31 Great Tools That Every Freelance Writer Should Try

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The struggles of being a freelance writer are real. Outside the confines of an office job, they are left to their own devices. While it is this very freedom and flexibly that lead many to take on the lifestyle of a freelance writer, the daily pressures of being your own boss can require a hefty amount of organization.

Luckily, thanks to the rise of technology and smart devices at our fingertips, there is a treasure trove of software and applications available to help freelancers with a number of job components: managing your time, organizing your workload, balancing your budget, communicating with clients, getting freelance work, and even finding a space to get all these things done!

The next question then becomes: how do you pick which apps to use? Well, find out from freelancers just like yourself.

Here are the 31 best tools that have been tested by experienced freelance writers — along with a few others that are definitely worth checking out:

Keeping Track of Time

As the old adage goes, time is money, and nobody understands this better than a freelancer. Depending on the kinds of projects you are working on, you might need an app that can fully track the amount of time you spend on each task or merely an app that will keep you as productive with your time as possible.

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1. Toggl 

Editor and freelance writer, Jenna Sheffield said:

“For keeping track of time when I’m doing freelance writing gigs, I use the Toggl app — there’s also a Chrome plugin — to track billable time. It’s a relatively simple app. Basically, it allows you to create a project and set up tasks within the project. Then, you use the timer in Toggl to record the time you spend on each task. Toggl creates really clean-looking reports, showing the time you spent, what days you worked on what tasks, and so forth. I like sending the reports to clients. I think it does a nice job showing them all of the work I put into a project.”

2. Timely

Here is another app that has it all. Hailing all the way from Oslo, Timely boasts “automatically tracked data.” Their software incorporates a wide array of widgets from other popular software such as Trello, Asana, and Tesla, each of which add their own unique capabilities for tracking your time. Their stylish platform offers a comprehensive way of tracking exactly where and how you spend your day working, even down to how much time you spend in the car.

3. Rescue Time

This time management software has been around since 2008, a bit longer than the previous two. Rescue Time tracks and logs the time you spend on each task you set like emails, meetings, or writing. You can set an alert that will notify you once you have worked a certain amount of time on one of these tasks and even control which websites you are allowed to access to keep the distractions to a minimum. This can all be printed in a convenient report to show to your employers.

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4. Tomato Timer

Freelance writer, Max Robinson said:

“For keeping track of time and using time effectively, [I use] Tomato Timer. This is a simple website with a timer that lasts 25 minutes, to help me work productively. I’ll set it before I start my work and as soon as the alarm sounds I’ll stop. I’m a firm believer in using the Pomodoro method to work productively and this website helps me keep track of the time.”

5. Focus Booster

Also based on the “Pomodoro technique,” this software has added quite a few beautifully designed features to create a more comprehensive app. Their timer will make sure that you are staying focused while their user-friendly interface will keep all of your various tasks in order. They automatically record your work sessions on a timesheet to share with employers and have an analytics dashboard that presents the progress and rhythm of your productivity.

Managing Your Workload

Without the structure of a workplace, keeping your tasks in order as a freelancer can be difficult to accomplish, especially when you are juggling deadlines, looking for a place to work, or in the midst of traveling. Whether you have jobs pouring in or just merely need a place to sort your thoughts, here are a few apps to help you.

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6. Asana

Freelance writer, Rikki Ayers said:

“I use Asana to manage big projects. I’ll invite clients to a new project so that we can communicate and share documents in one place instead of by email. Email can be a nightmare to manage projects by. I use Asana to set deadlines, and it sends notifications to my email and phone which is useful when I do my daily and weekly planning. If you’re doing a big website content or other multi-page project you have to use some kind of management system or you’ll end up using old content, missing errors and corrections, or losing an email.”

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7. Trello

Freelance writer, Paul Maplesden said:

“I use Trello to manage all of my freelance writing commitments. I have a dedicated writing board setup for what I’m working on now, what’s due in the next week, and the next month. I list the title of the piece and the client on the front of each card. I then color-code the cards depending on the status of each piece, e.g. draft, under review, etc. Any links to research and other useful info is out into the description of the card. I also use Trello to capture ideas that I can develop into pitches and future articles.”

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8. Airtable

Professional freelance writer, Thursday R. Bram said:

“This spreadsheet app has features that make it ideal for tracking pitches I’m sending out, stories I’m working on, and editorial calendars. Despite being a writer, I probably spend half of my day in spreadsheets, and Airtable makes all that time bearable.”

9. Droptask

This software organizes daily tasks like nothing before. Their interface is simplistic and bright with different tasks set in colorful circles and rings. The design turns the mundane chore of scheduling your day into a visually interactive experience. Droptask also easily connects to social media and can be shared with multiple people which lends a seamless collaboration process.

Freelance writer, Max Robinson said:

“A simple app that uses visual mapping to display your workload and to help you find your priorities. I love it.”

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10. Meister Task

Meister Task’s dashboard has a similar layout to Trello’s but with a minimalist design. The user interface makes organizing your tasks a breeze. Another cool feature is that it integrates with MindMeister, the online mind-mapping tool that digitizes the brainstorming process and lets you create project plans visually.

