Localization Strategy

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Toward a Sustainable Language Services Ecosystem for the UK’s Public Sector

Localization Strategy

Many of the United Kingdom’s very large language service contracts for the public sector are being tendered for or awarded in 2020, influencing the working lives and livelihoods of hundreds of language service companies and thousands of freelance translators and interpreters in the UK. Everyone involved in public sector work in the language services ecosystem has a vested interest in how these contracts turn out, but more constructive dialogue is needed across the ecosystem.

An “ecosystem” of language service procurement and provision within the public sector encompasses public sector organizations who commission and use translation and interpreting services, together with the supply chain — language service companies and the translators and interpreters providing these services. At the very heart of the system are the individual people requiring translation and interpreting in their own languages.

When I joined the UK’s Association of Translation Companies (ATC) as its CEO two years ago, this was about as far as my understanding went regarding public sector work, having spent my entire working life in the commercial translation world.

What I didn’t understand were the challenges around providing critical language support in over 300 languages, some very rare, in hugely demanding situations, at a very short notice, with the constraints of austerity measures and changes in the way governments procure language services having completely changed the landscape in the past decade.

There’s no doubt that providing language services for the public sector is a challenging task, but what I also didn’t see or appreciate were the deep divides within the language services supply chain and between the organizations and associations active in the ecosystem.

Many of these divides are borne out of the changes the sector has experienced in the past decade; for example, the introduction of large government framework contracts, or the knock-on effects of many years of financial austerity measures on public sector procurement.

I don’t think anyone would argue that there are many areas within which public sector work could be developed. Public sector procurement practices, pricing and the shape of the supply chain have regularly made industry news globally, and not in a positive light.

However, as I learned more about the procurement of language services for the public sector, the more it was clear that there really was very little genuine collaboration, or even discussion, across the divides, and thus very few genuinely constructive initiatives to improve the ecosystem.

This was a problem.

I was lucky enough to be surrounded by a Council whose commitment and experience laid the foundation of what in the past year has crystallised the ATC’s position and objectives of working towards sustainable development in the procurement and provision of language services for the UK’s public sector.

Within the UK’s ecosystem, the ATC represents language service companies from micro enterprises and SME’s to large companies providing the widest range of services in over 300 languages to public sector commissioning authorities. Our members have a pivotal role in delivering language services for the public sector, and in commissioning individual assignments with freelance translators, interpreters and other language professionals.

For the ATC, it was clear from the start that if the association was to truly invest in the development of public sector work, it would have to be based on constructive collaboration and genuinely open channels of communication between industry stakeholders. We wanted to identify and find areas which our stakeholders could get behind, and achieve tangible developments.

The ATC’s Public Sector Manifesto, published in January 2020, set out the association’s objectives toward sustainable development to:

  • identify and promote sustainable best practices within the procurement and provision of language services
  • proactively work together on implementing realistic, concrete solutions that benefit the entire ecosystem
  • work towards a regulated environment, with more effective governance and oversight of the provision of language services at all levels
  • look beyond immediate challenges and into the future, supporting inspirational solutions and technology that advance the development of the industry, in meeting the needs of all users

In the past year, our activities have focused on building the foundations for constructive relationships, and in this I think we have succeeded.

We have brought together stakeholders from the entire ecosystem; founded a platform for ATC member companies to engage in meaningful collaboration, irrespective of size or position in the market; and forged positive, open channels of communication with organizations and associations representing translators and interpreters.

But this is just the start.

Due to its size and continuous, organic evolution, the public sector’s translation and interpreting landscape is highly fragmented, which complicates our understanding of the procurement fulfillment process, and consequently creates challenges around implementing and monitoring best practice.

We believe that through increased understanding and visibility of the landscape, we can pave the way for more efficient and effective public sector procurement in the future. We will do this by continuing to initiate and support research on language services for the public sector, and publishing best practice recommendations and guidance to support our objectives.

We believe that the foundations of sustainability across public sector procurement are laid at framework specification level, which will create a level playing field for the organizations participating in tenders, and as a consequence, their suppliers.

We will continue to identify opportunities for positive contribution, and to focus on constructive conversations that identify shared objectives and goals, and move the development of the ecosystem forwards.

