Twelve Cool Tools for Writers and Others

cool-writer-toolsAre you looking for tools to help you write more efficiently and effectively?

We’ve written about resources for freelance writers before. But, that list is really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the tools that are available to help writers (and other freelancers).

What follows is a list of twelve more helpful tools and resources. Whether you’re a writer, a blogger, or a freelancer who owns a website–you’re likely to find something on this list for you.


Twelve Cool Tools to Help You Work

While these resources aren’t all free, they do have the potential to help you write more effectively. They may help your freelance business in other ways as well. Here are some of my favorite tools:

  1. Copyscape–Plagiarism is a serious problem. This tool lets you know if your online writing is being plagiarized. You can subscribe to the service for a monthly fee to protect all of your writing, or you can type in a single URL at the site for no cost to check on a specific document.
  2. Dim Dim–This is a great alternative to meeting with clients face-to-face or purchasing an expensive bridge line. Share documents or URLs. You can subscribe for a low monthly fee and there is also a trial version available for you to try.
  3. Dragon Naturally Speaking or its Mac cousin, MacSpeech Dictate–These speech recognition products let you dictate documents directly into your computer software rather than typing them. Prices for this start at around $100, so I haven’t tried this myself, but my trusted writer friends insist that this product is worthwhile and a timesaver, so it is on my wish list.
  4. Netbook with WiFi subscription–Every freelancer needs to get out of the house sometimes. Fortunately, there are lots of WiFi hotspots around (especially if you live near an urban area). A netbook and WiFi subscription frees you from the confines of your office, which can lead to a boost in your productivity.
  5. ScribD–The site is sort of like a giant online bookstore where you can preview books as well as upload your own documents. ScribD recently updated the site so that documents can be viewed from a mobile device as well. Great for self-publishers out there as well as researchers.
  6. Scribe–This premium WordPress plug-in allows you to maximize your SEO efforts in blog posts and other online documents. I’ve had the good fortune to use this tool in my work for a client and I have to say I’m sold. This application is another addition to my wish list. The downside to this product right now is that it only works on certain platforms or with certain WordPress themes.
  7. Skype–I’ve been using Skype a lot lately. It’s a great alternative for keeping in touch with clients and others who are not local to your freelancing business. I’ve even used Skype to make international calls. At the most basic level, Skype is free, but they also have paid options available.
  8. MS Word Macros–I’ve been a fan of MS Word Macros for nearly a decade now, ever since seeing a demonstration by an expert. While you may not be a MS Word expert, it’s still possible to use MS Word Macros to save time on your most repetitive MS Word tasks. About.com has a tutorial that can help you get started.
  9. Visual Thesaurus–If you’ve ever struggled to find just the right word, this cool tool may be perfect for you. Type in a word to see a visual graphic of related words. A sidebar shows the definitions for related nouns, adjectives, verbs, and adverbs. This is a subscription service (after a free trial), but the monthly subscription cost is low.
  10. Web SEO Analytics Tools–A set of free tools to help you optimize your online documents for search engines. You can analyze a site, look for duplicate content, discover how many incoming links you have (and who the links are from), and much more. In all, there are a total of twelve helpful analytic tools here.
  11. Wridea–Wridea is a free tool that encourages brainstorming and collaboration and brainstorming. If you work in a team or regularly share ideas with your clients. You can categorize ideas and choose whether your ideas should be private, shared only friends, or available to all Wridea users.
  12. Xmarks–This customized bookmarking tool (originally called foxmarks) is an operating system add-on that you can use to sync your bookmarks and passwords. The latest version also has search capabilities. While there is no charge for the application, donations can be made.

What Helps You Write?

Did you find a tool to help you? Which one was it? Do you have another tool that you like? Share your favorite writing tools and applications with the Freelance Folder community.

Leave your answers in the comments.

Image by crespoluigi

Comments

  1. says

    If you have Windows 7, your computer comes with a built-in speech recognition tool that’s much like Dragon Naturally Speaking. Go to Start and type “speech recognition” in the Search box. You’ll need to set it up and follow a brief tutorial, but once set up, it’s ready when you are. It’s easy to use and does a decent job.

