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25 Must-Have Resources & Tools No Freelance Writer Can Be Without
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Last Updated on May 2, 2020
Unlike most other professions, you can’t go to school to be a freelance writer.
It sort of just happens.
Luckily, there are many great resources, mainly made by freelance writers who had to learn the hard way, to help other writers improve.
In my 5+ years as a freelance writer, I’ve used just about all the resources on this page at one point or another, and I hope they will be useful for you.
The Best Freelance Writing Job Boards
Every freelancer has had time where they sit around hoping for more work.
In this situation, the best resources for you are job boards, where people are actively looking for high-quality freelance writers.
I would suggest creating a customizable application or resume templates that you can modify for each job posting.
Also, you should keep looking for work, even when you currently have a lot. You want to keep the work consistent when your current batch slows down or runs out.
If you plan to be a freelance blogger, you should check this job board every day.
It costs money for employers to post on the board, which attracts businesses that are willing to pay reasonable rates for writers.
BloggingPro is similar to ProBlogger, it just doesn’t have quite as many job postings.
You’ll see a lot of overlap of blogging jobs between the 2 job boards, but there are unique ones on BloggingPro on a regular basis.
FlexJobs is a job board that focuses on flexible jobs of all kinds. Flexible in this context means a mixture of temporary work, part-time, and remote positions.
You should bookmark the writing jobs section. The jobs posted here include all types of writing, from copywriting to blogging.
MediaBistro is a great job board to keep in mind if you ever want a full-time position for writing or editing.
The job postings focus more on journalism and copywriting than on blogging.
This is a low-volume job board that mainly focuses on remote programming and marketing jobs.
However, there is the occasional copywriting job worth applying to.
One especially useful feature is that you can get email alerts of jobs posted in a category.
Subscribing to email alerts saves you from having to check the job board every day.
The Freelance Writers Den is a paid freelance writing community ($25 per month) that nearly always has a waiting list.
It has a ton of training videos and resources, and an active community full of new and experienced freelance writers.
It also has its own closed job board, which is as high quality as you’ll find.
I was a member for a long stretch when I first began freelance writing, and it really helped get my career off the ground.
Upwork is a job board for freelancers of all types.
It can be good, which is why I’ve included it here. But unless you’re desperate for work, I’d stick to the other job boards.
Upwork is filled with low-quality job postings and unreasonable clients that you’ll need to filter out. The site itself will also take a cut of any of your work.
Finally, it’s difficult to get your first few jobs (and ratings), so it takes a lot of commitment to Upwork before you see any real results.
It’s better in most cases to spend that effort building your own business, rather than someone else’s (Upwork’s in this case).
How to Create a Stellar Portfolio
To get freelance writing work, you’ll need samples at the very least.
Ideally, you’ll create a writing portfolio.
These resources will help you create one that wins writing gigs.
This is a solid start to finish guide for creating a freelance writing portfolio.
It’ll give you a good idea of what you’ll need to do to create a portfolio, and has a few detailed sections to help you with specifics.
This portfolio guide, written by Elna Cain, focuses on how to leverage guest posting to develop a strong portfolio that will win you writing jobs.
It’s a strategy that I strongly agree with, and this guide lays out what the actual guest posting process looks like.
Once you have writing samples to put in your portfolio, you’ll have to decide how you’d like to design it.
This fairly detailed guide lays out the pros and cons of 5 common types of portfolios.
One of the most common ways that writers create a portfolio is to use a WordPress theme specifically designed for writers.
Using a theme takes care of all the design work, and you just need to drop in your content.
This post covers several top options for all types of writers, and can help you picture what your portfolio might look like.
Resources to Help You Become a Better Writer (and charge more!)
If you’re a writer, you probably care about improving.
The side benefit of improving as a writer is that you can justify charging more.
These resources will help you become a better writer.
If you’re not organized, it’s hard to be an efficient writer.
Keeping your work organized is key to maximizing your work output, but also meeting deadlines, which makes employers happy.
Trello is a free, flexible project management tool that can be used by writers.
You can create a “board” for each client (if you have many), or create a single board.
Then you can create a “card” for each piece of writing you’re working on.
