If you’re looking for a way to make your writing life easier, I hear ya.
It’s not easy to grow a freelance writing career while homeschooling eight kids, but organization and efficiency make it possible.
I’m always on the lookout for time-saving tools and apps to improve my writing life.
I’ve downloaded and tried many apps or tools only to be disappointed. Sound familiar?
Some take way too long to figure out. If it’s not user-friendly or intuitive, I’m not sticking around. Other apps might be easy to use, but over-promise and under-deliver, and that’s always disappointing.
Ever wondered if an app or tool could actually help improve your writing life?
Let me save you some time.
After much trial and error, I’ve put together a list of 48 of the very best apps and tools to help you with just about every aspect of your writing life.
Tech tools and apps to improve your writing life
Like it or not, when you’re a freelance writer you have to do a lot more than just write copy. Your writing life is also going to include things like marketing, billing, social media, and a lot of other moving parts. And there’s no one-size-fits-all app or tool for that.
But there are apps and tools that can help you with each part of your writing life to:
- Get organized.
- Stay in touch with clients.
- Improve productivity.
- Hone your writing skills.
- Create and edit images.
- Handle social media accounts.
- Create invoices and track income/expenses.
- Track work time.
- Create contracts and proposals.
- Take care of blogging tasks.
Check out this list of 48 apps and tools to improve your writing life. (Note: If you’ve heard of an app or tool that isn’t on this list, I either haven’t tried it, or it didn’t make the cut as a useful tool I’d recommend.) Let’s dive right in:
You organize a ton of information as a freelancer. From deadlines to client contact information, there’s always something to remember. Help declutter the file cabinet in your brain by using the following resources.
Google Drive lets you keep all your docs, sheets, and more in one web-based location. When you’re ready to share, it’s simple to create a shareable link. Remember to check your permission settings before you share.
You can turn Evernote into a management binder with notebooks. Use these to organize your processes and templates. If you’re researching for a piece, try Evernote Web Clipper to keep everything together. Then you’ll never waste time trying to find a source again.
If you need to share passwords with a client, 1Password makes it easy. It’s secure, so you won’t have to worry about hacking. It’s also useful if you have way too many passwords and can’t remember them all.
Do you have loads of photos you’ve sourced with Creative Commons licenses? Dropbox makes an excellent place to organize them by category. There are plenty of other uses for Dropbox, including sharing folders with others.
Ever come across a blog post you plan to read, but don’t have the time to right away? Instead of leaving dozens of tabs open on your computer, give Pocket a try. You’ll have the articles you need, and less clutter on your browser.
Project Management & Communicaton
Keeping other people in the loop is essential as a freelance writer. These tools are perfect for communicating and collaborating.
Everyone needs a business email to keep things separate. If you don’t have one yet, Gmail is a great option. You can open a basic Gmail account for free, or pay a small monthly fee for one that ends in your business name.
Are you working together on a blog post or another project? Trello helps you ensure the team always knows about deadlines, expectations, and progress. It’s easy to notify the whole team, or an individual member.
Want to connect with other freelancers, or chat with your clients? Slack lets you do this. Integrate it with other apps, including Trello, to streamline your processes.
9. Google Voice
Who wants to pass out their home telephone or personal cell phone number all over the web? Not me! Sign up for a Google Voice account instead. If a number in your area isn’t available, you can either expand your search, or try again in a few weeks.
Ever feel frustrated playing email tag as you try to pinpoint your client’s expectations? Sometimes email isn’t the best form of communication. For those moments, Skype works wonders. You have the option of video or audio only calls. No matter which you choose, you’ll erase the need for a long string of emails.
Ever gotten frustrated trying to schedule a meeting? Take the hassle out of the process with Calendly. You can share your availability with others, and allow them to schedule a time when you can both meet. It’s what Carol uses to schedule coaching calls with writers.
This project management software was originally designed to help Facebook teams collaborate, manage tasks, and improve productivity. And more importantly, help minimize the need for lots of back-and-forth emails. You can use this to manage your own tasks and projects, or collaborate with clients with this tool.