Freelance writer, Liz Froment said:

“Being organized is vital to a freelance writer. The main organizational tool I use to run my business is called Meister Task. I absolutely love the user interface on this site, it’s kind of if Trello and Asana had a baby. It’s been invaluable in helping me not only help get organized with client projects, but also my own.”

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11. CoSchedule

CoSchedule is an editorial calendar program that you can use to organize your tasks, writing projects, social media, and really anything else you need. Its simple drag and drop calendar let’s you see your entire schedule at a glance. The calendar also integrates with most of the popular tools you also use like WordPress, Chrome, Google Analytics, and all social platforms.

Author and freelancer, Carrie Aulenbacher said:

“My favorite tool as of late has got to be CoSchedule.com’s Headline Analyzer. It helps me with my workload by getting me to focus on structuring a powerful headline for my latest project. More often than not, what I initially think up is hardly as good as what I end up with! It’s free and it examines several perspectives of a strong title to help you craft something eye-catching and useful.”

Balancing Your Budget

Although getting rich might not be the first reason you chose to become a freelancer, the only way to keep money — for the rich or the poor — is to manage it properly. These apps are recommended to help keep track of all the cash coming in and … going out.

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12. WaveApps

Every good freelancer needs to know how to send an invoice. WaveApps will keep you on top of your game by creating and sending professional invoices, price estimates, and receipts. You will be able to accept many different forms of payment from employers and will also be able to track your income and expenses in hopes of boosting your bottom line.

Professional copywriter and blogger, Roxanne Gilmore said:

“I started using WaveApps earlier this year to manage my money and send invoices. So far I really enjoy the service, especially since it’s FREE! They have an excellent customer service team and their system is very intuitive to use.”

13. Freshbook

This app, available on desktop or on your cell, is a complete cloud accounting tool with its own time tracking feature. From the moment you get the job to when you receive the payment, Freshbooks will track your time and manage your money all along the way.

Freelance writer, Rikki Ayers said:

Freshbooks allows me to track my time, invoice, and monitor my income and expenses for a fairly low monthly fee. I can create an invoice in minutes and clients can pay by credit card or PayPal. While all of the payment options do take a fee, in my opinion it’s worth it because I don’t have to do any of this manually, wait for cheques, or create invoices in another program.”

14. FreeAgent

This accounting software seems to check all the boxes as well: time tracking, estimates, and a dashboard. With the dashboard included, this becomes a pretty involved app that allows you to track your completion progress and your work time, which are often overlooked by other money management tools.

Freelance writer, Paul Maplesden said:

“I personally use FreeAgent. I manage all of my invoices, expenses, accounting, and payroll, and it saves me a huge amount of time each month when managing finances. I can also see at a glance how the business is doing.”

15. QuickBooks SelfEmployed

Freelance writer, Liz Froment said:

“Money management is really key for freelancers, and too many are putting it off on the back burner. I use a couple of tools in combination. QuickBooks Self-Employed is my go to for making sure I’m keeping track of my income, expenses, and taxes. It’s super quick and easy to use, I pop in every week for about 10 minutes and put everything in the right buckets.”

Staying in Contact

In order to garnish the respect from clients you deserve, it’s important to stay in consistent and easy contact. As a freelancer, you might be working remotely, in different time zones, or even on different continents, which means having a reliable form of communication is vital to the success of your freelance writing career.

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16. Contactually

Professional freelance writer, Thursday R. Bram said:

“I use a more robust CRM tool than many of my fellow freelance writers, and it constantly pays off. I use Contactually’s tools to help me contact editors on a consistent basis including automatically sending some emails, as well as to keep track of potential sources and what they’re up to.”

17. Messenger

Facebook’s infamous messaging service has taken on a life of its own. As the next app to bring chat bots into the US and Europe, Messenger is hailed as one of the biggest steps Facebook is taking in the future of messaging services. With video and group calls capabilities, it is an easy choice as a communication tool — and the 900 million users makes it nearly impossible to find a client who isn’t using this app already. If you are worried about sharing your Facebook information, it is possible for you to use Messenger without having to friend your client at all.

18. Skype

Skype has been around longer than most of the communication software on the market. Although it is not free, it is still one of the widely used forms of communication out there. If Messenger or the other messaging apps seem less professional, Skype is a great way to communicate with your clients with messages or video chat without all the frills and add ons.

 

19. WhatsApp

This is a simple message service available all over the world, on all phones and desktops. It is simple to use, and lets you call for free. WhatsApp just needs an internet connection to send and receive messages or phone calls and won’t use any of your minutes. You can also set up group chats, share documents, voice messages, pictures, locations, and more.

Freelance writer, Max Robinson said:

“All my clients have it, so I got it. Simple as that.”

