Photo by Pete O’Shea
As a freelance writer or web writer, you undoubtedly spend a great deal of time on the web. Part of the freedom of writing on your own terms is that you can work wherever you want and set your own hours. Therefore, it is much easier to not be tied to a particular computer or bookshelf. Online apps can give you the freedom you seek.
The following are 5 categories of online tools that will help you with your freelance writing. Rather than choose specific tools for you, these categories just give you an overview of the type of tools you can search for on your own and find the ones that work best for your needs.
Online Storage/Cloud Word Processor
This is a good idea for two reasons. 1) You can use your cloud storage as backup for your local storage (or vice versa), and 2) you will probably need it whenever you are away from your normal workplace. This can be a complete syncing solution like SpiderOak or just an online web drive. You might also want to use a browser-based word processor like those offered by Google Docs, Microsoft Office Live, or Zoho Office.
Reference – Dictionary, Thesaurus, etc.
Yes, spellcheck is cool, but no, it is not the only language tool you need. To quote the movie The Princess Bride, “You keep on using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” This happens all the time. Veteran writers whip out ten dollar words, not realizing they used them incorrectly. Spellcheck will not save you from using a word in the wrong context. If you have any doubt at all, consult a dictionary.
Free image sites
Is a picture worth a thousand words? Maybe, but what is certain is that a picture will enhance your thousand words and make people want to keep reading. Unless you snap photos yourself or have a photographer who follows you around, you will need to borrow some images from others. To keep things legal, you should look for licenses that permit reuse, such as Creative Commons. Sites like Flickr.com, Morguefile.com, and SXC.hu are great for free stock photos and other images.
For your most professional work, you might consider investing in an account with a paid stock photo site. If you write news, a photo wire agency might also be helpful.
TO-DO List or Notepad
You need to stay organized. Your writing career will fall apart rather quickly if you start missing deadlines and forgetting about clients. Make yourself a master to-do list and then go back and do a daily one as well. It will also help you to use a notepad application to jot your thoughts down and keep them in order.
Online services such as Springpad, Evernote, Remember the Milk, and Ta-da Lists are all popular for note-taking and to-do lists.
When you are your own boss, you are usually also your own accountant. Because you need to get paid, an invoicing systems will do wonders for your business. It will make it easier for clients to pay you, and you will have records of everything you do.
Once you have your money, you also need some form of accounting software to track expenses, taxes, and all your other financial transactions.
The Best Tools
The best online tools will help you become a more efficient and effective writer. If you find yourself getting confused or feeling overwhelmed by any of the tools you choose, you should look for others that are more user-friendly and easier to integrate with your system. With a little digging, you will undoubtedly find some gems that will work well for you and help you achieve even more with your writing.