ask employers to adjust the salary to account for expenses related to accepting the position.

10. Prepare for tough questions

Recruiters and hiring managers negotiate often, so they will likely be prepared to ask important, sometimes intimidating questions to figure out your motivations. It’s important not to get rattled by these questions and to remain honest. Some questions you can expect include:

Salary negotiation email examples

Thank you for sending over the job offer package for the Marketing Director position. I want to state again how honored I am to be considered for this exciting position and appreciate you sharing these details.

Before I can accept your offer, I want to address the proposed compensation. As I shared with your recruiting manager, I have more than ten years of experience in digital marketing and have worked in leadership positions for the past six years. In my last role, I increased the number of marketing-influenced leads by nearly 40% year over year and helped secure the company a 25% higher annual revenue. Given my experience and expertise, I am seeking a salary in the range of $125,000 to $130,000, which is slightly higher than your offer of $115,000.

Salary negotiation conversation example

“Thank you for sending over the job offer package for the Regional Sales Manager position. First and foremost, I want to reiterate how excited I am about the opportunity. I believe in your product and know I could help you drive even greater results.

As I shared during the interview process, I have more than 12 years’ experience in sales, including eight years of experience in medical equipment sales, and two more years of management experience than stated in the job description. In my last role, my team exceeded the monthly quota by 15% for two years in a row and landed three of the largest accounts in company history.

Given my background, I am seeking a salary in the range of $145,000 to $150,000. I am definitely open to discussing alternative compensation, such as opportunities for additional stock options or increased performance-based bonuses. I’d love to hear your thoughts.”

Salary negotiation is a critical step in the hiring process. By taking the time to talk through why you feel you need more compensation, you can help employers better understand the value you provide. As with any new skill, the more you negotiate, the more you’ll improve and the easier it will become. By using the above tips to negotiate your salary, you can walk into the conversation confident, prepared and ready to secure the pay you deserve.


How to Write an Exciting Travel Essay

Descriptive essays on travel are easy to write, as they do not require much research. Your experience in one of your trips is what you put down. If you do not have any exciting travel experience, then your creativity comes into play.

Find out from the tips below on how to write a compelling travel essay that will win the heart of the reader.

  • Write an Intriguing First Paragraph

For a reader to want to dig deeper into your writing, your introductory paragraph should be compelling. You can start with a question that intrigues the reader, but be sure to answer it in the essay. Humans are curious, and if your piece creates curiosity from the very beginning, they will always follow it to the end.

An examiner may give you a common topic to write about, but don’t let your writing be common. Have a clear goal of what you want to achieve and fulfil it in the essay. Plan how to start and how to end without leaving the reader in awkward suspense.

  • Use Descriptive Language

Do not be in a rush to finish your story; instead, describe the scenes in words that the reader will associate. Not every bit of your experience should appear in the essay. However, do not leave the juicy ones behind as long as they are in line with the topic.

When using adjectives, ensure a short explanation follows them. If it was a fantastic trip, delicious food, or weird culture expound further. Details in your essay will undoubtedly keep anyone reading it glued, which should be your aim.

  • Edit Your Essay

After writing your essay, take a break from it. Come back later to edit your work and rectify any errors. Nothing puts off a reader like grammatical errors in an essay.

Instead of following the essay, the one reading it will be busy constructing sensible sentences. It can be tiring and annoying at the same time. While editing, read from your reader’s perspective, asking yourself if it would interest you, and make the necessary changes.

  • What If Someone Can Do My Essay for Me?

If who can write my dissertation, is the question in your mind, rest easy as help is always at hand. Not everyone can be creative, and you may be in such a dilemma. You may have no exciting travel experiences, and time for researching other travel essays may be limited.

If this is your predicament, getting someone to assist you with descriptive essay topics can be a great idea.

  • Getting Help Online to Do My Essay for Me

Writing a great article that will earn you good marks needs considerable time. This is especially common when writing descriptive papers, which require critical thinking and extensive research. If you have a busy schedule, any help is always beneficial.

There are experts online who can do an excellent travel essay for you. Their help is available any time you need it. They will always deliver your writing project on time, helping you to beat the deadlines.

Not every site online that says do my essay for me is professional. Make sure to get a trusted site that will not disappoint you at the last minute. A place that hires the best writers and guarantees you professionalism is one you should opt for when in need.