    Another tool I love is the SmartPulse digital pen and notebook.

  2. says

    Thanks for compiling–and sharing–your list, Laura. A few I’ve used for a while, especially Skype, and a few I really want to check out. Another tool I really like is DropBox. It’s perfect for a large project with lots of people involved because you can upload and store large document–and get notifications when docs are updated or new items are added.

    Another tool I love, especially when I need to draft long copy: no Internet. I will deliberately choose a place that doesn’t offer WiFi and I’ll turn my Blackberry to phone only so that I minimize distractions.

  3. says

    Thanks everyone for sharing your favorite tools!

    Celeste Stewart–I’m looking into the SmartPulse digital pen and notebook. :-)

    Jesaka Long, You are so right. Sometimes the best thing to do is to step away from distractions. The Internet can be the biggest distraction of all.

  4. says

    I’ve gotten a lot of use out of WordNet, a hyped-up thesaurus. It gives you info like “hawser is a part of…” or “[your word] is one way to…” (although the web-version doesn’t seem to deliver the goods, try downloading and installing it, the downloaded version seems to have all those features.)

    And best, it’s free to download and use:

    wordnet.princeton.edu

  5. says

    Joe Nyaggah–Someone plagiarized your “About” page? That’s unbelievable! I guess that’s one for the stupidest thief tricks…

    Rob Chansky, Thanks for sharing about WordNet.

  6. says

    This is a good list, Laura!

    I use some of them and find them simple and effective. Speech recognition that comes with Windows 7 that Celeste talks about is friendly indeed and the job it does is more than decent.

    Lloyd

  7. says

    I have a premium subscription for Copyscape which comes in handy when I accept guest articles for my blogs. I also use it when I am writing an article that is closely related to a news release. I don’t copy the news release, but sometimes I’ll borrow quotes liberally to make a point. Copyscape helps me keep that borrowing in perspective.

  8. cMD says

    first and foremost i use a tool that helps me keep on top of the issues and subject matter i think and write about. i have a lot of subject areas to track and i need to stay on top of the trends, the latest. so need to be efficient and thorough. don’t have time for searching, researching; i like the info to find me. but i don’t need email overload either. i use http://www.icurrent.com and am truly amazed how much work it does on my behalf.

  9. says

    You will also want to check out Clutterpad – an online project management and collaboration tool. (Disclaimer: blatant plug!)

  10. says

    Thank you for the list. I’ve tried a lot applications and add-ons and to date, nothing has helped me more than a good pen and a generous supply of cheap paper.

  11. says

    Automate, automate, automate. I boost my productivity as a writer using three main programs: Typinator (a text expansion program), QuicKeys 4.0 (automates lots and lots of stuff– see my blog on this: http://macautomationtips.wordpress.com/), and a good clipboard manager.

    I would second MacSpeech Dictate, but be prepared for a significant learning cure. Dictating words is a skill in and of itself. It’s not always as easy typing, though it can be faster.

  12. Anissa Berger says

    Great tools. Thanks. I’ve been looking for a website for writers that helps you write a book (as opposed to writing for websites and blogging). Something that helps you organize your ideas, outline, and access with your mobile device.
    Anyone know of anything good in that area?

  13. says

    I had wasted many months on writing projects simply because I was totally unaware these kinda stuff, having nobody’s support and lotza rejections created deep wounds as well.

    Having some blogs like freelancefolder.com is always great!

    Nisha
    [www.FreelanceWritingTools.com

  14. says

    I’m curious to find out what blog system you’re utilizing? I’m experiencing some minor security problems with my latest blog and I would like to find something more safe. Do you have any suggestions?

  15. says

    Wow this is a very helpful post. I’ve been writing for a couple of years now but most of the things here are still new to me. The ones that I’ve been using so far are Copyscape, Skype and of course MS Word. Thanks a lot of sharing this list to us.

  16. says

    Hello, we are developing a web app for writers: write all from everywhere. It will be a very simple tool to help ordering chapters, characters, documentation, etc. If you are interested in you can click over my name. Thanks.

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