If you’re looking for an alternative to Skype for client calls, interviews, or video chat, check out Zoom. This platform make video chat easy, and also has features for video conferencing, webinars, and online meetings.
Productivity & Focus
There are only so many hours in a day, so you must make the most of them. These tools and apps help you improve focus and increase productivity.
Are you ready to automate parts of your freelance work? Enter IFTTT. By creating customized recipes, you’re able to create automation. Here are three ideas to get your mind thinking of the possibilities.
- Change your photo across all social media channels when you change it on a certain one.
- Send yourself an email whenever a keyword appears on a job board you’re following.
- Text yourself a reminder to follow up a week after you send a pitch.
Is your to-do list overwhelming? With NowDoThis, you enter your to-do list in the order it needs to be done. When you hit Ready, you’ll see a single item appear. Finish the item and hit Done. Then your next task appears. Work your way through your to-do list, one task at a time.
If you do a lot of work on your cell phone, SwiftKey can help. It’s an upgrade to your on-screen keyboard, offering high-quality word prediction. You’ll notice fewer of those crazy auto-correct mistakes as a bonus.
17. Dragon Dictation
Dragon Dictation helps get the words out of your brain and onto your computer with ease. Of course, you’ll want to be sure to edit your work before you submit it, because no speech-to-text editor is perfect.
Are you wondering where your time went while you were at your computer? Let RescueTime run in the background, and you’ll see how much time you spent at each task. You can also block distracting sites, and set alerts to let you know when you’ve reached a set time limit.
If you need a little help staying productive when you’re on your phone or your computer, Freedom may be your answer. Use it to block specific apps, the Internet, or anything else you’re distracted by.
Do you keep visiting distracting sites while you’re trying to work? Self-Control to the rescue. Once you’ve blocked those sites, you can’t open them until your session is over. Even restarting your computer won’t get you access. Created first for a Mac, there are similar programs for other systems.
The Writing Process
When you’re ready to hone your writing skills, you’ll find apps to help you along the way. There’s something for each stage in the writing process.
If you don’t have a solid headline, you won’t get as many eyes on your words. Spend a little time brainstorming headlines with this tool. The goal is to get a score of 70 or higher.
During the prewriting phase, you’ll need a way to organize all the amazing ideas your brain comes up with. Coggle helps you create mind maps to visualize your thoughts. You can also share your maps with others, and work together to fine tune the plan before you start writing.
23. Calmly Writer
Need a distraction free screen for writing? Calmly Writer helps keep you focused on the words you’re typing. When you click on a word you’ll be able to format it, or you can use keyboard shortcuts to format.
Your reputation is key as a freelancer. You don’t want to submit work containing grammatical errors and misspellings. Always take the time to proofread. An app like Grammarly can identify any mistakes, and help improve your writing.
25. Hemingway App
Do you use a passive voice too often when you write? Are you using forceful verbs and precise language? If you need some help getting your writing ready for the web, the Hemingway App is great. Copy and paste your text in, and hit the Edit button. You’ll receive color coded feedback designed to help make your writing shine.
People are more likely to share posts with images. Using these tools, you can whip out professional-looking images to go with your posts. As a bonus, you can often upsell clients by including images.
A go-to resource for many freelancers, Canva helps you create shareable images. You can:
- Save your brand colors.
- Edit existing templates.
- Use a variety of elements to add style.
- Create the perfect image to go with your post.
27. Lightroom Mobile
If you take your own pictures and use Lightroom to edit them, check out Lightroom Mobile. It syncs your photos between devices, so you can work on them wherever you are.
Perfect for resizing photos and doing basic edits, PicMonkey is user friendly. You can add text, change the transparency, and use a variety of stamps, filters, and more.
When you need some serious photo editing power, harness Photoshop. If you aren’t ready to pay for the subscription, the Photoshop Express is free to use. You start by uploading a photo, then make any changes you wish. Remember to save the photo before you close out.
Social Media Management
Having a social media presence is a goal for many freelancers. You can use social platforms to connect with others, find clients, and stay current on popular topics. If you need to boost your presence without spending hours online, the following tools and apps can help.