As is the case with other assignments, start writing your travel essay early. You may procrastinate thinking that, since it is your creativity that is crucial, you can wait until the last minute. Treat the project with urgency as the extra time left will help you go through it and make the necessary corrections.

Travelling Improves Your Writing Skills

Traveling comes with one thing: exposure. It exposes you to different environments, different people, and different ways of life. You get to know more and increase your wealth of experience as well as imagination. You also get to meet strangers from diverse backgrounds and different life stories. You also get to try out new cuisine. It is always a unique experience.

Traveling experiences can also inspire you to write, start a project, work on a particular set of issues, and do so on and so forth. There is no limit to what one can do with regards to the inspiration that they get from traveling and seeing different places. Writers who have writer’s block can get back in the game after traveling since it exposes them to new settings, which could help improve their imagination as well as inspire them to write.

Exposure Brings About the Aspect of Inclusivity in Your Writing

Improving your writing skills means that your works of writing at a particular time supersede or exceed those previously written in terms of quality. When you travel, you get to experience diverse cultures as well as meet different folks. This can help you to be more inclusive in what you write, thanks to what you see and experience on your travels. You get to know that there is more effort you can apply to your writing that will allow you to churn even more quality stuff than you are currently writing.

Going about the writing process of including these other cultures and places is also a different kettle of fish altogether. Still, you might want to work with an individual from the place you traveled to ensure that your works of writing are on the correct path. This helps to improve, hone, and sharpen your writing skills since you not only have your local audience but an expanded audience, which demands you to up your game and skills.

Since you might be traveling to other areas that speak different languages and still want to write, you might want to consider using translation sites. These sites can help you break the language barrier.

Your Stock of Knowledge Increases

It is highly important to note that traveling offers learning opportunities since it is itself an educational experience. You get to learn how things work in different places, how systems work over there, and how people go about various tasks and their lives over there. That in itself is learning and education. The upside here is that your stock of knowledge increases since you become more knowledgeable about different things that you previously had no idea about.

Increasing your stock of knowledge means that you get more ideas to write about, more words that you can use, as well as various angles or dimensions that you can explore in your writing efforts. All this can help to improve your skills in an immense way, whichever way you care to slice it.

Makes You Get out of Your Comfort Zone

Traveling exposes you to different places and ways of life. It gives you a view of the world that you previously did not have. This can help you see and approach writing from a different dimension that you had not previously thought of. If you had stopped writing and drifted further down in the comfort zone, traveling can immensely help to get you out of that zone and start writing works on different topics that interest and enthuse you. It is also worth highlighting that you get new energy that will help you in your writing endeavors.

To sum this up, traveling has the potential to improve your skills for the better when it comes to writing. This is mainly because of traveling exposes you to new places, new environments, and gives you new experiences. These can help to reinvigorate your imagination and help you get your writing mojo back. Further, when you travel, you also learn. Learning is an integral part of the entire writing process as it is from learning that you get ideas that you can base your writing works on.

Traveling the world as a translator

The world is shrinking before our eyes, technology is bridging cultures and nations, and translators are ensuring that we all understand each other and get along. As humanity progresses, the demand for high-quality translators will only go up. And there are now emerging markets that are very engaged in technological development like India and China, meaning that there will be an increasing demand in translators and interpreters specializing in these languages.

The great thing about being a translator is that you have the liberty to work from wherever you want, which opens you to the opportunity of traveling the world while doing what you do best. In this article, we’ll be looking at how and why you should embark on an overseas journey as a freelance translator.

Getting enough work

First off, it’s essential to make sure you have enough projects at least for a few months ahead, which will give you enough income that will supplement your buffer budget. Now you can approach this from a few perspectives.

You can apply for a large number of projects a month or two before you set off. This will give the opportunity to select the most worthwhile and well-paying projects. Furthermore, it’ll let you combine multiple projects, by finding two projects that don’t overlap in time and still won’t ruin your work/life ratio.

Another option is amassing a significant buffer budget beforehand and landing one well-paying project so that you have more time to explore the countries you’re about to visit.

Approaching your travel

Freelancers that have traveled long term very well understand the problem of working too much during trips. You’ll most definitely be conflicted for a while. Why? Picture this: you arrive in a beautiful equatorial country. It’s hot, you’re close to the ocean, you’re enjoying great food, but you’re forced to work during the day. This is going to be a recurring problem, which you’ll be facing.