We acknowledge the need for robust governance of public sector contracts and the provision of effective language services within those contracts. We wish to work together with stakeholders to identify ways and means of achieving comprehensive due diligence during tendering, improved governance and oversight of service delivery, as well as reliable checks on the qualifications and competences of translators and interpreters engaged in public sector work.

We advocate open discussion on transparent levels of oversight and quality control that can reasonably and realistically be put in place.

It is in the entire ecosystem’s interest that the procurement and provision of language services is sustainable, and that the individual people depending on language support are able to get it, not just now, but also in ten and twenty years’ time.

There are definite challenges, but also opportunities for improvement, developing technologies, and above all, a new willingness to work together to identify the areas where genuine advances can be made.

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Raisa McNab is chief executive officer at the UK’s Association of Translation Companies (ATC). She holds a Master of Arts degree in translation and interpreting from the University of Turku in her native Finland, and has previously worked in the language services industry as a translator, project manager, and quality, training and development manager. She is interested in collaborative cooperation and sustainable development of the language services industry.

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SDL Tados 2021

Multimedia Localization Service Market Report Released

Localization Strategy

Multimedia localization deals with subtitling and translating scripts, creating voiceovers and dubbing, as well as animation, graphics processing, video production and so on. Importantly, the multimedia localization service industry has demonstrated adaptability in these trying times, with one video game localization team even using video calls to record voice actors.

Despite the disruption to the world economy this year, the continued success of the multimedia localization service industry would make sense considering its growing relevance in our daily lives in recent years. As with trends occurring in other language-related industries this year, the ingenuity and adaptability of the multimedia localization service industry appears to have the capacity for an upswing. Market.biz released a report recently on the impact of COVID-19 on global multimedia localization service market size, status and forecast 2020-2026 that will elaborate on the state of those trends.

Consisting of comprehensive data that aids in the detailed appraisal of the multimedia localization service industry, the document provides a summary of regional and global developments, the overview outlines the scope of the study, key market segments, ongoing trends among manufacturers, suppliers, and industries operating within the multimedia localization service market, and the implications of COVID-19 on each market by type.

Relying on SWOT analysis —a compilation of company strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats—that focuses on revenue and forecast by type and by end users in terms of revenue for the period of 2015-2026, the report analyzes the global multimedia localization service status, future forecast, and growth opportunity.

Furthermore, the report identifies cloud-based and web-based aspects of the industry, profiles key players and analyzes their development plans and strategies. Among these key players are Rev.com, 3Play Media, Language Link, RWS Moravia, Morningside Translations, One Hour Translation, AMPLEXOR International, Translated, ABBYY, Aberdeen Broadcast Services, Acclaro, ALTA Language Services, Andovar, applingua, Aspena, Click For Translation, Day Translations, Dynamic Language, Boffin Language Group, Argos Multilingual, among others.

Along with the numerous list of key players, the report was also conducted worldwide, in regions as North America, Europe, China, Japan, Southeast Asia, India, and Central & South America. With its global reach, it aims to define, describe and forecast the industry by type, market, and key regions.

As COVID-19 continues to spread, Market.biz anticipates “the global impacts of COVID-19…will significantly affect the multimedia localization service market in 2020.” Some companies are finding ways to respond, but many markets are already impacted, with flight cancellations, travel bans, restaurant closures, slowing supply chains, stock market volatility, and falling business confidence becoming the norm during the pandemic. The report provides a detailed analysis of what all these disruptions mean for the multimedia localization service industry.

 

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MultiLingual creates go-to news and resources for language industry professionals.

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Project Underwear Q&A in Upcoming Webinar

Localization Strategy

How do people engage with and consume content online? Featured next week as a guest in a Lingoport webinar on language’s impact on online behavior, Nimdzi co-founder Tucker Johnson plans to discuss this and other questions with Lingoport CEO Adam Asnes. The material comes in large part from Nimdzi’s Project Underwear, which attempts to answer how people act if given the choice between English and their native language, and if they would they consume more if there were more content in their native language.

