The Tools Any Freelance Writer Needs to Start a Successful Writing Career

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:

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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. 

  1. 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. 

  1. Anti-plagiarism tool

Anti-plagiarism tools are also necessary. Use Copyscape and purchase credits, they’re cheap ($10 for 200 checks).

  1. Image sources

If you need images in your articles, Flickr is a great place to get some. So with IStock and FreeDigitalPhotos. Go on and experiment on these three.

  1. Grammar editing tools

And finally, you could use a little more writing tips and grammar help like Grammarly which has a free version. Another editor helper is Hemmingway. 

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!

Freelancing as a Writer: What Are the Best Online Resources for Finding Work Online?

Are you going through a mid-year writing slump? Feel like there aren’t any blog posts that pay over $5 out there? We’re here to spread a little sunshine.

Trends have shifted in 2016. That means it’s time to look at different resources for writing opportunities, and even specific niches.

Before we get to the list we have two pieces of advice to get you through the rest of the year:

  • Try complex topics – stop writing about pets/books/travel/yourself and all the other topics everyone can write about. Try tackling difficult topics that fewer writers can handle.
  • Bigger is better – many writers desperate for work write for small businesses, local publications and the like. If you want to actually make money freelancing, you need to start pitching to bigger clients who come with bigger budgets.

The Top 2016 Resources for Finding Work Online

  1. White Papers

Find a business with a complex product or service and there are white papers to be written. It has been reported that 68 percent of Business to Business marketers use white papers. Rates for papers range from around $0.50 a word to $500 per page.

Tip: look for startups that can’t afford a pro and propose a paper that will help their brand gain visibility.

  1. Case Studies

Any company that sells something needs customer success stories that describe their product or service as the best on the market. Writers can earn as much as $1,000 for a paid case study.

Tip: small businesses and nonprofits often can’t afford to hire a writer but need the case studies. Volunteer to do one to get a sample into your portfolio.

  1. Blogging a la Longform

Blogs are getting longer, aren’t they? Content marketers have learned that Google does not favor short posts but rewards those sites who offer in-depth, insightful information. This offers a better opportunity for writers to make more money blogging. Pack your longer blogs with useful information, graphics and unique research and you could potentially earn $200 – $400 per piece.

  1. Web Content

If you can pen a sales page, or landing page, that brings in more revenue for the client, you’re going to earn well. Some writers charge in excess of $1,000 for a longer sales page.

If you’re not a fan of sales copy, there are still plenty of opportunities with static web content.

What Sites Should a Freelance Writer Be Looking at?

This is a pretty tough one to answer, as we all have our views on different freelance sites. Some of the top paying sites this year seem to be:

  1. Funds for Writers – pays around $50 for original pieces.
  2. Make a Living Writing – pays $75 per blog and $100 for longer posts on specific topics
  3. The Write Life – you will need to negotiate your rate, but the pay can be worth it
  4. WOW! Women on Writing – pars from $50 to $150 per post
  5. Writer’s Weekly – pays from $60 for features

Final Word

Don’t believe all the negativity out there. Freelance rates aren’t through the floor. There are still great paying gigs out there, you just need to know the types of writing that are in demand in 2016.

Are you a freelance writer? Which sites have you had success with?