Now, the way you should approach this issue is by establishing what kind of “work and travel” operation you’re going to be running.

Option 1: You approach this travel as working full-time, but simply changing location for a season or two. You find a great co-working place close to the ocean and go by your routine day in, day out, but you still enjoy the nightlife, and whatever benefits the location has to offer. You rather focus on earning money, not spending them.

Option 2: This is more of a vacation, where you take the time to put some money into your account by working intermittently. This allows you to extend the period of your travel and ensures that you’ll be enjoying your stay in a foreign country without worrying too much about your budget. You just find the best translation site that offers you a good per word deal and stick to taking occasional projects.

The technicalities

Before you set off, it’s essential to make sure that all of your technical variables are taken care of. Make sure that your CAT licenses are paid, some of them are fairly expensive and may interfere with your budget of not taken care of beforehand.

Proz memberships are also relatively costly, so make sure you have them paid in advance if you use the service frequently.

Don’t hesitate to buy a Skype number. This makes things much more comfortable for your clients if you communicate with them frequently via phone. This will make sure that they won’t have to suffer from your phone number changes once you move from one country to another.

One last thing

I just wanted to emphasize that this isn’t for everyone. It sounds very romantic on the books, roaming the world while doing what your love, but it is quite a tiresome affair. Frequent flights and bus rides will take a toll on your body and psychological well-being if not approached adequately.

Make sure you approach planning with care and don’t be too confident with your resistance and vitality when it comes to 24-hour transits from one location to another.


Traveling the world as a translator might be one the most exciting things you’ll embark on in your life, but it requires scrupulous planning and consideration. A poorly designed trip may become a nightmare very quickly.

We wish you good luck on your trips!

Top 10 Places in the World You Should Never Visit

Traveling is one of the greatest hobbies someone could have. You get to see new places, learn about new cultures and give your mind a reboot. Whereas all you can think about is “Where should I go next?”, have you thought about dangerous places?

Although the world is very beautiful, there are certainly some places that ruin its stunning image. So, let’s explore some places you should never visit.

  1. Syria

You’ve heard about it, but Syria is probably the most dangerous place in the world right now. ISIS is playing its games here, and it makes no exceptions when it comes to tourists with colorful clothes and ready to party.

Being a total war zone, it should be avoided at all costs. Sadly, its beautiful attractions are being ruined.

  1. Yemen

Yemen would be one of the most gorgeous countries on the planet. It has a lot of stunning nature and history to back it up. Too bad all of these things are ruined by violent groups and airstrikes that kill a lot of people.

Because of the political unrest that goes on here, you should stay away and choose a vacation in another country.

  1. North Korea

It’s very likely that you’ve heard a lot of things about North Korea. Kim Jong Un’s regime can be very harsh, so you should avoid offending the Korean military police. Because you never know what you could do wrong, it’s better to stay away.

North Korea and South Korea have become friends, and maybe things are going to get better. However, you should wait until the right time comes for a visit.

  1. Afghanistan

Although things are likely to get better in the future when it comes to Afghanistan, that day is not as close as you would like to. The country is dangerous because of its bombings, homicide, and kidnappings.

The country is beautiful, but you have to wait a long time until it’s considered generally safe.

  1. Somalia

You may like pirate movies and stories, but sadly, you’re not going to meet Jack Sparrow. Many pirates are roaming the seas around Somalia, making it very dangerous to travel there. Moreover, even if you make it safe to the land, you need someone to sponsor your visa. Do you know anyone from Somalia?

  1. Venezuela

Venezuela is known for its stunning landscapes and historical attractions.

However, it’s very dangerous because, if you get sick, medicine is hardly affordable. There are many street fights going on between civilians and security forces, and there’s a lot of violence.

Additionally, there is a risk of grenade attacks, robberies, kidnappings and murders that target tourists. If you want to have a good time, you should better go to a happy and sunny place.

  1. El Salvador

This place has a high rate of murders. Many people were victims of unscrupulous criminals, and you don’t want to end up like that, do you?

Although the rate has lowered, it’s better to be vigilant and not take any risks.

  1. The Central African Republic

This is another dangerous destination, for locals as well as tourists. Not only that there’s a lot of violence going on, but you are more vulnerable as a foreigner. Many of the conflicts happen because of religion, so just stay away and make sure you choose some other place for your summer holiday.