Project Underwear was created as part of Nimdzi co-founder Renato Beninatto’s idea that consuming content and making buying decisions can be profoundly intimate activities. Accordingly, considering how a brand interacts with someone in their underwear — or as Beninatto calls it, the Underwear Effect — creators of content and products might discover more effective methods of drawing in a larger consumer base.

More specifically, Project Underwear considers how the intimacy of one’s mother tongue can impact one’s decisions to engage with products. Whether communicating with users by email or other methods, the prospects of localizing outreach have broad implications.

With end-user surveys with 25 questions translated into 66 languages in more than 70 countries, Nimdzi understood from the beginning of Project Underwear that localizing language would be key not only to obtaining results without biases, but also to put into practice the foundational philosophy — to reach users in their native tongue.

Obtaining a notable sample size of more than 9,000 individual replies, Project Underwear will utilize data on each respondent’s language, gender, age, and primary occupation, that “allow for further segmentation of user preferences” to determine macro-trends occurring in shopping habits and buyer language preferences.

The host of the webinar is Lingoport, a company that provides internationalization products and services that help companies build localized software. The event will take place next Tuesday, July 28, at 9 am PST.

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Journalist at MultiLingual Magazine | + posts

Jonathan Pyner is a poet, freelance writer, and translator. He has worked as an educator for nearly a decade in the US and Taiwan, and he recently completed a master’s of fine arts in creative writing.

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Three questions to ask before you create a remote team for your small business

Localization, Localization Strategy

Remote employment is a growing trend in America, as well as across the globe. With the majority of workers expecting remote work arrangements in their careers, it makes sense for small businesses to adapt to attract top talent. If you are thinking about hiring a remote team for your own small business or allowing current employees to telecommute, there are a few things you need to figure out to meet your current and future business goals.

Will you use freelancers to fill out your remote team?

For small business owners looking to hire those initial helpers, freelancers may be a solid choice. With freelance work becoming more popular, you can easily find a freelance worker to help out with pretty much any task your small business needs to succeed. Using a freelance job board, small business owners and hiring managers can build a remote team of freelancers offering help with design, writing, web development, accounting, sales, administrative work, and any other niche or specialty project. Working with contract and freelance employees can also be a good way to filter candidates who may evolve into full-time staff members. While most contractors work as freelancers, a contract employee will typically stay on with your small business for a longer period of time, which can be useful for more involved projects. Be sure to discuss project completion timeframes, and compensation so that your freelance hires have a better idea of what to expect from this flexible, remote employment arrangement.

Are you familiar with current labor and employment laws?

Being able to answer this question with confidence can prevent legal headaches for any business looking to hire new employees. So, regardless of whether you choose to hire freelancers or full-time workers, make sure you research labor laws that govern your interactions with these teams and individuals; this includes pertinent employment regulations and laws, such as the Family Medical Leave Act, the Equal Pay Act, worker’s compensation, employment taxes, and the Americans with Disabilities Act. While you are doing your homework, also look into state employment laws that may affect your small business, especially since many states have different regulations around compensation, minimum wages, employee benefits and hiring practices. Being aware of these regulations, guidelines and laws can keep your business out of trouble. Employee lawsuits, regardless of whether your business wins, can put a huge dent in your budget. So, make sure you know which laws apply to your business and make sure your management practices clearly follow those laws.

Can remote localization services boost your small business?

Chances are, you need to hire a team of remote workers in order to boost an aspect of profitability for your small business. You may be thinking of hiring a web developer to create a custom website, or you may be on the hunt for a social media marketer who can assist with your marketing plan. However, if you are not thinking about localization benefits, you may be missing out on some serious profit potentials. Localization refers to the adaptation of communications to fit specific languages, cultures and geographic areas, all of which can greatly enhance visibility for businesses of all sizes. With localization, you can tap into broader customer bases from across the globe. If you need help with translations or other localization tasks, turning to freelance or remote workers can be a perfect solution since you can expand your search for candidates beyond your local job market. This can be extremely helpful when translation and localization services are unavailable in your area.