You can add deadlines, links, and comments to each card, and drag them to different columns.
For example, I use the columns:
- To write
- In progress
- To edit
- Submitted for review
The Write Practice is a website dedicated to freelance writing resources.
There’s a lot of great information on it, but 3 resources in particular stand out to me for their high quality:
- Our 14 Best Writing Prompts FREE – This is a short book that contains 14 great writing prompts. The prompts have been designed in a way to teach you techniques that will improve your writing.
- The 2-minute assessment quiz – Available on the home page, this quiz helps you quickly identify how to become a better creative writer.
- A Free Beginners Writing Guide – A free book geared towards anyone who would like to be a creative writer.
These are mostly designed for fiction writers, but I think they’re useful for anyone trying to be a better writer.
If you plan on blogging at all, it’s a huge benefit to understand content marketing.
Writing is just one part of content marketing, and understanding the role it plays for a business helps you deliver exactly what your clients are looking for.
This content marketing course was made by the University of California (Davis) and Sonia Simone (on behalf of CopyBlogger).
Not necessary to be successful, but should help you make clients happier.
15. Hemingway Editor
Paste in your most recent piece into this editor and see how many issues it finds.
It’s a beautiful, free editor that tells you when sentences become too complex or hard to understand.
Even after years of writing, I still find it useful.
16. Google Docs
If you’re not using Google Docs already, I urge you to try it out.
Not only is it a free text editor, but you can collaborate with clients by sharing the link (by going to “File > Share”).
Being able to save posts as bookmarks in your browser makes it easy to stay organized, and you spend less time hunting around for the files you’re looking for.
SEO and Social Media: What a Freelance Writer Should Understand
One thing that has always given me an advantage over other freelance writers is that I spent years learning about SEO before I made the jump to writing.
Most people looking to hire bloggers are interested in generating long-term traffic from search engines.
Even if you’re not an expert, knowing the basics will help.
The same goes, depending on the niche, for social media.
These resources will help you get started.
This is a very basic guide to SEO for freelance writers.
Read this if you have no idea what SEO is, and want a basic understanding.
Don’t let the name scare you too much, it’s not that advanced.
However, it’s a solid, in-depth guide to SEO, with many specific examples and instructions.
It covers just about everything that a freelance writer needs to know about SEO to benefit from it.
This short and to the point post is part of a series about marketing for writers.
I recommend the whole series, but this one in particular has a focus on social media.
Read this to get a high-level understanding of why social media can be important for freelance writers.
This guide goes into 5 specific social media tips for freelance writers.
There’s nothing too complicated, but some good things to keep in mind if you’re using social media in any capacity.
Finally, once you feel comfortable on social media, consider selling social media services in addition to writing.
It’s a nice add-on that can help you earn extra income, and help your clients grow their businesses.
Resources to Help You Get Paid
The main reason that you are (or want to be) a freelance writer is to make money, right?
These are the best resources I’ve found to help me get paid reliably and with minimal hassle.
Depending on the type of freelance writing that you do, you may or may not need to create contracts (many businesses will have their own).
This is a collection of 5 contract templates for different situations, and is worth keeping bookmarked should you need it.
If you’d like to make getting paid easy, and also your taxes easier, accounting software is a good idea.
The self-employed version of Quickbooks costs $10/month, and is designed for small-businesses like freelance writers. You can create invoices and accept payment through Quickbooks, and track all your payments.
Wave is an alternative to Quickbooks that is rapidly gaining popularity because it’s completely free.
Again, you can create simple, attractive invoices, and sync Wave to your bank accounts.
25. Zoho Books
The final bookkeeping tool that I’ve included is Zoho Books, which does most of the same things as Quickbooks and Wave.
It costs $9 per month.
For most freelance writers, especially those starting out, any of the 3 options will do.
I’d recommend just taking a look at the style and interface of the 3 bookkeeping tools, and trying the free trials of any that you like.
I’ve used just about all of these resources extensively at one point in my career.
If you don’t think you’re ready for a particular resource, just save it as a bookmark and come back to it when you are.
Have a suggestion for a great resource that I missed? Please leave a comment and let us know!