Take note of my aim here: How To Start a Successful Writing Career. This means, this article will help newbies and career shifters who have not dipped their toes into freelance writing.
Times have indeed changed. There are more writers now who want a piece of the content pie. And if you’re one of them, it’s a great way to live and express yourself through the art of writing. But patience played a great part when I started writing. It was easy at first, what was next was the hardest part. You don’t really need a lot of tools to start. Most of these tools are at minimal costs or you already have them. A quiet small bedroom or office space will be beneficial. Let’s start you off with the necessary tools and writing tips you need in your toolkit:
- A trusty calendar
Freelance writers’ Rule No. 1 – Never miss a deadline. Once more writing gigs come in, and you start expanding your portfolio, you will need a calendar.
Set up a Google Calendar. You can access them through any device you have or public computers as long as you log into your Google account. You can create a list of to-do for the day, put deadlines per client or per project. You can create alerts for forthcoming projects.
- A new laptop
New career, why not new laptop? For a newbie writer, you don’t want problems with technical hardware from an old clunky laptop. Why not invest on a new one and a good back up. Load it with the best virus protection software and update your system regularly.
- A paying service like Paypal or Venmo
Get a Paypal account. You will receive your payments faster. You can withdraw from you Paypal account straight to your bank account. Whenever possible, always encourage the use of e-payments. Your checks could be delayed or lost. If you don’t like Paypal, get Venmo. Or both.
- A tried and tested Internet provider
You need the internet for emails, research, conference calls or text-chats. If your Internet Service Provider is not too reliable, you might consider scouting for another one. And always have a back-up internet connection.
You could always go to the nearest Starbucks and have the free Wi-Fi connection.
- Word processing and spreadsheet programs
Microsoft Word and Excel come to mind. If you’re a Mac user all your life, you might still want to use MS Word for Mac. Almost all your clients and prospects will be using Word. You don’t want compatibility issues cropping up. Formatting can change the whole document. But since you’ll be using Word as a word processor long term anyway, why not invest in it.
Excel has its own merits as a very good spreadsheet where you can lay out all your expenses and invoices. Classify your clients per tab or per sheet. You can do a lot more like tallying word count, cost per word, date of submission, etc. Once you get the hang of Excel, you’ll find it really helpful.
Open Office is a great substitute for MS Word because it’s free. And it also has its own version of Excel.
The other nice word processor I recommend is Evernote. It actually does more than word processing.
- An accounting program
You may need an accounting program for your invoices, payouts and other financing needs.
Programs like Freshbooks can keep track of each of your payments, compute for tax payments and monitor your invoices. It tells you who owes you money and vice-versa.
- Virtual drives
I personally use Dropbox and Google Drive. You definitely need these drives. There’s no point in having all your files and tools in your local computer or laptop at home. With these, you can access everything from wherever you are.
- Website creation tool
If you’re planning to do your own blogging, then you might as well know how to use WordPress. It’s so newbie-friendly with all its free themes. Set up your portfolio with it and start blogging away.
- Video –conference tool
Video-conferencing is one important aspect of connecting to clients. You will need apps like Skype (it’s free!). It has video and chat where clients can call you to discuss project details.
- Anti-plagiarism tool
Anti-plagiarism tools are also necessary. Use Copyscape and purchase credits, they’re cheap ($10 for 200 checks).
- Image sources
- Grammar editing tools
That’s all for now
There are so many tools out there to get your writing career going. But you need to start somewhere. As soon as you’re already comfortable as a freelancer, and the money starts flowing in regularly, you could take on more serious tools to make your writing life much more comfortable.
Once you’ve gotten off to a great start as a freelance writer, come back and message me. Tell me which tools you’ve added and which ones made a big difference. Good luck!