Adapting your small business to operate with remote employees is a savvy move. Not only will you be making your business competitive with others, but you can also create the potential for fewer overhead and office expenses for your small business operations. Plus, you can easily access a pool of talent that can exceed that of your local job market. Really, the benefits of creating a remote team are endless, and the potential for profits can help your business as well.

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Tina Martin stays busy as a life coach and works hard to help herself and her clients achieve a healthy work-life balance.

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Seven steps to prepare a mobile game for localization

Localization, Localization Strategy

According to App Annie’s “The State of Mobile” report, in 2018 games accounted for 74% of consumer spend in app stores. Games are huge, which is why MultiLingual‘s latest issue, which just went live, focuses on the topic. In 2019, mobile gaming is going to reach 60% market share of consumer spend. One of the reasons that makes it possible is the global presence achieved with the help of localization.

Here is a guide for understanding whether the mobile game is ready for localization. In other words, this is a draft for a game localization maturity model.

Language analytics

A game might be developed and published by different companies. But even in this case, and even though the promotion team might also have the final say, it is recommended that marketing and analytics teams — in collaboration with localizers — make a general decision on what languages the game needs to be present in. Ekaterina Zaitseva, lead localization manager of RJ Games says that “we don’t translate game descriptions a few days before release in the App Store now. Everything is planned in advance.”

When selecting the target languages, consider the following:

  • The experience of your main competitors, including the popularity of their games in the country of your interest
  • Publicly available research, such as insights on the game’s localization ROI
  • The number of potential users speaking the language and their paying capacity
  • Planned cost of localization
  • Availability of quality translation service providers

A few years ago, issues caused by miscommunicated expectations and process details between the development, design and localization teams emerged here and there in many games. The community reported cases of unlocalized text embedded in graphics, violated character limits and non-resizable text which both resulted in truncations, grammatical issues with gender and so on. Even today, in 2019, you download a game that boasts supporting, let’s say, the Russian language, and still (sad but true) you may get machine translation instead of a proper translation.

But, on the other hand, localization is being increasingly integrated into the development process. The growing trend is for all the teams involved in a game creation to communicate constantly on how and when to do things. And interest in improving the quality of the process and its outcome is growing steadily

Collaboration with the development team

So, a responsible localizer does research and tells the developer in advance what problems may arise from a linguistic point of view. The priority and relevance of the main internationalization issues are to be carefully set depending on the project, as Ekaterina Zaitseva from RJ Games states:

  • “Resourcing” all of the strings (when user-visible strings are put into resource files)
  • Avoiding hard-coding or embedding text in any graphic files as much as possible
  • Testing of every font for every planned language
  • Paying attention to special characters, such as umlauts. (If you cannot find a font that blends appealingly with the game design and at the same time supports umlauts, use diphthongs instead)
  • Remembering that UTF-8 is the right encoding choice most of the time
  • Deciding whether or not you plan on mirroring the interface to consider the difference between LTR and RTL languages
  • Making strings scalable, allocating space for size change, as some languages take more space than the source
  • Enabling wrapping for multiline texts
  • Taking into account how English is unique. Word order, use of genders, plurals and possessives, and other rules vary drastically between languages
  • Creating text strings with variables for grammatical changes as well as time, date, currency and number formatting

Localizers need to remember that collaboration with development and design teams covers not only the text and interface itself. Game sound and art need to be thought through and made localizable in advance as well. Ideally, all images, symbols and logos need to be focus-tested with the target locales to minimize the risk of offending certain audiences. IGDA, the International Game Developers Association, advises gaining awareness of the top four cultural variables as they apply to your target markets: history, religion, ethnicity and geopolitical considerations.

In the subsequent discussion with the developers, when the process is already set up, it just makes sense to go through a localization sanity checklist, which should be compiled based on publicly available sources (such as “Best Practices for Game Localization” by IGDA), and of course, personal experience.

Documentation and processes preparation

Usually at some point when the game is still cooking, you already know what the target audience is, or what languages and game setting are planned, though there is no actual text to translate yet.

