20 Useful Tools and Resources for New Freelance Writers & Others

The huge variety of tools and resources available that can be useful to a writer just starting his or her freelance career can be overwhelming.

The choice is so great that sometimes you just don’t know which tool to add to your writer’s toolkit first. This post should help with that problem.

However, it’s also worth noting that only a few of the software tools and other resources that are out there are unique. Most software packages are variations of already established solutions.

In my opinion the following list, grouped by categories, showcases some of the most useful resources of their kind. Some of these resources are even free!


Office and Billing Tools

To start off our list, here are some office and billing tools:

  1. OpenOffice. The free alternative to Microsoft Office, it provides all the features and tools you need as a professional writer. Don’t be discouraged by the fact that it’s open source: it’s well worth it. Also consider LibreOffice, which has branched off of OpenOffice.
  2. RightSignature. Use it to get your clients to electronically sign invoices or contracts, without having to rely always on fax. It’s also available as an iPhone app.
  3. Timeloc. This is a light tool that helps you keep track of ongoing projects done for different clients, with different billing rates. It includes plenty of useful little features like sound alerts.
  4. Ora Time and Expense. This tool lets you keep a close account of current and completed tasks, run a timer, and track expenses.
  5. BillMyClients.com. A powerful invoicing tool, BillMyClients allows to you save invoices whenever you want. It lets you customize the invoice template, and have invoices done automatically on set dates. It works with PayPal.
  6. InvoiceMachine.com. This package helps you create invoices that look professional by letting you use colors and logos. It is a useful tool because it can save invoices as PDFs.
  7. InvoiceJournal.com. InvoiceJournal lets you send invoices through the mail or email while using different currencies. Free.
  8. GetHarvest.com. One of the best tools out there for tracking time spent on projects, it can be integrated into WordPress or used with the iPhone.
  9. Rates Calculator on FreelanceSwitch.com. This helpful little calculator gives you an idea of how much you should charge for your work. After answering questions about your skills, goals, and qualifications, you get an approximate price per hour.

Storage Tools

Here are some tools to help with your storage needs:

  1. DivShare. A great alternative for storage, it also offers 5GB storage for free.
  2. First Backup. Powerful hard-disk backup tool, it helps you keep your essential working files protected. Different account plans are available.

Communication

The following tools can help with your communication needs:

  1. Gizmo5 (now Google Voice). This tool helps you make international calls that are up to 98% cheaper than those offered by your network operator.
  2. Skype. Skype is probably the most accessible tool for calling clients directly from your computer and discussing the projects with them.
  3. Yugma. Yugma is amazing since it lets you video chat online for free.

Fonts

Are you you looking for more fonts? Look here:

  1. Better Fonts. BetterFonts is a great resource for fonts. It provides thousands of fonts that are great for your documents.
  2. Dafont. Dafont is another great online resource for fonts (probably the best?). It provides thousands of free fonts, in all shapes and sizes.
  3. Urban Fonts. This is an alternative to Dafont. It features a smaller, but more provocative, selection of fonts.

Stock Photos

Writers often need stock photos. Here are some great sources:

  1. Stock Xchng. It offers tons of free photos that you can use in your articles or blog posts.
  2. Flickr. Of the many photos available for use on the Web, the ones featured on Flickr are some of the best you can get for blog posts. (Be sure to check the licensing since it may vary depending on the photo.)

SEO Tools

Here is an SEO tool freelance writers may wish to consider:

  1. WordTracker. This is a potent tool that you can use to look up the keywords you plan to use in your next SEO articles.

Your Turn

This is just a partial list of the resources out there, made up of some of my favorites.

What are your favorite tools and resources for freelance writers? What’s in your writer’s toolkit? Share your answers in the comments.

Image by Neil T.

Comments

  1. Jodi says

    Google Voice? GV gives you a free number, lets you make free Stateside calls and has a low fee for International calls. Via apps, it can also be synced with your current cell phone so that you can make outgoing calls with your GV number on your cell.

  2. says

    I’d like to add evonote plug in (or any other similar tools to this list. Taking notes on the go can be really really helpful for writers who are always looking for ideas, and unfortunately ideas are more spontaneous, so you should never forget to note one when it comes.

  3. Rachel M. says

    I think the Communication section needs some attention. Gizmo5 was bought by Google and is now Google Voice. (Gizmo5 no longer exists as such.) Also, as far as I know, Yugma is only for webcasting, not for video chat.

  4. david M says

    It’s a great list but I found that as a freelancer, managing myself between 3+ separate applications became a discouraging, inefficient, and costly process.

    For example, having to store my contacts in a separate application than projects, while working on a project i’m constantly jumping back and fourth to reference information, while tracking time through another system that I can use in billing – I’m getting annoyed just talking about it. It did not work!

    My suggestion is to avoid building up a list of non-integrated apps you use on a daily basis, and instead go with a single solution that consolidates all of what you need. This helped with my workflow tremendously – i’m currently using WORKetc and it puts contacts, lead management, projects, time tracking, billing (invoicing/expenses etc), email marketing, and some other features into a Google Apps integrated web app. I’m managing everything in one place, as well as the entire lifecycle of my clients – from capturing them as a potential client to collaborating with them and billing them.

    The biggest advantage of this, for me atleast, is being able to view my client’s entire lifecycle on a single page. WORKetc’s client histories list all activities you’ve worked on related to the client as well as all correspondence, which comes in handy when someones requesting information or a follow up is needed.

    Just a heads up – there are other solutions out there. Give WORKetc a look if you want to avoid stacking up a bunch of systems.

  5. says

    Nitin – great list! I’ve been impressed with Toggl for time tracking and billing. It works on virtually any device.

    A beta up-and-coming site that does a superb job of placing your social media updates on your own custom-arranged web site… Twylah. A great way to further promote your blog and other content you care about. You need to sign up for an invitation at this point.

    @Jodi – I also enjoy Google Voice for its many features and integrations.

  6. says

    may i suggest to try http://www.xamun.conm

    Xamun is one of its kind solution that provides a platform for consulting companies and freelancers globally to do their key business activities online in addition to seek and collaborate on projects they want to work together. Most exiting solutions currently are focusing on single key aspect of their business like CRM or Project Management without providing the benefit of an integrated solution that helps plan and optimize use and benefit from it. Xamun is also customized to the unique nature of business for consulting and not just make do with modified systems made for manufacturing and distribution business.

    The Xamun community integrates seamlessly with Linkedin and Facebook to enable a huge supply-chain of experts that can collaborate to deliver global projects with ease and scale instantly. Xamun provides a foundation for enabling true social business for the largest growing industry of the future in an effortless manner.

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