  1. Libya

As another war zone, Libya is a place you should avoid if you want to have a holiday full of smiles. There have been many attacks, airstrikes, and fights that ended in thousands of people dying. You don’t want to fall as a collateral victim, do you?

  1. Iraq

Iraq is under ISIS’s control, and you should expect to be targeted as a foreigner. So, if you don’t want to suddenly be murdered or kidnapped by someone, you’d better stay away. Iraq could be an amazing destination, but it’s sadly ruined by evil people.

In conclusion, your holiday should go on without unwanted incidents. That’s why you should be aware of the places listed above.

From Seattle to San Diego With $100: My First Hitchhiking Experience

My first hitchhiking experience was amazing, and it is worth remembering since I got an opportunity to learn how to hitchhike, and how to be successful in catching rides. I also got an opportunity to know the best places where you can hitch for a ride – thanks to the generous drivers who enlightened me on how proper hitchhiking, and how to get drivers to pick you for a ride when hitchhiking.

With just 100 bucks, my first hitchhiking experience hitchhiking in the USA was from the seaport city of Seattle to San Diego, and it was a memorable experience. I spent at least than 27 hours on this endeavor, which includes wait time for vehicles, refreshing in stop-overs, and catching bites and some food along the way. My experience involved some vehicles since some of the rides that I picked were not heading to San Diego, which forced me to connect along the way.

Not a Bad Starter for a Beginner

As it is in other fields or areas, being a novice has its own unique set of challenges, and the first attempt is not likely to be that successful. Often, with time, after a lot of investment, practice, and do-overs, you get to know how to do something appropriately without spending a lot of time. That aside, my hitchhiking experience started off at Seattle, and I can say that the experience was okay, because there is an elaborate transport system that links Seattle and San Diego, which made the whole experience seamless.


Hitchhiking Spots

Given the distance from Seattle to San Diego, selecting excellent and elaborate hitchhiking spots is crucial if you want to be up for a successful hitchhiking experience. In Seattle, I had to try out my luck at a Petrol station, since it is among the most convenient locations to hitch for a ride.


Well, if you are a novice and you want to start out on the right foot, then you’d be better off starting your experience at locations where the odds of successfully hitching a ride are high. A petrol station suffices, and it is where I started off my hitchhiking.  A combo of spots helped me maneuver all the way to San Diego since most of the rides I hitched were not heading to San Diego straight away.


The Highways

Since hitchhiking across from a city to another involves getting to other states, this experience was enriching since it involved multiple states. I hitched a ride in at least two instances in state highways, and these highways not only offer a wide variety of drivers and scenery but also allow you to get a glimpse into what life is like in those particular local areas.


What’s more, the experience can be even more rewarding if you stand at stop lights just outside of towns along national highways, since the chances of catching a ride at these palaces are very high.


Check the Relevant Laws

Hitchhiking from a major city in one state to another city in another state could be at times complicated because hitchhiking laws by state vary from one to another. Some states permit hitchhiking, and there are those that do not allow hitchhiking. Even in states that permit hitchhiking, you have no guarantees that you will be on the safe side since you could still have run-ins with the police and other relevant law enforcement bodies.

Before you embark on hitchhiking, ensure that you know the laws and rules that govern hitchhiking in the states that you intend to cover. This way, you will be able to avoid run-ins with cops, who at times, are happy about giving you a difficult time.


Maps and GPS

I carried a map with me on this particular hitchhiking experience, and also made use of GPS on my phone. At times, when you are hitchhiking in places that you are not familiar with, a map could come in handy. GPS will help you to know how far you are from your destination, and it will also help you to get insights into other alternatives routes and highways that you could use the next time you plan to hitchhike to those places.

Since this was my first experience and I was a novice regarding hitchhiking, some GPS helped me know locations, and I was able to learn more about those locations on a practical level.

In summary, depending on the places you want to hitchhike, you are bound to have unique and different experiences. Not all areas offer the same experiences, and you should expect to undergo various situations and experiences in the places or spots that you choose to hitchhike.

10 Cities in the US You MUST See at Least Once in Your Life

Even if you are a travel enthusiast, you might not get to see all the places you should actually see. The world is full of amazing sights and cities that just wait to be discovered – and so is the US.