Now is the time to set up the following:

  • The localization processes and workflows, including decisions on what CAT environment to use, or who reports to whom and in what cases. For instance, how the work of Support will be organized and automated, and will it be multilingual or in English only?
  • Documentation such as templates, checklists and rules, style guide, onboarding guide, language vendor scorecard, or the “Project localization Bible.” You can also start compiling a glossary: even though there’s no full source text available, some of the key terms are already known.
  • A reference system for context. If you can ask the development team to leave some notes for text strings, all the better. The precious information on game logic will help localization teams a lot, even if there’s going to be a full-scale linguistic testing.
  • A draft of the testing plan. At the linguistic testing stage linguists verify in-game texts and overall game performance (such as the correct response of game elements to user inputs). A testing plan will help to get the most out of this stage. If it seems hard to draft it at the preparation stage, you can at least think of the environment to use. Will your testers report bugs and upload screenshots in a simple Google Sheet or use an online repository, such as Jira?

Advanced companies create special onboarding kits for developers, something like “Globalization 101,” which can focus on internationalization and culturalization aspects, or, for instance, feature common mistakes found in some other games.

The alternative is seamless continuous localization. Predefined and tuned processes are a benefit. But what if some of them could be bypassed for good? Open source solutions such as Serge, which stands for String Extraction and Resource Generation Engine, offer a trendy way to make manual localization management (exporting, converting files, sending them for translation, doing reverse conversion, committing changes to version control) unnecessary.

The tool gathers new source, publishes it for translation, acquires translations and integrates them back into the product, pulling and pushing changes, and will also synchronize with an external CAT tool of your choice.

Serge is being developed by Evernote, which has its products and marketing materials continously localized into 25 languages. This solution is mostly tailored to work with text translations, though. Its effect is not so noticeable in the localization of non-textual formats such as graphics or audio. So if you need to localize these things for a game, Serge will only grant you partial automation

QA and testing setup

Another extremely useful means of partial automation is QA checks. When a language vendor delivers the job, you can apply industry standard practices such as a third-party review of a sample translation and extensive QA metrics. But in a budget or time-constraint environment it makes sense to at least run a simple in-house check prior to importing localized content into the game build for future linguistic testing. Use QA tools: QA built-in CAT, Xbench or Verifika. QA or at least spotcheck methods should be thought about in advance, as they may and most certainly will be another expense item.

Prior to actual QA, a handy approach for advanced teams is to build a pseudolocalization tool for the mobile application testing. Even MT helps get a view of the localized product. And this might lead to useful proactive design changes.

In addition to linguistic testing, some games can afford to invite focus groups to actually play the game. Their gaming experience is recorded and analyzed to evaluate their playing habits, if and when (and why) they face any difficulties in the game. This type of testing, though, belongs at the final stage of the project.

Budgets and legal matters

To dive into the localization stage at full speed, one must come prepared. And this is almost impossible without having agreed on who would actually do the job. So test the waters with localization vendors in advance.

Communication with vendors prior to the actual project’s start will help with calculating localization budgets (advice: add 15-20% for unforeseen expenses, especially if there is a voiceover planned on the project), and avoiding delays in production due to any possible legal issues. Early collaboration with your legal department on setting up vendor contracts will streamline your future mutual localization efforts.

Each new language, though, generates additional costs associated with globalization, as you would likely need to invest in social media localization and tracking reviews in app stores.

Feedback collection

Speaking of reviews, you can actually start gathering feedback from gamers related not to your game but to similar ones. Search for competing games and pay attention to the comments and ratings in app stores. There’s always something to learn: if the errors themselves aren’t useful, the root causes for them will be.

Another smart move is to make it easy for gamers to leave feedback in the game itself. But if you’re conducting a survey, for example, you should give an incentive, maybe by providing an in-game currency per reply. This is something to discuss with development and design teams, especially considering the multilingual background of the users, but any way to thank a user for informative feedback adds a nice touch.

(Yearly) plan and user engagement

Continuing on user engagement, the #1 thing to include in the game plan for the next year is culturalization.

2018 saw a trend of labeling culturalization as a fictitious step created for demonstrative localization activity purposes only, which some localizers get offended by. They’re putting their hearts into making the game content viable and meaningful. And to make content meaningful, it pays to ask questions. So open discussions inside and even outside of your team that relate to plot, characters and objects during the conceptual stage, which will help identify cultural patterns and possible issues.