If you work from your phone frequently, you’ll want to install the following apps to keep tabs on your social media:
To help you manage your profiles, try these tools:
Cut Facebook distractions and focus only on your pages. It’s easy to add posts, go Live, and more from this app.
Download the Buffer app to schedule and share content from any website with your phone. You can create unique messages for each profile.
Hootsuite brings all your social media profiles together in a single dashboard. It’s simple to use, and will help you interact with your audience.
A Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook manager, Pluggio helps you grow on these networks. You can automatically schedule posts, and analyze each to check performance.
Sharing content from others is important. Feedly brings the content to you, so you don’t have to spend hours surfing the web to find posts in your niche to share.
You want to get paid for your hard work, so make sure you have an invoicing system in place. You’ll also need to track your income and expenses to keep the IRS happy. These tools are perfect for all your accounting needs.
With Wave, you can send customized invoices, collect credit card payments, and send payment reminders. You can also connect your business bank account to help track expenses.
Do you remember shoe boxes stuffed to the brim with receipts? No wonder tax time was such a headache. Shoeboxed helps keep your receipts organized. You can scan, sort, and file receipts as they come in throughout the year.
If you’re looking for an all-in-one online accounting solution, try Quickbooks Online. You can send invoices, organize your business expenses, connect with your bank, create estimates, and more.
PayPal fees can eat into your freelancing profits. By using Freshbooks to invoice, you can reduce those fees. You can also use it to track your expenses, manage your time, and keep your invoices organized.
Don’t forget about your bank’s mobile app
If your bank has a mobile app, you’ll want to install it on your smartphone. You’ll reduce the number of times you need to go to the bank. With most mobile banking apps, you’ll be able to:
- Deposit checks
- Transfer money
- Pay bills online
- Check for fraudulent activity
If you don’t know how long it takes you to write a blog post, magazine article, or copy for a website, you should. Knowing how much time you spend helps you ensure your writing gigs are really worth the money. It’s also info you need to determine your hourly rate.
Try one of these time trackers and make sure how long you think it takes to complete a project matches up with how long it actually takes. (Note: You can also use these to track time for clients, if you’re charging an hourly rate.)
If you need a time tracker capable of generating invoices, AND CO is for you. You can even run it on your mobile devices.
Toggl helps you create time estimates for projects, and alerts you when you’re close to your estimate. You can also edit your time and add time manually, which is helpful for freelancing tasks when you’re not at the computer.
Harvest makes time tracking easy. It also generates income reports, and allows you to track expenses. Then you can make sure each project is on budget.
Ready to send a proposal to a new client? Agreed to a new project? These tools will help you generate proposals and contracts.
Turn your boring proposals into beautiful dynamic web pages. You can integrate quotes, photos, terms and conditions, and more. When you’re ready, send a link to your client for approval.
Offered through LegalShield, you can use Shake to create legal contracts. You can start with a template and then customize it to meet your needs. One of the templates is geared for freelancers.
Need a signature on a contract or another form? Collect the signatures you need electronically with DocuSign. You’ll even be able to send out reminders.
Do you have your own blog, or are you managing blogs for clients? These apps and plugins will help.
With this app you can add new posts, edit published or scheduled posts, approve and reply to comments, and more.
Install Yoast SEO on your blog to ensure you’re optimizing every post you publish. You want more eyes on your content, right?
How are people finding your blog? Use Google Analytics to track search terms, pageviews, and more.
If you need an editorial calendar, this plugin can help. You’ll be able to drag and drop your posts, make edits, and see the status of each post.
Take control of your freelance writing life
If you’re just starting out as a freelance writer, or you’re trying to move up and earn more, take a look at all the different areas of your writing life. Look for ways to improve, and see if an app from this list (or one that isn’t) can help you.
What writing tools and apps do you recommend? Let’s discuss on Facebook.
A freelancing, homeschooling mama to eight, Lisa Tanner knows how to balance diapers and deadlines. She shares her best tips and tricks for getting it all done at lisatannerwriting.com.