While nature has its charm, cities are also worth visiting – of course, because all the action is happening right in them.

Therefore, so that you won’t miss any of these places and add them on your to-see places list, we will present you twenty cities in the US that you must see at least once in your life.

  1. Nashville

Also known as the best city where you can listen to live music, the capital of Tennessee will greet you with a lot of green space that consists of 99 parks, and roughly 10,200 acres of land. Moreover, here you can see the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Grand Ole Opry.

  1. Louisville

If you enjoy a good drink, then Louisville is your city. Here, you can see the Stitzel-Weller Distillery, which is the home of the Bulleit Bourbon. Furthermore, you will be welcomed by the usual southern hospitality, by good vibes, and by art. Some of the best places to stay in are the 21c boutique hotel and the Brown Hotel.

  1. Taos

Here, you will be greeted by some of the most beautiful landscapes of New Mexico. You can also visit one impressive UNESCO-rated attraction, namely the Taos Pueblo – and adobe complex where locals have been living for around 1000 years. The Rio Grande Gorge Bridge is also a sight you want to see if you happen to travel to Taos.

  1. Kansas City

If you are a food enthusiast, then Kansas City should be on your list – that if you don’t want to miss its barbecue joints. After you’re done eating, you can visit the Crossroads Art District, where you can find restaurants – for when you get hungry again -, art galleries, and boutiques.

Also, don’t worry about the internet connection – Kansas City is one of the few cities that are equipped with Google Fiber wireless.

  1. Savannah

The city of Savannah can be easily compared with a jewel – its people will greet you with hospitality as they guide and present you the beautiful and well-preserved architecture of the city, its charm and rich history.

Sheltering the Savannah College of Art and Design, the city is marked by creativity and also by sights that you’ll wish to see one more time.

  1. Austin

Austin is defined by live music – some of the upcoming events of 2018 are Austin City Limits, Levitation Music Festival, and SXSW. However, if tourists prefer a quieter environment, they could always pay a visit to the Austin Playhouse, and see Shakespeare in Love in the Spring being played.

You can also take a bike tour with a twist – a bat-watching bike tour involves you riding around and seeing the little animals taking their dinner from Congress Avenue Bridge.

  1. Seattle

We all like coffee, and even more of us like Starbucks – well, we have good news for you then, as Seattle is considered to have the best coffee in the country, while also being the birthplace of Starbucks.

And we know that a good coffee is best enjoyed when reading a good book. That’s why Seattle comes equipped with the most bookstores per capita – therefore, find your favorite book and give it a read over an espresso.

  1. Petersburg

If you like Salvador Dali, then you should have one of your holidays in the sunny St. Petersburg, located in the Tampa Bay area. Why? Because the Salvador Dali Museum, which has a lot of things to show both on the inside an outside, can be found here.

The city seems to be all about art, as you can find plenty of street art just by walking around. Moreover, glass sculptures can be seen at the Chihuly Collection.

  1. Omaha

Fancy a drink? If you do, we must inform you that Omaha is the city with most bars per capita – it is even known as the most hungover city in the United States; we bet that partying is fun here.

If you are in for some adventure, you can visit the Henry Doorly Zoo and explore the underground caves that can be found here. Also, if you are a fan of indie music, you should stick around as the scene for this type of music is reported as growing exponentially.

  1. Honolulu

This city is clearly a destination everybody wants to visit – it’s Honolulu, after all. It has been mentioned thousands of times in TV shows and movies.

Also, if you want to be one with nature, Honolulu is a safe call as it is considered the greenest city in the US. Your trip here will consist of visits to museums, to the Waikiki Aquarium, and to cultural centers – therefore, you should plan it carefully if you want to see everything Honolulu has to offer.

Since we can’t cover them all, here are the rest ten cities in the US that you must see at least once in your life:

  • Albuquerque
  • Ocean City
  • Anchorage
  • Cape Coral
  • Concord
  • Santa Fe
  • Asheville
  • Provo
  • Denver
  • Detroit

So, these were twenty of the cities you have to visit if you want to experience what’s best in the US. Of course, the list could go on, but we included here the cities that come with unique aspects – such as the ones with most breweries and bookstores, and such.

Now, grab your travel list and note down some of these – if not all – because they are truly worth it, and you won’t regret spending your holiday in one of the cities mentioned above.