It’s a minefield isn’t it? The array of online tools and resources for freelance writers I mean. There’s an app for acronyms and a tool for time management, a blog for business and a guide to grammar.
The problem is, we freelance writers don’t have time to sift through all the marketing jargon to unearth those that might save us time, make us better writers and possibly earn us more money. Why? Because we’re busy being freelance writers.
Quite the conundrum.
How many different tools do you need to write and edit your work anyway? Just open a Word or a Google doc. and get on with it, right? And how come there are more apps and tools dedicated to novel writers than there are for freelance writers?
As a busy freelance writer online myself, I certainly don’t have time to sift through it all.
But I made time.
For you? Anything.
Writing, editing and notes
Dropbox or Google Drive
Some like Dropbox, some prefer Google Drive. Some like both. I’m not concerned with your preferences per se, but please, whatever you do, don’t just save all your client work, blog post ideas and invoices onto the desktop of your computer. Keep it in that magic cloud thing in the sky instead. You never know what might happen. (Plus, this way you can travel the world and still run your freelance writing business without missing a beat.)
Part of me thinks that as people who get paid to write, we should be able to detect things like long, convoluted sentences in our work and edit accordingly. The other part of me thinks that as people who get paid to write, we’re under a lot of pressure and can easily miss things. The Hemingway App highlights such things as hard-to-read sentences and passive voice usage to improve your writing. If it helps, it helps, right?
Whatever you’re writing, it’s going to need a title. When you’ve worked out what that is (see Headline Hacks further down the list) you then need to make sure you’ve got your capital letters where they should be – and not where they shouldn’t.
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As a freelance writer, you can’t afford to make any spelling or grammar mistakes online. Grammarly follows you around the web (creepy?) correcting grammar and spelling issues from your Facebook page to your WordPress dashboard, adapting to how you write as it goes. (I’m currently trying this one out so will update you in due course on how useful it really is.)
Hubspot’s Blog Topic Generator
I have no idea how long this has existed for, but I’ve only just discovered it. It’s a great way of coming up with blog post ideas, either for your own blog or for clients. And it’s fun (in a geeky sort of way).
Yes, yes. You’ve heard it all before. Everyone uses Evernote, right? Everybody’s compiling reams of notes in Evernote and finding it super-duper helpful. Yes they are. Get on board.
This is one of those ‘distraction-free’ writing tools. I like the concept of this one. As a freelance writer working online, sometimes you just need to shut off the noise and get your thoughts down. For those moments, OmmWriter will be your best friend.
Productivity and time-management
Toggl is one of the best time-tracking tools out there. And it’s simple to use. I like simple.
A bit like Toggl (but called Rescue Time), this productivity tool runs in the background of your computer and tots up how much time you spend on work tasks (or surfing Facebook) each day. Kind of like a computer version of that stern school teacher who always told you off for wasting time – but, you know, useful.
Tomorrow.do or Teux Deux
When you need just a simple daily to-do list without all the distracting bells and whistles, these two fit the bill. I use (and swear by) Tomorrow.do, while others love Teux Deux. Potato, uh, potato.
If you come across an article or video online that you don’t have time to read, Pocket lets you save it for later, even allowing you to read it offline. For the purposes of this post, Pocket can help with research and planning your next writing project, although I use it for storing and reading all kinds of interesting and mind-expanding reads.
(Here’s a tip: Delete the Facebook app on your phone and download the Pocket one. Then, next time you’re waiting in line or on public transport, read your saved articles in Pocket instead of looking at your cousin’s best friend’s neighbour’s new puppy pictures. I promise you’ll become a better, more interesting and well-rounded human being for doing so.)
How to Build a Solid Reputation as a Freelance Writer Online… Without a Website
Yes, this is an eBook penned by my own fair hand, but it’s free and (dare I say it) it’s good. If you’re just starting out as a freelance writer and you don’t happen to have a close relative working for the editorial department of the Huffington Post, this eBook will show you how to get work, get clips, get paid and build a solid reputation online. (Besides, isn’t that just the snappiest title you’ve ever seen?)
The Ultimate List of Better-Paid Blogging Gigs
You’ve got to love Sophie Lizard’s blog. She’s great at cutting out the BS and getting straight to the good stuff. Plus, she’s a fellow Brit. (Just saying.) If you’re new to the world of freelance writing online, need an extra gig or two to tide you over, or are even looking for a brand new client, this free report reveals 75 blogs that pay over $50 per post. Gold.
Headline Hacks (Boost Blog Traffic)
I’m always raving about this free resource. Jon Morrow is a bit of a legend though, and his free Headlines Hacks report has helped me come up with blog post titles and ideas more times than I care to admit. It’s basically stealing headlines that have worked well in the past and using them for your own means. Totally legal.
Upwork’s Hiring Hub
The artist formally known as oDesk has been transformed into the swish (and decidedly green) Upwork. The branding isn’t the only thing to change though, with Upwork producing resources to help all sorts of businesses and freelancers to attract more clients and find success on its site and beyond. If you haven’t seen it yet, be among the first to check out their new Hiring Hub, which features useful guides for freelancers just like me and you.
40 Twitter Hastags for Writers (Daily Writing Tips)
We’re getting into individual posts now, but this is a great resource to bookmark and refer back to. It does exactly what it says on the tin, ensuring your tweets always reach the right people.
Getting down to business
It’s not all writing and getting paid, you know. Shoeboxed lets you scan and organise all your receipts and other bits and pieces relating to your freelance writing business, plus create expense reports and the like. This means you’ll feel really good when tax season comes around. Honest.
Bidsketch helps you create persuasive and professional pitches to potential freelance writing clients, allowing them to sign electronically to seal the deal fast.
For when you need to feel organised and professional about invoicing your clients. Freshbooks means you can simply input your work time and your rate and allow the fancy system to take care of the rest. (Freshbooks is also integrated with Bidsketch – see above.)
Last and least: images
Those pesky freelance writing clients always want a high-res Creative Commons image with their blog posts don’t they? *Shakes fist in air but keeps smiling* If, like me, sourcing appropriate images for blog posts is the bane of your freelance writing life, head over to Unsplash, where you’ll be free to do whatever you like with all those little beauties.
(All of the images in this post are from Unsplash.)
I hope this helps. I should probably sprinkle some affiliate links in there and reap a referral fee or two… but I just don’t have the time.
Keep writing and stay free, freelancers.