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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Ora Time and Expense. This tool lets you keep a close account of current and completed tasks, run a timer, and track expenses.
- 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.
- 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.
- InvoiceJournal.com. InvoiceJournal lets you send invoices through the mail or email while using different currencies. Free.
- 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.
- 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.
Here are some tools to help with your storage needs:
- DivShare. A great alternative for storage, it also offers 5GB storage for free.
- First Backup. Powerful hard-disk backup tool, it helps you keep your essential working files protected. Different account plans are available.
The following tools can help with your communication needs:
- Gizmo5 (now Google Voice). This tool helps you make international calls that are up to 98% cheaper than those offered by your network operator.
- Skype. Skype is probably the most accessible tool for calling clients directly from your computer and discussing the projects with them.
- Yugma. Yugma is amazing since it lets you video chat online for free.
Are you you looking for more fonts? Look here:
- Better Fonts. BetterFonts is a great resource for fonts. It provides thousands of fonts that are great for your documents.
- Dafont. Dafont is another great online resource for fonts (probably the best?). It provides thousands of free fonts, in all shapes and sizes.
- Urban Fonts. This is an alternative to Dafont. It features a smaller, but more provocative, selection of fonts.
Writers often need stock photos. Here are some great sources:
- Stock Xchng. It offers tons of free photos that you can use in your articles or blog posts.
- 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.)
Here is an SEO tool freelance writers may wish to consider:
- WordTracker. This is a potent tool that you can use to look up the keywords you plan to use in your next SEO articles.
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.