As The Game Localization Handbook says, culturalization is all the more effective the earlier it’s applied to game content. The same could be said about the planning itself. But it’s even more fun to make amendments to the plan in the localization process. So with all due circumspection, let the game begin!

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Yulia Akhulkova graduated from Moscow University of Electronic Engineering as a software engineer. Since 2010 she has worked in localization, currently combining research functions at Nimdzi with leading the localization department at ITI.

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Five advantages of using marketing localization for your business

Localization, Localization Strategy, Marketing

marketing localizationMarketers are often plagued with a dilemma when reaching out to a new market: to standardize or to localize? To standardize is obviously easiest from an operation standpoint, meaning that you use the same marketing style and theme for all your products and services regardless of where you’re marketing them.

There are disadvantages and advantages on both sides, but when reaching out to a new market, it’s actually more advantageous for marketers to choose localization.

With marketing localization, you are able to create linguistic and physical adjustments to your existing products or services so it fits in with your new target market’s specific needs.

It takes a lot of work to customize and make adaptations of existing products and services, especially if there are multiple products to launch, but it allows companies to resonate with their customers, and resolve the deepest needs and desires of their new market from the market’s own perspective.

Marketing localization moves beyond merely translating existing standardized marketing collaterals to another language — it involves a thorough study of how culture and market conditions affect customers’ buying behavior.

There are five key advantages of marketing localization:

1. Marketing localization decreases barrier to entry

When introducing your company to a new market, there are several barriers to entry that may be observed. It could be government monopoly; limited or scarce channels of delivery of goods; tight competition; or lack of product or brand awareness.

Market adaptation is mandatory in many countries and so it makes perfect sense to localize marketing. This could be the translation of product packaging, removing/altering product ingredients or packaging, changing brand names and so on.

One classic example for this would be Coca Cola in China. Coca Cola is currently known as Kekoukele in China. This is because its original brand name, when translated into Chinese, means “bite the wax tadpole” or “female horse fastened with wax,” which are unusual and inappropriate.

It would have been incredibly unappetizing to buy a drink thus named, so Coca Cola had to do a change to their brand name to adapt to the Chinese market.

They chose the brand name Kekoukele because it means “tasty fun” and it is close to the original brand name.

This dramatically changed Coca Cola’s image in China, and it helped them connect to locals in a more language-appropriate and personalized way.

2. Localization customizes customer experience

In many first-world countries, products are often sold in larger-container quantities, which is done based on both consumption and convenience.

On the other hand, the same products sold in third-world countries may not be affordable for the majority of consumers and that would greatly affect their sales. Due to these pricing constraints, companies may create products in different and smaller packaging, such as sachets or pouches, for the greater market to be able to afford it.

3. Localization breeds cultural respect and appropriation

It’s no secret that cultural patterns, religions and norms affect people’s habits, outlook in life, the media they choose and even the products they buy.

Advertising or identifying your brand with a Christmas or Christmas-related promotions, for example, in a largely non-Catholic or non-Christian country may not be accepted by the target market. On the other hand, advertising your brand with a Christmas theme in Christian and Catholic countries will be largely appreciated and remembered.

Outsourcing experts from bradfordjacobs.com have seen how hiring local marketing executives in Europe, where every border is a new country and culture, played a big role in providing contextually correct translations and preventing conflicts with the target market’s culture.

4. Localization results to better brand identification

Marketing localization “personifies” a brand, which helps it connect to its target market on a deeper level.

Some brands become an extension or expression of culture in some countries by integrating culture into their brand message and active storytelling.

It’s even been argued that Coca Cola created the modern image of Santa Claus because of its advertising.

5. Localization hastens local business development

To sum it all up, marketing localization accelerates business development. Creating a demand for your products or services is not your ticket to success.

Knowing your target market deeply and seeing their needs from their perspective is the key to providing products or services that are in demand.

You won’t be able to achieve this if you use the same standards for all your target markets all over the globe. This can only be done with marketing localization based on in-depth market research.

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Joevren Curmi works as a content writer for Keen, Ltd., and covers a wide variety of topics including business, food, travel, jobs and internet marketing.

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