20. LINE

This popular messaging app allows you to make free international and domestic calls to mobiles and landlines, and even has a free option for calling people who are not LINE users. You can send individual messages, group messages, and leave voice messages. You can even video chat around the world for free. LINE also has some of the most recognizable stickers, known as the “LINE family,” that you can use to jazz up your conversations. But be selective and maybe keep emojis and stickers to a minimum with business clients.

21. WeChat

Once the biggest messaging app in China, WeChat has now gone global as one of the most widely used apps in the world — with half a billion users and counting. WeChat has similar features to other messaging apps like free calls, video calls, group chats, and stickers, but now you can even conference call with multiple people. It has also taken off as one of the best apps for using chat bots to accomplish minor tasks like requesting an Uber or doing your dry cleaning.

Landing Freelance Writing Jobs

What is the most important part of being a freelancer? Finding work! Hopefully at one point in your career, the best part of your job will be to sit back and count all of your accolades, but until then, it’s time to hit the pavement. And since we live in the 21st century — by pavement, I of course mean the internet.

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Professional copywriter and blogger, Roxanne Gilmore said:

“I have five go-to websites I use to find work including — FreelanceWriting.com, Problogger.net, Copify.com, Upwork.com, and PeoplePerHour.com. I also actively network on LinkedIn and list my services on my website. The power of LinkedIn cannot be understated!”

22. Freelance Writing

Established in 1997, this creative hub has been supporting the freelance writing community for nearly two decades. There is a large database packed full of useful articles that address all areas of freelance writing, from “how to submit a pitch” to “how to get paid on time.” Freelance Writing curates their own job board that posts freelance writing jobs daily. Its intuitive design makes it easy to find and apply to a job that is right for you. They even have a “Morning Coffee Newsletter” that sends writing jobs to your inbox every morning.

23. Problogger

This site began as a single blog and over the years has grown into a platform that helps bloggers start or grow their own blogs. Along with a large amount of blog posts helping bloggers sharpen their skills, there is also a job board for writers that hosts general writing jobs, not just for blogs, that is worth checking out from time to time.

24. Copify

This is more of a closed system when it comes to job hunting. Copify runs an exclusive service from pre-approved writers. If you want to take advantage of their job listings, you must first go through their application process and be approved. Once you are approved, clients enter the site and are funneled through the job filters to be placed with the writer that fits their needs. Maybe that could be you!

25. People Per Hour

Just as the name implies, this company connects employers to people who get paid by the hour on a freelance basis. As an employer, you have the ability to post a job. As a freelancer, you have the ability to post a profile of yourself or check the extensive job board. Although the job database is large and global, it offers the full range of freelance style work which means that finding a job to fit your specific skill set will take a bit of digging. As a freelance writer, you can use their search filters in order to find a writing job for you.

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26. Upwork

Editor and freelance writer, Jenna Sheffield said:

“For finding work, I like using the Upwork app. A lot of freelance writers know about Upwork and get quality gigs there. However, I just recently started using the app. What I like about it is that you get invitation alerts right on your phone and can respond in Upwork’s really user-friendly interface. You’re essentially able to text message with potential clients or current clients on the go. I wish you could search for jobs, too, but I don’t think they have that functionality yet.”

Finding an Ideal Workspace

Freelancing culture has really developed over the last couple decades. Freelance workers are on the rise and places are sprouting up in support of them. There is an entirely new industry of co-working spaces that are much more than a coffee shop with nice tables. If you are looking for a great shared work environment where you can meet — and possibly collaborate with — other freelancers like you, check out this list below and get out there.

27. Workfrom

Professional freelance writer, Thursday R. Bram said:

“I travel a fair amount, which means looking for a coffee shop, co-working space, or anywhere else with wifi where I can work for a couple of hours. Workfrom lets me find recommended places to work, as well as find specific amenities when I need them — like a conference work or a coffee shop playing good music.”

28. ShareDesk

ShareDesk is a marketplace for mobile professionals to find and book a space in major cities all over the world to complete their work or simply have a meeting. They have more than 4,500 venues that can be searched in their map feature with useful filters that let you find a space specific to your needs. You can pay by the hour, the day, or the month.

29. Desk Surfing

Desk Surfing’s trendy feel mimics the lifestyle that many young freelancers like to portray. There is a community aspect that comes with the idea of co-working space, and this site taps right into it. They have a huge global database of places to work that is all included on their searchable map — from single quiet office spaces to spacious coffee shop style space where you can meet and interact with other freelancers.

30. Desks Near Me

This site makes it easy for both the freelancer looking for a c0-working space or for the office who wants to rent it out. Offices can do this as a way to make some extra cash off of rooms they might not be using all the time. Their map feature is set next to the list of co-working spaces available in your area for easy comparison, and their database is extensive and up-to-date.

31. Coworker

With this site, you can find co-working space all over the world. Coworker is definitely targeting the avid traveler who likes to freelance while they explore the world. They have a bright and colorful design and feature tropical cities on their homepage like Bali and Chiang Mai. If this sounds like the life for you, give them a try!

Are there any more tools or apps that you would like to recommend for freelancers? Please include them in our comments below!

This article was originally published on FreelanceWriting.com.

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